I have been praying for the kind of rain that would bring the bass closer to the spots I like to fish from the bank, and yesterday as I approached the Roost, I got a little excited. The beach that had been growing grass was gone and now the carp and Tilapia were in there feeding. The water had not reached the levels that existed when I started fishing here, but it was a significant change, and the water was now covering an important strike zone. There were two men fishing the spot I wanted to be in, so I moved elsewhere.
I had one more Rebel Gill and one more Molting Craw, and I rigged my medium heavy bait caster with a 3/8 ounce weight, bead and 5/0 super line worm hook. This is what I brought to work the pads, only the real bite didn't seem to happening in the pads. During the time it took me to miss 2 and land the one above, the older gentleman had already tagged 8 fish. I am never too proud to ask what you're using, and it was interesting to watch someone fish, who had an obviously intimate relationship with this lake. I thought I was pretty good here, but his was history far older and more in tune than my own. It slowed down for him and he came over to talk to me, "that looked like a decent fish you caught a while ago," he said. From there we went on to talk about the history of the lake and the different methods we had employed with success. He had a rod rigged with a black and blue stick bait, I'm guessing because the water was pretty silty where he was fishing, but he was also employing a method that my brother likes to use with the weight on the bottom. What he was taking the fish on though was actually a paddle tail worm in a darker color. He seemed prepared to fish the cover if need be, but every time he hooked up it was in the open.
When he left that spot I move in, and the higher the moon got it seemed the crazier the bite. I missed several, and took about 5 between my Rebel Gill and Molting Craw. I tried a stick similar to his, but with no luck. So, looking around my bag, I happened upon my StankX baits Villians, a 10.5 inch Trick worm. I bought these in Camo, and was saving them in the hopes of getting a canoe and hitting some deep water. I rigged it on my Abu Veritas 2.0 medium fast, with a weedless jig head. Money! They loved it and I caught 3 fish back to back, including this bass that was just shy of 5 pounds. She is actually my biggest bass this month.
Well, I lost a lot of fish last night but I was able to land 5 on the sticks, 3 on the Villain, and 3 more on a Bitter's 10 inch ribbon, using the same weedless jig head. I tried it in june bug first, but finally went to a Tequila, and nailed 2 fish, missed 2 and finished out with 11 right after 11PM. All together I think I missed almost as many as I caught, but I can hold my thumb up high, so don't cry for me Argentina, I'll be back again.
This summer has been hot, and the girls are both back from camp, so here we are again looking for things to do. It's always better for me when the sun his hanging low in the sky, but the cries of boredom can start very early in the day. I don't want their lives to revolve solely around the computer and the television, so I'm glad when my Scales ask me to go fishing for blue gill.
The blue gill bite was decent, and their patterns always get my mind turning, but there was also several carp hanging around the area. I tried some of Lily's bread but couldn't get a bite, so I sweetened the deal with a little passion fruit juice and hibiscus flower. Twice the carp took it, but both times they eluded me on the hook set. I don't think they like the bobber, and I have to give those Brits some credit, these fish are a bit more complicated than they look. The bluegill come to the cork like a dinner bell, but the carp seem a little more skittish. One of them did come over and nudge the bobber though, and then tailed up while he inhaled my bait, but we couldn't make it happen.
On Friday we took a ride through the North Shore Nature Drive with the girls. Meegan and I had previously been out there, but this was the girls first time. This place doesn't disappoint, and this time the girls, including their mom, got to see their first Florida Bobcat. He was no kitten either, and I wish I could have gotten a picture, but the experience was awesome. It always turns me into a little kid when I get to see something like that. We also saw five gators, and several species of birds.
A lot of baby Gallinules in here, and we probably found a new group every 200 feet or so.
Lily and I caught a lot of blue gills yesterday and of course we caught the complimentary turtle, that no fishing trip out here can be without. The little musk turtle hung out for a while after, trying to sneak bread along with the gallinules.
It's been a hot summer, and the afternoons have been hit and miss with the storms, but I'm glad to see the girls getting outside and learning how to share. Drew was the last person I would expect to touch a fish, but now she helps her buddies remove hooks and bait line. She is getting the feel of the bait caster, and was kind enough to give up one of their spinning out fits to a friend. I have caught a lot of bass on that Abu Garcia Cardinal / Berkley Lightning Rod combo. Great entry level stuff that can last a long time, so I hope she keeps up the legacy and catches a lot of big bass. Lily and I have had some one on one time this week and she has always been a sharer, but she amazes me with subtlety in helping others. She does not parade it around and I have taught her that people aren't trophies, that what we do for them is doing it towards God. She stopped for a homeless man yesterday after walking by him, and you could see she was uncomfortable with just passing by. She asked if she could give him a dollar, and she did it so discretely, with the sweetest of smiles. It was her own money, and I am very proud of her.
We did the Apopka, North Shore nature drive through on the way home from St. Pete. About half way in to the drive we had only spotted one gator, but then there was the smell of death as we came to one of the turns. I wasn't going to stop, but I noticed the bleached out gator from the corner of my eye. When I got out of the car I realized there was a much larger gator holding on to him.
I was trying to point it out to my wife, but she couldn't see it. She saw the dead gator, and I guess thought the head of the other was a log or part of it. So, being the nice guy I am, I went through the weeds on the other side and took a picture of it from over there. He got a little upset and defensive over what was clearly his meal. That's when my wife noticed the second animal.
He blew up, pulled his cache over to deeper water and rolled it. Then he disappeared under water for a time, but then drug back to the other side.
