Our home is just off the White Oak River. The White Oak River is one of North Carolina's unique blackwater rivers. The total length of the river is around 40 miles. Even though much of my life has been spent in North Carolina, I had never heard of the White Oak until we found a home on an inlet of the river in the summer of 2006. I have grown to love the river.
It is a river that boating visitors to the area often ignore because of the many oyster rocks in the river. The river is not one where you can boat without paying attention to where you are. It is actually probably not the easiest spot to learn how to be a boater, but as a couple of people have told me, if you can safely boat on the White Oak and in Bogue Sound, you have become a competent boater.
I can still remember the day we first launched our boat at the Bluewater Cove boat ramp. We had hired Captain Jay Cusick of Morehead City to help us with our first boating adventures. That day when we went down the river we knew little about the river other than what I had gleaned from talking with neighbors, looking at charts, and some nearby kayaking. It was a strain to see the buoys that first trip, but since then the river has been become my backyard playground.
The White Oak River from our channel out of Bluewater Cove is well marked to Swansboro and the Intracoastal Waterway. The main reason the channel to Swansboro has buoys is help boaters avoid oysters rocks which at high tide are sometime just below the surface of the water.
If you zoom in on this Google map, you can see from the aerial view that most of the turns on the route to Swansboro are made to avoid oyster rocks or reefs of oyster rocks. While it seems to be a crooked path on a map, it really isn't too bad when you are down on the water. This Google map of another trip down the White Oak has some pictures attached to the points on the map.
There are still days when the sun is low in the sky or the reflection is really strong off the water that I am very happy to follow the nice track that I have on my boat's Garmin GPS. Yet when we are fishing or just wandering around the river, we often get far off the track. There is no secret, we just watch the depth finder, the color of the water, and go very slow.
I am not an expert on the oyster population in the river, but I do know that any oysters that are here in the river, help keep the river clean and clear. I am all for that.
While oyster rocks were once something that intimidated me a little, today I look at them great structure for hiding fish. They also keep down the traffic on the river. While those of us who live along the river have to learn how to navigate the river in order to get to the ICW, Bogue Sound, Bogue Inlet, and the Atlantic Ocean, some of our visiting anglers would rather not take the time.
That also okay with me. While I don't mind sharing our jewel of a river, I would hate to see it become crowded and over used. There are a lot of days when I fish the White Oak, and I might see just one or two boats.
The White Oak is a very scenic river whether you are heading down the river in the fall like these pictures or up the river to the land of marsh grasses. The oyster rocks that sometimes stick above the waters of the river are more than scenery, they are part of the living and changing ecology of the river. I hope they never disappear.
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