Transitioning To Florida Flats Fishing

As a former Oregon coast kayak fisherman I have been transitioning over to Florida flats kayak fishing. The learning process between the two styles of fishing has been educational. It was a freakish experience first time I paddled two miles out from Cedar Key and my paddle could still touch the bottom. At one point during an outgoing tide I had to drag my yak across several sandbars near Atsena Otie Key. It was bizarre to me that I could be so far out from a launch point and the water be so shallow.

The one huge difference I noticed right away was the damage to my kayak from oyster bars.
I had heard oysters described as “natures razor blades” but until moving to Florida the closest I had come to the bivalved molluscs was on a bed of ice, shucked, with lemon and tabasco sauce. They didn’t look sharp, they looked delicious.

It wasn’t until fishing the flats around Cedar Key that I became acquainted with the ferocious little beasts in their natural habitat. Or should I say the belly of my kayak came into intimate contact with the sharp end of the oyster, over, and over again.

Locals called the deep cuts that leave curled tails of high density polyethylene behind, “oyster rash.” I call it oyster slash-n-bash. The underside of my kayak looks like it was the loser in a cage fight with Wolverine.

The shallow water around Cedar Key is so murky and dark that scraping over unseen oyster bars is inevitable. You just can’t see them every time.

A buddy of mine recently slipped while standing on his Malibu X Factor and landed in about twelve inches of water that was hiding an oyster bed. His hands, feet, and arms got cut up with a really deep cut to an index finger.

We quickly field bandaging his cuts but with all the bacteria in the water we decided to make a trip to the ER to get the wounds flushed. The ER nurse said it was a good idea as Curt’s finger had to be stitched back together.

The trip to the ER didn’t stop us from fishing though. We headed back out the next day and ended up catching some great redfish, spotted trout, and sheep head. We even took a little revenge on the oysters and filled up a bucket for the grill.

While my fishing tackle has changed and the underside of my kayak is taking more abuse I really am enjoying my transition over to Florida flats fishing. I know all my diehard Oregon kayak fishing buddies are envious of all the winter fishing I get to do here in the sunshine state.

Replies

  • SkunkLifeSkunkLife Posts: 545 Officer
    Nice dude. And those sheepshead eat better than halibut every day of the week.
    Lowbrow Sportsman - "Socially inept since 1985"
  • Jmt2404Jmt2404 Posts: 188 Officer
    I miss fishing in the PNW! Salmon fishing was the best! I lived in tacoma Washington for a few years while I was stationed at ft Lewis.

    I too have had some serious learning curves since I've moved down here but it's been great and only seems to be getting better.

    Where in florida do you live?
  • Pescatoral PursuitPescatoral Pursuit Posts: 5,065 Admiral
    There are a few products out there you can cover the bottom of your yak with to mitigate hull damage.
    cuda-title2_zpsb81e4f1d.jpg
    greggl wrote: »
    Strive for self-sacrificial levels of empathy and sympathy. We are only set free by becoming the scapegoat, or sin eater', rather than picking a target and 'throwing stones.'
    nuevowavo wrote:
    Think you're pretty clever? Think again. Time for a break.
    :rotflmao
  • jcanracerjcanracer Posts: 4,294 Moderator
    Oyster beds suck, I've torn up my mirage drive once chasing down a snook in chokoloskee (totally worth it, overslot snook landed!). If I did it on the regular, I would have to find some new coating or tape to cover the bottom of the kayak and protect it against the oyster rash.
    Its definitely different from the Pacific, but there's plenty of good fish to catch down here all year long. Tight Lines.
    Hobie Kayak angler for life!
  • WiredToExploreWiredToExplore Posts: 42 Deckhand
    Jmt2404 wrote: »
    I miss fishing in the PNW! Salmon fishing was the best! I lived in tacoma Washington for a few years while I was stationed at ft Lewis.

    I too have had some serious learning curves since I've moved down here but it's been great and only seems to be getting better.

    Where in florida do you live?

    The PNW is an amazing place to fish but it's nice not to have to wear my 14 mil most of the year or deal with twelve foot swells anymore.

    I moved to Gainesville in 2012 and fish around Jacksonville or around Cedar Key. Both are around the same drive time.
  • summer dazesummer daze Posts: 883 Officer
    Yeah, oysters do suck !! Send your buddies some pictures of yourself fishing in shorts in January.. :cool:..
    jgocnk.jpg
    Tight Lines..
  • Luv2YakLuv2Yak Posts: 944 Officer
    There are a few products out there you can cover the bottom of your yak with to mitigate hull damage.

    Yeah? Like what?
  • Jmt2404Jmt2404 Posts: 188 Officer
    The PNW is an amazing place to fish but it's nice not to have to wear my 14 mil most of the year or deal with twelve foot swells anymore.

    I moved to Gainesville in 2012 and fish around Jacksonville or around Cedar Key. Both are around the same drive time.

    I never dealt with those swells, I always fished the river or Puget sound for salmon. My waders weren't that thick though. I think mine were maybe 6 mil and they did just fine. you must have had some real cold water.
  • WiredToExploreWiredToExplore Posts: 42 Deckhand
    Jmt2404 wrote: »
    I never dealt with those swells, I always fished the river or Puget sound for salmon. My waders weren't that thick though. I think mine were maybe 6 mil and they did just fine. you must have had some real cold water.

    I used 7 mil farmer jon's and a 7 mill top for a combined 14 mil. Spring, Fall, and Winter fishing here in Florida is just not as cold as the Oregon coast. lol It's all about the light weight quick dry shirts and shorts now all year. I love fishing here in Florida.
  • Jmt2404Jmt2404 Posts: 188 Officer
    Yeah, I quickly bought new shirts after I found out how great the quick dry stuff was. Bought those And shorts, as I didn't own any when I moved down here. Lol
  • RizanglerRizangler Posts: 147 Deckhand
    Welcome to Florida fishing. I am not familure with Ceder Key but are you watching the tides? Most important leason I learned here are knowing tide to avoid getting stuck or running out of water. Glad your friend is OK these oyster are very sharp. I fish down in Flamingo where there are no oysters. When I fish Chokoloskee there are lots of bar which I am careful with.
    20' Blue Wave
    12' Hobie Outback
    13' Native Slayer Propel
  • JanosJanos Posts: 219 Officer
    Must be a big change for you but you going to love it more and more.Those are some nice red's.
    2015 Hobie Outback.
  • Ralph-WiggumRalph-Wiggum Posts: 147 Officer
    Good to see you're enjoying Florida fishing. I kayak fish from Gainesville too; in addition to CK and Jacksonville, you might also want to check out Yankeetown (also about an hour away) or the area around Stienhatchee (more like 1.5 hours). I've found that half the fun of kayak fishing is exploring new places and there are lots of good spots around these areas.
  • Pescatoral PursuitPescatoral Pursuit Posts: 5,065 Admiral
    Luv2Yak wrote: »
    Yeah? Like what?

    http://www.keeleazy.com/
    cuda-title2_zpsb81e4f1d.jpg
    greggl wrote: »
    Strive for self-sacrificial levels of empathy and sympathy. We are only set free by becoming the scapegoat, or sin eater', rather than picking a target and 'throwing stones.'
    nuevowavo wrote:
    Think you're pretty clever? Think again. Time for a break.
    :rotflmao
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