12 years use to seem like such a long time, and yet just 12 years ago I met my Lily in the delivery room at Halifax Hospital in Daytona. She was looking rather bored this weekend, and so I asked her if she needed an adventure, and she said she wanted to go to the beach and then Pasha for her birth day. So we loaded up the car, grabbed her little sister, and made our way back to her homeland. Lily is a water baby and even before she knew how to swim, she claimed she did. My neighbor, in Lake Panasoffkee, believed her, but then had to pluck her from the pool when she realized Lily wasn't swimming. She is great in the water now, and though she does not care for pools, she loves the Ocean and the Springs.
It was a beautiful day at Ponce, and no, I did not bring a fishing rod. I am a father also, but with fishing gear I revert quickly to a little boy, and it was my oldest's birth day so we let her take the lead.
The salt air and water worked wonder for our allergies. It will clear your head in no time, and make you wonder how it is that you ever got so far away.
The water was beautiful and clean; I love the transitions of green and blue.
Oh the joys of having a younger sibling. Lily is changing a lot and often seeks solace away from Drew's antics. They are funny though, if they are apart then she misses her, but as soon as they are together a fight ensues.
I believe these are Sand Pipers, and what lovely markings they have.
There were a few gopher tortoises out munching foliage, and some apple slices that a tourist provided.
Above is one of my favorite African cichlids from Lake Malawi. Demasoni have such deep color and beautiful contrast. One of my favorite aquarium set ups is a simple colony of these with a colony of Labidochromis.
I spent a lot of time at Daytona Aquarium as a young man, and Gary Johnson was not only my boss for a time, but always my friend. He put up with a very zealous and obsessed hobbyist and took me to places that would have been inaccessible otherwise. I saw fish farms, lived in the side of his shop and poured through books on tropical fish daily. There was really no one around that offered the quality of cichlids he kept and also bred. I remember shipping to customers all over and Gary often indulging me with keeping something rare in the shop. When Lily was born, he was one of the first people there to welcome her to Daytona, and time really does go by too fast; it has been years since I had the chance to talk to him. We spoke a bit yesterday but that shop is always so busy with hobbyist on the weekends.
A beautiful day, God has truly blessed me with some wonderful children. Happy birth day Lily, I will try to get you back to the coast more often.
Thank God for Pasha too, that was great!
It's definitely Spring, and there are several broods of baby Mallards at my work, to illustrate the point. They are definitely a sign of the season, but along with the frogs and snakes, they also make a good argument for throwing top water. My wife and kids don't believe that bass and baby ducks should share the same sentences, but I think the bass look at them much differently. When I was a kid we had a male and a female Mallard named Abraham and Sarah; they were great, better than watch dogs, and the meter man was terrified of them. The only problem was the poop on the deck; you had to wash it off daily.
This mama and her little group of ducklings were at my work. Sometimes we get called out because they get in places they shouldn't be, but you can't just remove them. I have to call one of the team members, who holds a Mallard permit, and they move the ducks to a safer body of water.
Mallards aren't the only birds around our Florida shorelines though, and if you look at some of the color variation that top water lure manufactures offer, they look more like birds than frogs.
I dropped off Lily at school and stopped by the Roost on the way home. I have never seen it this low and bass tend to follow the water levels. My chest is still a bit congested so I didn't stay long, but managed one across the street.
No monsters, but he pretended he was when he hit this Bitter's sling in Red Bug. And then I flew off to run some errands.
Saturday was pretty awesome and it called for a peak time in the middle of the day. We fished some neighborhood ponds at my buddy Matt's house, but with the lack of cover and the burning sun, I think the solar peaks would have been better. It didn't occur to me to take sun screen, and I am now paying the price. My neck is blood red and after about 11 hits and 7 landed fish, I was the delicate eastern flower leaving my little brother and the kid from Maine to finish off the lakes.
The bass were really clean in here and bright. The first of the man made lakes didn't seem to offer much in the way of depth, transition or cover. There were a few slight bottle necks, and I had changed out the back hook on my natural bream, to a red treble, since I thought this would be good on the sand bottom. Apparently I had somehow looped the line and when I went to cast, the lure went all the way across the lake, but without the line. Oh well, so I tried a swim bait, and through my polarized glasses, I could watch them follow and sometimes in pairs but they wouldn't commit. There were also a lot of minnows, some of the silversides, guppies, hundreds of plecos and Tilapia. I linked the plecos to a sight where a gentleman hunts and eats these invasives, but I should add that they are hard on a filet knife and I tried one with my brother once, he liked it and me not so much. It was not the poor man's lobster that I had described to me.
The second lake was in a much more natural setting, and I was able to locate a slight weed hump towards the middle. I missed the first fish, but then took the second. My brother was using some rooster tails, and every time I looked over his rod was bent. If he caught 20 then he probable caught 30. It was ridiculous. The lure size didn't keep him from getting some of the bigger strikes, although we were unable to land anything over 3 pounds. At one point he hooked a large blue gill and had a 5 to six pound bass try to take it off the line. That was fun to watch.
I witnessed the TheTroutGames catch his first Florida Strain Large mouth. Ah the mile stones, they grow up so fast, it seems like only yesterday he was calling them lodge mouth with that Maine accent of his. Shaun had a very productive day on a variety of lures, including a floating Rapala, a grub and jig and even a Mirrolure. I think he had his limit before I baled on them and took 5 more on the way back to the car. I stopped to soak my t shirt on the way to the car, and it was dry by the time I sat down. Then I drank three bottled waters, but still didn't have to pee till hours later. I guess the public service announcement is cover up, and I think I will be getting one of those neck guards and some sun screen before my next mid day. Sun poisoning stinks especially when you are just getting over the crud.
I took some on Bitter's slings in Okee Candy Red and Green Pumpkin red, and the rest I took with my crank bait rod using my brother's favorite lipless, a Stike King, KVD, chartreuse sexy shad. Great bait, it cast a mile and the only draw back for me was that the least amount of weed fouls the retrieve. A beautiful day and I love these neighborhood and golf course ponds that are all over the State. The bass, probably from lack of cover and very little water depth, seem to orient well to the shore. They will crash minnows at your feet and a lot of our hits came right against the bank.
Pete took some more on a Jackall Super Crosstail in Bluegill. That is one of my favorite baits to use on a drop shot. Since it was pretty shallow here and sand bottomed, he rigged it on a Shaky head.
Lily wanted some more fish for her tacos, so she grabbed her cast net and tried taking some Tilapia off the beds. Her cast were perfect but it is a 4 ft. net and the spread wasn't quite enough to keep them from shooting past the perimeter. She is a smart girl though, so she hedged her bet a bit by also throwing out a chum bag before we left. That evening when we returned, it was crawling with turtles and a big catfish that we ended up scaring away.
During the last hour of light, the turtles were an issue. She couldn't make a cast any where without them swimming over to grab her bait. Lily made her chum slick with a cloth bag, old hamburger and liverwurst. Her bait was duck hearts and livers, which is apparently a favorite among soft shell turtles. You can see how long their necks are in the picture, and I don't recommend extending it like this on a larger one, but it is the easiest way to get the hook without getting bit by the smaller ones. It is more than a little painful when they snap down, but with the neck already extended he can't reach any further. Make sure you have a pair of pliers handy, otherwise cut the line.
Lily also made a new friend named Spike. He is a beautiful English Bull dog with the greatest personality. I always wanted one of these but his owner told me that the snoring, flatulence, and drooling were driving him crazy. Yea, but that face, what a beautiful animal, and I think my wife was a bit jealous when she saw the pics.
This dog turned out to be a catfish magnet, because once he showed up, the line ran and instead of turtle soup it was catfish tacos. It's a good thing too, because we were almost out of duck innards and I needed to get up early for work.
Lily bagged a couple of butters, and I bagged filet knife duty for the second day in a row. I admit it, I prefer the catching part, but I do love fish tacos, so someone has to clean them.
I took 7 more bass yesterday, and still no size, but they are all coming off the weed line. My supply of watermelon red sticks was running low, but I had found a bag of Gene Larew Salt Flickas that I had misplaced months ago. These are great, if you're ever looking for a substitute or change from the typical stick, I recommend these. My favorite colors are sooner run, smoke pumpkin pepper neon, and red bug. You can't go wrong with these, I was using the smoke pumpkin pepper neon, which has a dark top with red flake and a lighter belly with lots of orange and green flake. I love this color this time of year, and on a worm hook, no weight, with a spinning rod, you can cast this just as far as most stick baits. It was great on the weed line but it is also deadly worked over beds.
