Saturday, December 19, 2009

Clear skies! Canoeing the Blackjack Peninsula

The weather finally broke, the skies cleared, and it warmed up so we headed out to Goose Island State Park for a day of fishing and canoeing. George and Val and Dave and Jane all joined us for the adventure.
Getting live shrimp for bait, we drove to the park and walked out onto the fishing pier. It wasn't long before Dave had a sheephead and then a nice one! Val kept casting for trout and George was fishing live shrimp but it didn't take long before Renita and I switched to sheephead fishing.
Soon Renita had a fish and then another. She caught a keeper and it went on the stringer. The fish were biting as fast as we threw in, it was really crazy! Most of the fish were undersized but it was fun to catch so many fish, and we did end up with enough for supper!
Stoping for lunch, we decided to go canoeing and kayaking with Val. She launched ahead of us and soon disappeared around the bend, her kayak is so much faster than our canoe! We pushed off and headed towards the Bartel Islands. The water was so much deeper in the bay than last year and we glided across oyster beds that would have grounded us.
With the water so high it made the trip much quicker and with no wind we soon reached the Blackjack Peninsula. Paddling further than we planned we rounded a bend and could see the intercoastal and some large white wading birds, whooping cranes perhaps? We were along the Aransas Wildlife Refuge so it was certainly possible but without our binoculars we just couldn't be sure.
Stopping, our peace and quite was disturbed as several air boats roared by. Air boats are a Texas tradition and the local guides use them to take their clients to duck blinds. There have actually been close encounters with kayaks and air boats and the air boat are blaming the kayaks for close misses! What a joke.
We canoed back on the outside of the Bartel Islands. The water was so smooth it was really amazing to have such perfect weather! We passed several islands that were crowded with birds and Renita took images of Dunlins,(a new bird for us), and long billed curlews. We even got near a rosette spoonbill that watched us warily as we paddled by!
It had been a great day of fishing and exploring and birding, all reasons why we are here on the Texas Coastal Bend. Arriving back at the landing we met George who had been patiently fishing the pier, while we explored the islands. Life is so good! Clear skies.

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