Friday, October 11, 2013

Big Lagoon Boondoggle Fly Fishing

Thursday, October 10th Lewis and Henry met Marian and me at our house to caravan down to Pensacola, Florida for the Columbus Day Big Lagoon Boondoggle hosted by Kayak Fishing Radio and YakAngler.com. So what is a boondoggle? A boondoggle is not a tournament and there is no charge for attending a boondoggle event. The only fees that you will encounter are the cost of your transportation, lodging, meals, and if you wish to participate in the raffles you will need to purchase your tickets. The money raised from the raffle is donated to some local charity; normally like the local chapter of Heroes on the Water (HOW). HOW provides opportunities for wounded warriors to get on the water in a kayak and try to do some catching of fish. We managed to arrive at Big Lagoon State Park around midnight, sent up camp, and then crashed to get ready for some fly fishing for day one of the boondoggle.

As this is a boondoggle there really is not a schedule and since we usually fish in Charleston pretty seriously; the attitude here is just to have fun, meet new fishing buddies, fish with old fishing buddies, and tell some whopper fish tales. So for day one, Marian & I decided to fish using fly fishing equipment, Lewis was planning on fishing using spinning rods and lures, and Henry planned to use live shrimp. We decided to launch from the kayak launch near the tower where there is a nice grass flat. When we got to the flat Marian and I got out of the Jackson kayaks and waded to a spot to start casting our flies into the areas where the bait was activate in the hopes of hooking something. In the mean time Henry anchored about 300 yards from us and started to fish with the shrimp under a cork. Lewis just moved from spot to spot throwing various colors of Z Man on a jig head.
In no time Henry was whooping and hollering that he had a fish. In a little while he yelled that he
landed a nice flounder. At this time I noticed that Lewis had made his way across the lagoon and the Inter-Coastal Water way (ICW) fishing near the Gulf Islands National Shoreline. In the meantime Marian and I were throwing some flies with no luck. In a while Lewis radioed and reported that he was into catching. He was not sure what he had been catching but the description sounded like he was into some jack crevalles. They were not big but they would be fun on the fly rod so we got back into the Jackson kayaks to paddle across to the far shoreline that separated the Big Lagoon and the Gulf of Mexico.
When we got to the far shoreline, I thought that I would try to cast the fly rod from the high seat position while sitting. I seemed to be able to get some distance but not the distance that I can get while wading. While I was playing with the fly rod from the Jackson Big Tuna, Marian paddled the Jackson Cuda down to a small point from the Gulf Island National Shoreline. She staked out the Cuda in some shallow water, started wading, and casting the fly. She was getting some hits on the fly, missing some hook-ups, and even watched some fish follow the fly when she striped the fly back to her position.
I decided to get out of the Big Tuna to wade and fly fish. I started getting some strikes on the fly, so when the action slowed down I would move about 3 – 5 feet to another section to cast the fly into a new area. In a little bit I caught some movement in the water near me. I took a glance in the direction of the movement and about three feet from me was a sting ray swim by. Uff da! About this time Lewis started yelling that he managed to catch another first for him; a spanish mackerel. I continued to wade, cast, get some hits, and occasionally I would see a small jack crevalle or a needlefish follow the fly. Then I noticed a small moon jellyfish near me. Compared to the water clarity in the Big Lagoon I could make out more detail on this jellyfish compared to the ones that I have seen near the Charleston Jetties. Marian and I decided to walk across the narrow island to check out the Gulf.
We took the fly rods and walked across and waded in the Gulf’s clear greenish water. The wind was blowing into our faces but we tried to cast out into the wind and hoped that we could get some distance and maybe hook into something. Uff da!! We were not successful so we went back to the lagoon.
It was getting a little late, so we decided it was time to head back to the launch. Getting close to the launch the tide was really low. We had to get out of the kayaks, wade and pull the kayak through the skinny water and back to the kayak launch. While the first day of the Boondoggle had been a bust for the fly fishers but we had a great time on the water. Lewis and Henry also had their first; Henry with the flounder and Lewis with a jack crevalle and a spanish mackerel.
The rest of the day means meeting new yak anglers and meeting old friends. Maybe we crossed paths or tipped a beverage together. What is your day one Boondoggle story?

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