Creative Access Point: Creeks
By Jeff Little
At the age of 14, I got shot with rock salt for fishing where I shouldn't have. I can still feel the burning sensation of the lower sections of my calves being sprayed as I ran away, holding rod and tackle box.
In my mid 20's I completed a float trip on the Rappahannock River, only to find that my pickup truck had been towed. So I hitchhiked 12 miles to a general store in Remington, Virginia to contact local law enforcement to find out where my truck had been towed.
I still disagree with the tow. I had all four wheels off the road, there were no signs indicating that I couldn't park beside the bridge over the creek. Also creeks are navigable waterways and are thus public. Clearly, I push the envelope on water access.
The term "creative access point" doesn't necessarily mean that you are trespassing or breaking a law in order to get to the water. It just means that you are putting in somewhere others wouldn't think to do so. It's something kayaks are perfect for.
This requires a skill set of research, scouting, kayak dragging and gear organization. The research involves finding water that you know to be worth fishing, but lacks a nearby public access.
In the case of a recent trip, a friend and I wanted to fish a certain pool that required a nine mile float trip. Rather than bring two vehicles to complete the shuttle and paddle through 8.5 miles before and after fishing the good half mile long pool, we decided to only fish that spot.
We looked first on Google Maps, then on a DeLorme's Atlas to find a creek that entered the river at the base of the pool.
The next step was going to the creek and actually walking it down to the river to be sure that there weren't barriers like a dam, multiple downed trees or local landowner with rock salt packed in his shotgun shells. We did, and found no such barriers. There was a tunnel to explore as we made our way down the creek and under the railroad.
Sometimes this type of operation requires expediency in unloading your gear in a spot where someone may question the legitimacy of what you are doing. If there are "No Trespassing" signs, it's a no-go for kayakers. We were clear in that regard as well.
When assembling your gear for the over-land drag to the creek, you have two options: using a cart or simply dragging the kayak. Dragging is faster but wears down your kayak quicker over time.
To reduce wear, instead of holding the kayak by the front handle and dragging it on it's keel, use one of your tie down straps and drag it along the entire length of the kayak. This spreads the pressure out over many contact points, instead of concentrating all the weight and damage on one spot. It's also easier to drag. The longer the strap, the easier dragging gets.
Make sure that all of your rods are protected from limbs that might want to reach out and snap your favorite high modulus blank. Keep the rods in one bunch, centered on the kayak, pointed backwards and held in place with a small bungee to keep them as safe as they can be in this sometimes rough dash to the water.
When you find a creative access point that works, it makes the fishing experience more fun and productive for kayakers. Hitting multiple high-yield pools within a day becomes possible, and you'll enjoy not having to waste precious hours of your day of fishing by running shuttle.