Showing posts with label St. Johns River. Show all posts
Showing posts with label St. Johns River. Show all posts

March 18, 2014

The BASS Boys Are Coming To Town

I found out that the Bassmaster Elite Series is coming to town this weekend.  Not exactly town, but about a 40 minute drive south of my front door to the St. Johns River in Palatka, Florida.

Intrigued by actually attending a BASS event, I think I'm going to give it a go, at the very least on Saturday (weather permitting).  Yeah, I'm a fly fisherman at the core, but there's something about logo adorned anglers and speedboats that appeals to the NASCAR fan in me.  Plus, I need to accept the fact that I live in Florida...there are not brown trout...this is bass country.

So I guess I have a few exactly do you watch the action?  Is this an event where you watch the boats launch...partake in excessive drinking the local vendor booths and expo on site...and then gather for the daily weigh-ins at the end of the day?

Or do I put the kayak in the water and harass the anglers from a safe distance?  Is that poor form?  Beats me.  I'd like to see Ike scream, Skeet wear day-glo, and KVD dominate if possible.  I mean that's kind of the point, right?

Coincidentally (to yesterday's post) they are going to be premiering the second episode of at least I'll get to partially scratch that fly fishing itch...

So has anyone been to one of these?  Are they fun?  What do you do?  What should I do?

Any insight (good, bad, or otherwise) is desperately welcomed in the comments below...

January 26, 2014

Exploring Florida - Trout Creek in Orangedale, FL

Kayak itch.  It's not exactly like jock itch, but it does burn.  After having the kayak stowed in the garage for far too long, it simply needed to get wet.

Last weekend wasn't the perfect opportunity, but it was a least AN opportunity.  Looking out the window in the morning and seeing bright blue skies just called to muscle the yak on top of the SUV and go seek out some water.

Trout Creek Park Boat Launch St. Augustine, FL

I decided to paddle around and scout potential fishing spots on Trout Creek in Orangedale, FL (a feeder to the St. John's River), about 15 or so minutes south from my house.  There are some nicely maintained boat launches there with ample parking, so it seemed like a no brainer as the ideal spot to sneak in a quick paddle.

Trout Creek Orangedale St. Augustine, FL

Trout Creek Orangedale St. Augustine, FL

Unfortunately, the nice weather didn't last.  After about 45 minutes of paddling, the clouds hid the sun for good and the darkness in the distance warned of impending rain.  Fortune was on my side, being able to turn around and get back to the ramp (and all loaded up) before the downpour began.

Trout Creek Orangedale St. Augustine, FL

It would of course stop raining by the time I returned home.  Florida is temperamental like that.  Regardless, it wasn't warm enough to stay out in the rain in wet clothes.  No big deal in the end.  Scouting run for summertime bass and bream was complete.  Itch scratched.

Native Watersports Slayer 12 Trout Creek Park Boat Launch St. Augustine, FL

January 15, 2014

This Weekend Fish Will Be Caught (Maybe)

It's undeniable, with the exception of my "New Year's Fish" I've been in a fishing rut so far in 2014.

I've been out a handful of times, but with really nothing to show for it.  I'm not used to getting skunked, especially when there's easy pickins like bluegill to be had.  Sigh...

Now you don't read this blog to listen to me complain about my fish-world problems.  So forgetting the negative of recent events, my thoughts have turned toward getting the kayak wet again.  It's been on a bit of a winter hiatus, but I think it's going to be go time soon.  Being a relative rookie in terms of kayak fishing, I'm not sure what weather is appropriate or not, but I figure if it's over 50 degrees out, game on.  Please correct me in the comments below if I'm wrong.  Redfish, sea trout, heck even bass, I need to at least attempt get a fix that the convenient jaunts to the neighborhood ponds just aren't providing.

Last weekend I scouted a boat launch about 15 minutes from my house.  It's on the Trout Creek which flows into the St. Johns River.  With a name like "Trout Creek" how could I not check that out, right?  From what I was able to gather using various sources of info, it's supposed to be a fair bass & bream fishery, with the off chance of getting into a random redfish or even a flounder the closer you get to the river...although probably not the latter on the fly.  I'll definitely "cheat" and troll with my spinning rod while paddling in addition to chucking feathers.

So weather permitting, I think that's what's in store this Saturday.  I figure even if I don't catch anything, it'll be a worthwhile paddle, if only to change things up and get my bearings on new-to-me water.

Beyond that, not catching fish has given me a lot of time to daydream and think ahead to somewhat plan my 2014.  Locally, it's going to be all about cracking the saltwater code.  I intend on spending quite a bit of time in the marsh creeks north of Jacksonville, or south down in St. Augustine, or even further south to the Titusville area, i.e. Mosquito Lagoon.

