Showing posts with label Florida. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Florida. Show all posts

January 2, 2022

Bring on the New Year's Bluegill

Okay, let's get that first fish of 2022 out of the way...

A standard retention pond bluegill (actually more than a few) checked the box yesterday for the first of the New Year. Oh, and slightly larger than last year's Microbluegill™.


This catch was #nottenkara, rather muscled to hand with the Moonlit Lunar fiberglass rod, which happened to not be moon lit, but sunset lit.


Cue the obligatory New Year's pose... if there's a benefit to living in Florida, I guess it's the 80 degree January weather.


March 28, 2021

Some Recent Florida Hijinks

Catching up on Lost Time...

Hadn't posted in a little bit, but we've been active here in Northeast Florida. Not necessarily fishing all the time, but all in the outdoors vein.

A Walk in the Woods

Two weekends ago I spent some time walking around the Timucuan Trail in the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve. That's a quite a mouthful I know, we just call it "GTM" around here.

GTM is where I'd often launch my kayak, when I did that sort of thing. That being said, I haven't in a while, but I thought I'd return to take a nice walk around some of the trails. It's a winding sandy path with a few different loops... most of it is fortunately in the shade, but there are some open marshlands as well as intercoastal coastline that it also parallels.







In all, it was quite a nice outing. One I'd like to do again in the future. I did the middle loop, but there's quite a bit more to explore to both the north and south, as well as what looked like some primitive camping opportunities.

A Little Pond Fishing...

Since last I posted, I also did a little bit of fishing... messing around in one of the local retention ponds. I used my Tenkara USA Sato along with a new floating line from Tanuki. It was really a nice casting line that I'll probably write a little more about over at Tenkara Angler




Anyway, this was the first outing where I REALLY started to notice that the mosquitoes were back, so that was a bit unfortunate. I guess I'm back to sun screen and bug dope before any future fishing outings...

And Some Cleaning Up...

Last weekend, Lilly & I got up early on Saturday morning do participate in the St. Johns River Cleanup. She went to get some community service credit for school and I went just to get outdoors (plus, somebody needed to take her and it wasn't going to be my wife!)

I'll give the kid credit, she did a great job metaphorically rolling up her sleeves and getting dirty. She was picking stuff up left and right, wasn't afraid to climb through the brush in pursuit of trash, and even handled the "gross" stuff well. We got four big trash bags full of trash, and also picked an old tire out of the woods.






The one thing we didn't pick was this guitar case and machete. There's a few homeless people that live in the park we were at, and we just didn't want to disturb something that was purposely left behind. Also didn't want to take what was potentially somebody's night time protection. We did tell the organizers and showed them what we found though and decided to leave it in their hands.


Outside of that, Lilly has fun observing some of the feral cats that also live in the park. It's evidently a community of about a dozen or so that are all "fixed" and that the neighbors have permission to feed... so they do. A few raccoons also assimilated themselves into the cat posse, which Lilly was very entertained by witnessing... and photographing.


Anyway, that's about it for now. That being said, I do have a few fishy things on the horizon that I'm sure I'll be mentioning in short order. So hopefully, not so quiet in the future. I'm already well ahead of last year's blogging pace, so I'm feeling good about my efforts to revive Troutrageous! so far. Guess we'll see how long it lasts...

Oh, and here's a bonus picture of a squirrel from the backyard patio. Not the best table manners on this one, huh?



February 11, 2021

Okay Florida, Slow Your Roll

"Florida Man" (or fish) clearly knows no bounds...

So did everybody catch the story that a dead Arapaima was found in southwest Florida over the weekend? If not, read these two articles...

Amazonian “River Monster” discovered in the Caloosahatchee River

Citizens of Florida, Welcome Your New 'River Monster' Overlords

So like what's the deal? Did it swim up here from South America? I'm guessing not, so that would mean it was planted? If that's the case, who the heck does that?

   

As an angler, it kind of makes you wonder if there's actually a population of them, one that could be fishable for sport... sort of like snakeheads or peacock bass. Thoughts move to Googling "fly fishing for arapaima", and wonder if they taste good in the deep fryer with some hush puppies. But then again, what doesn't?

However, as a conservation-minded person (including being a member of the Native Fish Coalition), it's easy to understand that sightings such as this can't be a good thing. Florida is already a literal breeding ground for all sorts of invasive species; we really don't need any more. Although I'm sure some would consider a "Yankee" such as me the worst kind of invasive.

Anyway, I guess in the end I'm hoping this is a one-off and not a new "thing." I really don't care to see or hear about guide trips for Florida arapaima a few years from now. That said, if in the meantime the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission needs a few anglers to try and eliminate a small but blooming population, you know where to find me. And I promise to leave the tenkara rod at home...


January 4, 2021

Wandering Through the Woods

 A Walk in the Park...

Sunday morning was nice and cool in Jacksonville. It was overcast, a bit misty, and in the low 60s. Just a lovely temperature to be outside. Yes, I could have gone fishing, but I didn't. Instead, stretching the legs felt appropriate, and I took a leisurely hike on the sandy trails of the Julington-Durbin Creek Preserve about ten minutes from my house.

One of the nice things about living in an area that's being (perhaps too rapidly) developed is at least they've been good about keeping greenspaces open for recreational activities. This little cache of nature is bordered on most sides by shopping centers and residential neighborhoods, but once your inside, you'd never know it.

Here are few photos from the five mile loop I took. Unfortunately, didn't see much wildlife, but it's not uncommon to see tortoises, turkey, or deer back there.












Related Suburban Development Note:

When I moved to Jacksonville and got a kayak, the first place I broke it in at was the Durbin Creek, which is part of the Bartram Canoe Trail, as mentioned in this post from back in the day. Well, back then, the creek was accessible down a gravel road that ran right off the main road down to the water. Fast forward 6 or 7 years, that gravel road is gone as there's now a fancy overpass going over the creek and each side is gated off.

I was pleased to see that after investigating retention ponds for fishing opportunities in the parking lot of the giant shopping center they built nearby, that they actually did maintain access to the creek. Although you can't drive down to the launch, they built a nice little boardwalk down to the water where there's a little floating dock. 




It's not exactly the most convenient way to access the creek with a kayak or canoe, but it can be done, so I thought that was pretty great. I thought the access was lost forever. 

I'll have to do a little more exploring in future days to see if there's an easier, nearby spot to "put in," perhaps accessible from the other bank; my guess is that there is, I just need to find it.


January 2, 2021

Getting Rid of 2021's Skunk

Oh yes my friends, oh yes... No skunk in 2021.

Moonlit Lunar fiberglass & Pflueger Medalist...

plus Microbluegill™ ...

equals kickass start to the year!!!

(Summoning New Year's Day 2014 vibes with this pose).

Plus, when I got back to the car and turned on the radio, Sirius was playing CCR / Susie Q. A killer song from one of my top 5 favorite bands of all time. Can I get a hell yeah? We're only one day in and it's already better than last year! 

Miscellaneous Ramble 

In closing, I'd like to tell another New Year's Day story from yesterday, only because I'll probably forget over time if I don't write it down type it out. 

My wife had some dead plants that didn't make it through the brutal Florida winter. So I told her I'd get rid of them, which basically means dump the dead plants over the backyard fence into the woods behind our house. You can see the fence and some of the trees in in the background of this photo I took of our bird feeders.

Well, when I did that yesterday, the remnants of the one larger potted plant landed with a rather big thud... and then all I hear is all this commotion... and squawking for like 20 seconds straight. Immediately thinking "WTF" I peered through the lattice of the fence only to see a big black rooster scrambling around in the ground cover moving from right to left and then quickly out of sight. Sorry no photo, but it was pretty much just like this: 

Now I live in a pretty suburban area, so I'm guessing it was a pet or something that got loose. You know, the kind people keep to lay eggs or whatever, but then realize roosters don't lay eggs and tell it to run free... even though I don't think our neighborhood allows for any of that. That being said, I don't think our neighborhood allows for coyotes either, but they've been sighted (and heard at night), so my guess is that said rooster won't last too long. But maybe he'll surprise me.

The end of ramble, and this post.

September 21, 2020

Slingin' in the Rain!

 I like fishing in the rain.

Maybe I'm weird... well, I know I'm weird... but for whatever the reason I really enjoy fishing in the rain. Now, I'm not talking about an all out downpour, or anything involving lightning, however if it's slightly overcast, a bit drizzly, count me in. Especially living in Florida where any respite from the heat is appreciated.

