Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Thursday, October 25, 2007: Waves: Approaching 8-foot. Water clarity: Still good for the time being. Fishing potential: Fair for North End, poor for much of the beachfront, good in Holgate; rain and drizzle is very problematic. As you know, many folks love this type of fishing weather. Not me. The wind is no biggy but the wetness, even with my rainsuit on, is a royal pain.
Right about now, it’s just a case of how quickly we can get this storm system out of here. The weekend is iffy but should be better than today. Sunday could be just fine.
BEEJEZUS SCARE: “I’m finally about to pay off this stinkin’ truck and now it’s going to get destroyed by the rising tide!”
That was my panicked thought yesterday when I had easily the weirdest bog-down of my illustrious buggying career.
I call it illustrious only because I’ve made a bit of a science out of beach driving and am the first to offer advice and a helping hand to dig out some other clueless soul. However, here I was back on the desolate flats of Holgate and hopelessly captured by mud. Not sand, mind you, but mud – from hell.
If you’ve never been on the back flats of Holgate, they are coated with pure ooze – smelly, gushy, awful-ish black mud-ooze. Only inches below that natural gunk is a super hard layer of claylike material.
As for driving back there, the biggest buggying danger is the way the mud gets thrown under one’s vehicle, leading to the need for an intense long-term wash-off. However, I was discovering a bizarre menace lurking in the mud layer.
Scenario: I had just finished a good clamming session and was heading out, reaching the south end of the phragmites roadway. I was just about to turn west toward the west-facing point. That’s when my peripheral vision picked up an unseasonably large V-formation of mullet swimming near the surface along the edge of the nearby back-cut.
My net-caster’s instincts took over – leaving my brain behind. I turned off the established roadway and onto an open stretch of very innocent looking mud – or so I thought.
I got most of the way across the muddy stretch then hit the brakes and jumped out to grab my net from the back.
The mud instantly oozed up between my toes. It enveloped my feet, presenting a parasite danger of the highest order. I had taken off my mud-heavy clamming shoes, which sat in the bed.
I quickly jumped back into the truck – a solid inch of muck attached to the bottom of my feet.
Cursing the crud I started up my truck, threw it into drive.
Let the panic begin.
My wheels spun in place, throwing mud in all directions. The vehicle didn’t move a frickin’ inch!
“Holy s***!” issued from my lips, as my gecko-sized eyes stared straight through the suddenly mud-spattered windshield. “Tell me this isn’t happening,” was the next part of what would be a profanity-laced soliloquy.
Get this: I had left the flats because the tide was coming up very quickly, egged on by a full moon and building NE winds, i.e. the worst case scenario for being stuck in an area that fills with water the minute the tide changes – and becomes three-feet deep with bay water during even a normal high tide. I had to get outta there.
I accelerated again and again mud flew – and I failed to move.
I pride myself on staying calm in hairy situations but this stuck-in-mud weirdness and the sight of baywater already edging onto the flat, led me to frantically jump out of the vehicle, cursing and praying at the same time.
I began letting air out of a tire but stopped when my mind cleared enough to rationalize that deflation would have no helpful affect. Understand, the tires were not sunk more than a couple inches down, reaching that solid clay layer below. The clay stuff was actually so hard you couldn’t dig into it even if you had to. That god-awful oozy mud was simply so slippery the tires couldn’t grab. It was freakiest thing I had ever seen.
Add to my going-nowhere-fast plight the fact that just about everyone had left Holgate because of weather and rising ocean tides, I was SOL with no paddle. If you’ve never been there, that is one lonely-ass feeling.
Fortunately, my mind maintained some semblance of sensibility.
About 30 feet away, toward the point, was a tiny rise of white sand. I grabbed the large PVC shovel I had gotten as a Christmas gift and rushed barefoot through the vicious mud, slipping and sliding like a rottweiler trying to run on ice.
The next few minutes were a blur – coated with mud and seasoned with curses.
One shovelworth at a time, I transported the sand and heaved it behind each tire. None went in front of the tires. Moving forward was out of the question, with untouched mud for the next 30 feet. In reverse, I at least had my existing tracks, which had squished some of the mud to the side.
To get the sand under the tires, I drove it in with the side of my foot, karate-style. See, I knew my training would come in handy someday. Yeah, right.
What a stickin’ smelly mess. I got so muddy and disgusted I was actually calming down – and wondering how much I could get when trading in a truck that had been filled with the foulest of bay waters – but only once.
Sand in place, I climbed back in the truck, forewent a prayer, and gunned it. Mud flew, this time spiced with sand.
I then went into that mode I tell everyone to avoid, the power-escape try. I gunned it, reversed it, threw it back into drive, gunned it.
Remember, this is a tad different because I’m not sinking myself in deeper and deeper. I’m just not frickin’ going anywhere!
The whine of spinning tires, the high-flying mud and the straining engine was scaring birds all the way over on Tucker’s Island.
Then, an inch actually went in my favor, caused by the tires slipping sideways. I grabbed a bit of reverse. Then all my sand chucking work took root. I got onto some of the white sand and sure enough it offered a bit of grip. Not much, just a few inches. But I parlayed that reverse gain by then going into drive. I slowly squirted forward, maybe 6 inches. Back to reverse and I slip-slid back a couple feet, tires spinning madly. I followed that with a gorgeous lurch forward. And the coupe de grace, a reverse assault that garnered enough speed that I managed to fishtail, reverse-wise, into some phragmites. Once I hit the plants I all but flew in reverse. And I was outta that hole. And those Southside sisters sure look pretty …As I drove out I could only think, “What the hell was that all about?”