Happy Easter, I thank God for the fish, the time I had with my daughter yesterday, and most importantly for the gift of His Son, that trumps anything I could ever have or catch here. God Bless, and I hope you enjoy some good hook sets this month.
While rigging up my medium power, fast action rod set up about a week ago, I noticed one of the screws was missing on my reel. I bought 2 of these pro qualifier reels the month prior when they were on sale, so rather than make a special trip I was just going to match it to the one in the other reel, as long as the threads on the case were still good. This didn't happen though, because when I went to take a cast with the rod at Lake Highland, I now noticed that the retaining cover for the handle nut was also off. My neighbor told me I was pretty much out of luck, but I took it back to the store anyway.
I hate having to return something, especially when I can't find the receipt, and so I anticipated having to pay for repair shipping. When I arrived at the store though and explained the situation, and told the lady behind the counter that I had just bought the reel on Valentine's day, she asked me for the receipt. I hung my head down and told her I did not have it, and then she asked me if I had a Bass Pro card. "Yes, I do," I was at least that prepared, but I always have that in my wallet. She took the rewards card, and from that was able to pull up my receipt from that day. I was directed back to the fishing department to pick out another reel, while she held the old one.
While I was there, I decided to pick up some line for the new reel, and I have heard a lot of good things about Sunline Super natural. I originally had the house line in 12 lb. test on both bait casters prior to this, and though it held up to some abuse, it really didn't handle that well, plus there was a lot of stretch. When I switched out the crank bait rod to Suffix Elite in 10 lb, I immediately noticed some bonus yards on my cast. This is very important, especially since most of my fishing right now is from the bank. This lets me reach out a little further towards the humps and weed lines in the open water. I did lose a very large fish on this line, but the drag on the reel was turned all the way up, and it seems to hold up well pulling through weeds and I have wrestled it off pads several times without a break. It may have been the position in the bass's mouth, the tight drag, or a bad knot, but I can't say for sure and I have not tangled with anything that big since. So, moving on to the Sunline and the other reel, wow, Super natural makes a ridiculous difference in the casting distance. I went with the 14 lb., but the diameter feels smaller, and it is noticeably more sensitive on the bite. Well, I took a few smalls on it, but then I hung up in the pads, and without nearly as much force as I normally put on line in this situation, it snapped. Well, that is a definite cause for concern, because I tend to hang up a lot while probing the pads. As sensitive as the line feels, compared to other mono, probably indicates that there is a lot less stretch. I was using a polamar knot, so I will try some other knots and maybe experiment with them fixed to my scale, and that should give me a better idea of the braking point, and whether on not this can be addressed with a different knot. It was only one time so far but I have not had to pull any big fish from cover on it yet. I hate breaking off on the set, and I will be looking for the big girls this weekend. My hope is that this line holds up, because handling wise it is easily the best mono I have used so far. I can cast a small senko with this, no weight and into the wind, without a back lash and further than I could with the old line and 1/8 an ounce added. I love the sensitivity, but I think I'm going to take my hook set down a notch, just in case. All in all though, it was a great experience at Bass Pro and they handled the return very professionally. So, remember to have your rewards card with you, it can really save the day.
Near the heart of Down town Orlando you will find several bodies of water that have shorelines accessible to fishermen. It has been years since I cast these waters, even though I pass them everyday to and from work. My brother wanted to fish Lake Highland, and even though as a kid I had known success on the shores of Ivanhoe, Adair and some of the other local lakes, I really never fished Highland.
My brother brought along an outfit with braid and pulled a fish through the reeds right away. I tried some of the pads further down but broke off on twelve pound mono. In the open areas, between the trees, there was enough room to cast a crank, but this lake has a healthy population of eel grass, which put a stop to that idea right away.
So I moved to the open water, where I could see a lot of schooling bait fish. I decided to go with a spinning set up and throw a stick for distance. As I looked through my worm bag, I realized I was running out of choices. Man I can go through some worms, but wait, there is still a bag with some Big Bite Baits in Kiwi. I rigged one on without weight and Texas rigged it to deal with the weeds. The water is really clear in here, and there is a lot of beautiful underwater vegetation. This is definitely a good lake to throw watermelon and green pumpkin based baits.
