Friday, February 12, 2016
Ginnie Springs BOONDOGGLE!!
The YakAngler dot com Presidents’ Day Boondoggle for February 2016 was in Ginnie Springs Outdoors along the Santa Fe River near High Springs, Florida. Ginnie Springs is one of the clearest springs in Florida. With water temperatures at 72 degrees (F) the springs are perfect for river tubing, swimming, snorkeling, scuba and cave diving, and kayaking. The facility of Ginnie Springs Outdoors is made up of seven freshwater springs that are nestled in over 200 acres of woods along the Santa Fe River. It should be noted that no fishing is allowed in the seven springs. The area does have a small boat ramp into the Santa Fe River for the campers or if you elect to camp along their shoreline to can launch right where you camp.
The Santa Fe River, at least the sections that we paddled flows very easy. We did not experience any fast water. Fishing the river will provide the opportunities to bream (redfish, shellcracker, bluegill, etc.), catfish (channel, white, and bullheads), largemouth bass, and Suwannee bass. My goal on this Boondoggle was to hook into my first Suwannee bass. To accomplish this I decided to attempt to fish from the 2016 Jackson SUPerFISHal.
We arrived to the campground about mid-day on Friday and setup camp. They we drove to the boat ramp to explore the river along the shore of the campground. Marian was paddling the Cruise 12, my fishing buddy and his wife were in the Big Tuna, and me on the SUPerFishal using the Orion 25 qt cooler as my seat. We paddled against the current with no problems fishing and paddling towards Ginnie Spring. Lewis managed to strike first by catching a nice bluegill just past Dogwood Spring.
I found that the Orion Cooler made an outstanding sit on the SUP. I did notice that my JKrate interfered with the opening of the cooler as they both are about the same height. So I made a note to correct this by getting the JKrate Low, which will be a lower profile when behind the Orion Cooler and should not interfere with opening the cooler to get snacks and drinks. As soon as I past Ginnie Spring I managed to hook up on a small jumping bass. I prayed that maybe I could cross the targeted Suwannee bass from my list. Once on the SUPerFishal and close examination revealed the fish was a small largemouth. At this time we decided to drift back to the boat ramp and see who all had arrived for the BOONDOGGLE!!!
Saturday we loaded the trucks and headed to an outfitting company called Santa Fe Canoe Outpost for a seven mile drift trip to Rum Island. The folks were really helpful in getting us to the river with our kayaks and then we followed a driver to Rum Island Park where there is a boat launch where our trucks were parked waiting for us. The outfitter provided maps and a time table for various land marks to provide us an idea of how close we were to the takeout point. The trip is estimated at 3 hours but we know that it was going to take a lot longer as some of us were fishing as we drifted.
I managed to find a nice largemouth bass shortly after we started. Unfortunately that was the only bass that I managed to hook into. Lewis managed several along the drift including his first Suwannee bass. My other fishing buddy from Charleston on his first Boondoggle managed a nice redbreast. Just over 5 hours we arrived to the takeout point.
That evening we joined about 30 other Boondogglers for a nice campfire that grow to a bonfire to keep us warm as the temperatures were dipping close to freezing. Some of the folks called it an early night as some would be tearing down camp the next morning to head home on Sunday. The morning was spent visiting with the folks heading home to say good bye till the next Boondoggle.
For us die hearts there was some paddling and maybe some fishing yet to do. Any activities for Sunday would be short as those participating in the traditional Boondoggle Potluck will be preparing their donation for all to eat. There was a lot of great food but Jameson Redding’s red bowl was a hit with everyone. After the fire died down so did this Boondoggle. Now for those anglers waiting for the next Boondoggle in October we will be dreaming of chasing redfish, speckled trout, largemouth bass, and jack crevalles on our return to Lake Ponchartrain in Louisiana. If you have not had the opportunity to BOONDOGGLE Cajun style hopefully we will see you chasing the fish of your dreams in Mandeville.