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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Dazzling Day on the Water

I emailed a friend a picture of his boat taken as we were turning from the Bogue Inlet channel to the Intracoastal Waterway. He emailed back and asked when I found a day that the wind was not blowing. I laughed because that can be a challenge this time of year, but last Wednesday my mind was set on lining things up for a day on the water. I quickly struck out with both my partners for Thursday. Refusing to give up, I slipped out anyway for a short sunset cruise that evening, but I felt very fortunate when I got the call that a fishing buddy's schedule had opened up so we could hit the water on Friday. With the weather cooperating, we started making plans to go out. High on my list was to see how the Inlet came through the winter. I had also heard that some fish were being caught in the Coast Guard Channel, so that was also on my list. I went to bed dreaming of blue skies and calm emerald colored seas.
Morning dawned with very little wind and perfect blue skies. After breakfast, my errand to get bait and ice took less than an hour. I had the ice loaded, and most of the gear on board when my buddy, Brian, arrived.

We were pulling away from the dock at 10 AM, but the waters were so smooth that we were wishing that we had gone out early for some Spanish mackerel. Given this was our first real trip of the year, our choice was to first head out to the Inlet and figure what had happened over the winter.

Our trip to Swansboro was a quick one with no traffic and only light chop on the river. We were surprised to see the harbor empty. I guess the boats that spend the night here had already left for the day. Still, we usually see a boat or two.

The trip down the Intracoastal to the turn for Bogue Inlet was even smoother than the White Oak River, but as we turned to go out the Inlet, we got into the really nice water. While it was not as slick as glass, you can see from the picture which was taken from the Inlet looking towards the Point at Emerald Isle, we had very smooth boating.

The run from the Intracoastal to where the Inlet really meets the ocean is one of my favorite boat trips. The scenery is some of the most spectacular on the east coast. From beautiful open expanses of shimmering water to the green marsh grasses and temporary sandy beaches that show up at low tide, this area captures the meaning of living on the Crystal Coast better than any spot that I know.

It is an area with waters that are bound to delight anyone who has the luck to make it out on a day like last Friday. Whether you are walking one of the almost deserted low water beaches, fishing one of the cuts or some of the structure along the Inlet, or just sitting in a beach chair staring at the water, this is a place that is meant to be enjoyed, cherished, and protected.

Ask anyone who has ever enjoyed the beaches in Bogue Inlet, and they will tell how special it is to feel like you have your own beach in a world of spectacular beauty.

As we passed the beaches, we nosed our way out the Inlet into the ocean and could see only a couple of buoys and a dredge working in the channel. We wanted to work our way down Bear Island a little, anchor, and perhaps fish just offshore. A couple of really big swells changed our mind, and we headed back inside the Inlet. Our conclusion is that the Inlet has changed a lot since last year. It will take a fair amount of exploring to find some new fishing spots. We went almost back to the ICW before turning up the Coast Guard Channel and heading toward the backside of the Point.

It was warm and beautiful in the Channel, but there was no keeper-sized fish that we could find so we headed over to fish some waters bordering the marshes near Swansboro. Our luck was not much better there, so we gassed up at Dudley's Marina and headed back up the White Oak River.

The river waters had calmed and the ride back up the White Oak was even smoother than the ride out the Inlet. We pulled up to fish off Silver Creek Plantation, and within minutes of joking that we only needed a Sea Robin and Lizardfish to have a grand slam of trash fish, I reeled in a Sea Robin.

Fortunately, the spell was soon broken, and the next two fish were bluefish which is all we needed to hook us for another dazzling day on the water. By then we had been on the water for five hours so we headed back to the dock and started planning our next trip.

Now we just have to get the weather to cooperate once again. The good news is that summer is just starting, and the last couple of weeks here on the Southern Outer Banks have been pretty special, but there will be plenty of time for getting out on the water this summer. Then there is always fall behind summer.

Some pictures of a White Oak River trip can be found at this link.

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