Monday, January 18, 2010

Canoeing and kayaking St Charles Bay, from Big Tree towards Cavasso Creek

The weather finally warmed and a week of forecasts in the seventies had us loading our canoe and heading to St Charles Bay. We had always wanted to canoe the west shore of the bay but had never had such a good forecast, both warm and calm. Among other things we hoped to see the Whooping Cranes that we had heard from Big Tree and I wanted to explore the area for fishing.
We launched our craft and Val quickly took off. Her kayak glides so quickly compared to our canoe, and it makes us want to get kayaks. We headed north and quickly came to a man made channel that took us along some old and run down summer cottages.
Wanting to explore it we decided to wait till we came back and instead paddled past its opening and towards the Aransas Wildlife Refuge.
An obvious point stood out and it turned out to be an oyster reef that scrapped the bottom of our canoe so we went wide around the projecting reef. Large white birds appeared on shore, a flock of seven birds but we didn't think they were whoopers as it would be unusual for seven to gather in such a small territory. Later we saw two large white birds away from each other but of course we didn't bring the binoculars and so they also remained unconfirmed.
A belted kingfisher provided us entertainment as we ate lunch. It was perched above the water in a grotto of live oak trees that told of the prevailing wind direction and hinted at storms past. It was upset with us for invading its favorite perch and flew away before returning to stubbornly claim its special place.
We had traveled about two and a half miles and of course the wind came up so we turned back south and fought against the wind and waves until we reached the point. The wind then died completely as if it had decided we had had enough exercise for the day.
Paddling easily we turned into the man made channel and had a very close encounter with a some roseattes. They finally flew away but a black crowned night heron stood its perch and simply glared at us as Renita took its picture. A snowy egret waded in the back of the channel as we passed broken docks and once nice camps, but now forgotten.
Heading back into the bay we headed south and passed our trucks. I cast a jig, tipped with a pumpkinseed and chartreuse tail but nothing bothered me. Mullet were everywhere and I was surprised that no trout or red fish seemed to lurk beneath the surface.
We stopped rowing and simply enjoyed the warmth of the suns rays and the stillness of the water. Tired from our five mile journey we headed back to the trucks and waited as two other kayaker's loaded their boats and a couple of small red fish. It had been a great day of canoeing and we thanked Val for joining us. As always, we wish you clear skies.

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