Monday, February 14, 2011

Evening On Waccasassa Bay

Above, my friend and fellow teacher, Captain Denny.

I say, "Captain", because Denny is also a Licensed Fishing Guide in the Cedar Key area.
Lucky me, I am the occasional guinea pig (his wife would say "chaperone") when he gets in the mood to go scouting or messing around on his own time.

Since my own boat, 'Summer School" is in need of a new engine, I always jump at the chance to go with Denny.

Saturday, our plan was to fish for redfish, (aka red drum, red bass, channel bass ...), during the last few hours of daylight.
After the sun set, we would try our luck at gigging sheepshead around the oystery rocks of Waccasassa Bay.

It was cold and a pretty stiff breeze out in the bay made the boat ride south from Cedar Key bouncy and nippy. The calm scene above is up a creek where the mud banks and tall spartina grass blocks much of the wind.

The wild coast in the background of that picture is part of Waccassassa Bay State Preserve. 30,000+ acres of wild, wet, wonderful Florida.

The dark lump is a dolphin hunting the shallows.
Dang this digital delay!!!!

There were three of them and they were half out of the water when we first saw them as they crossed a shallow bar.

So, I mostly missed them photographically, but let me tell you, they were real and they were spectacular.

I cropped the picture above. This entire oyster bar was covered in ... knots? dunlin? small brown and white shore birds?

... Yes, that's it ... help me out here Zick.

I like that scene because it shows that counter shading works not just in the air, but even when perched. I know they are easy to see in this zoomed and cropped photo, but passing by at a distance, it just looked like so many oysters.

Waccasassa Bay is a curvy bit of the Florida coast between Cedar Key and Crystal (not anymore) River.

There is almost no road access to it except for a boat ramp at Yankeetown and at the two cities mentioned above. The bay is shallow, rocky, and an eater of propellers ... which is why Denny chose his aluminum tunnel hull boat with a water jet propulsion system instead of a regular propeller.

This allowed us to creep into creeks with only a few inches bottom clearance.

We did not catch any fish, but I bet we saw a thousand or more wild ducks ... mostly scaup.

Flocks on the whipping bay surface, flocks cutting across our path at wave top level, and strings of a hundred or more cruising across the sky as the sun set.

I did not miss the redfish, because there was so much going on all around us.

The setting sun should have signaled the switch from fishing pole to gig, but the wind never laid down. The wind made gigging some supper completely out of the question.
With no calm water, we would not be able to see our targets (the waves diffuse the light), so we cruised slowly back to Cedar Key, enjoying the setting sun and the constant flocks of ducks.

Gulf afterglow.


threecollie said...

Pure magic!

lisa said...

I have to agree with threecollie and lucky you to have a friend with a boat to take you as a chaperone!

kevin said...

A Seinfeld reference...nice!

Looks like pretty cool trip, too bad you couldn't stick a fish. A fish would've just been gravy anyway.

LauraHinNJ said...

I vote Dunlin!

(because of those decurved bills)

The Florida Blogger said...

I was going to get out in my yak this past weekend, but the wind was just a bit too strong and cold. This weekend is looking much better!

Sandcastle Momma said...

A day in paradise. Thanks for sharing!

LaDivaCucina said...

Wow, beautiful way to end the day! I would have missed the birds on the oyster bed too! ya gotta have a sharp eye to be a nature lover, don'tcha?

Looking at all the swampy grass, all I can say is, I'd get LOST. No landmarks! Why don't you? Water markers? Everything looks the same to me!

I'm ashamed to admit, I missed the Seinfeld reference! : )

Floridacracker said...

Very magical.

Yup and he's a really good fish finder too. Normally. LOL!

Very good Grasshopper. You show promise.

Thanks! I thought that too, but posted before checking.

It was a bit whippy out there for a kayak.

Pretty paradisical for sure!

La Diva,
Isn't it wonderful? No landmarks, just a sun to keep you oriented.
Of all people to miss that reference, ahem ... LOL!

LaDivaCucina said...

I got it, I got it!!!!! You are right, how could I, ME, LA DIVA, missed THAT ONE??! Good one, FC, spectacular even.... hehehe.......!!!!

Floridacracker said...

La Diva,
Too funny!

SophieMae said...

Shoot! I was hoping to skim through and see a sheepshead shot! They're such cool looking fish. Super sunset snaps, anyhow!

I've missed piles of porpoise poses due to digital delay. Very vexatious!

Floridacracker said...

Tru Dat! (texting too much)

Sayre said...

I love watching dolphins corral fish in the shallows. An amazing sight for those who've never seen it happen!

Floridacracker said...

Yup! Like a wolf pack working in coordination.
Tough to be a mullet in that scenario.

Julie Zickefoose said...

I feel late and dull. Thank you, Laura for dunlining FC last week. I can't find a Seinfeld reference wherever I look.
But I sure like that sunset.