December 26, 2013

Florida Road Trip 2013 (Day 14)

I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas with my family and the rods were hung up during the holidays.

Some people go shopping on Boxing Day...I stay as far away from the malls as possible. Michael originally planned to return his rental car in Coral Springs, which would involve packing the car at my uncle's driveway at 11am. But he had already reached the Keys and he would be returning the car in the Keys. I had a free morning all of a sudden.

My cousin John was home visiting his parents for a few days. I visited him in June but we were glad to see each other again in Florida. He loves to fish too and we planned to fish the oceanfront piers in the morning. However, as I was driving to his place, it started raining steadily. Pier fishing was washed off the board.

John's home backs into a small residential pond. Instead of fighting the wind and rain, we decided to simply hang out at this place and sneak in a bit of fishing whenever the rain lets up.

Our cousin Bosco was also with us. He's not crazy about fishing, but he's quite natural. I gave him an ultralight rigged with a 2" plastic grub on a jighead. He landed a little Largemouth Bass on the first cast.

Last time I fished the pond, it was swarming with small bass and Bluegills. But the water was cloudy today and the fish seems to have left the shallows. Perhaps the dropping water temperature and the low pressure had something to do with it. Bosco outfished John and I two to one! John caught his one bass by first catching a Spotted Tilapia on a grain of cooked rice, then freelined the tilapia. I got my bass after Bosco retired from fishing and I used his ultralight and jighead.

By 1pm, we ended the fishing session. After a quick lunch provided by John's mom, I drove Bosco back to his parents and I was on my way to the Keys - for the second time this trip. I was hoping for better fishing conditions and perhaps finding more sharks.

I ran into some traffic around Islamorada. At one point, the cars completely stopped moving and it took 15 minutes just to move 200 meters! I got to the parking lot 30 minutes late and Michael already had all his gear out of the car lying on the ground.

We were camping at Fiesta Key for the next few days. It was already dark when we returned to the campsite. Michael's girlfriend, Ellen, had been spending the last 3 days in Florida on her way home from Cancun. She'll be with us for the next few days as well.

I set up my tent while Ellen made dinner. Michael filled me up on his last two days of Keys fishing - no shark, but he did hooked and jumped two tarpons and caught a Jack Crevalle in places that were borderline immoral and illegal.

I had a long day already and the wind remained relentless. Instead of fishing the bridges at night, we decided to check out the outlets to the marina at the campsite. We could see some smaller micros on the surface. Around the rocky areas there were some reef fish settling into the night time hiding holes.

I found a small Gulf Toadfish for Michael to try. They would usually bite at night, but this one only showed a flash of interest before deciding it was best to avoid us.

Using the tanago hook with a piece of squid, I finally found out what the micros were - small Scaled Sardines. Something had attacked this sardine in the recent past and it still had a fresh wound on the other side of the body.

Michael saw a 1' Nurse Shark in the marina. There were a lot of small lobsters in the marina and the cleaning table added to the attractiveness of the area as a foraging spot. Later that night, I was out chatting with guys fishing at the other outlet of the marina and we saw a shark swimming in the shallows. I found out the next morning that they caught a 3' Nurse Shark at 3am.

Michael and I wanted to check out the base of the bridge the next morning. Ben caught a Squirrelfish during the dark hours and we were hoping to find one of our own. We called it an early night and hoped for better weather for the next day.

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