The Okefenokee Swamp should be on every paddler’s bucket list. Its 438,000 acres of black water, lily pads, cypress trees and swamp prairie will keep a kayaker fascinated for days.
Camp at Stephen Foster State Park campground or pull an overnighter in the swamp.
Swamp camping requires a permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service to stay on one of seven raised platforms called chickees.
Expect alligators and venomous snakes. The most voracious critter is the biting yellow fly. Don’t expect to see other people.
CAMPER: Chris Funk, pro photographer, blogger, www.feral-onephotography.com.
Mild 1 2 3 4 5 Wild
Easy drive-up camping in the campsite or rough it on elevated platforms in the swamp.
Car Camping 1 2 3 4 5 Everest Base Camp
The campground is easily accessible while paddling into the swamp is more remote.
Tourist Mecca 1 2 3 4 5 Total Isolation
The campground gets crowded on the weekends. Primitive swamp sites rarely see people.
TARGET: Bowfin, chain pickerel, warmouth, black bullhead and green-speckled panfish called fliers.
TACKLE BOX: Use spinnerbait or jerkbait and a 20-pound leader for chain pickerel or a topwater frog for bowfin. A heavy rod and braided line will help get fish out of the thick vegetation. A gob of red wiggler worm on a small hook under a bobber will put enough warmouth and fliers in the box for dinner.
METHODS: Work a spinnerbait or frog on the edge of lilly pad fields or along current breaks for bowfin. These fish deliver a startling topwater strike and spastic fight. Dangle a worm in the cypress knees for panfish.
LAUNCH: Ramp located in the park.
CAMPING KIT: Bring the three-room, family big-top to camp in the state park campground, which also has RV sites and cabins. For swamp camping, a good sleeping pad softens the wood platforms.
DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT: Southern Georgia weather can go from summer to winter in minutes. Dress accordingly.