I was able to get a weekday off with Hard Core Fly Tying (HCFT) ambassador, Dustin Pack, to go explore a local creek that we have been eyeballing on Google Earth for a while.
Global Imaging Systems and Google Earth have drastically changed the face of exploratory hunting and fishing. As a kid we would spend long days exploring where “that” creek ends and what’s along the way. I have spent hours looking at paper topographical maps. In college, I started overlaying transparencies on a projector until I was introduced to the internet and taught how to use it in relation to fishing. Today Google Earth makes satellite images readily available to everyone. The secret is out.
We juggled our work schedules and agreed to meet at 7 am to go explore this untraveled creek. I was late, however did have food and drinks for the day. The tide was crazy low! The mouth of the creek was blocked by about 200 yards of one-inch deep water. So, the first couple of hours we poled around the exposed Oyster bars and Mangrove islands. We got shots on a lot of big Snook and a few Reds but couldn’t seal the deal. After a sandwich and a Gatorade, it was back to the lesson at hand.
We motored Dustin’s Ankona Copperhead in until it got too shallow. He took the first shift on the back of the boat. We poled until the bottom brought the skiff to a dead stop. So far we were about 30 minutes into creeping toward this creek and hadn’t seen any fish except an occasional Mullet. Decision time: Do we go back to the spots where we knew there were fish? Or get out and attempt to push the skiff through the mud to get to our desired location? Quickly we decided to go ahead and give it a shot to see if in fact there was fish or even water there.
Dustin had only brought flip flops and I was wearing sandals. Luckily, the bottom was pretty forgiving. Long story short, we walked the boat down the creek trying not to step on anything sharp. As we rounded a corner it started getting deeper and we noticed two small Snook as they reclusively slipped back into the Mangroves. Dustin stuck the pin in the mud to hold the boat. I grabbed a rod and he the camera. A couple casts into the bushes and I missed a strike. As I was cursing, Dustin was yelling, “Drop it back in there!” The next cast was successful and I pulled a baby Snook out of his hiding place. After a quick photo and release, followed by a fist bump, the tone had changed. We pushed on.
With a fair amount of effort squeezing the skiff under and between several overgrown Mangroves, we were able to make it another 50 yards or so. But, we could see the end of our passage ahead. We weren’t getting the skiff past here.
Under the tree we could see a couple nice size Sheepshead, lots of baby Snook, and a constant flow of Mullet. I immediately grabbed a rod and hooked a small Snook in super tight quarters. I hopped down and handed off the rod. A Jack gave Dustin a good challenge as it tries to get back into the safety of the tree roots. D prevails!
We agree that we have no choice but to exit the skiff and press on. Dustin decides to stay in the creek barefoot with his camera while I take the high road with the fly rod. (I at least have protection on the bottom of my feet.) I followed the creek balancing on the barnacle covered Mangrove roots trying not to break the rod. Meanwhile, I could hear Dustin’s discomfort as he was trying not to lose a toe to the Oysters. Near the edge of the creek, Dustin says his feet are getting pretty abused. He holds up a foot and asks how bad it looks. I can see a couple small trickles of blood, but calmly say, “It doesn’t look bad from here”.
We keep moving, consistently seeing fish. All that is needed is a clearing wide enough to make a short cast. Within a few more minutes Dustin was able to look at his own feet, which I’m sure made them hurt much worse. He decided to head back. After catching a few more little guys I slowly made my way back to the skiff too.
I climbed back on board the skiff. Dustin was able to catch a few more of these little guys before we attempted to back the boat out of the creek. We will be back and a little better prepared next time!
To Be Continued…