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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Day In Bogue Inlet

I have been hoping that the tides, weather, and schedules would all align properly so I could get out to Bogue Inlet on a July morning while the waters are still calm. Today we pulled away from our dock about twenty minutes until ten. One of the reasons that I enjoy getting out before the winds pick up is the smooth ride down the White Oak River. This morning there was not even a ripple on the White Oak. We did around 32 mph all the way to bridge at Swansboro where we slowed to go through the harbor. I stopped long enough in the harbor to cast at a bluefish chasing fish on the surface, but my lure was ignored so we made our way through the harbor and swung east into the Intracoastal and got back up on plane until we got to the no wake zone at the Wildlife Resources Ramp. After passing through that zone, we resumed speed and passed a catamaran under power also headed east.
It was not long before we were making a sweeping turn into the channel to the Inlet. There was still really no traffic or waves so we made great time. We were turning to look for the fishing hole I found last week just after 10 AM.

It took just a few more minutes for my fishing buddy Dean to throw the anchor out. We had lines in the water shortly after that. I am actually amazed that it is so easy to get to a great fishing spot.

A fair amount of planning goes into our fishing trips, but a lot of the preparation has been reduced to a routine. Most of the long range planning involves schedules. Then I watch the weather and tides. When things seem to be coming together, I call Dean the night before. He can usually get a day off as long as he calls in the night before.

The next morning, I make a run to Clyde Phillips for some shrimp. I usually buy nice shrimp for bait since we cook up whatever is left over after fishing. I will often stop at Dudley's Marina for some hooks and my favorite Gulps, which are white plastic mullets that the flounder seem to favor. Then I stop by the automated ice machine on Highway 58 and get three bags of ice.

After I get home, I start loading the boat. I usually put the ice and the shrimp cooler on first. Next I will get my two tackle buckets and my one tackle bag. Then I have two floating bags that I bring on board. One has a waterproof box with all my boat papers including the report from my latest Coast Guard check about a week ago. The other floating bag has a waterproof pouch with my fishing license, driver's license, credit card, and $20. I usually bring the GPS and emergency radio on board in that bag. I have a plastic container that protects the connectors for the GPS. When I put the GPS in place, I stow the container in the floating bag.

Next I bring on board, a two compartment bucket that has our throw pillow and with an attached line. If we are not trolling, I have just three rods that I use. Then I load some beverages and towels. I take the lines off the dock. If it has been a while since I have had the boat out, I usually have the anchor on the dock so it has to also be loaded.

Finally after counting life vests and making sure all the other safety equipment is on board, I put the plug in the boat. Dean usually gets to the dock early enough to help with the loading.

The secret to getting away easily is to leave the boat in good shape after your most recent trip. That usually means washing things down, fueling, and checking all the equipment before you call it a night.

Boating is a lot of fun, but it is also more work than you might imagine. As far as I am concerned the fun far out weighs the work.

Today was one of those great days. As I switched from driving hat to my full brimmed fishing hat, it crossed my mind that most people never get to enjoy the water like we do here on the Crystal Coast. Certainly even if they get out on the water their surroundings cannot match the beauty of Bogue Sound and Bogue Inlet and their warm waters. These are special places, and I feel blessed each time I scan the blue horizon here.

Today after we had fished a few minutes I realized that I had put us in the wrong place. We moved a little further towards Hammocks Beach and found the structure that I had located last week. We did not catch anything to write home about, but we did land a flounder, a couple of sharks, two lizardfish, some pin fish, and some croakers.

I did have the special pleasure of catching my fish with an Abu Garcia 5000 reel that I have used since I was six or seven years old. Having an an old reel like that made the fishing especially fun.

We had enough bites to keep things interesting. Three bottle nosed dolphins swam through the Inlet. The catamaran that we had passed came out the Inlet and headed out into the ocean. We caught fish, watched people play on the nearby low water beach, and enjoyed the warm breeze.

We even got to see someone power his vee bottomed boat up onto the beach. They then managed to nap in the sun for an hour or so. Of course putting your boat on a beach when the tide is going out is not a particularly good idea. As we were motoring away, we saw them gather up a dozen people to try to push their boat back in the water. The boat looked to be pretty high and dry to me. I suspect the 9 PM high tide would be the best hope for getting the boat off the beach.

If you get a chance to boat in Bogue Sound or Inlet, do not pass up the opportunity. It is truly a lot of fun. It will create some memories that you will never forget.

As pulled back up to dock around 3 PM, the only question was when can we do it again?

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