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Ecotourism on Florida's Space Coast
Titusville Outdoors

Utopia at Mosquito Lagoon

Shipyard Island

by Rose Sroda


   
The sun was just coming up on this cool morning as I launched my yellow kayak onto the smooth, clear waters of the Mosquito Lagoon at the north end of Cape Canaveral National Seashore. I paddled across the river towards Shipyard Island and headed to my favorite fishing spot.

From this area, you can see Turtle Mound and the sun's rays beaming down from the gates of heaven. Turtle Mound was once inhibited by the Timucuan Indians and evidence of mounds and middens still exist throughout the area.

Dolphins frolicked nearby, birds did their calling and pelicans dove into the water. There were ripples in the water near the shore lined with oyster shells and little mangroves. I baited my hook with a live shrimp, cast it out and let the kayak drift. The stress and tension from the everyday realities of life slowly flows out of me as I take in the beauty surrounding me.

A raccoon peered out of the brush near the shore. He watched me as he dug in the water for shellfish. He then stood up on his hind legs and stared at me. I tried to get a picture of him, but by that time, he went away. I could see the high grasses moving around as he headed away.

My pole was getting some nibbles and I had to keep putting a new shrimp on my hook. I saw some swirling in the water and cast towards it. Something grabbed my line and took the shrimp off. I started getting excited and put on another shrimp and cast it in the same place. Bam! This time I was ready and hooked it. My drag was spinning as something took off with my line. I tightened the drag and my kayak started following the line, my pole bent to the point of breaking. He gave me quite a fight and when I finally got him in, it was a beautiful 26 inch redfish. I released him back to his home (hoping to catch him again in the future).

I started drifting north with my line trolling behind. Bam! Something grabbed my line! I reeled it in and it was a little seatrout (about 11 inches). I released it and paddled back to the east side. It was time to get some lunch!

After paddling to a sandy area to beach my kayak, I waded (with my waders) in the cold water and started feeling around for clams which bury themselves about 2 inches deep in the mucky bottom. I found six of them before my hands got too chilly.

Acting as a hermit for the day, I paddled northwest in search of a private island to have my picnic. There are so many islands, I haven't even explored a fourth of the area. There are a couple of primitive camping areas around.

I know that if you continue down, you will end up at the intracoastal waters/Halifax River where Riverbreeze Park is. By now, the wind started picking up and pushing me further down. A few kayakers were coming from the opposite direction.

I quit fishing and found an area to beach my kayak and unloaded my stuff.

My sit on top kayak

I unwound my camping hammock that I've been dying to try out and tied it between two trees.

Then I made a small campfire (only a contained fire is allowed after I verified it with the park ranger, after the fact). I put the clams on the embers and melted butter in my mess kit pan.

While waiting for the clams to open up, I ate a half of a Subway sandwich. Finally, the clams started to open. Ahhhhh, clams with butter in a primitive surrounding. Yes, they were a little chewy! What a life! THIS is Utopia! After having my clam feast and pouring water over the embers, I think to myself that I will bring my camping grill and charcoal next time and cook my catch as well. I also think that next time I will bring some clams home and make some clam chowder. I lay down on my hammock and relaxed. The cool breeze was swinging me gently. I could've easily fallen asleep except for the occasional drone of motorboats going by. I could visualize the Timucuan settlements nearby and almost hear and see them fishing, gathering shellfish, and going about their everyday life..

It was time to get something for dinner! I paddled to a nearby oyster bed and got out. I found some oysters and a few more clams,..........

......and loaded up my bait bucket.

By now, the wind is really picking up and the lagoon had whitecaps. Unfortunately, it was time to leave the hermit life and go back to reality. Of course, I had to paddle against the wind to get back to the boat dock. The pressures of everyday life slowly started seeping back into me as I leave my Utopia, until next time.

When I got home, I scrubbed the oysters (two dozen) and cooked them and the few clams on the grill.
On the grill.

Oyster chef at work.

There's nothing like fresh oysters, clams and beer!!!!!

DIRECTIONS: From north US 1, turn left on SR 44 (East) and it curves right into SR A1A. (From South US 1, turn right on SR 44). Follow the road until you get to Cape Canaveral Seashore ($5 fee). Unload your kayak or canoe at the boat ramp on your right and park your vehicle across the street in Parking Lot #1.

Email; Rose Sroda



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