Buck Creek kayak launch

Photo by Kimball Beery

This is a new kayak launch for us, and we plan to go again. The Dr. William “Bill” Coy Preserve is on Buck Creek, which runs under Placida Road (S.R. 775) just south of the intersection with Winchester. This launch opened in 2006, and our scouting back then revealed a muddy spot with pallets strewn about to help keep folks out of the mud. We were not impressed.

A recent re-visit to the site was better. A geo-tech mesh has been installed along with a few truckloads of shell, creating a better launch. Adding to the positive review is the back-down to the water feature those of us with heavier fishing kayaks appreciate. Previously, the drive down to the water had served as a spot to dump trash, which made a bad first impression while backing through the garbage.

Our doubts lingered on this trip, due to the mangrove tunnel route out of the launch to Buck Creek. Once out to the creek, a series of white float markers have been installed to help folks find their way through the maze out to Lemon Bay. Without these markers, navigating to the ICW and back would be challenging, given the many dead ends and other maze features. We still got separated in the maze, which resulted in a lot of paddling and looking for each other’s yellow kayaks.

Oyster bars along the route make it imperative to paddle carefully if you value the bottom of your kayak. This launch is better on higher tides, as it’s quite shallow in many places.

Our original plan was to paddle south toward the cut-off to Rum Bay Restaurant and cross the ICW where it’s narrower. Then, aided by a southwesterly breeze, we planned to fish the Lemon Bay side of Palm Island north to Stump Pass. By then, we reasoned, the afternoon sea breeze would be ready to push us back across the ICW to the launch.

However, that was before we saw the unbroken string of boats cruising the ICW at speed on the Memorial Day weekend. Once that reality hit home, plan B called for fishing the plentiful mangrove shorelines and oyster bars around the mouth of Buck Creek. We’re not looking to get run over out there.


As the afternoon heat built up, we abandoned the mangrove maze in favor of the breezy bay shorelines and were rewarded with several snook and snapper that ate live shrimp offerings. You may have already guessed Kimball used shrimp and caught all the fish. Les was determined to stick with artificials and tried everything in the box, but ended up fishless. Tons of weeds and floating “stuff” made retrieving an artificial impossible.

The technique that worked well for Kimball was to chin-hook a shrimp beneath a small float, then toss this combo into every pocket along the mangrove shorelines. Her most exciting moment came when a huge fish (a snook or a big red) inhaled the shrimp and took off up the shoreline. Before she could get the fish under control, her kayak plowed into the mangroves, leaving her tangled up about 25 feet away from where the fish was thrashing around in the roots.

She managed to free herself and her kayak and work down the shoreline towards the fish while gaining line. Unfortunately, as so often happens in this situation, the fish went around an oyster-encrusted root and the leader parted. She didn’t quite land the fish, but did get to experience the hand-to-hand combat that goes with hooking big fish in the mangroves.

We recommend this launch, but be careful to note the marker floats that guide you from the launch and back through the maze. We explored this area on a high tide and paddled back to the launch against a strong current as the water level dropped. Smarter kayakers left the area earlier, before the tidal flow got too strong. Due to the maze of mangrove islands, this might be a good spot to kayak on a windy day. Bug repellent is also suggested.

Kimball and Les Beery, authors of the waterproof “Angler’s Guide to Shore Fishing Southwest Florida” and “Angler’s Guide to Kayak Fishing Southwest Florida,” contribute these columns to promote the excellent fishing available in Southwest Florida. Their books are available at most tackle shops in the area, AnglerPocketGuides.com, or Amazon as a download or hard copy.

Kimball and Les Beery, authors of the waterproof “Angler’s Guide to Shore Fishing Southwest Florida” and “Angler’s Guide to Kayak Fishing Southwest Florida,” contribute these columns to promote the excellent fishing available in Southwest Florida. Their books are available at most tackle shops in the area, AnglerPocketGuides.com, or Amazon as a download or hard copy.

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