28 February 2011

Islamorada Journal 2011...28 FEB

Catching up on photos taken but not yet posted.

Mackerel...either a Spanish or a Cero.

Click on any pic to enlarge.

Guess for some folk doing this kind of boating is fun.

In case you've ever wondered how an egret scratches an itchy ear.

Bridget spotted this manatee next to the dock next door.

She ran some fresh water from the hose to attract the manatee over to our dock.

I'd like to know how many gallons these fellows can put away in one drinking session.

We saw this ultralight floatplane take off.

Turns out it's kept in a basin a few houses south of us.

27 February 2011

Islamorada Journal 2011...27 FEB

Caryl, Bridget, and I went to the annual Islamorada Gigantic Nautical Flea Market which ran Saturday and Sunday.

Here we're getting a lift from the parking lot in one of the golf carts set aside to help us old [Bridget excluded] folks.

Click on any pic to enlarge.

Guess there were 150 or so vendors flogging their wares...many of which actually did have to do with boating, fishing, diving, and other water pursuits. But there were also the usual tee-shirt vendors, snake-oil salesmen, and so on.

One of my favorite vendors is the knife/scissors guy. I was able to buy a toothpick for the one lost from my back-up favorite jacknife [it has a compartment for a plastic toothpick and a tweezer] [see this blog for February 08-09].

This shot doesn't show the mob scene, but there were tons of people there.

Traffic out on the Overseas Highway [US-1] has been totally messed up for maybe two miles in either direction for the past two days.

As said above, not all vendors were marine-related...but many were still fun.

I really liked that one that read, "Stupidity is not a handicap." Guess this is true up to a point; I mean, somewhere beyond Forest Gump, it does truly become a handicap.

I'd prefer that it said "Lack of common sense" is not a handicap," or maybe "...not a disability" would be more politically correct...but that sort of loses the punch, doesn't it.

Good thing I'm not trying to make a living from witty sayings.

Not everything on view, however, was a treat for the eyes.

Suggest you DO NOT CLICK on this pic.

Oh, I also bought three lures for $2.00 that would normally cost around $6.95...so there were some bargains to be found.

25 February 2011

Islamorada Journal 2011...25 FEB

”Where Have All the Stripers Gone?”

“I’ve been around long enough to see striped bass populations build up and disappear twice since the late 1960s, when they were abundant.
“In those days, when alewives, or buckeyes, were legal live bait, all you had to do was net a couple, impale one live one on a hook, cast it almost anywhere in the upper Thames River between late April and early June, and it was doomed.”

Bob Sampson writing at NorwichBulletin.com

Nasty Naugy Not So Nasty Now

”The Naugatuck River is Connecticut's longest in-state river. It's also known for being one of the dirtiest. But environmental groups and elected officials are celebrating what's being called the early stages of the river's recovery.”


Climate Projections Show Human Health Impacts Possible Within 30 Years

“A panel of scientists speaking today at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) unveiled new research and models demonstrating how climate change could increase exposure and risk of human illness originating from ocean, coastal and Great Lakes ecosystems, with some studies projecting impacts to be felt within 30 years.”

Scientists Release the First Rescued, Rehabilitated Sea Turtles Back into the Gulf

“…they released 23 Kemp’s ridley sea turtles back into the Gulf of Mexico near Cedar Key, Fla., after the turtles were successfully rescued and rehabilitated from the effects of the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill.”

NOAA Surveying Economic Contributions of Saltwater Angling

“NOAA is again surveying saltwater anglers across the nation to update and improve estimates of the overall economic contributions of saltwater recreational fishing to the U.S. economy…. Throughout 2011, NOAA will survey a random sampling of the more than 15 million saltwater anglers in each of the 23 coastal states and Puerto Rico for the 2011 National Marine Recreational Fishing Expenditure Survey. The survey will include a random sampling of people who fish from shore, from docks, from party or charter boats and from privately owned boats.”


23 February 2011

Islamorada Journal 2011...23 FEB

You just know that the cat has to be thinking:

This time...this time for sure...when the truck comes they're going to drop something that's good to eat.

It was one of those fabled mornings on Wednesday...a day when the *wind does not blow.

