By Captain Larry Jarboe
The easterly trade wind has been blowing hard for more than a week.
This is Spring Break in South Florida. Many of the local tour, fishing and diving boats that take people to the reef and blue water have to turn away customers because of the 6-8′ waves that are pounding the reef line.
There has been some seriously lost business and most disappointed vacationers.
In Key Largo, we have had wonderfully productive trips fishing our Wavewalk W700 tandem kayaks in the narrow creeks that flow through the dense mangrove forest here in the heart of Pennekamp Park. Because of the tight quarters and many non-combustion zones where internal combustion motors are prohibited, many of these areas rarely see a fisherman.
This weekend, two groups booked Wavewalk kayak fishing adventures with me –
Issac brought Julio, Daniel, and Darren for a Good Friday afternoon trip. They caught about 30-40 lbs. of keeper fish (Mangrove Snappers, Bluestriped Grunts, and Sailors Choice). I filleted out and boxed enough fish for a panko fried fish platter with black beans and rice that they had cooked up at the Blackwater Siren Restaurant before leaving our island. And, they had a big bag of fish for a big fish fry in Miami.
April who was raised and worked in the Keys, brought her son Keith Jr. and crew Kevin and Joey on Easter Sunday. After a most slow start to the day, we found fish way up Smugglers Run (a creek named for the infamous Keys past when “Save the Bales” was the slogan of the day.).
Those new kayak Ricky Rods got a real workout dragging fish from beneath the mangrove roots. April caught the most fish but everyone got their share including the pelicans who got a bucketful.
We really had to travel some distance to find the calmest possible conditions but we ended an all day trip having caught over 100 fish.
Everyone who tours or fishes with me in the Wavewalk portable boats is amazed how comfortable and stable these vessels are compared to conventional kayaks.
It is not too hard being the best fishing kayak guide in South Florida with the best fishing kayaks that are available, anywhere.
Remodel season (the season in between ducks and fishing) is officially over! The honeydos are certainly not all accomplished but I have enough off of the list that I was able to get out and go fishing. American Lake is open year around so there is not big fishing season opening day on this lake but it was my opening day.
It was windy and gusty which made it a challenge to keep a real constant speed (something the kokanee like) but I was able to make it work.
The kokanee were a no show (it is early in the year to catch them consistantly) but fortunately the trout wanted to play!
Great day on the water in a W700.
Wavewalking is not just about fishing.
Yesterday, in Key Largo, the wind was ripping about 20-25 kts. out of the East. We had a friend from NYC who was facing her last vacation day in the Keys. My wife had promised her a snorkel trip on the reef and it was my job to make it happen.
Despite the gusty wind and skirting a large squall, I knew the conditions would afford a calm pocket of water behind Grecian Rocks on dead low tide.
After a rather tumultuous ride offshore, we tied to one of the mooring balls behind the reef. Due to shifting wind, the mooring lines have to be far away enough from the coral rocks to allow boats to swing 360 degrees and not hit the shallow reef. This means snorkelers have to swim the distance of about half a football field of grass and sand to get to the edge of the reef where most of the fish reside.
This is a long way for many people to swim against the wind surge but it beats trying to snorkel in 4-5 foot seas which was the norm everywhere else..
I launched my W700 with a bow mounted Minnkota Rip Tide electric trolling motor from the mother ship. A line tied to a ring buoy trailed as a stern line to tow my two masked grand matrons to snorkeling nirvana. Of course, I waited at the edge of the reef to provide a place of rest and a leisurely ride home.
In addition to fishing, duck hunting, exploring, stand up joystick water skimming or laid back paddle yakking, the W700 makes a fine yacht tender as well as a snorkeler shuttle service to the reef.
Saddled aboard his trusty Wavewalk steed, indeed, Larry, The Stable Guy, got ‘er done.
Over the weekend, I bow mounted a 30 lb. thrust Minnkota Endura electric trolling motor to my W700. This $99 motor is over 20 years old. Though it is labeled for freshwater use, it works fine in saltwater if it is hosed off after usage
Though I’d like to use a lithium battery, the price is still too high. So, I have an extra marine lead acid battery that slips easily into the forward hull.
With the motor locked in forward, it is easy to steer with a long handled canoe paddle from the stern while standing and even perform some slightly impressive maneuvers. This is wonderfully enjoyable but not too strenuous exercise.
It was too rough on the ocean for the bikini clad paddle boarders to be able to manage the wind and chop but the lone powered paddle cat-a-yakker was able to “Get ‘er done” despite conditions that kept the other yaks and paddle boards on shore.
My other brother, Larry, may be the Cable Guy. With the W700, a little extra thrust, and the plaid sleeveless cotton shirt, I have a new moniker: Larry, The Stable Guy
P.S. – The Wavewalk ball cap and motor bracket are available to purchase on the website.