It's not often a venue gets a perfect score, but when the Lake Kissimmee State Park had to cancel our reservation due to the aftermath of a storm; we quickly pivoted. Mainly because, after a storm our area is usually blessed with sunshine and that weekend proved us right. Just an hour from home, Grape Hammock fish camp was a terrific solution for our desire to do a little river roamin.
The onsite general store was where we checked in and there were lots of grocery and fishing items to pick up there if needed; including bait. Plus lots of fun apparel and more. They offered air boat tours and boat rentals, though we didn't need it. Better still, each cabin comes with a boat slip. So once we got our keys and unloaded the truck, we went back towards the store to use the boat ramp and have our boat in the water ready for action first thing in the morning. It was easy and a nice short cruise into our slip, we got to see all the houseboats as the sun was starting to set.
For the evening, we brought our own portable fire pit and had our son, Charlie and his buddy Chase find some sticks for cooking our hotdogs. Staying at cabins our past two trips, we are a bit spoiled by how easy setup and breakdown are; however, there’s still stuff you need to bring. Thus, we created an entirely new kit with the items needed for a cabin trip. Feel free to check it out here. That night, doused in quality bug spray, the boys did a fair amount of night fishing off the dock and boat slips catching some catfish and blue gill; planning where to catch some live bait for the next two mornings.
Saturday, we were up and at 'em early. After a quick breakfast of donuts and English muffins and taking our #idlife vitamins, we grabbed our buckets, cooler and boat bag out of the truck, then simply walked to the boat. We did end of buying some bait in the morning and went right to task, following the mapped out fishing spots on our depth finder. Though we didn't have much luck, we weren't deterred as we looked forward to the locks experience before us. In order to the enter the Kissimee River, we had to go through a lock; our first time ever. In fact, we read there were 11 in total along the waterway leading to the Everglades. It was an interesting experience, one must be patient. There is no rushing through this experience, so video it instead.
Granted, this video highlights our return from the river itself; I do want to still share a few highlights. Right after the lock opens from Lake Kissimmee to the river, it's super straight! Take advantage of the short offshoots and just keep thinking, I am going to catch a bass today. Then, BAM, you do!
We even took a short detour to scope out River Ranch. Easy to pull up to, we found some tasty treats inside the general store and had a pleasant ride back through the lock again. Back in the lake, we used up the rest of our bait and headed in for an evening of strolling and grilling. We pulled right back into our slip and made some drinks for the walk around the large property. It was quite clear some folks made their spot a year round home while others likely camped here frequently while others were like us and just visiting. Perhaps the coolest thing was seeing they had their own atv trails through this gorgeous hammock ridge; outstanding! We saw lots of wild sea grapes and their vines in many of the hammock trees. Having been founded in 1870, the area had a lot of character and serves as a vital part of the Lake Wales community to this day.
After some delicious grilled chicken and side salads, all four of us played Yahtzee and cards until we couldn't keep our eyes open any longer. The boys called it a bit earlier than us to play the game system they brought; but we were pleased with how long they played with us. In fact, Chase was the big LCR winner that night. Even cooler than a perfect day on the water and at the site, was knowing we still had a few hours in the morning to go back out and fish.
With the destination to close to home and our boat already in the water, it was a no brainer. So, that morning we packed and cleaned up with an extra pep in our steps. We went to the store, got some bait and checked out. The staff was so nice and accommodating, I even scooped up a souvenir sticker. Then, we were out of the lake again trying to determine if the baby blue gill or the shiners would yield the most fish. Answer, no clue...as we caught nothing but the warmth of the sunshine and the sight of the perfect blue sky touching the water and the prairie land.
Overall, the experience on the Kissimee River and lake were terrific! We all enjoyed good food, company and conversation while making memories river roaming; happy roamin' to y'all too!