Sunday, November 29, 2015

Ten Days Since My last Entry, It's Time for a Massive Catchup

It' not like we haven't been doing anything the last ten days, its just that I have kept putting off any blog entries, and here it has now been ten days. The reason I write this blog is to keep a record or journal. Its a way for us to remember what we have done and so by not writing any entries I have been short changing ourselves.
We have been busy, although not all has been pleasurable. As soon as we arrived here we got our flu shots and last week we both came down with a mild cause of the flu. At least the shots made it possible for us to have a quick recovery and hopefully we are good for the rest of the winter.
While recovering from the flu we were able to make some new jewelry and to update our Etsy Store.
Now we have another unusual thing for sale. This piece is a piece of Argentinian fossil dinosaur egg shell wrapped in fourteen carat gold filled wire, There's something you don't see every day, and yes we do have unique interests, (we also got two cabochons of Louisiana Opal and I will put those on the blog when they are finished).
last week we did go fishing with Jen, at John's Pass, and although we didn't catch any flounder we did catch some really unusual fish. Jen hooked up with a large lady fish, they look like a small tarpon. It jumped three times before the hook pulled out and are even known as poor man's tarpon.
I also had the chance to go out with Allan. His new boat is a 21 foot Key Largo. Again we didn't catch anything big enough to eat but his boat worked fine and we went out ten miles in search of grouper. On the way back in schools of bait fish appeared but we didn't have the right lures and so we couldn't get the Spanish and King mackerels to hit.
Thanksgiving we headed over to Jen and Eric's house and ate way to much, which of course was to be expected. This week should be interesting as we are going to the Ringling Art Museum to see an exhibit of Chinese 17th Century Art. Hopefully there will be some jade!
The winds have died down here and so we also hope to go kayaking and hopefully hook up with some friends. It should be a great week and if my computer will just keep working, ( it has crashed twice since I downloaded windows ten), I can keep track of our adventures. Clear skies

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Sawgrass Nature Park, 2015

Whenever we are here in St Petersburg, we always try to spend at least one day birding at Sawgrass Nature Park. Surrounded by highways, buildings, and the city. It’s a small isolated haven of what this area once was.
It’s only a few steps from the parking spot to the first bayou. Right away we spotted a feeding little blue heron. Wading amid the green water plants it craned its neck as it looked for the small fish and invertebrates that make up its diet. Stabbing into the water it gave its prey a quick shake and then swallowed its lunch.
A few more steps and we were standing on the bridge, peering down on several common moor hens. Several painted turtles rose for a breath of air before diving down into the weed choked water. A gar stayed motionless below the water’s surface waiting for a fish or frog to venture to close to its sharp teeth filled jaw.
A little further we stopped at an overlook and the marsh hens swam to our new location, hoping for a handout. There are usually alligators at this spot and Renita spotted one across the bayou. It was laying on the raised levee warming itself in the morning sun.
She also spotted a pair of American Ibis partially hidden by the thick underbrush. They were also feeding by moving their long narrow curved beaks back and forth through the shallow water. They would occasionally stop to swallow prey they had found in the mud.
Another person told us of a mother alligator guarding it young in a small opening along the raised
boardwalk. We missed it at first but later saw people watching the gators and so we were able to stand above them and watch as the young gators swam looking for the best piece of sunlight.
A little further a green heron hunted minnows directly below the walk and so we got some great images of the small wader. Another birder suggested it was a young bird, because it was at the bottom of their normal size range. Still it had its adult plumage and color.
At the viewing tower an anhinga perched in the branches of a small bush. It was preening its feathers but didn’t spread it wings as they often do after fishing. Several lgbs flitted in the trees. (Little grey birds). Still we were able to finally capture an image allowing us to identify the bird.
Returning back down the boardwalk a loose domestic rooster walked across the grounds. Somehow it had taken refuge in the park and I was surprised someone hadn’t removed it for a pot of chicken gumbo, (it was nearing lunch time after all).
Renita again spotted several people taking images with their cameras and nearing them we saw the reason why. Two gopher tortoises were performing the tortoises tango. I.e. their mating ritual. The head bobbing, was followed by a nip on the front leg by the male as soon the female turned and allowed the male to climb upon her back.
It had been another good day at the small park. The gophers had provided us with a unique view of something rarely seen and the green heron had been another bonus of the short walk. Hopefully we will return another day and walk along the forest floor. That’s a place we usually see a pileated woodpecker. Thanks to the people that preserved the unique microcosm. Clear skies

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Red Grouper, Spanish Mackerel, and Kings, a Days fishing with a New Friend

