this trip today, water levels were
- .81 on this gauge http://waterdata.usgs.gov/fl/nwis/uv?site_no=02234000
- 5.5 at this gauge http://waterdata.usgs.gov/fl/nwis/uv?site_no=02233200
Seeking 1 ft higher to avoid shoals at highway 46 bridge.
this trip today, water levels were
Seeking 1 ft higher to avoid shoals at highway 46 bridge.
Makeshift was booked for a private anniversary event in Rockledge Sunday afternoon. Seth planned to meet the Wickham Park runners for a multi-lap ultra trail run Sunday morning, and invited me to join him. I wanted to get some fishing in while near the coast. A plan emerged.
I loaded up my car Saturday night with fishing gear, barbershop costuming, running shoes, a jug of water, and a towel, plus my kayak strapped to the top. Seth was to arrive at my house for a 5:45am departure.
My phone somehow went into hibernation and the alarm failed to go off. I happened to awake and notice the time was 5:40am. No time for food or caffeine, I pulled some shorts on and grabbed a shirt and found Seth waiting in the driveway. I took a few minutes to get my phone rebooted and we were on our way.
Got to Melbourne and grabbed a black coffee at a Macdonalds drive through. Seth provided a powerbar for me, and we got to the Wickham Park race site 15 minutes before the 7:30am start. This informal running group is made up of hardcore long distance runners. They prefer running in the Florida summer because its harder. And the more sand on the trail the better. Their plan was to run 9 laps for a total of 56 kilometers. The trail is poorly marked and runners frequently get off track. The dozen participants broke into two groups and I ran the first lap with the “speed is overrated” group. For the one lap it was not terribly challenging, quite scenic, and I generated a good sweat which soaked my clothes. See a facebook collection of photos, and full race results here.
After the lap, I bailed from the group, re-hydrated, and drove off to find a put in spot for the kayak. Across the river near Patrick AF base, I launched the yak for nearly 2 hours of paddling and casting. I was armed with a top water plug on one rod and a 1/8 oz jig on the other. It was a pretty barren area with dirty water and no seagrass. I worked my way out to a couple of mangrove islands and drifted and cast around them. I hooked a healthy 20″ trout just a few feet from my boat, fought and thrashed with it a bit, and pulled it on board to pin it between my calves. She was unhooked and released. I only had one other strike, but I call it a success. It was the 2nd largest fish I’ve ever landed on the yak.
Headed back to Wickham Park to pick up Seth after his 4th lap, stopping enroute at a 7-11 for a sandwich and some gatorade. We set out for Rockledge and stopped at a YMCA on the way to shower and change for our Makeshift gig at 2pm. We arrived in plenty of time for the 1pm setup and soundcheck. It was a 60th anniversary party for Pete Anderson’s inlaws, and the Knights of Columbus hall was packed. We sang The Lords Prayer for the vow renewal ceremony, then during supper had a 30 minute stage show, and followed up with some tableside singing. We included some straight up barbershop material (at request of the honorees) but also had beatboxer Scott P. with us to support some of our rocking contemporary repertoire. All in all, a great afternoon with good food, good friends, cold beer, and some great singing.
Home and collapse by 6:30pm.
I spent last week down in Palm Beach Shores with Linda. Gina joined us for the last two nights.
All week long the winds and the surf were up.
Hit the beach most mornings at dawn, but that stretch offered only
small ‘cudas. I landed a few over the week, and got cut off a few
times. One day snorkeling I found and recovered my jig (3/8 oz w/6″
gulp) which had been cut off the day prior. see
Mid week we drove up to Hobe Sound blowing rocks area, and while
bracing myself on some treacherous footing agaisnt the surf, I hooked
the biggest snook in my experience. Got him close enough to ID, but
then he spit the hook.
I went back the following morning at dawn and landed two juvie snooks.
in the same area. Biggest score of the week. see
I also spent some time on my short kayak in John MacArthur park, but
didn’t’ get a single bite until the second visit, while drifting back
to the take out I got a blow up in about 2′ of water on my red/white
chug bug. Didn’t ID it.
Almost forgot to write this one up. Its a couple of weeks ago already, I took advantage of the cancellation of my Wednesday class due to an odd weekday football game, and scheduled 4 nights camping and fishing at Long Point Park (Oct 5 – 9.) Its my go-to annual getaway. I’ve learned that weekdays are blessedly quiet and uncrowded, and the mullet run is usually in pretty high form in October.
