My last option is to head toward the coastal area. I'm not looking to steal any spots (well, I won't be disappointed if you make an offer
) but I was looking for advice regarding how to's, safety, types of spots to look for, etc. I know that the tides can be tricky and was wondering how you coastal zoner's compensate for it. I've never hunted the coast before so any advice you guys can give me is greatly appreciated.
A few bits of advice, learned from experience not following them:
(1) If you're hunting tidal areas, you need to know them well. This means scouting, probably early in the season (or while fishing) to understand tides, where you can and can't walk, where you can and can't take a boat.
(2) If you're hunting tidal areas late in the season, add the complication of ice formation. It's easy to get in trouble when ice forms rapidly. On Friday, I hunted a salt marsh spot that seemed fine on the rising tide. As soon as the tide went slack, the surface started to freeze, and I was breaking ice with the canoe for 1/4 mile to get back home. It was skim ice and no big deal--but if I hadn't noticed and more ice had formed before I headed home, I could have been stuck. I've had friends who got their boat trapped by a wind shift that piled ice floes across an opening they planned to pass through on their way back to the ramp. They didn't end up calling for help, but they thought about it.
(3) Take enough boat. You can hunt the coast in a sculler, a canoe, or a kayak, but you need to pick your spots, and you need to be VERY competent in the boat. Unfortunately, the best way to get competent and learn which spots not to pick is experience--and December on the ocean is not the time to start.
(4) If you're getting nervous about the weather, waves, your paddling skill . . . . it's time to head in.
(5) Wear a life jacket and bring a spare set of clothes to change into if you get wet.
(6) To begin to figure out all of the above, you're better off starting your salt water hunting in the early season, or going out with someone who has more experience, before you go on your own.