So the temperature was low, but the forecast called for sunny skies and we had a great opportunity to explore an area I have never been to….that was worth taking a day off. Tommy Thompson and I brought the kayaks back from Steinhatchee and met up with Tom Tumbleson, an experienced canoe fisherman who wanted to try kayaking, and Capt. Rod Hunt, well-known naturalist and wilderness guide (http://www.kayakcedarkey.com/wilderness.php). We met up at the Shell Mound ramp, just past the airboat ramp and small and well-maintained park northwest of Cedar Key. The water was low, but we were able to launch.
We had gotten fairly negative fishing reports, but we were less interested in catching fish than exploring a new area. The water temperature was in the mid to high ’40’s which suggested we were in for a tough morning, but the creeks were beautiful. Much of the area has a firm enough bottom for wading, including this sand bar that Tom is exploring on foot, casting to a deep hole at the end of the bar.
We worked our way slowly down the creek, finding one area requiring portage. Just before we got to the shallowest area, we came into a short stretch of wider creek that was holding a good bunch of large mullet…and a really hungry pelican. In spite of Tommy’s best efforts, his topwater plug looked enough like a mullet that the adolescent pelican was on it in a nanosecond.
Rod managed to get the bird to his kayak and a little minor surgery, with Tommy serving as scrub nurse, soon had the pelican back in fine shape.
We continued down the creek toward a large bay and in spite of considerable effort, the water temp (by now only 48 degrees) was still a bit cold for activity. I had one redfish take a soft plastic jerk bait around one of the many excellent shell bars but was unable to get him to the kayak. We had to get back to Gainesville, which was too bad, because by the time we got near the launching area, the water was higher and warmer, the mullet were much more active, and the fishing would have been much improved. In spite of the tough fishing, it was a great trip. The area is largely untouched, although Rod and Tom said that on weekends it can get crowded as more and more kayakers, canoers and airboaters are coming to enjoy the beauty of Shell Mound. If you are interested in a wonderful fishing or sightseeing trip, please contact Rod Hunt at email@example.com or through the Kayak Ceder Keys website at http://www.kayakcedarkey.com/wilderness.php. You’ll have a great and unique adventure.