Friday, April 21, 2017

Fun, in the sun.

I'm lucky that my wives family comes from very fishy places.  Minnesota has a ton of great water for, well, basically every fish you can think of in the fresh water's of north america.  Florida on the other hand, where my mother in law lives during the fall, winter, early spring is great in fresh and salt water categories.

This year the fishing was a little slow compared to past Aprils, but still a blast on the 8wt.  Ill get there in a minute.

We are still nervous to fly.  Not about terrorists or anything, just that part of our son's brain cancer's "side effects" was the need for a VP shunt.  these little things drain fluid from the brain, in a tube under the skin from the back/side of the head, down the neck, chest, abdomen before exiting in the belly.  They allow drainage of cerebral spinal fluid from the brains ventricles into the belly.  Some  people say flying is no issue, others have really yucky stories about how air pressure changes like those from flying created really challenging issues.  Given these things are considered one of the most frequently repaired implantable devices... and repair often involves MORE brain surgery... Well, you can see how we feel like 3 of those surgery's is enough by 5 years old.  So, we road trip to see family.  A positive of that - is that bringing fun stuff is easy - just add it to the back of the pilot and we are off :).

A good part of road trips is the scenery.  Especially going to FL, where you get to drive some amazing roads.  Pic below I snapped on the way down - of the blue ridge from Mt Airy into NC from VA.

I have to say... If I couldnt live in MA, I'd hope I got to live in western/central VA.  Sooooo Gorgeous!

About 30 years ago my inlaw's bought this condo.  It's awesome.  Right on Boca Ciega bay, you can fish 5 feet from the pool :). View from the balcony.   That said, I really like how the tidal currents corner baitfish by a retaining wall under that bridge, plus the lights on a bike path, at night, really hold predatory fish eager to eat the zillion little bait fish of various species drawn to the light..

This picture is pretty much for BrkTrt... He always posts food stuff in his blogs and makes me hungry.  That right there, is a Florida delicacy - fresh, local "grove" made, key lime pie... YUM!  You are not in Florida till you kill healthy eating habits with one of these bad boys :)

Another distinctly Florida thing... "Gr
oves".  If you are not familiar with them, it's basically what we in the north would think of as an apple orchard with a farm stand... But, down there, the apples are citrus fruits.  After getting a few bags of citrus to bring home, we all partook in a tradition for us, getting some of the places locally famous "half and half" soft serves, which are half vanilla and half orange (using juice from the local orchards, they say) flavored.  Dang these are good.  The lady even had Will go back and load his own cone - pretty cool!

Grammy took us to a big Easter brunch spread after church at a hotel about a mile from her place on St. Pete Beach.  Good food, but the best part was the Easter bunny.  The person in that suit was awesome with the kids!

No fear though... Despite some phone camera issues, I managed to fish a most evenings when the kids went to bed...  Just a few simple things were needed.  First time I played with a Kreelex fly much, they worked well and I look forward to playing with them for freshwater fish too.

This guy was my companion.  On the last few nights (Monday and Tuesday this past week), when no folks chucking bait for sheepshead or any other edible fish were around, he'd hop up on the bike path and follow me around all night.  Literally, 11PM and this Heron would be my companion under the bridge, hoping I'd toss him a fish... He got really excited with a little Jack Crevalle once, but otherwise... he was just a sort of funky companion, hanging out about 10-20 feet away all the time.

 I thought it was going to be great, when on night one, cast two, I caught this snook.  After that though, the snook fishing was tough, and only a few more came to hand.  All in the 18-24" range.  Not big, but a load of fun for sure.

 I caught a good number of lady fish.  They are "poor man's tarpon" in my mind.  They are a little thicker than a fat trout, not as deep - actually, the torso is not dissimilar from a pike or pickerel.. But the tails are very wide.  The mouth's are sort of a cross, if this makes any sense, between a trout and a shad.  They strike readily, pull hard, and jump like absolute crazy.  And when I say jump, I'm talking occasionally blowing 4 feet out of the water.  They are pretty awesome 20-30" (mostly) fish.

The odd one this trip were all the Jack's around.  I caught several a night, which is weird for April from what I've been told.  I've caught a few in the spring before, but mostly they have been fall fish - like August-November.  The other fishermen I spoke to said this winter had weird weather, and the fishing likewise had been very odd... Must be the reason.  But, Ill take it.  Catching Jack's in the 15-24" range is fun.  I've caught one on light spinning tackle, on my honey moon down there 17 years ago this fall, that was about 30", and nothing I've caught since has put up the fight that thing did.  It was in a big school, and I remember seeing them and thinking the eyes looked as big as silver dollars.  My wife hooked one and it just ran her drag and then popped the line (not spooled, just broke the line).  I managed to fight the one I hooked and land it, it took 10-15' though on 10lb test!  Jack's are super fast and powerful, with both tall, and thick bodies.  It's almost like a bluefish and a blue gill had a weird baby - they are tall top to bottom, and use that to prevent you from turning them, but they have the willingness to eat, the tenacity in the fight and over eager energy level of a big gator blue.  Jacks are awesome!  The net below is 24" across for reference, the one in it was probably about 18"-20" and took backing on his second run.  If a big school would have set up camp vs cruising inconsistently through, it would have been a blast.  Instead, they were caught randomly during this trip when I'd see a school, or, while swinging flies would rise in the current.  (Note, I dont normally use a net, but the sea wall under the bridge is, in places, 3 feet over the water, and often you are casting over a 4 foot high fence as well (used to prevent golf carts from going into the bay), so the long handled net is vital to landing the fish you hook if they have any size to them.

I caught a good number of fish this trip.  No idea how many, but slower than some years, better than others.  Nothing touches 2 years ago when I was catching snook at a rate of about 10-12 per night if you averaged it out... But overall, this was a lot of fun.

This is the view I often had.  I fish right there, under the bridge only sparingly.  If you want to catch sheep heads or snappers those pilings work great with little bits of shrimp or other bait under a bobber cast right up to the concrete.  With the kids we caught puffer fish, cat fish, snappers and some other cool stuff doing that last year.  This year, we didnt get them over... to many other fun things to do.

It's a really pretty bridge though - not the "Bridge Troll" holding variety I've experienced up here stripped bass fishing at night :) ha ha ha!  It was sort of odd seeing the retired couples come walking through at 11PM or so chatting.  Heck, Easter night, right at and after sun set a bride and groom were whisked down on golf carts to take wedding pic's.  You can see the Don Cesar hotel in the background of the shot above, and you get a sense of how "pretty" the bridge is.  It's not a spring brookie stream, or a fall forest in New England... but I have to admit, it's a pretty sight.

Ok, back to regularly scheduled programming here - IE  fresh water fishing, and hopefully more mountain biking adventures this year too - with some big life stuff done, I'm really hopeful to be able to get back to riding a lot more!

Keep well


  1. Will it looks like all had fun. That lady fish with that fork tail is a speed demon. I'm told that those jacks are awesome fighters.
    Now may I have a piece of pie.

    1. Agreed Alan - Lady fish are awesome! Jack's are great. Very strong and fast, real fun to catch. Enjoy the pie :)