The water becomes as glass and reflects the clouds as a mirror. The surface of Florida Bay becomes so smooth that if a fish were to commit a gaseous, noisy, social faux pas, you'd know it by the disturbance on the surface.

This was a fish-fart day!

This was a day for hunting the wily permit, which are the greatest challenge when one sight-fishes for them.

Just what it sounds like: You see the fish either from the wake it creates when moving, from the disturbance it makes in the water when feeding, or from its tail and dorsal fin sticking up out of the water as the fish holds near the surface.

You can see how having calm wind conditions would be helpful for such hunting/fishing.

We motored to the permit-sighting grounds.

On such a day the hunter/fisher does not want to see dolphin as these mammals create quite a disturbance when feeding and frolicking...a ruckus that can scare the touchy permit fish into the next county.

We saw several groups of dolphins...one of which came past Shoo-Fly to check us out, but found us unworthy of further attention.

Just as well.

So the hunting method is to stalk along quietly using the electric trolling motor [the professional guides down here pole the boat from the stern so their clients will think they're actually working] while keeping our eyes peeled for fish wakes, fins, and, if you will, farts [the latter actually being seldom seen (or noticed by any of the hunter's other senses)].

When the fish is spotted, the hunters go into stealth mode, being as quiet as possible...staying low in the boat, and they attempt to work their way into a position from which they can cast a lure [typically a live crab or crab-like fly] in front of the permit, close enough for the fish to sense it, but not so close as to spook the fish.

On this day we saw maybe six permit. We got shots at [casts to] maybe three. Wayne had one grab his live crab and then spit it out when Wayne suffered a [Janet Jackson-like?] tackle malfunction. I put my crab-like fly in front of the nose of one...best cast I ever made to a moving fish...and he turned that nose up at it. So we had no hookups.

We also saw a couple of tarpon...Wayne got a shot at one, but no go.

Then the *wind came up.

You can't expect conditions such as these to last all day long. We had maybe three hours of calm, and were very happy with that.

Later we got into some large ladyfish. I landed one with the 7-weight fly rod that scaled almost three pounds. Had another [these fish are real jumpers] that, mid-fight, leaped out of the water and landed in the boat.

Wayne had one on that got chomped in half by a shark while he was trying to land the fish...was probably a spinner shark. I watched the attack take place right under my feet, just off the stern of the boat. Was a good-sized shark.

All-in-all, another great day on the water.

22 February 2011

Islamorada Journal 2011...22 FEB

Jeremy and I headed out onto the Atlantic today, it being one of those occasional days when the wind wasn't howling.

Entering Snake Creek, we found Portuguese Man o' War jellies all over the place. Note that this "Man" has a symbiotic companion...a small fish.

Click on any pic to enlarge.

Here's the new flats skiff I'm planning on acquiring for next season.

Snake Creek bridge in action.

We saw a few large barracuda but snagged only a couple of smaller ones.

First yellowtail snapper I ever caught on the fly rod...not a very large fish, unfortunately.

We caught a couple of Spanish Mackerel.

Including this toothy critter who fell for the fly rod.

When you're not looking for ballyhoo [a bait fish] they're all over the place.

Jeremy got the procedure for recovering and storing the anchor correctly on his first try.

One of the dinners served at our table at the Lor-e-lei tonight.

Sunset at the Lor-e-lei.

21 February 2011

Islamorada Journal 2011...21 FEB

NOAA: January 2011 Ranked 17th Warmest on Record

"Last month was the 17th warmest January for combined global land and ocean surface temperature since records began in 1880. La NiƱa, with its cooling effect on the central and eastern tropical Pacific, continues to be a factor in global ocean temperatures."

Police Find More Illegal Striped Bass Netting in MD

"This is the eighth time in three weeks that patrol boats dragging grappling hooks have snagged submerged nets. The total length of confiscated nets is 5.5 miles and the weight of the poached striped bass, also known as rockfish, is 12.6 tons."
Baltimore Sun

Using Soft-Plastic Baits

”Soft-plastic lures, in all their sizes, shapes, colors and styles, can be almost as effective as natural baits. Built-in scent and a variety of configurations—shrimp and fish imitations, eels and shad-style bodies with different tail shapes for lifelike action—can be deadly over a wide range of water types and fishing situations. Tuna on the continental shelf, stripers on the jetties, snook and tarpon in the inlets, and redfish and trout on the flats — there is scarcely a situation in which soft plastics can't do the job….”
Salt Water Sportsman

Deer to Be Removed from Charles Island

”The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), along with Audubon Connecticut and the Connecticut Audubon Society today announced that as part of an overall management plan to protect one of Connecticut's largest heron and egret breeding colonies (rookeries), the small deer population on Charles Island in Milford will soon be removed.”

