Lily looking for Gar at Econ. We have been out a few times with the bow, and she has only been able to take a handful shots. We couldn't find any gar that day, but it is always a beautiful walk. I did manage a nice bass on topwater, but Scalelily was unimpressed.
I found Gemini springs using a Google satellite image. You could see Tilapia beds in the image, so we crossed our fingers and drove up to scout it out. They were there in force, along with a sign that only allowed fishing from the pier. There were no beds by the pier, so Lily quickly learning the disappointment side of fishing and the overuse of rules and signs around local waters. She wasn't very happy.
I took her to another spot where my brother and his friends frequently shoot Tilapia. One of the people, who live on the private side of the lake, called OPD. We got the siren and then a voice over the loud speaker telling her to drop the bow. She froze and couldn't understand him so he asked again and I told her to put it on the ground. he said we couldn't shoot there, but according to FWC regulations, I told him we could. I read the regulations before we left and I have been there, at another lake, when the police were called on my brother and his friend. Peter explained to him then that we were well within our rights and that as long as you can fish then you can bowfish. The restrictions are species. You can't shoot bass, but you can definitely shoot gar and Tilapia. I recommend Tilapia because they are much easier to clean. Anyhow, the police officer and his back up ended up being nice guys and we joked that they would rather her bow fish then turn to a life of crime and drugs, but certain people had to call about everything. Anyway, it's good to question authority in a respectful manner, when you know the law is in your favor. Make sure you read your regulations; police officers have enough to deal with, especially thanks to "concerned citizens", who would prefer no fishing signs everywhere.
Still love to fish, and I recently sold my canoe, so I will be looking for a kayak here soon. I really like the pedal drives with the ability to go in reverse, but I may have to lean toward a tandem, like the Big Tuna instead, because it sounds like Lily wants to do some saltwater with me. Here are some pics of some fish taken by me and friends of mine this year.
Getting ready for spring. I lost my favorite spinning outfit a few episodes ago, but I purchased a Penn Battle and Fierce combo, and have been very impressed thus far. I put 20 lb. braid on the Battle and 8 pound stern on the Fierce. They both cat a mile and have already seen several bass on each, can't wait to chase some reds and flap jacks.
I work for the theme park industry and there is actually a lot of science and technology hiding underneath the screams and laughter of our gusets. It is beneath the facade of an English village or a 3D city, where spiderman rescues you as many times over as the line of people allows and the day is long. There are lights, projectors, sensors, motors, magnetism and gravity. Busch Gardens also has animals and many at that, so I am really excited to be here. This is the girl's first field trip with FLVS, and the physics show was great. They used a sloth to demonstrate a body at rest. A break dancer showed us a body in motion and Mr. Justin was crazy talented. He spun on his head, and supported his body on one hand with his legs parralel to the floor.
I love Bush Gardens, and the rides are great, but don't ever think that is all that is there. It is well worth the trip just to walk the gardens with someone you care about and a camera so you can take pictures of the wonderful flora and fauna that is mingled throughout the park. Greeted by a Wallaby to start off your school day, how wonderful is that?
I think we were the first people to stop at the Kookaburra's enclosure, and so I made the noises as best I could remember and he flew over and gave us a song. Lovely animals, like Kingfishers on steroids and they were very vocal.
Great place for bird watchers and I didn't even make it in to one of the aviaries. Scarlet Ibis, Flamingos, Horn bills, some ducks and a strange yellow faced bird that were foreign to my knowledge, so I will have to do some investigating.
I can't think of a better way to end the day then grabbing a Grouper sandwich at Frenchy's. The original cafe was closed for renovations, so we walked over to the one on the beach. What an awesome place to enjoy a sandwich, 76 degree weather, December, staring at the water and eating smoked fish dip. I love it!
Last Sunday we dropped Lily off at Science camp, and Drew went to her great grandmother's and grandmother's for the week. They drop her off at a fishing and marine life day camp everyday; where was that camp when I was a kid? After we said goodbye, I headed over to the Inlet in St. Petersburg for a little while. Last year the snook were stacked in here, but this year all I saw were sheepshead. Oh well, it was crazy hot outside so we headed home.
Friday saw us back on the road again and as quiet and peaceful as it was at home; you do start to miss them a bit. I took a stroll around the Eckerd College campus since I had some time to kill while waiting for Drew. My wife and her grandmother went to Lily's award ceremony and I got to see the little tall one's. It was truly a moment of pride when her counselor told everyone how helpful she was, and later when her grandmother told me how delightful she was. She was burnt to a crisp, but smiling after yet another day on the water. She had sand dollars, sea shells and 4 certificates; what a champ!
Lily, trying to feign angst and independence at Science camp. She was depressed about leaving though and apparently met some fun people during the week. They get older way too fast, but I am happy she learned a lot and had a good time doing it. She explained induction to me on the way home.
This place is like Cuba being settled by Italians. Everything is amazing and you know this the moment it hits your nose at the door. You smell food, but in a clean environment where people take a lot of pride in what they do. I have to have a Deviled crab, ok two, when I come here, but they also have one of the best pressed Italians I have ever had. Cacciatore & Sons is located on Armenia Street in Tampa, so I usually hit it on the way over or way back.
There are a lot of great places over here and we found yet another Italian market while on the hunt for a particular stuffed pepper. Mazzaros!