I also want to try and give fly fishing in the surf/flats another serious go.  We're probably headed to Clearwater as a family over Lilly's Spring Break for a little Phillies Spring Training action, rest & relaxation, and an opportunity to go fishing.  The Keys are also just too close to not make a run at some point this year.  No doubt that'll happen; the Hungry Tarpon and Mangrove Mike's have been calling my name since last we left...

But with all that salt, there will need to be some opportunities for freshwater pursuits as well.  The way I figure it...the Smokies are a gimme, a trip to Colorado for the Tenkara Summit is a 50/50 proposition, and a trip back to Pennsylvania is definitely in my future.  So trout be on notice!  We'll also take a legit week-longish family vacation somewhere in the summer...we're talking about places like Northern California at the moment (although I think the wife really wants to go to Hawaii) we'll see how that works out...

Do you have any specific fishing plans for 2014?  
There's a lot noted above, but I'll take any suggestions for inspiration in the comments below.

December 27, 2013

Exploring Florida - GCS & "Freebird" Park

After our first visit to Green Cove Springs in the August, we sort of decided that it was a destination worth seeing...oh, maybe once.  Small town, with a natural spring in the middle.  However, I had also heard rumors of a park...mind you not your ordinary park...that was located not too far away from the spring itself.

So with generally nice weather, and a few hours to kill, we decided to hop in the car and go exploring.  That's what my family does, we just drive.  So the plan was to stop briefly to show my Mom the spring that gives the Green Cove Springs its name, and then to go find the "special" park...but more on that in a bit.

Upon arrival in Green Cove Springs, we were pleasantly surprised by a Christmas tree display that made the little side trip worthwhile.  Each tree was decorated by a family, organization, or business and had a theme.  They were really neat to look at, the pics don't do them justice...

Following the brief stop in Green Cove Springs, we moved on to find the main reason for the trip.  We were making somewhat of a pilgrimage.  We were headed to Ronnie Van Zant Memorial Park.  Yes, that Ronnie Van Zant, son of Jacksonville, FL, of Lynyrd Skynyrd, and of course...FREEBIRD!  

The Ronnie VanZant Memorial Park is a 90 acre recreational facility located in Clay County, Florida just south of Jacksonville off US 17 South before Green Cove Springs in Lake Asbury, FL, and has been funded by the Freebird Foundation, Inc from 1992-2001. Park Hours are from sunrise to sunset every day. 
This park has been geared toward helping children become better athletes, musicians and young adults. 
The most recent addition to the Ronnie VanZant Memorial Park which was completed in the Fall of 2000 is the creation of VanZant Trails, a Nature Walk thru the wooded area and wetlands of the park.

KC & I playfully refer to it  "Freebird Park," and I really wanted to make the drive over just to check it out since we moved here, but I never quite got over.

A bit out of the way, Freebird...I mean Ronnie Van Zant Park is surprisingly large and generally well maintained, with picnic areas, basketball courts, a playground, baseball diamonds, a disc golf course, walking trails, and a stocked pond with some small fishing piers complete with handicapped access.  We didn't go fishing, but we got harassed by some very aggressive ducks looking for a free meal.  Once safe, Lilly spent a few minutes on the swings before we packed up and headed home.

It was a fun little trip.  Exploring new places doesn't always need to involve exotic locales or far distances.  This was a prime example, and I'm looking forward to uncovering more of the Sunshine State in the time to come. 

August 4, 2013

Exploring Florida - Green Cove Springs

Although it's a bit of a convoluted back story involving dinner at Steak 'n Shake and going to see a movie that didn't work out as planned, the family took a little trip on the other side of the St. John's River last night and ended up in a little city called Green Cove Springs.

A very proud Lilly showing off her new Minecraft t-shirt at Steak 'n Shake

Down by the river there's a little park called...well, what else...Spring Park, and the landmark within the park is the actual warm water spring itself, where the entire city gets it's name.

The spring source, or "boil"

It was pretty neat to walk around the spring, and the little stream of crystal clear water immediately below that makes its way down to the river.  The first thing you notice is the strong smell of sulfur, and the next thing you notice is the large in ground swimming pool built right beneath the spring source (wish I took a picture, but thanks to Google Images I was able to steal one).  The water basically flows from the ground, into the one end of the pool, out the other, and then down into maybe a 50 yard stream to the river.

A sign beside the spring evidently outlines some of the history of the spring itself...a history that is actually pretty rich, and involves such names as P.T. Barnum, J.C. Penney, & President Grover Cleveland.  Evidently, the water was prized for it's therapeutic value for many, many years.  Perhaps it's actually the real Fountain of Youth...  It's worth clicking on the picture below to read the backstory.

To tie fishing into the story, there's also a nice pier at the bottom of the park that stretches out into the St. John's River.  There were quite a few people fishing on this night, although we didn't observe anybody catch anything as we strolled the planks.

Overall, it's a pretty neat little place.  Not sure if we have a reason to go back, but it's nice to say we've been there.