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.
Apopka, in the Seminole language, means Potato eating people, of course, but some translate it "trout eating". There are, however, no trout that I am aware of in the lake, being that they prefer much cooler water. There are native Large mouth bass, catfish, sunfish of several varieties, crappie and sunshine bass.
Another project for photography class, and as we move at the speed of the bird watchers, we find many a lovely subject. There must have been a hundred birders out that day. The weather was beautiful and it is the time of year for winter migration.
Besides the Coots, gallinules, herons and ospreys, there were flowers, turtles alligators and gar.
Lily is getting in to photography more this year and taking a class. She was tired of doing assignments around the house so we checked out a new nature preserve. This is a gopher tortoise she snapped as he retreated backwards into his burrow. She told me not to step on the apron because that is apparently where they lay their eggs.
It's cool to see her play around with more of the features on the camera than I do, and she get's some truly amazing shots. I can't explain the one below, but how weird was that. This is her Leopard gecko and model Pac Man.
She captured the above beauties at Oakland Preserve, and also the youngsters below.
Not sure on the identity of the caterpillar above, but back to Tibet-Butler and Lily with a geocache. We left the hoop from a key chain and signed in before putting it back.
The early bird doesn't just get breakfast around here; he also gets refreshed. The last two times we tried to get in to Rock Springs at Kelly Park, we were turned away due to capacity. This time we left the comforts of bed and the company of many pillows, while it was still dark outside. It is my favorite of the springs near us and a beautiful park. Lily chose it to do her photography project and Power Point for school, so most of these pics were hers and I will note that with the Scalelily tag.
Her assignment was pictures representing her day and the day also included an hour wait for the Park to open up. So she took a picture of the bar where they rent the tubes and then pics along the fence line, where we were parked, waiting to get in.
It's nice being the first people to the island and the water. The water is very clear and we noticed a large snapping turtle trying to flee the swimming area before it was over run. Lily jumped in and swam after him, getting some pretty cool under water shots. He was a mossy old guy, but beautiful and when my Scales approached, he stopped walking and held his ground. This wasn't the first time we were inspired but such a prehistoric looking water dragon.
The water is so cold at first touch. Even in the morning, the ambient temperature is pushing the upper 80's and that is without factoring in the humidity. It makes the water feel that much colder, but then you acclimate and don't want to get out. It is truly refreshing.
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.
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.
Forty years old and still in awe of the outdoors.