So that was St. Petersburg, and recently I was asked if I still do the fishing thing. I do, but I hate this heat and I am in the middle of a big project at work, so I don't get out as much as I would like. When I do, like today, It is truly a pleasure and thanks to Brian and Right Hook once again for the day out on the water.
We went out on the ST. John's river today, courteous of Brian's generous uncle. I gotta say those Yamaha motors sound great, thanks for letting us use the boat. We went looking for catfish and gills, and sure enough Brian put us on them. I struggled in the beginning, but I can only take so much trash talk before I have to catch up and take the lead. It was not without cost though. I love pan fishing but I noticed a larger fish chasing one of the red bellies I was reeling in, so I threw a live one out on another rod. I went back to catching hand size blue gills and was pulling one in the boat when Brian starting yelling at me. I thought he was talking to his daughter and by the time I realized what was going on, my Shimano Crucial was disappearing into the dark water. What a rookie move. Brian let me mourn for a bit and then asked if it was ok to make fun of me now, of course, I earned it.
There are places for me where I can't just pass through. Too many things or something so significant has taken place there that the mere mention will start a slide reel of moments. As I sit at the Beacon, contemplating a plate of shrimp and fish, reflections of our day at the beach take me much further back in time. I ate here as a small boy, ran down Flagler Avenue to the beach. My favorite burger to this day is at Breaker's, and I have loved every patch of sand that my sole has touched on this shore line. So much has changed that it hurts some times to reflect, and though the Beacon and Breaker's are mostly and gratefully intact, to my knowledge, no one has filled the void of other lost hangouts. Goodrich's, Sea Harvest, and Sea Treasure have all gone the way of the dinosaur. There are places that have filled that real estate, but not that feeling. I can no longer find a fresh fish sandwich that is so big that I can first remove a filet and eat it on the side before enjoying the rest. All that back then was at a lower price too, and it wasn't just quantity, it was well prepared. I keep staring out this window and I wonder if so much time has past that I no longer recognize some of the faces on this avenue. Hmm, and I wonder, with all this gray, the many pounds and worried lines, does Volusia county still recognize me?
I took the girls to a place that someone long ago had decided was worth protecting. As we walk along the boardwalk at Smyrna Dune Park, I listen to group in front of us, complaining about how barren this is, how hot and ugly the dunes are. One of the women said she wished they would have just gone to the pool. I also wished they had, because to me this is beautiful, and both the dunes and the mangroves are essential. This is the reality of a healthy environment, not the high rise where your pool is at. The mangroves are filtration and home to a myriad of fish, crabs, birds and other life. They, along with our estuaries, are the nursery for many of the fish and shell fish we consume. The dunes are our first line against weather, and it is there, in the many burrows, that you will find Gopher tortoises, the Eastern Diamond back, and land crabs. It is beautiful once you really open your eyes.
The inlet is fantastic, and here you can look across to the light house on Daytona side. There is a nice park over there on the north side of the inlet as well. The tide is moving out at the moment and the water is actually quite nice. We had tried to get in to the Springs earlier in the day, but it hit capacity before my car could make the booth. I love Rock Springs for the cool water, but this was nice, not hot and not cold, very easy to adjust to.
The girls wanted to wade out to the temporary island, or sandbar, so we loaded up our stuff and headed out into the inlet. We saw some blue crabs as we crossed the tidal pools and talked to a fisherman, who said the same as everyone else, they were only catching catfish.
Me and the girls were enjoying the water when a man and two women, identifying themselves as from Michigan, expressed to us some concern about what was in the water. Apparently one of the women had received a nudge by something in the water and she pointed to a dark figure that had moved over to me and the girls. I told her it was probably just a manatee, and stood up to where I could see better, and waited. They had seen news of a gator attack before they came down from Michigan, and so they asked if there was anything to worry about in here. I told her I had never seen a gator this far up inter-coastal, but there are multiple species of sharks. Her husband had apparently told her there were no sharks here. We waited and sure enough he had to breathe, so he came up, and we were rewarded with some relief and a beautiful manatee. The old fella had barnacles on the side of his face and other areas of his body. His tail was cut, and why he chose this spot I don't know, but he stayed around us for quite some time.
Ah the jetty, it was such a magnet to me as a kid. It was crawling with little crabs, a pan fish hook and a hand line would help you probe it's little caves. I watched a woman and her children look for treasures with their dip net. I remember, you could sometimes find a seahorse, an octopus, or file fish. It is a place to take care though, as my girls saw the hard way at a Gulf inlet. A young boy was playing on the rocks and fell into the many mussels and barnacles there. He was bleeding from head to toe, and could not stand on his cut feet. I picked him up but could not traverse the rocks with the extra load, so I jumped in to the water and carried him to his family. Nature is not without her teeth and thorns.
Drew, old eagle eye, found this urchin tucked inside the rocks. So many of the animals in here gave but a glimpse or a notion that they were there, but moved away too fast to get a picture or identify.
It was hot, and I could sense that my sunscreen had not held up so well, so we made the trek back down the walk. It is a beautiful boardwalk and definitely a wonder place to have your exercise in the morning or the cool of winter. It is a fun place to spend the day, wet a line, swim and explore. There are layers here to discover and knowledge of tide and time of year are helpful if you like to catch fish. Take care on the rocks, but don't leave without a peak into them. You may be surprised.
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.
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!
Forty years old and still in awe of the outdoors.