Wednesday, February 11, 2009

2/10 - Guana "salty" Lake, 1st Yak trip

DOA Rob, is a big time kayaker. Armed with a 1/4 oz. dusty gray colored DOA Shrimp lure, his whippy fishing wands, and tiny spinning reels loaded with micro Power Pro super braid line. He's a student of Mark Nichols, inventor of the DOA. But has never even met Mark, or seen him "live" doing one of his famous fishing seminars.

But I have, numerous times. And Mark Nichols, "live" is not to be missed.

I gave Rob his nick-name. Because he's deadly with the DOA shrimp. Around here, it's Rob against BIG TROUT. Be it in his boat or his Hobie Kayak, you don't want to bet against him.

Our common interest is the love of catching and pursuing big Trout. And since half the time Rob's in his yak, I've been wanting to give it a try myself. Most kayaks look like they could easily be mid-evil lower back torture devices, to me. Then, you still have to paddle, cast, and get in and out of them. The "so-called" seats they have usually are nothing more than two "pads" a few straps, hooked into the yak. And I see smaller wiry guys, like Rob having a clear advantage when it comes to "NO" back support provided with these seats.

My problem has always been, that in my past life I have dug too many 3000 foot ditches by hand, pulled on too many sewer auger machines inside man holes, and lifted way to many heavy objects incorrectly. MY LOWER BACK NEEDS SUPPORT, if I'm going to paddle around all day long, and fish too.

So Rob got his hands on a 14' flat bottomed Kayak, that was a tandem model. He pulled out the second seat, and through a bit or research and development found that his old pedestal boat seat, which has a high back and is very comfortable, fit on top of the remaining plastic low back seat in this kayak. I was over at his house, and sat in it, and said...."Now this is perfect!"

Loads of leg room, stable, with a high stiff backed seat, a bit of extra height .
Rob says, "I think we have a yak for Dave!"

So for my very first adventure we planned on hitting Guana Lake on a nice windless, sunny warm day. And had high hopes of a possible trophy sized Trout, that the salty lake is famous for.

And that day was today.

Armed with a truck load of "stuff", a bucket full of live shrimp for each yak we deployed off the beach into the lake. The big yak was perfect for me. Comfortable, stable and roomy. Prior to planning our trip we put in 3 pole holders. But all I needed was one. For my float-rig rod.

The fishing has been tough to say the least in the big St. Johns river lately, due to it being February and having multiple below freezing nights down to the 20' our hopes weren't high that we'd catch anything in Guana Lake, with it's shallow depths, and very cold water. But the kayaking challenge was very low. And a really good place for me to have my first experience.

As a matter of fact, the experience would have been really good if I even lost a live shrimp to fish lips. I can say I never received even a "nibble". Rob, did though. His float went down once with what was a genuine fish, but it wasn't a good hook set and whatever it was, came off.

I had a really good set up going, so I thought.
My rod was right in front of me in a holder. So I could
drift my float out, and back paddle against the wind,
(since we forgot my anchor) and I could move around coaxing my float to different locations. Guana Lake had no current, just a light breeze.

I was really surprised to learn there is no structure out away from the dam. I constantly poked my paddle into the bottom, since it's very shallow, no more than 2-4 feet where we were.

And never felt or saw any hard bottom. It was either sand, or just dark black mud. But directly on the tidal side, what's referred to as the "saltwater side" or "ICW side", of the dam. There's all the oysterbeds you'd ever want. Maybe way back in the lake closer to the six mile boat ramp, maybe there's structure back in further? I don't know.

That's what makes the lake intriguing. We all know the place is loaded with Reds, Flounder, Trout, Drum, Croaker, Crabs, Aligators and much more. All with no "hard bottom" areas for the fish to feed and hide around??

I worked around as far as I dared to paddle, and Rob went back and anchored in front of the dam, where the only water flow is. And is usually packed with people when the fish are congregated there. When the dam's flowing either in or out of the lake it can be a fish fest. Most everyone has heard the stories of hundreds of Flounder being yanked from right in front of the dam, and then there's the Reds, and the Trout events, and shrimping, the crabbing. All because that's where the fresh "salt water" comes in and out and creates "flow", from the ICW side.

But, there's not a stitch of structure out there in front of the dam, or anywhere else for that matter that I saw. Just dips, and pot holes in the bottom.

Okay, now that I have a feel for the yak, it's time to try a creek with current and structure? And I told Rob we're going to either tote or tow two yaks to an area totally non-accessible to them any other way. To a creek with oysterbeds 20 feet tall rising out of the water like buildings. A area where you don't see anyone all day, there's no wakes, no jon-boats, no tugs, no one! And I'll use my boat as our "mother-ship" platform and jumping off point.

I will catch a big fish from a yak before this is all over.

More fishing info can be had about Guana Lake at this web site: