Bennett Creek Trip Report

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Ted | VCKC
Published Saturday, February 24, 2007

Date: February 12, 2007

Approximately 30 club members participated in the trip. Our outfitter Matt, owner of Aardvark Florida Kayak Company provided kayaks: 16 solo and 5 tandems - with a great variety of makes and styles, all were in good to excellent condition and a pleasure to paddle. In addition, 4 privately owned kayaks (club members) accompanied us. Matt, our outfitter, matched paddlers to the type of boat that matched their needs and after giving us a concise safety talk helped launch us off. Matt, our outfitter and guide lead the paddle while his wife took up the rear and kept in contact with each other via two-way radio.

Weather: What started as a potentially rainy day turned out to be a delightful day with scattered clouds, blue sky and temps in the low 70s. On the water we were experienced some winds that, while not a major issue, did test some's endurance esp. during our stretch on Bennett Creek (more on this below).

Travel to Launch Site: The directions in the destination report were accurate and we had no difficulty getting to and finding the launch site. We unloaded our gear and parked our cars just down the road from launch site. I would estimate the drive took one hour and 15 minutes (give or take).

Bennett Creek/Withlachoochee River.

Matt explained that Bennett Creek is the tidal area between the Gulf of Mexico and the Withlachoochee River, we paddled a circular route on these waters that allowed us the opportunity to witness the change in scenery between brackish waters and the more freshwaters of the With.

To the right of the launch site and only a couple hundred feet was the opening where Bennett Creek/Withlachoochee emptied into the Gulf; our trip was to our left. Matt explained that Bennett Creek is affected by the tidal influence of the Gulf, but more so by the water levels of the nearby Withlachoochee and recent rainfalls made for less tidal influence and an easier paddle (for those who remember the tidal influence on Halls River when we encountered an area of strong tide that required effort to get through). The wind, especially on the Bennett Creek portion of the trip was, at times, an issue but that depended on the strength, endurance and paddling skills - while I heard some talk of this it didn't seem to be a major issue.

The Withlachoochee portion of the trip was not a difficult paddle with, what I thought, to be a very mild to nonexistent current.

This was a relatively easy trip requiring basic paddling skills but some level of endurance do to the distance of the round trip (about 3.5 miles by my estimate). We stopped on an island on the Withlachoochee portion for a rest; the beach area had reasonably solid bottom and sufficient space for the boats to put-in. It was about a half-hour paddle back to the take-out.

Overall, I thought this trip was similar to Halls River, also a tidal area of the Gulf that we paddled about a year ago. These rivers or creeks certainly present a different view of the diverse waters our area of Florida offers.

Scenery and Wildlife:

We were given the opportunity to watch the interesting change in vegetation between the brackish waters of Bennett Creek and the more fresh waters of the Withlachoochee considering they are not that far apart. Both waters were relatively wide with marked channels for motorboats. While on Bennett some saw and Matt confirmed the rare sighting of an alligator, which are typically freshwater animals. On the Withlachoochee, we saw more wildlife to include an otter and raccoon high in a passing tree. We spotted quite a few Osprey Nests and watched as these birds soared overhead. Matt pointed out a flock of White Pelicans soaring high in the blue sky. A gaggle of Cormorants were perched in a passing tree and many were seen diving into the river. Matt also pointed out a passing outcropping of wild rice as well as gave a nice explanation of the trees and area were passing.

Trip Difficulty:

Except for some wind issues, this was not a difficult paddle requiring only basic paddling but did require some level of endurance - again wind related. There were no incidents of capsizing but if there were, the water was a pleasant temperature.

Trip Enjoyment:

I heard nothing but good comments from club members on this trip. Personally, I enjoy more challenging rivers but this was a nice change from those trips. It is certainly suitable for private boat owners as shuttling is not an issue and would probably be a great trip for those interested in fishing from their kayaks.

After Paddle Lunch Stop:

JR's Pub and Grill was disappointing. My meal, a claimed grouper sandwich was uneventful with limited toppings but tasted okay. My party arrived early and we were served without too much wait but others waited about an hour for their meal and were served more questionable and at least in one instance over fried ”grouper”. I heard that one complained about the wait to the server and was told that we were not expected and, therefore, tasked the cooked. Have to note that there were no other customers when we arrived. Also have to add that our previous experience with this restaurant was much better but I would probably look for a different lunch spot should we visit this area again.

Paddle Safely

Last update Thursday, April 10, 2008

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