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Wrong Turn at Albuquerque

I woke up at 5:30 today, ready to hit the freshwater nearby (i.e. "Lake Ida"). Why? Because I was skunked yesterday and I knew that I could get some fish in there, even if they're the "mystery fish" I've written about before. I put in at 6:15 or so, rigged up, and paddled to "my spot." A large RV rolled into the park just as I pushed off, but I didn't give it much thought. I fished, caught (and released) three more mystery fish, and paddled back in around 8. I passed a lot of news vans and a fair number of police cars. The large RV was in fact a crime scene investigation vehicle.

As I was loading up my gear, an older gentleman asked me how I like fishing from a kayak. I told him I'm quite new to it, but that it's worked out beautifully so far. He appreciated my rigging, and asked how difficult they were to paddle and balance. I in turn asked him how the hell you catch bass in Lake Ida, and his answer was simply "worms. topwaters in the spring." He too spoke of the "mystery fish." Hrmph.

I asked him about the vans, and he informed me that someone fell off an inner tube (the kind you tow behind a boat) and drowned the night before, and that they had to wait until this morning to pull the body from the water. Yet another reminder to wear your PFD when on the water, folks.

I returned home, still largely unsatisfied with my fishing during my two days off. I made plans to go to Jupiter to fish the Loxahatchee River. I checked tide charts, weather, and put in a call to find the best launch site. I then drove the 45 minutes north. I bought myself a Bending Branches hat and I picked up a set of wheels for José's kayak before putting in at the boat launch (marked "BR" on the map below)

kayak_map_jupiter.gifThis is about where things get ridiculously stupid. I knew that I had to head "left and under a bridge" to get to the Loxahatchee River. I faithfully made a left after exiting the boat ramp, crossed under a bridge, and paddled, looking for the fork in the Loxahatchee River. The fork that's a half mile or so up-river. Four miles of paddling later, I saw an older guy working on his yacht. I asked him where I was. His answer? "North Palm Beach, on the intercoastal." A quick glance at the map will reveal my error to you - I needed to make a right from the boat ramp before going left. "How far from the Loxahatchee River am I?" I asked the old guy. His answer: "only four or five miles."

I'm an idiot.

The wind coming back was brutal. So brutal at times that I couldn't move the airborne side of the paddle forward into it to complete a paddle stroke on the waterborne side. I feathered my paddle to complete the trek back to my starting point, thinking "well, at least I got to see some nice homes" the whole way back. Hrmph.

Returning to the boat ramp, I took a restroom break before heading in the correct direction. Grrr. I headed up the river, took the right-most branch, and paddled into the wind, figuring I'd toss some topwaters and some jerkbaits as the wind pushed me back. About thirty minutes into this exercise, I hooked a silver fish - surprising because the water was barely brackish at this point. He leapt a few times, made a few runs, and threw the hook during a leap about 45 seconds into the fight. Spectacular! This made my day.

Tossing in the same general direction (though about 200 yards downwind from the previous location) immediately after losing the silver fish, I latched onto a two foot tarpon. He too made several runs, several leaps, and was nearly beside the kayak six times before he got close enough for me to even consider making a grab for his lip after about five or six minutes. Two feet (though not too fat) as verified later at the dock (I measured between two points on the side of my kayak). I'm terrible at estimating weight, so I'll say 12 pounds. I revived him and he sped off into the murky waters. Someone on dock (and by "dock" I mean one of the ones behind every house in this area) clapped and whooped and hollered. Yay for me.

But I'm still an idiot.

Total paddling distance in the past two days (almost none of which was in calm conditions): about 25 miles.
Total fish caught, fresh and salt water, by me: five.
Level of exhaustion I feel right now, on a scale of 1-10: 8.

I think that next week I'm going to lay off the fishing one of my two "weekend" days and just help José pack. Maybe we'll get out on Lake Wellington for a fun paddle, and maybe I'll wet a line to see about those bass, but I doubt it. I owe him a "fun day." Maybe the other day I'll head up north of Jupiter for some actual fishing (the fishing, according to what several people told me, is not that great in the Loxahatchee River in Jupiter).

One Response to "Wrong Turn at Albuquerque"

  1. Last 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...