DEP kills 17 deer on Charles Island

“Three wildlife biologists hunted and shot 17 malnourished deer living on Charles Island Friday morning, a state spokesman said.

"None of the animals were healthy enough to be saved, he said."
Milford-Orange Bulletin

Striper and Mycobacteriosis

”There is a research project that is trying to stop a disease that is killing off striped bass. Stripers Forever has announced an outreach initiative to raise money for research on mycobacteriosis, a deadly fish disease that is increasingly prevalent in the Chesapeake Bay where the bulk of stripers that....”

20 February 2011

Islamorada Journal 2011...19-20 FEB

Been busy. Lazy.

Click on any pic to enlarge.

Lots of boats out this weekend. Guess Miami has figured out that it's no longer Ukraine-like conditions here in the Keys.

We had two boats with a total of five anglers out on the water Saturday.

Wayne, Tony, and Jim were out after permit.

Charley and I went after fish.

Caught a bunch of them.

This ladyfish weighed in at 2.5 pounds. Pretty good size for a "poor-man's tarpon." as they're often called.

The fly rod was working its magic that day.

The permit crew motored by to let us know they were heading back to the dock.


Charley and I caught some more fish.

One of the ladyfish jumped so far out of the water it was looking back at us at eye level...and we were standing up.

Jeremy arrived here Saturday afternoon.

By Sunday he was out on the water with us.

Catching fish.

18 February 2011

Islamorada Journal 2011...18 FEB

It all started off innocently enough today.

Sun was out. Seventy-five degrees. A few clouds floating in the sky.

Wayne and I had planned to get out on the water earlier, but he got tied up with the automobile insurance company that was busily trying to figure out how to give him less coverage while doubling his premiums.

I think they went to the same school as did those in my insurance company: Insurance Nazi U.

But I digress….

So we finally got out on the water around noon, planning to fish for two-three hours and call it a day.

We checked out a few muds…catching some good-sized ladyfish and some 14.99-inch spotted sea trout [they have to be 15 inches to keep]. I tried dazzling the fish with the fly rod, but today it was no-go…they wanted plastic or nothing.

Bored with slow fishing, we ran through a ditch and headed over to the area where I’d hooked that monster tarpon on 12 FEB.

We were noodling along the sandbar using the electric trolling motor when Wayne spotted movement ahead. At first he thought it was a tarpon but the image soon morphed into a nice-sized permit…he thought it would run 15-16 pounds.

We went into stealth mode: No noise. Hunched down in the boat.

Wayne took too long quietly getting a crab out of the livewell and onto the circle hook…we lost sight of the fish.

We maneuvered around, back up-wind on the electric, and then let the *wind drift us down to where we last saw the fish.

Wayne spotted him again and made his cast…the crab sailed out a bit past the fish, but Wayne brought it back in and let it settle to the bottom.

The fish grabbed it.

The line came tight on the circle hook and the battle was on.

Now, permit are not the spectacular fighters that tarpon are. Permit don’t jump out of the water...but they do make sizzling runs that strip line off the reel in no time flat.

When the fish hit, I had to scramble to get the trolling motor out of the water, get back to the con and get the big motor down [it had been trimmed up to keep in from scraping on the bottom in the shallow water], turn in on, put it in gear, and get after the fish. The initial run almost took all of the line off Wayne’s Daiwa spinning reel.

Between runs permit just turn that big, flat side of theirs toward the angler and defy you to pull them in. They are tough, tough fish. As Vic Dunaway’s Sport Fish of the Atlantic says, they are “considered by many as perhaps the best shallow-water game fish in the world, combining long distance runs with great power.”

This contest took thirty-five minutes to reach its conclusion.

We tried to weigh the fish but it bottomed the scale which only reads to thirty pounds…fish was probably in the forties.

Wayne put the fish back in the water and it swam off…but I don’t know who was more tired: Permit or Angler.