December 27, 2013

Florida Road Trip 2013 (Day 15)

The night before, I talked to an online friend over the phone and he gave me a wealth of information on how to fish the Keys. He had planned to meet up with us for the weekend but a torn rotator cuff kept him at home. I really appreciated the phone call and all the help he had given us! Now...if only the weather would have cooperated...

Michael and I woke up to some howling wind. When will it ever stop!!! Today it was blowing 20mph from the north...

We got to the base of the rocks and started fishing the sabiki rig around the boulders. There were lots of grunts but no squirrelfish. Michael soon took off to look for tarpon.

Ben told me that the morning he fished these rocks there were Scrawled Filefish and some Blue Parrotfish around. I still needed to add the Blue Parrotfish so I concentrated on them. When the morning brightened, I started to see a pair of them cruising the rocky shore. Fishing for them "blinded" was difficult since all the undesirable fish quickly jumped on the bait. In order to have more success, you have to drop the bait almost right next to the parrotfish to have a chance. They favoured strips of squid. I don't think I've ever seen an ugly parrotfish...this family of fish is simply fantastic!

Blue parrotfish (Scarus coeruleus) - Species #381

I poked around some more for the Squirrelfish but they were not around. So I went to the bridge to toss a few shark rods out. I needed some shark baits, but the area were infested with Porkfish and I can't use them for bait. They were so aggressive that morning and completely out-competed the wrasses and Bandtail Puffer for the sabiki!

There were tarpon under the bridge. We saw a couple of huge ones. But the water was murky green and the tarpon didn't want to play. At one point, Michael had a large barracuda took and dropped his bait three times. I also had a barracuda followed my lure when I was reeling in a shark rod to check the bait.

There was little diversity this morning and I didn't add any more new species. But I did take some decent pictures of species I've already caught.

Scrawled Filefish

Threespot Damselfish

Dusky Dameselfish

I told Michael about the Threespot Damselfish. He tried for a bit but then went back to fishing for tarpon and sharks. They were just had to put in time to weed through all the other fish...but Michael had no desire to put in that time for little fish sometimes. Oh well...

We had to leave by 10:30am since Michael and Ellen has scheduled an afternoon dive trip.

I dropped them off at the dive center at 12pm and spent an hour at Bass Pro Shops in Islamorada to replace some gear, especially sabiki rigs. I then had to decide where I would fish to find a Sand Perch. They were supposed to be very common and most people had no trouble catching them. Maybe it was due to the fact that I was specifically trying to target them and others simply catch them accidentally.

I stopped at a couple of areas where the bottom had rubble and there was seagrass beds nearby. These were typical Sand Perch habitat but I couldn't find any Sand Perch around.

Then I passed by a little shallow area that was bordered by mangroves. It looked like a good area to explore, not just for Sand Perch but for micros. I started paying attention to tiny movements and finally found some micros! Originally, I thought this was a Sheepshead Minnow. After looking around a bit more, I'm pretty sure this was a Goldspotted Killifish, a sister species to the Ocellated Killifish I caught in Belize!

Goldspotted Killifish (Floridichthys carpio) - Species #382

I had to get back to the dive shop by 3:30pm, so that was all the fishing time I had. ended up that Michael's tour left late so they were expected back at 4pm instead. I spent a little more time at Bass Pro Shops, but later found out his boat was not back at 4:30pm. In fact, Michael and Ellen wasn't ready until 5:30pm. I could have have a couple more hours of fishing time. :(

Everyone was hungry so we went to get a bite at the McDonald's in Tavernier and then picked up more supplies and bait.

Since we had some time in the evening, we fished a spot my friend had suggested for sharks. Unfortunately, the wind and tide were moving in the same direction and the current was very strong. The water was so murky that even the ever present grunts stopped biting that night. Needless to say that our 3 hours of trying ended up fruitless.

We decided to pack it in early and try out other spots next morning.

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