That was pretty cool, and there were a lot of other things out there both bright and some subtle. Like this gar, underneath our feet, in the same cove, passing under the bridge.
My buddy Matt told me about the place, and it has just opened to the public recently, but is known by birders due to the census that they take during the winter migration. Apparently, during one census they spotted over 250 different species of bird. That is incredible. I definitely need a better camera, because I'd say we saw somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 different types of birds, a deer, turtles, gar and some alligators. There was also an ibis there that I had never seen before. Sorry about the photo quality. Glossy Ibis and Great Blue Heron.
I didn't see any snakes but it was the middle of the afternoon, and the only major draw back here is that there is no fishing allowed. It breaks my heart, especially at the one inlet where I could see water flowing. There are millions of shad in here, and I am betting some double digit bass as well, but its still a cool drive and I highly recommend it. I attached a URL that gives more info and maps at the beginning of the blog.
It was so hot Friday, and the pools here feel like a bath tub, so we loaded up the car and headed to Wekiva Springs. After a good swim we decided to take the board walk, where Lily found this Broad Headed Skink. Wonderful creatures, and the sun really brings out his glossy skin and that orange head. It's so hot outside I picture my head about the same color as his.
There were also a lot of damsel flies, 5 lined skinks and even a narrow mouth toad.
Wekiva is not just the springs however and there are a lot of trails here. The mosquitos can be a bit much on the low land trails so we took a ride out to the scrubs. There were a lot of gopher tortoises on the way, and we walked a small section of trail towards the end that takes you around Sand Lake.
Sand Lake was beautiful, but my two dorks are air condition junkies. I remember at the their age, my mother had to beg or threaten us to come inside during the summer. Mine enjoy the out doors but from the comfort of cool spring water. They thought the scrubs were boring, and were not as interested in coming back to fish this lake, but you can be sure that I will.
In other news, we have separated the two geckos to give Dimples a break. She appeared to be gravid when we got her and sure enough, she laid 2 eggs on the 15th. I didn't have any vermiculite at the time so I have them in a deli cup with some sphagnum moss. I have done it this way with snake eggs once before, and only lost one of the eggs. I pulled them out today and examined them, both appear to be fertile, so fingers crossed. They are incubating in an area of the tank that holds a steady 83 degrees, so I am guessing at approximately 60 days before hatch, but I am not sure.
Upon arriving, at what was not our first or even second destination, Drew found this gopher tortoise in the parking lot. We started out this morning heading for Blue Springs, which is one of the last of the local springs that the girls have not yet seen. I went there often when I lived in New Smyrna, and when Meegan was pregnant with Lily, she wanted to visit this Spring whenever possible. Saturdays are horrible for these sort of outings though, and when we arrived the park was already at capacity, with a long line and a sign reporting a 2 to 3 hour wait. So we took a vote and Drew's fear of sharks were not enough to sway Lily and myself away from New Smyrna.
After a visit with the grandparents, we headed down to the Dune park, a place I have loved since a boy, but oh yes, that too was at capacity. So I tried the North park, but no luck, Flagler, keep going, and finally we settled in at the parking lot next to Mi Mexico. A good thing I am a fisherman, otherwise I may not have had the patience, but I am glad we kept looking.
Best I can tell, these are a type of snail, and with help from "Google", they appear to be Lettered Olives. The girls watch too much nature programming with me, so when I said snail, they did not want to pick them up. When I asked why, they referred me to these - Brazilian Cone Snail . Well, I have picked these up before and am sure that it is not the same thing.
There was also a bit of a sand sculpting competition or exhibition, running at Flagler. We stopped here for lunch at Breaker's, then grabbed some ice cream and went back to the sculptures.
The burgers here are incredible, and the open window in front of me lets in a wonderful, salty breeze. I miss living over here. Their hamburgers are quite robust, but after a day of playing at the beach, everyone finished theirs with ease.
2 Scoops, but one napkin each, and that didn't cut it with this heat. We finished our ice cream and checked out some more sand sculpting. At first it looked like DC, but then there was Marvel, and even Disney's Little Mermaid trying to escape the evil Ursula.
My second cast, with the StankX baits Rad Gill jerk, produces a bass. I love the color on this and it sits nicely on the swim bait hook. The bass fishing didn't last though, and soon I found myself surrounded by little girls, fun snaps and smoke bombs. They wanted to catch a gar, but I'm not sure how the fire works fit in.
Lily's gar broke off when I grabbed the line to lift it to the dock, but then Tyla laid in to this angry little monster. She was excited and wanted to hold it, but I didn't want to have to explain teeth marks or blood to her mom, so I held it for the photo. No one worries when I get bit or cut, its rather expected. My buddy Brian brought his daughter, Gabby, and she was hard core. I think she edged out her dad, and left with 13 fish.
The red ear were really stacked in the shallows, and it is rare out here to catch more of them than blue gill, but Brian and Gabby wrecked them. We also call them shell crackers down here, and they make for some excellent table fare.
It was a multiple species sort of day, with Blue gill, shell crackers, gar, bull head and a bass. It was fun watching them catch fish, and of the occasional turtle as well. The smiles say it all, and I'm learning on days like this it is better to target a wider range of species. More targets means more opportunities, and helps hold the shorter attention spans. Drew was not feeling it so much yesterday, Lily bounced between gar, catching bait, bluegill, climbing trees, and blowing up fire works with Drew. Gabby was the picture of focus, and she ended up with the biggest bag. Tyla stayed after the gar and was rewarded with what she wanted. All girls, but all so different in their approaches.
Well, my day didn't start out this way, but ended rather nicely.
Forty years old and still in awe of the outdoors.