Unfortunately, I was greeted by a couple days of very high and consistent winds, which kept me off the water for much of the first days. The good news: the water was unusually high, making access to some mangrove shorelines I had never fished before real easy. Those shorelines were also protected from the wind. On the second day I tried those backwaters and found redfish. Using a gulp swimbait I caught 3 juvie’s and one healthy upper slot fish which I kept for the cooler. On the following afternoon I got another upper slot red in the same place, and the following day, I caught a third bruiser redfish on a live finger mullet drifted behind the boat. Additionally, I caught ladyfish, some cats, and dozens and dozens of sea trout including one trophy sized trout on a 6 in. purple plastic shad
The windy weather curtailed my usual outdoor culinary pursuits, so I’ve got no enticing cookery photos this time. But I did fire grill some of the redfish and on my final night a boneless ribeye steak. In the evenings after dinner, I would set up coffee for the next morning, then retire to the tent and watch archived episodes of Freaks and Geeks (1999) on my netbook. Sunrise that week was not until 7am, so I could sleep in until 6, brew the coffee, grab some food and easily be out on the water at first light. Heck, I get up earlier than that most weekdays at home.
By the end of the week, the winds had calmed down and water levels returned to normal. The St. Sebastian river across the lagoon is under controlled release from the Upper St. Johns watershed, and I suspect there was a big release around the start of the week, which takes a few days to fully drain out through the Sebastian inlet. On Thursday afternoon, I had to enlist some muscle assistance from friendly campers to push my beached boat back in the water. I forgot to raise my outboard motor, and it was stuck in the mud by the falling tide.
On Friday night, the partying crowds and weekenders arrived and every waterfront campsite was filled, mostly with RV’s. My novice tent-camping neighbor was a friendly enough young tattooed guy, but he started drinking early, and by nightfall, he was out of control and engaged in off and on abusive arguing with his girlfriend. He also played thrashing rap/rock too loudly. He didn’t cause me any trouble other than annoyance, and to his credit he extended apologies the next morning. But like I said, weekdays are the way to go down there.
Saturday night, back home, unpacked, shaved and showered, I grilled up the rest of the redfish which Linda and I enjoyed out in our patio twilight.
I was out Saturday fishing the Long Point area and planning to spend the night. Fishing was pretty good in the morning. I took a break from the midday heat and headed out again in late afternoon. I wasn’t having any further luck with artificials, so I cast netted some small baitfish. I had one terrific long run on the bait that threatened to spool me, but it broke off and I recovered most of my 30lb braid. Other than that, I was getting small catfish on the baited pole.
One of those cats was my undoing. Near sunset I was removing a hook from a catfish held firmly in my right hand. The hook came out with a snap and the catfish barb went deep into my ring finger through the callous worn by my wedding ring. I freaked out. The serrated barb was stuck fast and deep. After a couple of tries, I ripped it out. Blood was flying all over the front of the boat. I wrapped the wound in a dirty rag, pulled anchor with one hand, and fired up the motor to return to the ramp. While under way, I called Linda and asked her for research on dangers of catfish barbs, and the nearest ER. I started getting quite woozy and became concerned that I might lose consciousness. But I made it back to the campground in about 15 minutes, and staggered over to the adjacent campsite to ask for help.
Turns out that neighbor Ron is a Vero Beach firefighter, he concurred that I would need stitches, and he offered to drive me to the hospital in Sebastian, about 18 miles away by roadway. Here’s an irony; my location when the accident happened was no further than a half mile from that same hospital. I could have anchored, waded to shore and walked to the ER in less than 15 minutes.
When I did arrive about an hour after the 7:30pm accident, they cleaned my hand, cut my ring off, and discovered the barb had fully pierced my finger. I certainly did more damage pulling it out than it did going in. Wish I had not panicked. Xrays showed that “self-administered foreign object removal” was completely successful, as the pretty young ER doctor phrased it. She declined to stitch the wounds up citing the danger of infection. They bandaged me, put a splint on the finger, dosed me with tetanus and antibiotics and discharged me. Ron was waiting with a cheeseburger for me. What a guy. I have his wife’s business card, so I will send him a thank you note with a medical update.
After a somewhat fitful and sweaty night sleeping in the car, I got up Sunday about 7am, made a pot of coffee and hung out enjoying the beautiful morning (and updated facebook via my phone.) Ron had left for an early morning shift, so I waited for his teenage son to arise to help me load up my boat. At 9am Anthony was up, and he brought my boat around to the ramp and did the (literally) heavy lifting of getting the boat back on the trailer and unloaded.
