Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hell's/Pearl Bay 11/19-20/08

The original plan called for camping up in the Indian River Lagoon spoil islands but with 20-25mph North winds that was out of the question. I've been itching for some backcountry fishing for some time now and I read a report saying the fish were slowly getting into the deep to Hell's Bay we went.

I took a demo boat from the store and crammed all my kit into it the day before just to see if it would all fit, it did, and now I could carry a cooler for beer! not that I would need the cooler to keep the brew cold anyway.
We decided that with the low temps there was no point in getting a pre-dawn start, we filed our backcountry permit at 9am and were on the trail about 45 minutes later. The trail is super-tight in some spots and ungodly beautiful, even with the wind ripping through the mangroves around us the water was dead calm.

It was chilly through-out the day, we saw no signs of life save for one or two herons and a few buzzards...just quiet stillness and clear tannin-stained water with no movement. We made it to Pearl Bay around noon and made lunch, with hot chocolate to warm us up. With scupper plugs I managed to stay pretty dry but my hands were getting wet and went numb pretty quickly, I had to warm them by my stove to regain feeling...I've been in Florida too long.

We explored Pearls Bay, ventured into the East side of Hell's Bay and fished everywhere with only one trout to show for it, a pretty trout though as he had been up in the backcountry so long he turned bronze, pretty cool. We saw what we thought was a school of reds pushing on a flat just before sunset but they were gone just as fast as they came.
The night on the chickee was cold...damn cold, we watched the stars and contemplated ways to catch the tiny snapper we saw roaming underneath the chickee just to say we caught more fish but we got distracted by shooting stars.

The next moring we awoke and watched the sunrise, broke camp, and slowly fished our way back across the larger bays with not one sign of anything moving in the water, anywhere. We took our time paddling back and taking in the scenery, the little kayak I borrowed really made the trip a breeze...had I brought the 15' kayak I would have had a bit rougher of a time, like Matt did...he took it in stride and on the return journey he had it down to a art form.

I was home by 3pm and after a hot shower I made another batch of hot chocolate and fell asleep...can't wait till the next one in December.

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