Well, we have had some cooler days but nothing in the way of cold, and it has been enough to push more gators up on the bank. The gator in these pics has a snare around his upper plate, and it looks like the poor fellow has had it for some time because the twine is digging into his snout. He did let me come to within a foot of his tail, so hopefully there is someone that works out there who is equipped to capture him and remove the rope. I don't think it would be hard to get something around his neck, like I said, he allowed me to approach very closely.
I love the tail, such a perfect machine. When you get close to them and really start to examine them, you begin to appreciate the beauty. Unfortunately, people have been feeding them out here, and this is a problem in Cocoa too, where the roads come so close to the canals. They have installed cameras out here now to try to catch and correct some of this behavior, but some of the gators have already developed an eager response to a slowing car.
A lot of the gators were up next to the road, basking in the afternoon sun. It was overcast on the way there, and we arrived close to noon, hoping to see some migratory birds, but I guess it hasn't gotten cold enough to drive them down here yet. My duck hunting friends say it has been sparse. Hopefully by next month there will be some colder days and a lot more bird traffic.
I ran in to Matt and his boys today, and he wants to do some of the bike trails out here. I am all for that; some of these trails go off into pine woods and other areas of the marsh that won't see as much traffic. We have seen bobcats, coyotes and deer from the car, so it would be nice to explore the trails.
This place is like a gator farm though; we find youngsters every time we come out here, and today was no exception.
Momma gator wasn't as happy to see me as I was to see her babies, but she hung in tight to her brood, and I kept an eye on her at all times.
I showed Drew the Bullfrog whose head is above the water line, but if you look behind him there is a much paler frog, that reminds me of an African clawed frog lying on the bottom, maybe not though. Drew noticed the other frog and had to point it out to me, good eye. Below is a baby gator in duck weed; it makes you wonder how much stuff we pass by everyday, and how much we miss on these trips. They are so still.
The girls are doing great and growing faster than a baby alligator. Lily and Drew both helped me make Thanksgiving dinner, and it was fantastic. Lily also made Brian a German chocolate cake, and then defended the cake from me till Brian got there. At least he let me have a piece, and Lily also made some cookies, so I attacked those pretty hard last night and to be completely honest they were the first thing I thought about when I woke up this morning. Drew also made me very proud this weekend, thank you sweetie.
A clear head, no allergy, sinus pressure, and there is a wonderful salt breeze; this is an earthly sort of heaven for me. It's Friday and there are a few kayakers as we pull up to the back water, but overall it's not too crowded. There is a gentleman making his way across the street from the Salty Dawg, and as we prep our gear and throw on shoes to wade, he informs us about his new shop and kayak rentals. I've always hoped someone would open up one of the two buildings here for that very thing, and I pray it never becomes developed like so many of the other areas surrounding it. I asked him how much the kayak rentals were, and when he told me I decided I'd rather eat lunch instead. I asked if he had canoes because then you could at least split the cost of getting out there between two people. I've seen rentals on both coasts, lakes and rivers and the prices vary greatly, but for me 45 dollars for 4 hours was steep. I'd rather save up and get my own, but if you are in the area and you don't feel comfortable wading or don't need the cash then it looked like a nice place. He also had live bait, lures, rods and reels available, so it is definitely a good place to keep in mind and I pray he does well.
Who can resist a flat fish? They are adorable, and I know a lot of people sing the praises of Sebastian Inlet every year, but there are plenty of keeper flounder to be had in the back water all down our coast. I have caught them any where there is a tide, and they seem to like the sand near oyster bars a lot. I took him and most of the other fish on a Gulp Shrimp, but I had a snook almost hit me in the chest for chartreuse Mirrolure soft plastic on a Mirrolure swim jig.
The trout I caught were small and just under the keeper size. Every single last one of them was exactly 14 and a quarter inches, a very uniform school. Sometimes in Mosquito Lagoon I'll catch a gator trout on the backside of these schoolies. It was not the case today and all our Redfish were running in the 15 to 17 range, but it was fun and though we lost a lot more flounder than we caught, I was able to keep my promise to Drew and throw some nice filets in the freezer.
Well, goodbye NSB, I will miss you till next time, but it was fun and I'm definitely going to work harder on getting a canoe to take the girls out here. If you are adventurous and feel like wading at any time that you are here, please wear shoes or you will cut yourself to pieces. You don't need fancy gear, a couple of spinning rods, 10 pound test line, some jig heads and bodies and you are good to go. There is a shop right there now that can help you out and if you don't like lures you can buy live right there. There is also a campground next door, so get out there and get revived. Thank God for fishing and the outdoors!
This is the second time I have seen a gator feeding on another gator in here, and this is the second spot we found to hold babies. At first we thought this larger gator was a male that was trying to eat her babies, and then killed her when she defended, but I went back there today and was met by an angry smaller gator as soon as the babies started squawking. It really didn't seem to help that Drew was making the same noises from the car.
Drew and I have taken a couple of trips to the Apopka nature drive recently, and I don't know what happened to the audio on my phone, but there is a baby gator that looks like he came from a hatch earlier in the year along with several newbies. A fantastic place, some of the pics are from afternoon and some from a morning visit on the 10th.
Above are pictures of a Black Racer I found at work, and I haven't been bass fishing much lately but below is a pic of the soul bass I took last night with Lily. The Shaky head bite I had previously has slowed way down so I tried a Bitter's Ribbon in 10, had a couple of shorts or drops, so I shortened it to a 7 and this guy came just a couple casts later. It's really hard to say what made a difference for sure. We were there really early. I actually like to throw top water a lot this time of year, spinners, cranks and ribbon tails till it gets cooler. The redfish, snook and flounder have been on my mind a lot lately though, it must be that time of year. The weather is getting nice, so God bless and go fish.
