The splash sounded like a large hand slapping the water. I
looked over and expected to see a brown pelican, but to my surprise a dark
black shape leaped again and I could actually see its waving wings. They seemed
to ripple as the manta ray slammed back into the water’s surface.
We had picked up Jenny at her place on Treasure Island and
the days plan was to explore the kayaking opportunities at Fort Desoto County Park.
Armed with the toll money, pretty unusual for Wyomingites, we entered the park
and turned right arriving at the kayak concession. We were going to use ours
but Jenny needed to rent one for the day.
The person in charge asked if we were going to brave the
cold, it was about sixty five degrees, and he recommended a two hour tour of
Soldiers Bayou. Providing us with maps we headed out to the usual jumping
mullets and dashing schools of baitfish.
Larger fish were working the schools and so I stopped to
cast my chartreuse bodied jig but was again stymied by no takers. It might seem
like I am destined to go fishless here but I am an eternal optimist, (I do go
jade hunting in Wyoming after all.) Continuing on past osprey nests it seemed unusual
to see the large birds sitting on nests in December.
Passing a brown pelican roost we were surprised to see them
perched in the black mangroves, but I guess it’s not unexpected to see them
taking advantage of any place to rest. A little further and we had come to the
end of Soldier Bayou and only half a hour had passed.
Gliding between the small islands we headed out into Mullet
Bay, trying to find the pass between Fort Desoto and Shell Key. Turning several
large corners we fought the north wind and while it was somewhat strenuous it
felt good to get a bit of a workout. Each corner turned out to be another cove
and we finally stopped for a bit of a breather.
It was time to turn around and the wind pushed us back in a
gentle quarterly direction. Giant mullet continued to leap around us and it is
no wonder that they smoke mullet here and make the very popular mullet spread.
If I get some large mullet with my net I may actually try to smoke some myself
as the one we ate at the smokehouse was really quite tasty.
Returning to Soldier Bayou we stopped and tied up for a
relaxing lunch. An immature brown pelican starred at us hoping for a free
handout but we all know better than to encourage such behavior,( I leaned this in
Texas when I had a brown pelican take the fish off my line and I ended up
having a hooked bird. It was scary to land and release such a large billed
We passed several other fishermen casting jigs toward the
mangroves but they didn’t seem to be having any more luck them me. At one place
a Green Heron flew and landed right in front of me and didn’t seem frightened.
It was probably looking for a handout and so Renita and I both snapped images.
Latter we drove around the park and looked for more places
to launch our boats. One place that offered promise was very near the Shell Key
pass. Jenny warned us however to watch the tides and not paddle with a strong
outgoing tide as people are washed out to the Gulf. She has taken the local Coast
Guard small craft and seamanship course and it always pays to listen to the
We had a good day at Fort Desoto. Later we walked a bit of
the beach and saw lots of washed up horseshoe crabs and Renita filled up a bag
with more shells, (one can never have enough). I cast a silver spoon at the
mouth of the pass and actually caught another strange ocean fish, (My score is
five different species of which I can identify one, a whiting). We enjoyed the beach
but Jenny, like a Floridian, complained about the cold. Laughing we headed back
to the warmth of her house to decorate Christmas cookies. Clear skies