Growing up I spent a lot of time going back and forth between New Smyrna and the Orlando area. In between these two places is a wonderful oasis, and one of my wife's favorite spots to be "buoyant and cool" while she was pregnant with Scale Lily. Sadly, this was Lily's first time back to the park, outside of the womb. We made the drive often when we lived in New Smyrna, but the move to Panasoffkee put us so far away.
It was about a 30 to 40 minute drive by way of I4, coming from the South west side of Orlando. It was Sunday though so the traffic wasn't bad and with no holiday the park was not full to capacity when we arrived. That does happen during Spring break and sometimes during the Summer, so leave early, have a back up or wait till slower times arrive.
The Spring flows into the St. John's river, and boasts the wild life that comes with that great water way. There were a lot of Ospreys, some bass, including spawners, Blue cats and hundreds of gar. I saw schools of mullet and big groups of Tilapia.
The park also rents kayaks and canoes, and today we were able to view a manatee and her calf, but there is a strict rule about remaining 50 away from the manatees. My experience with them in different areas off the state is that the manatees are often unaware of this rule, and will rub the bottom of your kayak, trying to scratch it's back or approach you while swimming.
On Pleasant Hill Road, where the possibilities are many, we found a nice paddle, giant bluegill, red bellies, and oh yea, those one's with the big mouths too. We parked at the bridge on Pleasant hill road where it crosses Shingle Creek, and then paddled east towards the glories of Toho.
The sunfish in here are aggressive, beautiful, and very robust. The Blue gill below managed to take drag after swallowing a white Rooster tail. It reminds me of Econ in parts but without as much dead fall and it stays rather deep at this end.
I tried pitching a craw, a rattle, and a worm, but ended up taking all my fish on top water, and between 1 and 4pm, not my usual time for throwing top water but it was the Lunar period. We got a lot of hits but only several good sets and fights that made it into the canoe. It's a nice paddle and inside the creek you do find some shade but make sure you bring plenty of water to deal with the afternoon.
The Zoom toad got a lot of attention near the mouth of the creek flowing in to Toho. This was my nicest fish for the day.
A great run in your kayak or canoe and you get to enjoy some good creek fishing on the way to one of Florida's premier bass lakes. Beautiful day!
This was to be my third attempt at exploring Shingle Creek with my daughter. The first time Lily wanted to see the creek and hunt for snakes, so we pulled over by the bridge on Sand Lake road. There was a smaller, very clear stream, flowing towards the creek, and as we walked beside it we could make out the sounds of splashing up ahead. This turned out to be something other than wildlife and when Lily saw the gentleman bathing beneath the bridge, she was done with the adventure. Ah, the city, you never know what you will see. Underneath the bridge on 192 there was the stash of another homeless community.
I didn't realize I had my camera on the wrong setting, so a lot of the shots looked over exposed. I saved a few that are ok, but nothing really does justice to the beauty of the south end. It is a magnificent sunken forest of cypress, with stained water, reminiscent of my trips to Econ but what a different feel.
The water was quite cool in the swamp and with a decent amount of flow between the trees. It can get a little tight in spots as you try to navigate your way around other paddlers.
The fishing, well, I tried a few things and talked to another angler that was kayaking the North stretch. He had caught one on a shiner and one on a wacky rigged Senko. I tried a spinner, a soft craw and finally switched to top water to see what would happen. There several follow and a few bumps on a Tiny Torpedo, but nothing made it to the boat and some were most definitely gar. Econ gives me a lot of nice bass on poppers, and so I gave it a try. I took two small bass and the blue gill above helped me free my lure from a branch. Now that's an aggressive little guy there. If I still had my ultralight or a fly rod set up, I would probably go with throwing a small Rooster tail and some fly poppers in here. The creek flows all the way to Tojo, which is world renown bass water, so the next time I may launch closer to the lake.
So, we are back at the launch, a great park, free, and easy to get to. It is right off 192 and we took John Young parkway south and turned right on Vine (192). It is only a few miles from there on your left. Shingle Creek regional park is a great little paddle and not far from the city of Orlando, Kissimmee and Disney. I highly recommend it and it's free if you launch your own kayak, but there are also rentals on site.
I have been to Bass Pro a hundred times and there is an exit from the fishing department into Artegon, or the "anti-mall", as they refer to it. We had never ventured through this passage way, but now that we live not so far from here and after the recommendation of a friend; we decided to take a stroll.
