28 February 2015

• #43: Islamorada Journal 2015…28 FEB Saturday: You Learn Something Every Day

Click on any photo to see enlargement gallery.

You remember the photos I posted the other day of the hawk...and said the hawk had no concept of drowning its prey? Fishing friend, Jim C., did some research on this and I was...


According to the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology, the Cooper's Hawk (at least I was right about what kind of hawk it was): "...captures a bird with its feet and kills it by repeated squeezing. Falcons tend to kill their prey by biting it, but Cooper’s Hawks hold their catch away from the body until it dies. They’ve even been known to drown their prey, holding a bird underwater until it stopped moving."

Jim C. also points out that the hawk's prey was likely a small woodpecker.

You learn something every day...if you're lucky.

Another visitor to our yard was this small nurse shark that swam into the boat basin and was determinedly trying to get at the bait fish in Wayne's bait pail.

Shark didn't succeed.

Wayne and I fished on Friday.

Caught a couple of fish.

But no picture-worthy fish.

Didn't see any dolphins...seemed to be no bait in the water...fishing still stinks here.

Nice weather though.

Somehow I messed up the numbers and never finished or posted this post...so here it is...what there is of it:

• #38...#39: Islamorada Journal 2015…22 FEB Sunday: We Actually Get Back Out On the Water

Wayne, Yves, and I went fishing on Sunday. Been so long since we were out on the water that I had to re-take my captain's license exam.

Only a slight exaggeration.

Early on we got to see...and hear...the cigarette boats returning to Miami from the annual Miami Boat Show Poker Run.

The participants, all driving offshore power boats, apparently purchase or rig their boats to make as much exhaust noise as possible...you can hear these things coming and going for miles.

26 February 2015

• #42: Islamorada Journal 2015…26 FEB Thursday: Couple of Days R & R

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Tuesday evening's sunset.

Indulging in a couple of days off the water, I'm sitting on the back porch looking out at the Florida Bay, waiting for peace and quiet to return after the yard gang next door is done making that infernal racket with their gas-powered leaf-blowers.

Then the din stops and I hear one of the guys say, "look, man, it's a hawk."

"Yeah, it's a hawk and he's caught a bird...and he's trying to drown it."

Well, that was something I couldn't resist, so I grabbed the trusty Canon EOS Rebel XT and ran over to the edge of the boat slip next door to see what was going on.

Sure enough there was a hawk in shallow water at the foot of the boat ramp holding another bird under the water. It looked as though the hawk were trying to drown the bird, his intended dinner no doubt, but I think he was following his usual protocol of holding the bird down until the hawk's talons put an end to the bird's struggles. Really doubt that the hawk had a concept of drowning, per se; rather, he just happened to land in the water with his prey.***

Moments after I took this shot the bird moved to the left out of my line of sight...so I walked along the hedges to the left hoping to get a clear view...when I hear this big flapping of wings and the hawk, prey in claws, dripping water, comes over the hedge right at my head.

***Note: Please see post #43 for a correction on this.

I ducked...so to speak.

The hawk then flew to the other side of the yard and landed near the sidewalk where he allowed me to approach close enough to get this portrait.

Shortly, however, the hawk with prey took the the air and flew back across the yard out of my sight. I rushed over there, but he was gone.

Something like this doesn't happen every day.

Wednesday evening's sunset.

There were two frigatebirds floating through the skies over the Bay today. While this is not a great photo, the birds are spectacular. Their wingspan can be as much as 7.5 feet. The hotlink in the line above will take you to a lot more information...and additional photos.

25 February 2015

• #41: Islamorada Journal 2015…25 FEB Wednesday: Let’s Admit It: Fishing Here, Right Now, Stinks...Part II

I should have mentioned in Tuesday's post that we haven't seen any bluefish this year. Last year we were up to our armpits with them. I caught so many that I had to have osteopathic treatments on my shoulder when I got home...no joke! This year none, zero, nada, zip, zilch.

Any time you get tired of hearing me gripe about the wind and the lousy fishing...just let me know.

I'd still rather be here dealing with the weather and the lack of fish than back north enduring sub-zero temperatures.

Our fishing trip on Tuesday was a mirror-image of the last one...in terms of fish caught. But that was not so bad for us as we were on a mission to find permit...which we did. We saw, threw at, and were largely ignored by permit, tarpon, sharks, and barracudas. So no photo-worthy fish again...I'll just post a few snapshots from the trip.

Click on any photo to see enlargement gallery.

Coast Guard Auxiliary is active in Islamorada.

In this instance they're using someone's private boat, not one provided by the federal government.

Wonder if the owner gets paid gas mileage.

This may look like Wayne's standing on a golf course, but he's actually on the bow of the boat and the green stuff you're seeing is sea grass in about four feet of water.

Would that the water were this clear in Long Island Sound.

These two posts mark a ditch...a narrow band of deep water that cuts through an otherwise unpassable sandbar.

The little pointers at the top of each post tell boaters on which side of the posts one should travel to avoid running aground.

The cormorants are resting and drying their wings.

Here's Yves and Wayne hacking around on the bow of Shoo-Fly.

In this action shot Wayne has cast a live crab to a permit and is manipulating the rod so as to bring the crab closer to the fish.

No takers.

Hard to tell from this photo, but it's a smallish sea turtle that appears to have barnacles on its shell.

Water rising up from about three feet deep to a sandbar...deeper water on the other side.

White pelicans.

24 February 2015

• #40: Islamorada Journal 2015…24 FEB Tuesday: Let’s Admit It: Fishing Here, Right Now, Stinks

Don't know why, but the fish we usually catch in the areas we usually fish just haven't been here. We've been able to find jacks without fail and there have been intermittent ladyfish...but no Spanish mackerel, no spotted seatrout, no redfish. Chilly, windy weather? Global warming? Who knows?

