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Twisty Mangove Channel Etiquette

2441 Views 38 Replies 24 Participants Last post by  permitchaser
I enjoy fishing/exploring the outside of Flamingo, but ive been wanting to explore the inside. Im just wondering about running up somewhere like Hells Bay, or any tight twisty channels. Do you guys run thru or take your time? Do you guys ever wonder if theres another skiff coming the opposite way?

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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
I have somewhere an older copy of the Colregs that was published by the Coast Guard that I picked up back in the early 90s and kept aboard the patrol boat. I can’t find it now, but I preferred the language they used in Rule 9, as it would apply to running a winding creek. It mandated operating at a speed where you can stop “within the assured clear distance ahead.” I think that makes it a little clearer for the “hair by Evinrude” operators. If you want to see how well your rig can carve up the curves, set up a course with some slalom buoys in open water. Get some of your buds together and have fun with it. You’ll learn a lot about boat handling and trim, compare the handling of some other rigs to yours, and you won’t be putting innocent boaters, swimmers, or waders at risk.

Several years ago I was kayak / wade fishing a bunch of mangrove islands in Aransas Bay. I had beached the yak and was stalking some feeding fish on foot. An airboat running WOT rounded the point of that little island about 20 feet from the bank. I was about 18 feet from the bank. I’ll never forget the look on his face when he saw me, and I’m sure he’ll never forget the look on mine, during the very brief instant we were face to face. I’ll bet he was bitching to his buddies about that “dumbass idiot with a fly rod” later, too. But who’s the real dumbass?
I like that "Hair by Evinrude" comment :ROFLMAO: cause i do have a modified 25 johnson on the gheenoe,
WOT as much as i can. That does sound like a whole lotta fun.
Wow thats a crazy ass story, bet you needed new pants after that, i used to fish US27 alot but i slowed down cause the airboat guys can be relentless running thru there
 

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You don't need a twisty backcountry small creek to worry about oncoming boats... I got my first job on a boat (charterboats back then) fifty years ago - and it's been a great ride all told - but I have been nearly run over on at least two occasions out in open waters - by folks absolutely no where to be seen on a boat coming right at me... Once oceanside in about 120 feet of water and a second time within sight of Key Biscayne bayside (I was also hit once within sight of the Miami Beach marina at night by an idiot just idling (with me powering on in reverse to minimize the impact...). I've also been blown off of my skiff 10pm at night under the bridge at Coast Guard Miami by another idiot who thought it was a great idea to go from idle speed as he entered the fender area to standing a forty footer on its stern as he cowboyed up - throwing a twenty foot wake... When I saw that wall of water coming at me I was standing in the bow of my old Maverick holding onto a piling next to the fenders - but not on the inside of the fenders -in short, he never saw me - and all I saw before I hit the water was the bottom of his boat... I was lucky enough that night to see trouble coming ( a huge wave...) and push away from that big concrete piling before impact - and the standing wave knocked me off the other side of my skiff. -Wouldn't want to get caught between a skiff and a concrete piling in heavy wave action - that sort of stuff could get you killed... When I quickly hauled out of the water and climbed back onto my skiff I found my angler standing in about eight inches of water since it swamped us. Thank heavens for two 1100gph pumps on my skiff (it's not self-bailing..). We were dry in about five minutes.. My angler, a nice guy from England was speechless at first - but very soon he quietly asked "Is it always like this?"

Basic stuff in any boat - but particularly important in small craft... Make a point of always mentioning to your passengers that you always need to keep a good lookout on any boats nearby or coming your way. Since I run night trips in Biscayne Bay (started them when I first began guiding full time - back in 1996...) I figure one of the real hazards we face -is idiots in boats... My best advice is to note whether a boat is coming towards you - then look to see if anyone is actually running it... If you can't see someone looking your way take evasive action - assuming there's no one at the helm... another of those "ask me how I know" moments even if you have to break off the fish your angler is fighting - or actually dump the kite you're flying out in blue water.... Get out of the way! If your next of kin is in court standing up for you....you've already lost it all...

I was very fortunate years ago to have another guide teach me the basics of running the interior (upper bays) out of Chokoloskee / Everglades City. I wasn't needing fishing info - what I really needed were safe, basic routes from the Turner River down through places with lots of mostly hidden oyster bars - and very very shallow waters.. Along the way he very carefully pointed out the blind corners where many skiffs run - wide open.... and blind as a bat about whether there might be someone coming the other way... I was taught to slow down to idle on any blind corner and ease out to look before jumping up on plane again... Very good advice and I must say that I've see a lot more chances for a collision in that area than over towards Flamingo. When I'm doing a bit of teaching with folks wanting to learn the area myself - my only advice about avoiding collisions if one is imminent in a very small creek... is when you have no other options - turn right.. That way you might avoid a collision - but you won't like what happens when you hit the mangroves at all...

Hope this helps "Be a hero... take a kid fishing"
 

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Navigating in the Hells Bay area can be very confusing. If you have a GPS, track your route going in so you can find your way back out. It all looks the same back there. I have gotten so lost in Hells Bay that I thought I would never get out. Fortunately, my son had a much better sense of direction than I did.
Hell's Bay reportedly got the name because the old-timers who fished there before GPS units said it is "hell to get into, and hell to get out of"!
 

