Cold & Rainy Hunt Trip
So my buddy Chris and I had planned to make a Cast and Blast trip up to Louisiana for some duck hunting and redfishing. But when the week arrived, a cold winter blast had just passed through Louisiana, and was headed towards Florida. We contemplated what to do, and decided to stay in Florida and hunt the East Coast. So we set our sights on making our way to Merritt Island, to hunt the refuge in the morning, then look for redfish in the afternoon. The weather forecast had said it would rain through the night, then stop early and be clear, but cold skies the rest of the day. I don't know if you guys are familiar with hunting Merritt Island, but no hunters are allowed in the refuge before 4:00 am. That means hunters begin to line up just outside the park boundaries the night before at 10pm and sleep in their cars until it's time to ride in. We were running a little late, but we made it to the line up at midnight. We were expecting to be the 17th or so truck in line, but turned out to be the 5th truck in line. So, we got all our gear ready, made sure the mud rig was good to go for the 4am shot gun start (pun intended).
I've never really been able to sleep in a car, so I sat there tossing and turning until our alarms went off at 3:20 am. We double check everything and load up the valuables into the rig and get back in the truck for the green flag. at 4:00am on the dot, it started pouring rain. We were the third rig to launch at this particular site, and we made our way in the cold rain to our spot. Threw out the decoys, got situated in the blind and just sat there. From 4:30 am until shooting time. Those of you who aren't familiar with "Shooting time", it is half hour before Sunrise, you're legally allowed to shoot. The rain had come to a halt, the wind was down, from our backs, and we were stoked. As soon as the clock struck 6:45 (shooting time) the rain came down harder than ever, the wind shifted to a stiff 15mph to our face. It was sustained torrential downpour. It never let up. Finally, we get some birds flying in. Immediately shot our limit of Blue Bills, then a teal flew into the spread and that was taken care of. But for about two more hours, all we had were blue bills after blue bills. Nothing else, so drenched in our "rain gear", we decided to call it a morning and retrieve the 48 or so decoys in the severe winds and rain. We make it back on the road and were trying to decide the game plan; shoot across the state and hunt Tampa Bay? or stick around and fish Mosquito Lagoon. We stopped at Cracker Barrel for Breakfast and tried to strategize. It was pouring rain, and with all our fowl weather gear saturated in water, we decided to find a hotel that would let us check in early. The cold front was above us, stalling out, so we decided to try and get some sleep and wake up to fish the afternoon. That didn't quite happen. We woke up late, it was now in the 30s, all our gear was still drenched. So we decided to do laundry and get ready for the morning; as it was forecasted to be in the 20s over night.
We wake up, and make our way to the hunting grounds, Chris hadn't been to this place in 3 years, and I had never been. The plan was to get on some woodies and black bellies early, and likely get some teal and ringers. As we are throwing out decoys, we start hearing, then seeing giant glocks of black bellies flying over. Hundreds if not thousands of black bellies flying north. About half hour before shooting time. We finish the spread, and head into the brush to stash the mud rig and sit there. A Flock of about 8 to 10 drake woodies fly right over the decoys exactly 15 minutes before shooting time. It's looking very promising with a BUNCH of birds flying. Once the clock struck 6:45, the birds just about disappeared. We saw two woodies fly just south of us, out of range, a pair of teal fly just north of us. That was it. Nothing. Not a single bird came within shooting range. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention we were freezing in 31 degree weather. The skiff was literally frozen over.
So after waiting it out for a few hours with no ducks flying, we decided to pack up and hit the road. We went and checked out a couple Chevy El Camino's in the area that I had been looking at on Offer Up, but weren't quite what I was looking for. We did see several wild hogs off the interstate , so we decided to try walking an area nearby that Chris knows to look for some hogs. Saw some fresh hog tracks, some areas all rooted up, but couldn't find any.
Didn't get any fishing in, but still had a blast in the cold, and rainy weather.
Until next time!