Click on any photo to see enlargement gallery.

On Sunday, Wayne, Yves, and I went out on a general mission to find fish...any kind of game fish.

Highlight of the day was when Yves hooked up with a nice jack with his new 8-weight fly outfit.

You can see he was pretty happy about bringing that fish to the boat.

We did see a couple of sharks, but were unable to hook any up.

Came back to the dock with nothing to show in the way of picture fish.

But any landing you can walk away from is a good landing.

Incidentally, ladies, this good-looking dude is single and available...but...any gals interested in applying must like fishing...otherwise, forget about it.

Sunday's sunset...

...at least was worth a photo.

On Monday Bridget and Shannon boarded Shoo-Fly with me for a tour of various keys in the Everglades National Park.

We saw this sailboat along the way. I've always thought it must take a degree of courage to run a keelboat in these waters...the depth is seldom over 7 feet.

Highlight of this day was a dolphin who came over to the boat as we were zipping along. He played in our wake for at least ten minutes before wandering off to find other adventures.

These three shots are all of Monday's sunset.

Amazing how the sunset can change from minute to minute.

All three photos were taken within a span of about 30 minutes.

• New Issue of Sound Outlook Available: Connecticut's Coastal Management Program Turns 35!

“Think back to 1980. Americans witnessed a ‘Miracle on Ice’ as the U.S. Olympic Hockey Team beat the Soviet Union team in the semifinal game in Lake Placid, NY, going on the win the Gold Medal. Mount Saint Helens erupted in Washington State, devastating 229 square miles and several million dollars' worth of timber in the surrounding area. Ted Turner launched CNN, and Ronald Regan was elected President of the United States. And sadly, John Lennon was taken from us much too soon, just steps from his home at The Dakota in New York City.

“These milestones all occurred the same year that another ground-breaking event took place: The Connecticut Coastal Management Act (CCMA) went into effect on January 1, 1980….”

Issue will eventually be available at this site: CTDEEP

23 February 2015

• #37: Islamorada Journal 2015…21 FEB Saturday: Wind…So Off To the Nautical Flea Market

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Friday was a day of rest as the water was unfishable.

Didn't stop this cigarette boat from blasting through a nearby no-wake zone.

Friday's sunset...

...was fairly spectac.

With winds in excess of 25 kts. from the east, Wayne, Yves, and I went to the annual Nautical Flea Market.

Traffic on US-1 was creeping along even more slowly than usual.

We walked to the Market.

Bargain-hunters were streaming into the park where the flea market takes place.

Lots of stuff available...from used reels...

...to fabulous works of art.


People-watching was outstanding. Folk were into their icy medicine* and mixed beverages and the sun was not yet at the mast-head.

Some people-watching we could have done without. Guy on the right: "Pull up your pants, mister, you're old enough to know better."


Couple of Segways were in use...good way to get around...my feet hurt by the time we walked back to the house.

Yves and I bought nothing, but Wayne got a bargain on some fishing line.

ON the way out of the park we spotted Nate the Snake resting in some bushes.

Also got this nice shot of Mildred, the Mockingbird. This gal doesn't appear to be the same variety of MB that we get up north, but her singing was definitely mockingbird-ish.

Maybe she's a mockingjay?

Saturday night's attempt at a sunset.

Sunday: We actually get out on the water to fish...stay tuned.

20 February 2015

• #36: Islamorada Journal 2015…20 FEB What To Do On A Windy Day In Islamorada

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Not to complain, but at 0900 today the wind was gusting from the north at 22 kts., the air temperature was 47°F, the wind chill factor was 40.5°, and the water temp back in the Everglades National Park was 57°.

So, once again, no fishing today.

Wayne and his friend, Yves, visiting Wayne from Quebec, picked me up and we went off to World Wide Sportsman [WWS] as Yves wanted to find some fishing trousers.

I didn't have my trusty camera with me and had to rely on the cell phone camera which failed to pick up the writing on the slip of paper which explained that these flies were tied by Stu Apt, a legendary saltwater fly fisherman.

The flies are not for sale.

WWS does, however, have a few flies for sale...although not made by a legendary fly tier.

WWS will also sell you fly-tying materials.

Learning to make your own flies is a good idea if you're going to use a lot of them...or if you want to fly-fish for sailfish.

That's because a big sailfish fly, such as the ballyhoo imitation on the right, can cost you mega bucks.

This is by far the most expensive fly I've ever seen...by far.

Yves, Wayne, and I left WWS and walked over to the restaurant at Islamorada Fish House. Unfortunately this place will be closed soon as Johnny Morris, the owner of Bass Pro Shops of which WWS is one, plans to make major changes to this property.

We had conch chowder and mahi sandwiches that were quite goood.

At the dock behind WWS, it appeared that not a single guideboat was in operation this day.

We moved off to Sandy Moret's Florida Keys Outfitters which carries only fly-fishing equipment...

...and clothing.

Not exactly cheap stuff.

$125 for a fishing shirt that you're going to get fish slime and ladyfish poo on? I don't think so.

At least Mr. Moret has the grace not to price the shirt at $124.99.

Wayne and Yves came back to the house for lemonade, after which Caryl and I went off to get sandwiches at Chad's.

The sandwich shop was deserted...our car was the only one in the parking lot.

Never seen that before, and probably will not again.

But 4 pm appears to be an excellent time to go there and avoid the usual mob.

Can it be that there's a light at the end of the [wind] tunnel?