December 19, 2013

Florida Road Trip 2013 (Day 7)

We woke up at 7am so we could maximize our fishing time. Our first location was an urban canal where I had caught Midas Cichlid and Grass Carp before. I'm hoping that Ben and Ruoxi can catch their lifer Midas Cichlid here.

I didn't want to compete with Ben over the Midas Cichlid, so I put on a Rapala X-Rap and started to walk the canal for Peacock Bass. I had a few chases and finally hooked up with a little Butterfly Peacock.

Ben and Michael had no luck fishing further down the canal. I spotted a good school of Midas by my feet so I waved them over. Ben's first cast with a piece of bread resulted in his lifer Oscar.

Michael was also fishing with bread and he hooked up a 10+lb Grass Carp. I went into the water to net that carp for him. At one point, the carp ran right between my legs but Michael was quick enough to open the bail on the spinning reel to keep the fish from snapping his line. As usual, it was pretty comical watching that scene unfolded.

Ben finally caught his lifer Midas Cichlid. Ruoxi tried hard to catch her own Midas but they stole the bread off the hook repeatedly. At the end, she called it quit and we moved to our second spot of the day.

Martini shared with me some sampling data of African Jewelfish caught at this location. We tried but couldn't find these Jewelfish. However, Michael and I found a couple of Golden Topminnows!

Golden Topminnow (Fundulus chrysotus) - Species #372

At around noon, we motored toward the Tamiami. We had hoped to stop for a gator tail lunch but the restaurant said it would take about 20 minutes to serve us. We passed on lunch and fished a nearby spot that Michael and I named "Garvana".

Ben tried to tease the Florida Gar with his trusty spinner but these gar just wouldn't cooperate. So I suggested Ben to catch a sunfish and cut it up for bait. It didn't take long for Ben to catch his lifer Spotted Sunfish. This was a significant lifer since it was Ben's 200th species...and he used it to catch his 201th species - the Florida Gar!

There were Oscars swimming around and Rouxi caught a big one that we decided to keep it for food. We wanted to catch a few more so I started poking around with a piece of cut sunfish. There were so many gar that they usually got to the bait before the Oscars did.

We also stopped at Shark Valley along the way to see the gators. From left to right - Michael, myself, Ruoxi and Ben.

There were gators right by the road.

We moved to the spot where Michael and I had fished a few days earlier for Walking Catfish. We were hoping Ben could catch his lifer catfish. However, the catfish were nowhere to be seen during the day. There were no shortage of Oscar, Mayan Cichlid and Spotted Tilapia though...and boy were they pretty! There was a big 8' gator sitting right under the bridge where we fished. We had to get the fish up quickly or else the gator would try to grab it!

Toward late afternoon, Michael had to take a little bio break. He walked over to a little side canal and saw a bunch of small micros. We headed over with the tanago rod trying to get the bait away from all the Eastern Mosquitofish. Then we noticed something else in the canal. We didn't expect to find Black Acara and Jewelfish here!

Black Acara (Cichlasoma bimaculatum) - Species #373

Jewelfish (Hemichromis bimaculatus) - Species #374

This spot had such a primal feel to it...and the canal held many stunning Oscars. There was also a gator that sat under the bridge here...and it also tried to grab our fish.

Once dark, the Walking Catfish came out to play and Ben caught them easily.

We had barely a bite all day and a quick dinner was in order roadside. Ruoxi took out the stove and we had some instant noodles under a dark sky studded with the most beautiful stars I've seen in a while. The Tamiami was truly a special place.

We headed toward Tampa around 7pm. We made a short top to pick up some supplies and bait and finally arrived at the Skyway Pier by 11:30pm. There was more fishing to come...

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