With the rising popularity of kayak fishing and the search for un-crowded beach areas, it is difficult to find a great little spot to call your own. And even when you do, there is a risk that too many others will find and ruin it for everyone. Rigby Island in Mathews County is a perfect example. Locals knew of this oversized sandbar with its Osprey nest, shore birds, and good fishing for years. It was a highlight of the Mathews Blueways Water Trail. The idea was that paddlers would visit the island for a little while and leave the place as pristine as they found it. Unfortunately, too many people found out about it who did not know nor care about leaving no trace. They left empty beverage cans, bottles, wrappers, and other assorted trash. Now, Rigby is adorned with NO TRESPASSING signs.
The bay and it’s tributaries have quite a few small islands and peninsulas. Some are mere sandbars with a little bit of marsh grass. Others may have pine trees and wildlife. Each one is its own little world. By treating them with courtesy and respect, we can all enjoy these places.
Do a little homework. Study nautical maps and, if possible, visit the area you intend to paddle ahead of time. Visits are best because you may notice sandbars and other features that aren’t on the maps yet. Take note of any public areas that you can visit without any worries. Always keep in mind that much of the waterfront property in the area is privately owned. Trespassing is ill-advised. Either stop only in public parks or shorelines or plan ahead and get a landowner’s permission to visit his or her property. In the case of islands and marshy peninsulas, many locals will say that no one owns it or the owner doesn’t care if you land and launch from there. Check ahead and seek permission anyway.
Bring no more than one other visitor with you to a private area. Some landowners may not say a word if they just see you and your paddling partner trespassing for a few minutes. But, bringing the Spanish Armada to a private shoreline that you have permission to visit will cause you to lose the privilege from the landowner. He or she alone has the right to have company on the property as the owners. You are just a guest. Yeah, take your buddy or sweetie to that secret spot. But, take the gang to the public area.
Practice “Leave No Trace” even on public shorelines. Of course we would do this for a private landowner. But, far too often people treat federal, state, and local public areas like trash cans. At Chickahominy and Hog Island Wildlife Management Area I have seen some rather pitiful litter and signs warning visitors that continuous littering will cause the closure of the area for fishing. “My tax money is paying for this” is a poor excuse as you are not the only taxpayer that has to pay to look at your beer cans (which are most likely not permitted on the land), Mc Donald’s wrappers (healthy outdoors?), and who knows whatever else you leave behind (All rangers and park attendants have at least one good story). Keep a spare bag or two for your trash where there are no cans nor dumpsters available. If they are available, please use them.
My newest spot is one that I have seen from a distance 100 times and never knew what it was. A group of friends would mention it. But, I never gave it a second thought since my reliable places were very peaceful and productive. But, I did photograph it a few times and thought it would be nice to visit one day. So, I did. I was smitten by its’ close proximity to beachfront civilization. Yet, it was a bit wild and untamed. I even saw a muskrat running around. The croaker fishing was very good on the rising tide and I saw several osprey and herons. If I can, I will camp there just to shoot the sunrise. Where is it? If I told you, it wouldn’t be a secret.