So I got mildly lost yesterday in the Reggio area (W side of the highway). I was out for a quick afternoon paddle just to check on an area that I've done well in during other times of the year. Left the house at 2:20pm, was out in the area I wanted to look at at 3:30. Gotta love that. It was far windier than I anticipated, and the water was way higher than I've ever seen it, as it is in most of our area right now thanks to the E winds of late. It's amazing how different areas of the marsh can look from season to season; the last time I had been to this spot was in the summer, and the combination of lower water and much more grass made for a distinctly different landscape. Regardless of how different it looked, there were still a few landmarks I could keep myself oriented with. Or so I thought... Thinking myself oh-so-wise and experienced, I started paddling back in the general direction of the launch about 30 minutes before sunset, making a good clip but also enjoying the sunset and looking for swirls from spooking redfish. After about 15 minutes, I realized I wasn't where I thought I was, and that nothing looked familiar. Boy, that is a feeling with the sun going down and the psycho salt marsh mosquitos getting all revved up. I took a minute, checked on my phone, and said "no, that can't be right". There have been times when my GPS has gotten off or lost signal, and I thought this was one of those times. Checked both my tracking app and Google Earth, and both put me quite a ways off from where I wanted to be... Oh well, still plenty of light left, right? Put myself back on track, and started paddling. Still didn't recognize anything, and now the doubt started to set in. Believe my internal map, or the GPS on the phone? I actually doubled back for a minute before realizing that it was unlikely that both apps would be wrong about my position. Sure enough, a good 10 minute paddle put me close enough to where I needed to be that I realized that I had indeed gotten myself way off course. I was prepared with a fully charged phone, fully charged radio, flashlight and bug repellent, but it would have really, really been embarrassing to spend the night out there or have to call someone to come find me. In that particular area, if you don't get back into the navigation canal, you can't get back to the road, despite being able to see the power poles and hear the cars going by.
Moral of the story - check your position more often, and if you haven't been out to an area for a while, or are checking out a new spot, pick a couple of highly visible landmarks close to the launch (if possible), so you can keep an eye on them. In my case, I hadn't been there for a while, and mistakenly thought that the most visible landmark (radio tower) was on the left side of the main canal, when in fact it was the opposite. Should have made sure on the way out!!! Secondary moral of the story: DON'T FREAK OUT, and think through things slowly before acting. It's amazing how fast your brain starts thinking poorly when you get yourself a little scared. I got stuck in the mud in this same spot over the summer with a major storm approaching, and had to spend some time forcing myself to slow down and think through options and consequences. I like to make myself think about our ancestors and the Indians who lived in these areas, and remind myself that they'd laugh at me for getting freaked out so quickly. An approaching storm probably won't hurt you, but hyperventilating, overworking your body and going face down in the mud might!
In either case, it was a pretty day for a short paddle. I only cast a few times, since I wasn't seeing any fish at all and wasn't in the mood for blind casting. Really pretty, clean water though, and certainly higher than I've ever seen it personally. I must have seen about a billion ducks, so I have to imagine someone will be hunting there in the weeks to come.