Yesterday provided an excellent opportunity to get wet.

With some time to kill on Sunday afternoon, I decided to head over to one of the neighborhood ponds with the fly rod and see what I might be able to dredge up.

I started by tossing out a small ant pattern. I have no idea where it came from. I usually fish foam ants, not epoxy ants, but whatever... it quickly caught a small fish. Ding, ding, ding!

While that was productive, I really couldn't see the fly all that well, so I decided to tie on a highly visible Booglebug. It was actually a Booglebug factory "second" that I bought in bulk on eBay. I don't know what's wrong with it, but you can see by the Sharpie over the branding, it didn't measure up to the standards of other Booglebugs.

That said, the fish didn't really care much. The fluorescent floater summoned some micro lunkers from the deep. 

Cast that bad boy out there, let it plop down, twitch once, then pause - it usually ended up with a hit. Either from a bass or a bluegill, the latter of which often didn't have a mouth quite large enough to accept my offering.

This continued for about two hours as I made my way around the pond in a clockwise fashion. The resident turtles were relentlessly following me around in a wolf pack, I suppose either thinking I was going to feed them in a direct (or indirect fashion). Fortunately, none of the fish I released appeared to get ambushed by the waiting turtles.

I will admit that it was fun casting a fly rod again. With all the tenkara fishing I've been doing lately, I was concerned I had forgotten how to get the job done. Sure, my line management skills were a little rusty, but I had no issues getting the fly out to where I wanted it to go. With no trips planned to trout water in the near future, I think I'll be doing a bit more fly fishing (with a reel) in upcoming weeks. Maybe even (gasp!) dust off the 8-weight.

In any event, this was a fun little venture. And in my book, the rain only made it better.


March 9, 2020

Let's Go Fishing

Look at this f'n pig of a bluegill. I had to alter the background so people wouldn't figure out where my honey hole is located.


Actually, that's a joke. It cracks me up when people do that online. I get it (maybe) if you're fishing a fragile native brook trout stream where a little bit of pressure could be negative for the health of the resource... but when people do it while hoisting mutant hatchery trout out of the water, it's dumb. They probably just followed the stocking truck anyway. But I digress...

I did get out on the water for the first time in 2020 yesterday (hooray)! Kept it local and hit some of the retention ponds at the neighborhood ball field. One pond was a dud, the other was pretty good. 

I walked to the park toting a Cabela's CGR fiberglass rod in hand. Wasn't going to be a fixed line/tenkara day, as I wanted to fish streamers and stripping line is more fun than twitching it.


Yes, it's shorts weather down here. Sorry. Not really.

Pond #1... the one with the obnoxious fountain in the middle. This isn't a great photo of it, but you kind of get the point.


This pond used to be really good, but now it sort of sucks. It used to be more wooded around the perimeter, with more structure near the banks, but they drained it two years ago in the name of development, made it a ton deeper, and largely barren. Maybe the fish hang out at the fountain in the middle soaking in some oxygenation, because they're not anywhere near the banks anymore. It's a shame, it used to be good for some largemouth bass. Peace out.

Pond #2... old standby.


I fish here a lot. There are lots of bluegill in this pond, and occasionally some healthy bass. Some of the largest bass I've caught in Florida came from this unassuming piece of water. This is also where I get harassed by the PETA lady who wants to know why I enjoy torturing animals. She didn't show up today. If she did, I would have faked a coughing fit, sneezed on my hand, and tried to touch her face.

Anyway, it didn't take long to get into fish here. Lots of bluegill and a random dink bass or two. Bluegill are honestly more fun to catch on a tenkara rod as the thing flexes like crazy and it feels like you have a big fish on even when you don't. The 4-weight fiberglass fly rod bent fairly often, but it just wasn't the same feeling. Maybe a 2 or 3 weight would have been more appropriate. 

Like I said I caught more than a few...







Bluegill aren't particularly challenging to catch, so I changed up my flies a bit to create a some variety. First a black leech, then a foam popper, might have even tossed some beadhead nymphs out there. It was one of those things where it was fun... until it wasn't anymore.  

Once that happened, I broke the rod down, packed it up, and walked back to the house. A good first day of fishing for me, although it was neither adventurous or strenuous. It definitely scratched the itch and got the skunk off of 2020 in a satisfactory way.