My kids love Marvel, some DC and the uber geeky stuff like Manga and Anime, so we took a stroll through God's and Monsters. There is a lot of collectible stuff ranging from super heroes to the Walking dead, an interesting store.
There are a lot of really interesting and out of the ordinary store fronts, including an upcycle shop, a store specializing in beef jerky and an interesting play area for the kid in all of us.
Yes, girls fish too, but only the coolest ones. I was deep into that REM sleep, counting hook sets and big girls, when a knock came to my door. "What time is it," I asked? "Eight thirty three," my wife said. Oh no, I promised the little girl next door that we would take the canoe out and catch some bass - at 8:30- she was right on time. So me and Drew wiped the dust from our eyes, I splashed some water on my face and we headed for the lake.
It was super foggy and calm. I had fished another lake on Thursday, and it is a spot known for its power fishing approaches, but not that day, and I took one on a spinner in 3 hours of trying. Yesterday I paddled around our lake and tried the power approach for a bit but to no avail. I decided to grab a stick bait and wacky rig it; that led to eight fish in about an hour's time. The other method, that looked promising on this slow bite, was pitching the weeds but I broke off the tip of my Abu Garcia Veritas 2.0 in the pads shortly after. Drew broke my other Abu, I use for crank baits, on a back cast today. Too bad, because I really like the feel of these rods. It was an expensive weekend, but the girls had a fun time, and once we slowed things down, the bite was on.
They look so sweet here, I know, but don't be fooled, these are two focused and ruthless competitors. There was so much trash talk going on, that it was like being out with my buddies. Drew jumped ahead with 3 fish, but Tyla refused to give up, even though I begged and pleaded for lack of coffee. I just need one fish Calvin, and then Drew reminded her that she had 3. It was more than Tyla could accept, and I told her the big fish wins, so you still have a chance for that. We pulled into another cove that you can't reach from shore, and both the girls cast deep into it. Drew was reeling her bait in for a recast when a fish tried to take it on top, she missed, but then Tyla's rod bent way down and she started screaming. The screaming actually lasted all the way back to the ramp, and she tried to hand the rod of several times during the fight, but I kept telling her no, and even though she passed under the canoe, mercilessly bent the rod and jumped for her life, Tyla still got her in. I weighed the beast, and she hit 4 pounds, it also looked like she was post spawn. What a beautiful fish, and a very persistent little girl. She said this was one of the best days ever, and I am sure she will say that a lot of times, but at least I got to be there for her bass day.
The lures I used this week were Producto Hot Rods, Big Bite Baits sticks, and Tuscaroran Pro lures sticks. Tuscaroran Pro lures are new to me, but a new friend from South Florida left me and Brian some to try. I like the texture on the stick baits and the action is nice.
Back at the Little Econ, but this time with my oldest daughter and a canoe. We launched at 419 and took the first leg of it, which is about eight miles and ends at SnowHill Road. This time I had my wife drop us off and then called for a pick up as we approached the foot bridge. I figured that would give them about 40 minutes drive time and enough time for me to paddle the rest of the way to Snow Hill. It was one of those trips when you were fighting the falling sun, partly because I forgot the paddle and we had to turn around and go home, and partly because you can't just paddle through. No way, there are fish in here, and I have to catch a few of them. I never understood people who go to the beach to lay out either, there are fish in there too.
My best today was a 5 pounder and it came on an Academy H2O popper in a frog pattern. This took all of our bass today and Lily took it away from me so she could start using it. Top water is always fun, but I love it in rivers and there were just too many dead falls that looked amazing.
This is a beautiful stretch of Florida river and I think we may do the other section soon, but camp it so there is more time to fish. The other run is from our pick up point at Snow Hill Road and ends on the St. John's River at S.R. 46. This is about 11 miles long. We put in just after 1 pm and it took us till almost 6 oclock to reach our 8 mile pick up point. This included fishing and a shore lunch though, but it was dark when we got to the Snow Hill bridge.
The red bellies and bluegill in here can be aggressive and this one took a small clothespin spinner I use for Crappie, sometimes you run in to those in here too. I usually bring some Rooster tails in white and managed some on that today too, but the star was that H2O popper, what a blast.
Forty years old and still in awe of the outdoors.