I met some really nice people out there, who shared the same passion for fishing, and were very willing to give me pointers on the area lakes. There was also a very beautiful older couple, who were fishing for their supper at the other end of the lake. We talked about some of their catches and he told me 3 to 5 pounders are not uncommon, but his wife had recently taken a 7.5 pounder out of there. As we talked, I hooked up and asked her if she wanted the fish, which she was happy to take, but this led to a discussion on why I throw the big ones back. She seemed rather excited about the Trophy Catch florida program, and hopefully more people will look into the advantages of returning these breeders to the water. This lake, like the lake behind us, is heavily fished with shiners, and by people who utilize the big bass to fill their freezers. I am proud to know people who feed their family through fishing, so this is not meant to be judgmental in any way, but I think if you take the time and look at the fishery that you enjoy, you will find it more prudent to throw the big ones back:
Well, six fish, nothing to submit for Trophy Catch, but a lot of fun and since these lakes are accessible and on my way home, I think I will start hitting them on the way back from work. This will mix it up a bit, so I think I will give Ivanhoe a shot next, and I remember some pretty big bass hanging out there when I was young.
I wanted to throw a crank bait, so I took my Abu Veritas 2.0 winch and an Academy Sports H2O in Blue Gill, and headed out to the lake behind the house. By the time I got to the main lake it started pouring, and so since the wind was blowing pretty good and I could see an outline of clear skies, I decided to wait for it to pass.
This lure has produced numbers for me here and so I bought it in 2 sizes. I love square bills and medium divers on this rod; it loads up well and cast far. While I catch a lot of bass on this in Destiny, it does not take fish in Crane's Roost. Visually, the Roost looks more like a crank bait lake, and there are thousands of Blue gill in there in every size, but it is lined by rocks, has deep water, areas with 45 degree slopes, gizzard shad, shiners, Tilapia and the same pelagic minnows that are in my lake. I have not been able to get anything close to a stellar crank bait bite day, and we have only managed a handful on smaller cranks. At Destiny I have had a fight with my biggest crank bait bass, days when I have taken 8 smalls inside and hour, and most off points or casting to the weed line. I lost the smaller square bill, pictured above, last night at the Roost, but saw a very large bass chase one of the minnows into the rocks. My brother reached down and scooped it out of the water. Now I finally know what they look like, and when the bass are feeding on these, you can see why a noisy square bill might not be the answer. I even tried one of my small mirrolures in a slim, suspending, lipless, and I have caught many red fish, trout, blues, jacks and even flounder on this bait, but after a 100 cast or so, I gave up in here.
Well at least I have a picture to work off of now and if anyone has any recommendations, I'm all ears. As far as hard baits I am leaning toward the more silent style with less wobble, and I like the slimmer bodies of the hard jerk baits, but I would change out the back hook for a feathered one. The pic doesn't quite do justice to how much orange was in the tail. It is called an Inland Silverside and I remember seeing these in brackish water. I think they are significant in this lake because of how prevalent they are.
I found this Tilapia all dried out in the rocks; he was quite camouflaged. We didn't manage any fish out of the shallow, open water coves where they were feeding on silvers, but I caught one in the pads on a Stank X, Yankee Gill, which he destroyed, but I noticed the roof of his mouth was pretty red, so I switched out to a Yamamoto in an orange bottom with green top. My brother gave me some of these because he thought they would be cued to this color now from feeding on craw fish. I love the color, but Gary puts so much salt in his baits, that they fall apart quickly in the weeds. The bass did like them but I think I will look for something a little more durable considering the price, but they do catch fish.
I snapped off on yet another monster out here while throwing my last Bluegilla; it is disheartening at times.
Well, no really big girls landed, but several good tussles in the weeds, and I learned a little more tonight.
Its interesting, the things you see when your outside for the purpose of another activity. This Black Racer I found swimming across the canal, so I went over to say hello while he shook his tail at me. I have seen 2 big browns, several banded water snakes, and a water snake that I need to look up the identity of, so far this spring. The racer was the only one I could get a pic of though.
Forty years old and still in awe of the outdoors.