The forecast was for a choppy sea with waves of one to three feet, so we took off feeling pretty good. However as we traveled further and further the waves grew and by the time we reached the rock pile we were being bounced around, like steel marbles in a pinball machine. The waves were now from three to five feet high.
After positioning ourselves Mike dropped and set the anchor and Jenny quickly dropped her shrimp to the bottom. Before I could even bait my hook she was fighting a red grouper. The federal season was closed for red grouper and so we released the beautiful spotted fish and as soon a she dropped her rig again she had another fish.
It took a while before I finally connected and then I made a mistake while netting a shrimp. I hit the drain plug with the net and before Mike noticed it most of the bait was swimming away. Checking my rig I discovered my own bait was missing and baiting with one of the few remaining shrimp I immediately hooked a nice red grouper, (about twenty five inches). Still feeling really stupid from the bait well fiasco. I admitted my mistake and then cut a piece of blue runner, baiting it on my circle hook.
I set my pole in the holder and helped Jenny to unhook her large red grouper. About that time both Mike and Jenny yelled at me that I had a big fish on! Grabbing my pole I watched as the fish made a long run. It wasn’t a grouper and after several more runs it came to the surface, a legal king mackerel. Jenny keep saying that we now had dinner and I kept reminding her that the fish was not yet in the boat.
I finally landed it and then dinner was assured. We fished a little longer but the waves were growing in size and so we decided to head back to shore. Of course the seas diminished as we headed in and that was okay as we were all feeling a little under the weather.
Mike mentioned that we could go out later in the day and fish close to shore for Spanish mackerel. Cleaning the fish and the boat we took a lunch break, and a nap, before meeting Mike for a return to John’s pass. Only running a mile out, Mike and Jen spotted diving terns. Mike had us put on silver spoons and heading towards the birds, my pole doubled over! I fought the fish in and it didn’t behave like a Spanish mackerel as it again fought hard with long runs. It was a bigger king and now I had caught my limit.
Jenny’s pole went off next and she soon had our first Spanish mackerel! I was really excited as I had heard that Spanish mackerel were good eating and I really wanted to try one on the grill. Another pass through more bait fish and we hooked a double, both nice Spanish macs.
Bait fish were everywhere and after throwing back out we caught another before  a large fish broke my forty pound leader/ Two more Spanish fell to our rigs and I had another fish that broke another leader. The sun was nearing the horizon and so we talked it over before heading in.
It had been a great day with lots of fish, lots of learning about new fishing techniques, and most important a day on the water with Jenny, Renita, and Mike, (we all felt bad for Eric who had to work and so missed the great day of groupers, Spanish, and kings.Thank you Captain Mike for the great day! Clear skies

ps I grilled the Spanish mackerel and it was great!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

A Shark Day of at Fort Desoto

Jenny patiently cast her line toward the pass. A strong outgoing tide flowed past us but she had a good rig and was able to hold her shrimp long enough to get a bite. Unfortunately her circle hook must have been too large and she  missed fish after fish.
We had decided to brave the record hot temperatures and spend the day at the beach, The temperatures here have reached the nineties and are more typical of August instead of November. Armed with lots of water, beach chairs and a nice cabana we hiked to the spot that I thought might hold fish. It was the firs time we had live shrimp and I hoped we could actually catch something big enough for dinner.
After setting up the portable shade, okay I mostly watched Jenny and Renita before I stepped in to help, With a shady spot assured I grabbed my pole, put on a live shrimp and cast out into the racing water.
I started with a popping cork and I had to walk along the beach to keep up with the tide. My bait fouled with sea grass and so I kept moving until I was actually fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. Nothing bothered my bait and so I went back and drank some more water.
After lunch I changed my rig to what I would call a Carolina. Its a slip sinker with a thirty pound leader ending with a small circle hook. I again made several casts and was soon my bait had carried into the Gulf. I wound and paused and I felt the fish strike the line. It ran and set the hook, I love circle hooks, and I was onto a nice fish!
It stopped running and I thought it wa probably a sting ray but as I neared shore I saw the tell tail dorsal fin, shark! It was a large bonnethead and I was able to guide it back toward the cabana. Renita and Jenny both took images.
Now bonnetheads are a tasty shark and we do love them grilled. but someone had forgotten the fish carrier, (I also forgot my sunglasses). It was a lucky day for the full grown shark as I successfully released it and watched it swim away.
Taking a sun break we both watched Jenny from the shade and before too long she was fighting a fish! Another bonnethead and it was her first shark.. People gathered to watch and she landed and grasped the fish. The hook fell out and so she was also able to make a successful live release.
The day was getting long and so we headed back to the truck. We did stop at the fishing pier but nothing was happening. Our last fishing of the day was at the docks near their condo and I caught a small unknown fish. It had been a great day on the beach, and a lucky day for a couple of sharks that normally would have been destined for the grill. Clear skies

Bonnetheads are small sharks and a large one is about three feet/one meter in length.