I was home by noon, filled my scripts, and I’ll see my doctor for a followup on Tuesday.
ahhh. finally got a couple of days to return to long point. Only two nights, but the weather was gorgeous, the bite was hot, and I slept and ate well. Jacks, blues and ladyfish were screaming. Particularly at dawn and dusk, but I found a great bite on gambler shads in the mid afternoon too. I wore my arm out.
Saw the space shuttle launch at 6:21am, it was still dark out, and I was on the water listening to the countdown over the radio. There were lots of families in the half full campground due to local spring break. I shared some food and fishing stories with an Apopka family camping two spaces over – the kids attend Lake Brantley HS, one of Gina’s local crew team rivals.
Boat ran well, but I’m postponing a needed $700 powerhead overhaul.
Its October and the mullet run has commenced. They are in the surf, and in the river. I reserved a campsite for Tue-Fri, and headed out at 5am for the 2 hour drive. Launching the boat at the campground I noticed an unusual proliferance of mosquitoes. But thats not a problem on the water. I pitched camp in the afternoon, got some groceries, and headed back out in the boat for the consistent sunset bite.
We’e got an unusual heat wave this week, temps in the 90’s every day, and the bugs were so bad that it was difficult to hang around the campsite. Building a smoky fire helped a bit at night, so I still managed some camp cookery. I didn’t bring my window AC, so I sweated through each night in the tent. In the midday, I headed to the beach to chill under an umbrella and keep a live finger mullet out in the surf. The beach bite was pretty good too, and I got a 24″ spanish mackerel and many bluefish. Slideshow below, or go to photo set http://www.flickr.com/photos/baribob/sets/72157622431172647
Small photo set here. Since I had scheduled time off work, I took a break from helping Linda set up her practice and reserved 5 nights at Long Point park. I booked Sun-Fri hoping to avoid the weekend crowds. I’ve never camped down there in the dead of summer, but I used a window AC with my smaller tent, which meant sleeping on the ground. The bigger tent in which I can fit a cot is designed with massive ventilation which makes the AC less effective. The campground was surprisingly crowded and I had RV neighbors on either side of me in the latter part of the week.
My eye problem flared up the morning of my departure and bothered me most of the day, but it got real bad around late afternoon when I think some sunblock leaked into the eye. It was really bad after that and I spent a miserable Sunday night and endured two violent storms. My RV neighbor had internet service and warned me about the second storm line coming our way, and I rode that one out in the car and then finally turned in to the tent about midnight. My eye problem kept me up most of the night. I went home on Monday to nurse the eye and left my tent and boat at the campsite. I took a pain pill Monday night, and slept through, then saw a doctor Tuesday. He said “It is what it is” . I was able to complete a lot of business chores for Linda, and went to a quartet rehearsal Tuesday night. I was better Wednesday and returned to camping.
I found outstanding bites Wed at dusk and again Thu at dawn. Lots of bluefish, ladyfish, with some trout mixed in Caught numerous slot sized trout, and lost some tackle to the cutting teeth of the bluefish. Love me that topwater lure action! Outboard motor conked out late Thu morning, so I pulled the boat and took it to a mechanic in Melbourne. They quickly diagnosed water mixed in with the fuel. They drained 2 gallons of gas, charged me a half hour of shop time and sent me on my way. I can recommend Boathouse Discount Marine.
Had a bluefish for dinner Wed eve and it was not very good. I prepared trout Thu eve that turned out really well! I drenched the fillets in salad dressing, then coated with ground pistachio nuts, wrapped in oiled foil and cooked over the campfire for about 15 minutes. It was delicious, and I wolfed down all the fish with a white wine and cheese on the side.
Packed up and came home Friday.
Went fishing yesterday with a new acquaintance from Sebastian, FL. He’s got a go-fast off shore boat, and we went about 25 miles out looking for dolphin and kingfish. Didn’t find any, and while hightailing it back to the inlet, we were pulled over, boarded and searched by federal agents with the Dept. of Homeland Security. I was totally on edge because I forgot to bring my fishing license, but these guys didn’t care. They were looking for drugs or weapons. After calling in our ID’s and finding smelly bait on board, they gave us a cursory lookover and bid us on our way. We saw them later in the day checking other boats, so it wasn’t just us.
Their vessel was an incredibly hot chase boat with 4 large mercury outboards mounted on the stern. I asked permission to take pictures, and they said ok to take photos of the boat, but not of the agents.