Adventure Angling Q and A: “Ask the experts, then try Gary.”


[dropcap]A[/dropcap]s a public service, I’ve decided to respond with answers to the most frequently asked questions about wade and kayak fishing around the Big Bend coastline. So far, the number one query I get from folks who encounter me at water’s edge is “Do you know you have something stuck in your teeth?” Sometimes the questions are more relevant to catching fish. For example:

Q: What is the easiest creek to wadefish in the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge? —Mel LaNoma, Tallahassee

A: Great question, Mel! Hike or bike 2.5 miles east on the Deep Creek levee, then just past a small spillway you’ll find the origin of Cedar Creek. Unlike many area waterways, Cedar Creek features mostly firm sand footing, many sandbars at low tide, and few sharp rocks or oyster clumps to disturb your trek. You can easily wade most of its length in two hours. I’ve never caught a damn thing in that creek.

Q: How do you decide whether to wade or kayak a fishy creek or stretch of shoreline? —Robin Zeggs, Sopchoppy

A: Another good one! Robin, it all depends what kind of surgery you pre- fer. If you have a hankering for rotator cuff repair, your best bet is to wait for a super windy day, and launch just as the incoming tide starts against you. Be sure to vastly underestimate the paddling distance to your honey hole, and use an old cracked paddle that breaks right as you start stroking back for home…into the outgoing tide. If knee surgery is more your cup of tea, load a backpack with 30 pounds of gear and tackle, and seek out the goopy bogs of Oyster Bay or Stoney Bayou.

Throwing at least a 7 foot cast net while anchored in mud markedly improves your potential for shredding knee cartilage. The choice is yours!

Q: For Father’s Day, I have made an absolute guarantee to my Dad that I am going to get him into some fish. Now the pressure is on! Where do we go for a sure thing?Jerry Mander, Monticello

A: Launch into Ochlockonee Bay off Mashes Sands Road, and paddle west along the north shoreline until you reach Tide Creek. Wade onto shore, walk to Angelos, and order the charbroiled amberjack.

Q: Do you have a “back-up” plan to keep from getting “skunked” on really tough fishing days?Hugh Jorgan, Woodville

A: Well, Hugh, the key is “flexibility.” You need to re-define what “skunked” means. Specifically, on outings when not a single redfish, trout, or flounder “cooperates,” a ladyfish, gar, stingray, or mullet can “save the day.” One trip was a “goose egg” for me until my anxious mudminnow attracted a diving loon. Who says your catch must have “fins?”

Q: Hey, are you making fun of me for using quotation marks?

A: If the shoe fits, “Hugh.”

Q: That’s it, smart guy. I’m coming after you.

A: You can find me at the coast. I suggest wading after me in Oyster Bay. Wear flip-flops.