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Two laps of Florida

January 5, 2014

IMG 4273 1024x768 Two laps of Florida

Another year, another road trip down to Florida with Ken.  This time, we’d be joining forces with another avid species hunter, Ben, in our quest to pillage Florida’s spoils of diversity.  I don’t think I have ever used the phrase “What is that?” with such fervor and frequency.  Yes, there were many new and mysterious (to me) fish be caught.

That said, I was also inflicted with a bad case of shark tunnel vision.  On our previous trip, Ken and I had both received some spirited takes on our big rods.  Those big runs were things of my dreams and in preparation for our departure I think I watched a month’s worth of shark fishing videos on Youtube.  To understate the affairs, I was excited about the whole shark fishing thing.

Our itinerary was quite a nightmare as it involved driving two full laps of the lower half of the state…

Part 1:  Not yet in the Keys
Part 2:  Now we’re in the Keys
The shark needle in the ocean haystack!
Part 3:  Now we’re far north of the Keys
The countless herd of cow… -nose rays!
Part 4:  Jingle all the way… back down to the Keys
Part 5:  The way home

Part 1:  Not yet in the Keys

After a fairly marathon car ride from negative to positive 30 degrees Celsius, we arrived at a location that was suggested to us by Ken’s friend and fellow species hunter, Ryan.  There were new mugshots to take!

Black seabassIMG 3896 1024x768 Two laps of Florida

Spottail pinfishIMG 3897 1024x768 Two laps of Florida

Planehead filefishIMG 3899 1024x768 Two laps of Florida

Luckily the filefish didn’t ask to see his picture… I don’t think I got his good side.

Then came the main event, I started casting a 3/4 oz. cleo spoon as far as I could and retrieving it quickly and erratically.  Before long, spanish mackerel made a debut!

Spanish mackerelIMG 3907 1024x768 Two laps of Florida

Primo shark bait acquired, we were ready to go to war against the sharks.  We just needed rod holders for the beach.  We made a quick trip to the hardware store and out came the saw!

IMG 3911 1024x768 Two laps of Florida

In the background you can see how we somehow deterred a full inspection at border security…

IMG 3914 1024x768 Two laps of Florida

What followed that night were hours of the harsh realities of shark fishing, or at least what we think is shark fishing.  Crabs abounded and were quick to pick our hooks clean.  I caught a nice catfish and must have been so focused on sharks that I didn’t bother taking a picture of it!

Later on I tried drifting a balloon out to try and keep the bait away from the crabs.  I saw the balloon taking off erratically and it turned out a small blacktip was pulling it around!  Unfortunately, the shark was hooked on the outside of the mouth and didn’t constitute a legitimate catch in my books.

IMG 3921 1024x768 Two laps of Florida

The next morning we were treated to some matinees swimming about.  Our PVC pipes were hard at work.  Unfortunately the fishing rods were not.

IMG 3923 1024x768 Two laps of Florida

Following a long night of having our baits decimated by crabs, we did something of the same to a nearby Mcdonalds.

IMG 3927 1024x768 Two laps of Florida

With that, we poked around some of the endless Florida canals for African jewelfish, but did not find any.    This was a Floridian exotic that had been avoiding us for a while.

On our last trip, we hadn’t found any oscar either.  Ken had received some excellent intel from Martini, a fishing legend himself, about a spot for them in the Everglades.

IMG 3930 1024x768 Two laps of Florida

And the intel panned out!

051 1024x768 Two laps of Florida

OscarIMG 3939 1024x768 Two laps of Florida

As night fell, we also found the walking catfish that Martini had told Ken about.  It was a simple matter of finding individuals with our spotlight and then sitting our bait right next to them.

Walking catfish
IMG 3951 1024x768 Two laps of Florida

The next morning we met up with Ben and we both tried to catch our lifer cobra snakehead.  I was also graced by the presence of my favourite Floridian birds whom I have affectionately nick-named “dog-ducks” for their tail-wagging action.

IMG 3957 1024x768 Two laps of Florida

I got a hit on my frog lure that did not sound like any ordinary bass.  It was more of vacuuming clap!  Unfortunately, the hooks did not set.

The whole gang of us species hunters then met up with the man himself, Martini.  He already had a fish to show us!

IMG 3961 1024x768 Two laps of Florida

Martini is nothing short of a fishing legend and it was really awesome spending the day with him as he showed us to new spots and new species.  Thanks Martini!

At the first spot we tried for blacktail cichlid, but aside from an incidental turtle catch and Martini’s grass carp, all I got to photograph was an iguana.  Florida never gets old!

IMG 3963 1024x768 Two laps of Florida

Hornet tilapiaIMG 3966 1024x768 Two laps of Florida

Ken and Ben working their magic on some unlucky finned creatures:

IMG 3974 1024x768 Two laps of Florida

I also tried for the mojarras, but was unsuccessful.  My consolation prize:

Crested goby
IMG 3980 1024x768 Two laps of Florida

With that, it was time to bid farewell to Martini.  The three of us were meeting up with yet another fishing legend, Miciah, that evening down in the Keys.

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