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Stay on the right side of the channel. Look for birds flying up out of the mangroves--often that will signal a boat ahead of you, either going in the same direction or coming at you!
To be honest this is the single most valuable piece of info I got out of the Everglades boaters safety course that is required to run in the park. I never knew that but now that I'm aware I'm always looking for scattering birds when running creeks and if they are flying at you better come off the throttle and pay attention!
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
You don't need a twisty backcountry small creek to worry about oncoming boats... I got my first job on a boat (charterboats back then) fifty years ago - and it's been a great ride all told - but I have been nearly run over on at least two occasions out in open waters - by folks absolutely no where to be seen on a boat coming right at me... Once oceanside in about 120 feet of water and a second time within sight of Key Biscayne bayside (I was also hit once within sight of the Miami Beach marina at night by an idiot just idling (with me powering on in reverse to minimize the impact...). I've also been blown off of my skiff 10pm at night under the bridge at Coast Guard Miami by another idiot who thought it was a great idea to go from idle speed as he entered the fender area to standing a forty footer on its stern as he cowboyed up - throwing a twenty foot wake... When I saw that wall of water coming at me I was standing in the bow of my old Maverick holding onto a piling next to the fenders - but not on the inside of the fenders -in short, he never saw me - and all I saw before I hit the water was the bottom of his boat... I was lucky enough that night to see trouble coming ( a huge wave...) and push away from that big concrete piling before impact - and the standing wave knocked me off the other side of my skiff. -Wouldn't want to get caught between a skiff and a concrete piling in heavy wave action - that sort of stuff could get you killed... When I quickly hauled out of the water and climbed back onto my skiff I found my angler standing in about eight inches of water since it swamped us. Thank heavens for two 1100gph pumps on my skiff (it's not self-bailing..). We were dry in about five minutes.. My angler, a nice guy from England was speechless at first - but very soon he quietly asked "Is it always like this?"

Basic stuff in any boat - but particularly important in small craft... Make a point of always mentioning to your passengers that you always need to keep a good lookout on any boats nearby or coming your way. Since I run night trips in Biscayne Bay (started them when I first began guiding full time - back in 1996...) I figure one of the real hazards we face -is idiots in boats... My best advice is to note whether a boat is coming towards you - then look to see if anyone is actually running it... If you can't see someone looking your way take evasive action - assuming there's no one at the helm... another of those "ask me how I know" moments even if you have to break off the fish your angler is fighting - or actually dump the kite you're flying out in blue water.... Get out of the way! If your next of kin is in court standing up for you....you've already lost it all...

I was very fortunate years ago to have another guide teach me the basics of running the interior (upper bays) out of Chokoloskee / Everglades City. I wasn't needing fishing info - what I really needed were safe, basic routes from the Turner River down through places with lots of mostly hidden oyster bars - and very very shallow waters.. Along the way he very carefully pointed out the blind corners where many skiffs run - wide open.... and blind as a bat about whether there might be someone coming the other way... I was taught to slow down to idle on any blind corner and ease out to look before jumping up on plane again... Very good advice and I must say that I've see a lot more chances for a collision in that area than over towards Flamingo. When I'm doing a bit of teaching with folks wanting to learn the area myself - my only advice about avoiding collisions if one is imminent in a very small creek... is when you have no other options - turn right.. That way you might avoid a collision - but you won't like what happens when you hit the mangroves at all...

Hope this helps "Be a hero... take a kid fishing"
Im always in awe when you share your knowledge and experiences freely, i respect that alot
 

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Never cut the corners in a creek or narrow body of water. Always, Go Wide.
More time to react for both parties just in case.
I thought the general consensus was to stay to the right. Going wide on a right hand turn in a tight creek you might be in someone's path. Not trying to argue. I normally slow down in these situations but definitely hug right and look for birds. If the creek is wide enough then yes I can see giving yourself more "room". Maybe we're talking about different situations (y)
 

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I asked a cajun that same question once after hauling azz thru ditches in cane stands. He assured me those were one-way boat lanes, and everybody knew it.... so no need to worry about a boat coming from the opposite direction.
 

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Hell's Bay reportedly got the name because the old-timers who fished there before GPS units said it is "hell to get into, and hell to get out of"!
It doesn't seem that long ago...I'll never forget my first guided trip to Hells Bay in the 1980s. I could only find one guide who would take me, a protégée of Herman Lucerne. Back then, lots of guides didn't like fly fishers. He told me I'd never catch a snook on a fly rod and forced me to use spinning tackle. Nonetheless it was a trip that got me hooked on fly fishing in ENP. And, TV shows like Walkers Cay helped to change attitudes.
 

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I thought the general consensus was to stay to the right. Going wide on a right hand turn in a tight creek you might be in someone's path. Not trying to argue. I normally slow down in these situations but definitely hug right and look for birds. If the creek is wide enough then yes I can see giving yourself more "room". Maybe we're talking about different situations (y)
yep, only time I go wide is when I am approaching the turn so that I can get a glimpse around it and maybe be seen by an approaching boat, when making the turn I hug the inside corner barely on a plane. I worked several serious accidents, some were fatalities involving blind corner collisions. Like Bob said, boats collided on open waters during broad daylight. One of the things I always do when there is an approaching boat is make a very slight but obvious turn to starboard to signal to the other boater that I intend on passing them port to port. Usually they will make a slight turn to starboard also, but if they don't react I use extreme caution, a lot of distracted operators out there running in their own little world.
 

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I don’t travel in Hell’s Bay or any Fl creeks. I stand to drive my boat so I can see, logs, snags, sand bars and other boats
 
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