December 16, 2013

Florida Road Trip 2013 (Day 4)

I woke up at 5:30am to find my lines under the bridge. I had forgotten that the tide had switched and our 4oz pyramid sinkers were too light to hold in that heavy current. Luckily I got both rigs back without much issue. We kept the rods out as we prepared to pack things up. We had to arrive at our launch spot by 8am to pick up the kayaks.

We were about 10 minutes late, but thankfully the kayaks were not delivered until 8:15am. Ben and Ruoxi gave Michael and I the first shift in the kayaks. It took us A LOT of time just to unpack and pack the gear. We definitely brought too many rods with us on this trip and we spent a lot of time just taking and putting things in the car.

Finally, at 10am, we were ready to launch. However, the conditions looked less than ideal. We were in a protected cove but the waves were 1.5 to 2 feet high and blowing onto shore. We tried to bottom fish a bit but the drift was way too fast. Nothing seemed to be biting inside the cove so Michael and I tried to fish outside the cove. It was even more difficult to fish on the outside since it was rockier and it was a heck of a time trying to free or break 50lb braid once you snagged bottom in the wind. Eventually, we decided to beach the kayaks and fish from shore. Ben and Ruoxi didn't even bother to take the kayak out in the wind. They were doing much better from shore anyways.

Ruoxi were really hammer the fish that morning. She was steadily catch Lane Snapper, Bandtail Pufferfish, Bluerunner and Leatherjacket. I really wanted to catch Leatherjacket on this trip and once you figured out that they wanted a fast ripped sabiki rig, they were almost too easy to catch.

Leatherjacket (Oligoplites saurus) - Species #365

There was no shortage of Leatherjacket or Bluerunner. We kept a bunch for bait to use later. There were some Bandtail Puffers around. Everyone caught them but I was having a tough time for some reason...until I realize that people were holding their rod at a low angle so their sabiki rigs were close to the bottom. Sometimes, it is small subtle differences that you need to notice in fishing technique.

Bandtail Puffer (Sphoeroides spengleri) - Species #366

Also caught some Silver Jenny.

Ben grounded a number of Bluerunners and soon attracted a big Southern Stingray to the shallows at our feet. Michael thought it was a good idea to try catching that big ray on a 9' MH Clarus and the Toro Revo 6501. The ray found a chunk of bait with little issue...but then it really took the fight to Michael and it went outside of the cove onto a rocky shallow beach where it wrapped the line around a rock. Michael tried to free the line with the kayak but at long last the line snapped.

We had to stay at the spot until 5:30pm to return the kayak...otherwise we would have left to fish another location earlier. Miciah, Ben and Ruoxi explored elsewhere while we waited and they found a couple of cool bridges that are promising areas to fish in the future.

With very little time left, Michael and I went to our hotel for the night and cook up some dinner...including some filleted Leatherjacket and Bluerunner. I love most fish that people find disgusting, but I have to say Leatherjacket was pretty low on my taste list, unlike their Pacific relatives the Doublespotted Queenfish or Talang Queenfish which are very tasty. On the other hand, Bluerunner was quite good and everyone seemed to agree as well.

After dinner, we thought about fishing at a bridge spot from shore where we've had some rips last year as well as moray eel poking around the shallow rocks. However, the strong tides made this spot completely we decided to catch up on some sleep and prepared for the next days' fishing marathon.

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