I wish this picture was clearer, but I wasn't there to get pictures. This is Scales at summer camp in St. Pete, and she is away from us but that is not a bad thing. She spends time with her grandmother and great mother in the evening and participates in water sports and learning during the day. It is difficult to let them go, and we worry about how they fare with other people, but the experiences and freedom our children have away from us are just as important to their development as the time we are together. This is where they meet new people, hear the experiences of the matriarchs in their family. They learn about the desire to be respected and boundaries required to show respect. Like, don't make a mess at grandmas, don't yell or whine about what you want, and nobody owes you anything. We have to let our children do things away from us, so that they can develop the character to what's right on their own.
Well a few weeks ago I taught Lily how to use a cast net, and this was at the beach which was not the easiest place to learn. The water was choppy and undertow was strong, apparently we missed the spring run, but she did get down the mechanics. I was taught the way where you hold part of the net in your teeth, and Drew upon seeing this, did not want to cast net. It's not for everyone.
Fast forward to the hunt for Red Tail catfish, and Lily having an attention span similar to my own, but not curbed even by the most sacred of acts that is fishing. Her mind begins to wander, she can no longer wait for the fish to come to her, and she has just witnessed me catching Tilapia, bluegill and a channel catfish in the net. Lily wants this direct, more active approach, and for about 2 hours she cast the net. I can throw it about twenty times and my back hurts, but not Lily, she keeps pulling in the giant Tilapia. Even though she's getting tired her technique is progressing and the circle is opening wider. She catches at least twenty giants and an assortment of bait sized Tilapia. I am impressed, but am also wishing that I would have grabbed that bag of tortillas on the way out. This could have had a great and very appropriate fish taco ending. Oh well, I will be more prepared next time.
This was in a pond in Kissimmee, Florida. Sometimes neighborhood ponds are interconnected sown here and hold a variety of both local and introduced species like this Tilapia, carp or even RedTail Catfish. The thing is if its close to where you live, take the kids over, bring a variety of baits and have some fun. You never know what you might find, and its a common misconception that Tilapia can't be caught on hooks. If they"re on their beds you can drop in a small lure or a grass shrimp and though they might not attack it for food you can set the hook when they go to clean it out with their mouths. There are also lakes where people throw food to the fish and the Tilapia will eat a variety of these preparations along with the occasional bread ball. Here's a pick of the business end of a grazer.
Some bossy narrator and almost 60 pounds of raw, little girl rage against some of the most hostile retention pond monsters. Who will win, and will he ever shut up? From the lost archives.
We charged it with the best of intentions, focused on one common goal
Seeking honor and Red Tail glory down at the catfish hole
Armed with hot dogs and stew meat and later chicken heart
We approach the red tail's Lair with a varied buffet cart
But alas he would not fight us, so Lily took to net
And with some live Tilapia, we tried to hedge the bet
With all this in the water, he still refused to rise
There will be no Red Tail glory, no monster catfish lies
Calvin "Cheese Grits" Yerke
Like we were going to swim in here anyway, but we came down here to see
And there was no gator; I guess it wasn't meant to be
We found one man eater hiding, crouched at bushes brink
Its just a bunny rabbit, Daddy
Yea, thats what he wants you to think
Scale Lily and Drewmatik
So I said the other day that I was going to turn a new leaf, and no longer look down upon the pond across the street. I told the girl's, who had asked so many times before, were going to the little lake to figure out the bass. No longer will they mock us from the safety of a place we held in low esteem because it was close to the house and not a destination. We were now grateful for this little gem, and Largemouth Bass were on notice. I was off the couch, rigging up some rods and ready for late afternoon action. Oh, but wait, where are my fishing buddies? Neither one of them wants to go. They broke their new dip net and Drew's friends were outside, oh well, I'm still going. Lily is too tired, and Meegan is earning craft points on Final Fantasy 14. Well, a little solitude and the rhythm of a top water frog, is often the best meditation for a father of two little girls. I won't say I wasn't a little disappointed, but after I got there it was kind of nice to have the quiet - the sound of not fighting. So I cast out a frog, and immediately got a hit which I overreacted to, and yanked the frog out of the bass' mouth and almost into my own. The next time I made myself wait, but that was a little too long. Finally, I land one of these things and it's beautiful.
I fish the frog a little more but with only one more wake and a small surge behind it. The very next cast to the same spot, I tangle up on the cover, and snap the line. My other rod has a white worm on it which gets absolutely no respect from the bass, so I switch to a plum colored worm, land two more fish, and miss two more bass. It was a nice day, and I tried it with a buddy and Lily the next afternoon and we could only catch the small fish. Go often, take a variety of offerings, and sometimes try the thing that seems unlikely. The water was very clear, but the natural colors didn't produce as many hits. They liked the plum that day, and white is usually a staple for me in the lakes near here, but they didn't even come in for a closer look. Plum crazy, I tell you.
Saturday, and the kids are growing tired of the computer, finally, but now it's coming; "I'm bored." So I suggest a nature walk , but its the heat of the day and since they don't really want to fish anyway I only grab the camera. Drew doesn't want to go because her friend showed up, so Lily and I head for Crooked River. The directions are attached to the URL in the name. It's about 1.7 miles of trails that runs along the river, south to the north end of Lake Louisa, and then through some scrub, sandhill type terrain. We were looking for a six lined race runner since I lost a lot of my past outdoor pics with our old computer. There are also gopher tortoises here, a variety of snakes, birds and other wildlife. It was the heat of the day though and I didn't see any gopher tortoises out of their burrows, but we did find our racers.
These are not Skinks like the one below, and when you see it up close you can tell the difference. Their skin is not as slick and glossy as the skink. The racers prefer the ground life and are super fast; we caught glimpses and heard the rustling of 50 of them but only got a few pics and Lily ate a lot of sand trying to catch them.
Sometimes you don't even realize how many places are so close by or how many of God's creatures you walk by unnoticed. A great little place though, and I a nice walk.