A lot of people drive across the White Oak River at the Highway 24 bridges in Swansboro. A far smaller number visitors venture up the White Oak in a boat. The zig and zag of the mostly marked channel in the White Oak tends to limit the number of out of town visitors. There are only a handful of folks who regularly kayak on the White Oak between the Croatan National Forest Access in Cedar Point and the bridges. Up river where I am the number dwindles to almost zero.
Many weeks from March through January I am out on the river three or more times either in my kayak or our skiff. I even manage once a week trips during February which is usually our coldest month. I have only been within hailing distance of another kayak once in my years on the river. The river just does not get a lot of traffic. It is not unusual for me to see a boat or two while I am kayaking. However, that is not much on a river almost two miles wide.
When you are driving over the bridges in Swansboro unless you are an experienced boater or kayaker, the White Oak looks like a lot of water. Those of us who spent a fair amount of time on the river know that some of that water is spread pretty thin.
I have been kayaking on the river for seven years this fall. While I try not to be over confident, the river is a pretty reliable friend if you respect its moods. Most of us will agree that the river can change pretty quickly. I have taken our boat down to Swansboro which is only ten minutes counting the time that it takes to idle through Raymond's Gut to the river. Sometimes when I turn around in Swansboro Harbor and head home a few minutes later I wonder who has stolen my nice quiet river.
There are times when the river is a really magical friendly place. Wednesday, October 30, 2013, was one of those days. I could tell from my morning walk that the river was like glass. It was one of those mornings when I feel a strong call from my kayak. While I had a few things to do, I still managed to get on the river by 9:30 AM. I ended up kayaking nearly three miles.
The currents and winds were nearly balanced, and it was pretty easy to hold my position even while fishing some of the cuts that I have found to be profitable places to chase my favorite river fishes.
I had only been fishing around the rocks for a few minutes when I hooked my first trout. I could tell it was a small one so I was not very upset when it managed to get off.
I fished a few more of the best spots along the rocks until I hooked up with something much more substantial. I carefully played the trout and it was not very long before I was slipping a net under the 17.5" fish and hooking it to my stringer.
I fished an hour longer but never got another hit. I did spend some time just resting on the rocks and enjoying the river. As the tide falls there are a number places that I go in the kayak that I could never reach in my skiff. That makes the time and place even more special.
If you want to have a look at my most recent kayak trip on the river, check out this Picasa web album. The pictures can be seen on a map. The album is a good tour of the river near our home.
Kayaking is just one of the things you can do on a big coastal river to have fun but it is one of the neatest ways to get close to the river. Having great kayaking water nearby is one of the reasons we live along the western edge of Carteret County.
Even as the weather cools more, there will be plenty more time to enjoy our inlet in my kayak and maybe a few more blue water mornings for our skiff. We can have nearly perfect weather at times even into November and sometimes December.