So I went on a ride today with the Dorks of Seminole County, looking for snakes with a milkshake bounty.
No one found a snake so no one won a shake, but check out the baby gators. I think I deserve a chocolate and peanut butter shake after that find; they were gorgeous and I was very tempted to pick one up, but mama was right there and she had her hands full with a much larger male, who had a taste for his own kind. I actually found one of the reddest Nerodia fasciata I have ever seen, but that was in a ditch by the house. He got away before I could catch him. The gators were at the North Shore Apopka nature drive.
I handed Lily my phone to take a pic of an alligator, and realized there was some bonus footage of the dorks when I went to upload. They are crazy and a lot of fun, but alligators must not hear high pitch or maybe they associate it with food. Whatever auditory abilities they do possess the girls were not able to scare them off.
I was trying to be all stealth and catch this baby soft-shell, only to realize that he was someone else's prior kill. It was probably a bird that got him, but pretty shell. What a great place to take a drive though and rumor has it that the lake is 40% better in regards to pollution and clarity from when they started the restoration. It definitely supports a strong gator population.
Matt loves to take these sort of drives into the undeveloped areas, where the possibility for an encounter of the natural kind increases. He is ultra passionate about the outdoors and carries an appreciation for a variety of creatures. I have only seen a few water snakes this year, but this one is gorgeous and fat. She is in a protected area, unlike the lake where I live. At the lake behind the house, she would be confused for a moccasin, and some one would feel it their sworn and faithful duty to kill her. She is a sign of a health and an important part of her ecosystem. Her young provide food for bass, birds and alligators. She helps reduce the frog and rodent population, and if you pause a moment, look at her, realizing your fear is unfounded and disproportionate, you may find her even beautiful.
We went bass fishing with Brian this weekend, and while we saw no monsters to the boat, we did take 10 bass on Lake Destiny, most near or in deep water. Once I put on a crank that could hit the 9 foot mark, I started tagging some of the suspended bass. Lily took several on a shaky head, Brian on shakys and ribbon, and a little time was taken to jump in and cool off in the water. I love going out on the water, but I will always be a bank fisherman first, then a paddler and finally a boater. I hope, if anything, Scalelily has been a means to prove that the outdoors, fishing and family time is never so far away as what you don't have. I never needed a boat to catch a fish in general, and I have learned to appreciate what is available around me. My children are learning about the outdoors and sharing it with others. I am looking for a part time job in the fishing industry and will use that to facilitate more adventures and hopefully introduce my kids and other children to more outdoor variety. Salt season is getting close and it would be nice to teach the girls about some reds and flounder, but all in good time. Remember, the greatest secrets to fishing success, are listening and going.
Thursday night was an awesome numbers night for me. I took 19 bass, but nothing over 2.5, and I will trade numbers for weight any day. It was still a good time though and I took a couple on cranks but most fell pray to a Shaky head again. The crank bait is an Academy Sports H2O in Shell Cracker. The water is high enough in there that it is keeping from getting snagged, but alas you give up bottom contact to protect your lures.
I tried sneaking around the rocks to a less pressured cove but all I found was snakes. The browns are hard to tell apart from moccasins as the sun slips away and I can't see my feet in spots, so I thought it best to turn around. This garter snake didn't hide well enough, so I was able to extract him from the rocks. Check out the blue/green underside, it reminds me of the hue on a Rebel Gill.
Brian wrapped up Thursday night with the weight and I gave up my search for something big on number 19. It just wasn't going to happen, but Friday is another day, and while the bite wasn't as frantic and the crank bite could not be found, we did manage some weight.
Friday was still a finesse day, and I took the majority of my fish on a Shaky, same for Justin and Brian. Justin did show up with a Shaky head jig sporting a built in rattle though, and it was given to him by a rep to try out so there was none to pass around. Brian and I were admittedly envious, but it is the kind of innovation we enjoy seeing put to practice. Above and below are some of the baits I employed, but I think my favorite find yesterday was the Zoom finesse in Water melon Slice. It is a dark watermelon top with a clear watermelon, red flake bottom, quite seductive. I know because I was immediately seduced into buying a pack when I saw it. Fortunately, the bass were equally as impressed with the color as I was. The other lure pictured below is a Mister Twister Pockit Paddle in Black with red flake. I modified mine by simply splitting the tail and then rigged to a EWG followed by a bead then a 1/8 ounce bullet.
We walked the whole lake and I feel it today; flip flops on wet slopes are a wonderful thing, unless you prefer balance, grace and mobility. I see got photo bombed here too. That's Justin, and he had just lost a fight with a big girl in here, which was actually the second nice fish that either broke him clean or shook him in the weeds. He was crushed but went right back at it, and it wasn't long after that we heard his cries for help. "Help me, help me guys, it's tangled," he cried. If by help you, you mean laugh until our sides hurt, well then we were a huge help, and he got it in.
A really cool night, hard work, but I caught 9 fish, Justin left with about that many, and Brian well, he wouldn't let us see the fish he was catching, but he turned in at least a city limit. We weighed a 5.38, a 3.9, caught a couple more in the 3 range and some 2's. All the bigger fish came on little Shakys.
Forty years old and still in awe of the outdoors.