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.
A different sort of weekend for me, not a whole lot of fishing, but some interesting new arrivals. A friend of mine put me in contact with a woman that was giving away her 2 leopard geckos. Lily and I went to check them out today and they both appeared quite healthy. Drew has named the female Dimples, and Lily has named her male, Pac man due to one of the markings on his back. They check out well, both are eating, their limbs feel sturdy and have no visible abnormalities.
These are some of the best starter reptiles, but I don't recommend them when your children are small. They are nocturnal, and kids are not, handling should be limited and is best on the floor. I have seen kids and grown ups drop lizards in the shop, and on occasion receive injury. Their tails do come off, but the regenerated tail is never quite as nice, so care should be taken with this too.
The face of a new mom right after being pooped on, priceless, yet she wanted our sympathy. None here, I had to change far too many diapers on both of my brats.
Well, hopefully these two will make good parents and it is nice having reptiles in the house again.
I don't just catch fish when I am fishing, and I am not oblivious to all else. This is a Lychee fruit tree that I found while I was fishing the other day, and the fruit on the front side of the tree had already been raided, so it was sparse. On the back side of the tree, hanging over the water, far out of the reach of mere mortals, were some rather hefty bunches. This looks like a job for Scale Lily.
Lily took the Lychee and added it to a bowl of water melon balls. She touched that up with a little bit of honey and mixed them all together. Oh, you don't even know, that was amazing and she just thought it would taste good together.
She is really getting big now. This was Drew's last year of grade school, and now she has entered those magical 11 weeks of summer. My youngest will be with her big sister at the middle school next year, and she seems rather excited about it. They are also looking forward to camp and some trips to the beach and springs.
My Drew, a picture of poise and grace. We tried a new fishing spot last night and she came up with a bet, that if she caught the biggest fish I would buy her a smoothie, but if I caught the biggest fish then she owed me a 15 minute back massage. My wife and I use to bribe them with quarters and set the timer on the oven, while they would walk on our backs. They have since become privy to inflation and the negotiations can be rather difficult now. 5 minutes of walking, 5 minutes of hammer time, and 5 minutes of kneads the dough, can command a 5 dollar smoothie. But its always worth it, if for nothing else, to hear your body referred to as raw baked goods.
We both got a hit and Drew claims 4, but neither one of us was able to close the deal on these Lake Concord bass, so we started exploring the area. We found a park on the other side, and Drew reached deep into her arsenal for some serious poses. There were lanterns in the trees, the fountain lit up and looked like a camp fire in the middle of the lake, and we found a house with a front done in mosaic. It was pretty little spot, a small oasis in the city, and not at all crowded.
The moon is just a couple of days from full, and Drew found a rock wall with no rocks, but with a floor that was heavily cushioned. We didn't catch any fish, and I didn't even mind. I decided to be less serious and enjoy the evening with my daughter. As for the bet, we both went home a couple of skunks, so it will have to ride till next time. Love you Drew, but I'm going to win that massage.
My baby has got her blue gill on. Scales took a Gatorade bottle, punctured the lid, ran a piece of string through it and tied a washer to that end. We then loaded up the bottle with old hamburger meat, closed the lid and punctured the bottle in several places. The wind was blowing hard from the larger lake, creating a current through the canal and out into the smaller body. Lily hammered an eye bolt into the ground and we tied the other end of the line to this. I threw chumming apparatus out to the end of the Lily pads so it would be held in place there and not float in, and then we went back inside to rig up for butter cats.
When we returned to the lake, Lily put one rod out with a bobber, while I sank mine on light weight. We both were using circle hooks which are often easier to retrieve when dealing with catfish. She fished for cats for a little while but then went back to the house for a smaller rod. Those blue gill were a calling, and check this guy out, very different looking from the one I took at Brian's spot.
We weren't out there long when Lily's bobber on her catfish rod started dancing around the lake. Something was nibbling on the fat back and then the bobber disappeared. Lil ran back over and wrestled in this Red Ear Slider. I caught the same turtle again later so I had her relocate him.
What cat fishing trip would be complete without catching a soft shell? Every time, they just can't resist the salted pork goodness. Cool looking animals though, and the circle hooks really paid off.
We finally started getting catfish instead of turtles and this was the first brown bullhead. The butter cats are also a form of bullhead but with a very richly, yellow colored belly. Both are excellent eating with the meat tasting almost sweet.
As night set in, the bite also kicked in, and I lost a few, but we still managed 8 cats and a 1 keeper gill. It looks like it's time for fish tacos again. It's funny, I don't really fish with bobbers very often because I'm usually chasing bass with lures, but I remember my roots, sitting on my grandmother's dock in Cocoa, watching a bobber with a piece of shrimp dangling underneath it. I caught a lot of sailor's choice and sheepshead over there, and tonight that presentation was 4 to 1 over the bottom rig. I'm 42 years old now, but I can still watch a bobber all night, and I still get excited every time I see it move. Fish on!
Forty years old and still in awe of the outdoors.