Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Auger Hole

Today turned out to be a bit of an adventure. My plan was to go to an area called The Rabbit Key Grass Flats and look for redfish and try and get some pictures of birds feeding on the low tide. To get there I had a two + mile paddle to an area called the Auger Hole, it has a short mangrove tunnel and is a back way to get to the gulf without using any of the passes. It borders the Rabbit Key Grass Flats about 2 miles east of Rabbit key. I knew there would be a real low tide today and got an early start around 5:30. I made good time to the auger hole going with the tide most of the way but the tide was way low by the time I arrived. I decided to portage my kayak over oyster beds through the tunnel thinking once I got through the water should still be high enough to continue. Well I was wrong, I misjudged the tides or the east winds we were having pushed the tide out quicker. I was able to paddle a short distance until running out of water. The water was still draining out through a small stream and I had no choice but to portage my boat again this time through the knee deep mud. I made it this far and may as well keep going and then again if I turned around there may be no water left back on the other side of the tunnel. After maybe a ¼ mile I had enough water to get back in the boat. I cleaned what mud I could get off me and the boat and I soon realized I would be stranded here for awhile. I was in an area maybe 1 square mile of open water surrounded by mud flats and mangroves as far as I could see. There was another stream of water draining at the far end but I was not going to portage the boat anymore today and had to wait until the tide changed and had enough water to paddle out.

The water was very muddy and the area was like an oasis. In the area were a few gators hanging around and in deeper spots there were some large tarpon and sharks feeding on the mullet which I watched throughout the morning. I tried fishing where I could and caught a couple of snook but as I fished I had to keep an eye out for the sharks who seemed to be everywhere. A few times I had some big fish swim under my boat and one shark that kept circling me, pretty bizarre. With this being like an oasis there were a lot of birds around feeding along the shorelines. I think I saw every heron and egret species we have in this area along with other shorebirds and spoonbills. I watched flocks of white pelicans fly over but don’t know where they landed. I wish my photography skills were better.

Around one or so there was enough water to start and head out of the area, I had to portage my boat a few feet in the tunnel. When I made it back to Chokoloskee bay I made a few casts and had my last excitement of the day when I hooked up with a large snook which made a nice run but threw the hook with a head shake. Probably for the best, I was pretty tired at this point.


  1. Rich, this is a great blog! I was happy to read your experience with this route and it sounds like it was quite an ordeal too. I've been wanting to get through that auger hole route for some time and thought of doing it on the way to Mormon Key on thanksgiving day. On that day, high tide on Chokoloskee is 9:53 am. Do you think we can get through it (with 3 days of camping supplies) at about 9 or so am?

    Also, I'd love to get in there in the early morning with a low tide to capture the bird activity. Do you think I could get through from the other side? I've been up in there before when I stayed on Rabbit, but it wasn't at low tide. Any suggestions on how to get there is appreciated.

    Thanks for posting the report!

  2. Hi Connie
    Somehow I missed your reply to my blog. Thanks for the kind words. I don't know if you tryed getting through the Auger Hole on your trip but if not I will galdly take you there or through when conditions are right in the future. Just Email me. There you will usually find some great photo ops. Rich

  3. Rich,
    Just found you blog...I have been fishing the ten thousand island/everglades for 30 years and always find something new every time I go out. I just got from my annual summer trip camping at the middle cape surrounded by crocs, sharks, tarpon and mosquitos.

    I have never heard of Auger Hole. I found your blog because I am planning to fish rabbit key grasses this weekend.

    1. Yea The Auger hole is a great shortcut to that area as long as you plan that route with the tides as you can see from this post...