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Un-Beaching a Manatee

manatee.jpgLast week I went to Jupiter because I had no other place to go. This week, I couldn't decide where to go, so I went to Jupiter again. This time I went the proper direction - I didn't paddle 8 miles out of my way. Stupid me. I'm still kicking myself over that one last week…

My goal this week was to fish the inlet. I was actually going to ride the outgoing tide out into the ocean, but I could see enough waves out there that I chickened out and ducked up the Indian River.

I pulled onto the shore and cast a silver spoon. Caught nothing, and was delayed for 15 or 20 minutes while some manatees made the area directly in front of me their playground. Towards the end, a manatee beached himself checking me out. I knew they weren't the brightest creatures, but I shouldn't have to help push a manatee back into the water. The rest of his pod was laughing at him, I'm sure, as they "hovered" in the water with their heads poking out. Me? I was just trying not to get arrested (or to hook one).

After pushing Albert back in (I named him), I thought they swam off, so I got in my boat and paddled further up the Indian River. Then I saw them following me. The water was crystal clear, and believe me, they scared the bejeezus out of me. I've heard enough stories of people being knocked out of their boats by manatees that a one-ton (or however big they get) creature coming up to within a foot of my boat in 15 or 20 feet of moderately flowing water gave me quite a thrill. I eventually paddled fast enough (staying close to shore so they couldn't come along as easily) to escape them.

I went further up the river and cast both topwaters against the mangroves and my spoon. I even trolled with a diving lure while heading up-river. Finally realizing that I haven't got a clue what I'm doing, I headed back to the launch and came home. The fact that I'm writing this at 1:30 and that I launched at 7:30 should illustrate how little fishing I actually got in today.

The sad fact is that I haven't heard of any kayak fisherman within about 45 miles of me. There are a bunch south (south Ft. Lauderdale to the keys) and a bunch to the north, but I've yet to locate anyone nearby.

I haven't got a clue what I'm doing (okay, I have a clue, but still, not much). I used to fly fish streams and troll in Lake Erie - this is obviously different. I expect that. I will have to spend years building up my own knowledge, getting frustrated, and so on, because there's nobody over here near me that's established and knows "where to go."

I don't need help in technique (well, no more than anyone else I mean). I'm not new to fishing. I am new to the area, to this version of fishing, and I don't know where to go or what to do once I get there.

Very frustrating. I'd say "screw it all" and just bass fish for the rest of my life except, well, once you get a taste of steelhead fishing, bass really don't cut it all the time. I want Jacks. I want Tarpon. I want Snook. I want Reds. I want Bonefish.

- Frustrated Floating Fisherman in Florida

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