There are a lot of reasons that I choose to slide my kayak in the water behind our house and paddle out to the middle of the White Oak River. The view out our inlet just after I leave my dock is worth the paddle itself.
On the surface paddling out into the river is good exercise, but I get more out of the journey mentally than I do physically.
There is no other trip besides the quiet paddle to the middle of the river where I can lose myself to the elements so quickly and do it without burning any gasoline.
On my recent trip out our inlet to the river, I surprised an Osprey who took off with his catch of the day jumping mullet. I could also hear the scolding of the Kingfisher who is convinced that he is mayor of our inlet.
As long as the winds and waves are reasonable, the fifteen minutes of paddling to get to the big oyster beds in the middle of river isn't a huge challenge. It is a journey well worth taking.
The middle of the river is something of a refuge. It is protected by oyster rocks on several sides so no power boat is going to come within hundreds of feet even if there was one zooming up or down the river.
The main channel where the water is much deeper is in sight but not close to my anchorage. There are few boats on the White Oak much of the year aside from a local fisherman tending his crab pots. While there is traffic on the White Oak on the Fourth of July, it is nothing like what you would find in the Intracoastal Waterway.
As you can see from this picture which I took while anchored on the oyster rocks, there is not a lot of water even at high tide. When you are sitting on these oyster rocks, the view of the river is extraordinary. Aside from a little traffic noise from the Swansboro bridges far in the distance, the only sounds are wind and waves lapping against the side of my kayak.
With the new kayak anchor that my oldest daughter recently gave me as a present, I can pick a spot on the rocks and just relax with my thoughts and the elements. It is easy to absent-mindedly cast a Gulp on a jig head once in a while. There is always the hope of hitting a flounder on the head. Some of my most successful fishing has taken place close to the rocks.
Mostly in the spring I just enjoy being there. Floating on the foot water above the oyster rocks with the river spread out before me, it is easy to feel the magic of the place. I can imagine fishermen from hundreds of years ago being in the same spot.
While the river does change, there is a lot about it that stays the same. The tides come and go every day. The egrets, herons, and other birds have been fishing in the river a lot longer than any humans. Of course the blue crabs having been scavenging what they could find for eons.
After a couple of hours, I have managed to anchor in several of my favorite spots, and I know that I have about reached my limit for kayaking. At two hours or so, I need to get out and stretch so I pull the anchor and start paddling home.
As is often the case, the wind is to my back on the way home. I can easily get much of the way back to the dock with very little effort. It is easy to glide along, pushed by the wind, and take pictures or just enjoy the birds along the way. There are few areas birds whom I haven't seen at one time or the other while paddling back to the dock. I once got to witness a completely vertical dive of an Osprey as it grabbed a fish.
My most recent trip, I played hide and seek with a great egret on my way back to the dock. Sometimes the big birds ignore me when I am in my kayak, but that wasn't the case on this recent journey. They were always one second quicker than my camera.
If you get a chance to kayak the White Oak, make the effort to come up river beyond Jones Island so you can enjoy the scale of the river. If you are launching in Cedar Point at Croatan Trails just take a right up river. Going up river is well worth the paddling effort. Likely the wind is going to help you on the journey one way or the other.