Friday, March 24, 2017

Florida, winter 2017

Day 1:   Monday March 13.

     An impending snowstorm loomed over our heads here in the North-East corridor.  The weather apps were calling for somewhere between 8 and 20 inches of snow and gusts up to 40 mph starting at 9 p.m.   We had agreed to try to beat the storm.  Steve's truck was already full when he arrived at my house to load my stuff, and then also K.G.B.'s stuff.  We filled it, and then filled it some more, until there was just enough space for three people to sit.  We managed to be wheels up around 4:00 p.m.  Our plan was to drive as far as possible, maybe North Carolina, maybe South Carolina.  We were doing great.  Going through D.C.  a little snow started to fall, and Steve put on the windshield wipers.  They slowed.  And then, the tachometer went to zero.  And then, the truck sputtered.  Steve barely made it off of the highway and onto an exit ramp and into the parking lot of a gas station where it died.
     I recognized the symptoms as a dead alternator and/or dead battery.  The snow and sleet were really starting to come down.  It was getting on 7 p.m. and decisions had to be made.  Options had to be sussed out, discussed, pondered, agreed upon.  Our trip had come to a sudden halt.
     (We were all familiar with the situation, as we had broke down in Steve's previous truck on the way down to Oak Island years prior.)
     What made it worse this time was the snowstorm, the cold, and the dark. My Sister's family lives in DC; I managed to get a hold of my BIL and asked if we could crash at their place. We could.  With an Autozone just ten minutes away, we decided to try to replace the alternator and battery They said they had the parts on the phone and they were open until 8. Lenny, a tow truck driver who was waiting for the storm to give him some business, gave us a ride there and back for 30$.  Everything was down to the wire.  We made it to the Autozone in the nick of time.  Getting the alternator off in the dark and the wet cold was a TOTAL pain in the ass, but we did it.  In the process, one of the three wires that go to the alternator harness broke.
     My shoulder had been operated on about two months ago (it's a 4 to 6 month recovery), and I was starting to feel it.  We weren't sure if the white wire jump we had attempted was successful or not, so we stayed at Jon's house instead of trying to continue down the road.  It was late already.
     Jon supplied us with all of the necessary comforts to help us temporarily forget our predicament:  cheese, beer, scotch, salami, and a full breakfast (with liquid slap ya mama hot sauce to boot) in the morning.  My nephew Elias was looking forward to winning a pi contest, as it was now the morning of 3-14, as things go, and he had it memorized some 40 odd digits in.  AMAZING!  What's even more amazing, as we found out later, is that he didn't win.

day 2:   Tuesday March 14.

we thought we were leaving
Jon's house early, but only made it to Florida......Avenue

snow melting, alternator wires getting fixed

We finally made it on the road, later is better than never.

find Steve

That day we made it as far as a South Carolina Motel 6.

Day 3:    Wednesday March 15.

Huddle house is NO Waffle house
     Wake-up  and burn rubber.  We had to get to a bass pro or similar similar shop to get supplies, and also to get a new rod and reel set-up for KGB.  Everything takes forever, especially three dudes shopping at a fishing supply store.
     In a recent interview, when discussing life after fame, David Letterman said: "Here’s where I’m comfortable: There’s a bait-and-tackle store near my house. They’ve got guys in there, and you can buy live bait, you can buy artificial bait, they’ll put new line on your reel. You can talk to them about rods. They’ll tell you where to go for a largemouth bass. That’s exactly where I want to be."
     As it was with us, but we had to try to make it to the John Prince Campground at Lake Worth Florida, (it's between west palm Beach and Boca Raton,  we were calling it Mar A Lago, as we were dangerously close to it.)  and so we drove on....
     Pulling back the veil just a little bit, I will have to admit that I had obsessively watched every Lawson Lindsay video in preparation for this trip.  He fishes out of Neptune, which just north of Lake Worth.   I was more prepared to fish this zone than I was the keys, but I didn't know this yet.
    We managed to launch and fish the bridge lights for a couple of hours that night, and Steve hooked into a few small snook, and some bigger ones that came unbuttoned.

bridge lights

first kayak snook for Perchman

Day 4:   Thursday March 16
John Prince Campground

dinner spec! Lake Worth Lagoon
     It was windy, but we were ready to do some real fishing, finally.  Four days in and we were ready.  We headed north, under the bridge and up through the Snook Islands (a group of man-made mangrove islands designed about twenty years ago to rehabilitate the fishery, it worked.)   On the way up to some areas protected by the winds Steve (Perchman) first caught Croaker-zilla: the most gigantic world record Croaker ever caught that we didn't get a picture of and ate for dinner.   Then, just a bit later he got into a really nice Spec!
And another nicer spec later.
though the picture is illusive, this spec is MUCH bigger than the first

In the lagoon, pitching a fake shrimp under a dock, just as I had learned from the internet, I nailed this little snook.

My first (and only) Snook
In the same channel I watched a long (30-40") Barracuda follow my lure, but was not able to entice it to bite.  I would learn a lot more about Barracuda fishing later on in the keys.   I worked that channel for another hour or so, and KGB finally joined us in there.  The sun was waning and we all slowly headed back towards the bridge, to be there around sunset and fish.   On our our way down, as the sun set,  through the Snook islands the water came alive with activity.  I had this little Jack Crevalle, another new species for me.
my first (and only) Jack 
 In the same channel of water I hooked into a decent sized Snook that came unbuttoned, and we finished off the night throwing a few casts at the bridge lights.  It had been a long day, and we had fish to cook and clean, so we headed back to camp.

Day 5:    Friday March 17

not enough rods

We hit the road a little later than expected.  It's become more and more difficult to fish all day, party all night, and then wake up early the next morning.  Regardless, we were making tracks south again.  In our minds the Keys had become this magical fishing paradise where there is a fish on every cast.   Our anticipation was palpable.  And then....pop....crunch crunch crunch......blow-out on the highway.

KGB's hat blew off his head while putting the spare on
changing tires
Unfortunately, the spare was mostly flat.  However, at the next exit and found a plethora of tire shops.
tire shop
After an arduous journey, we finally made it to the Big Pine Key Fishing Lodge!  What would be our home for the next four nights.

We tried fishing that night, but had no idea where we were or what we were doing.

Day 6:   Saturday March 18

     This was our first REAL first day of the original fishing trip plan to fish the keys from our kayaks.  We had made it.  We fished the south side of Big Pine Key.  The ocean side, known as Newfound Harbor Keys.  There was a flats boat in the distance, and I watched them pull in a small Barracuda on a Cuda Tube.   At that point I decidedly changed my retrieve from kind of fast to super fast.
crystal clear waters

Steve had caught and landed a couple of small Barracuda, and so had KGB.
Cage's Cuda

 I cast a Whopper Plopper into a pothole and immediately hooked into a nice sized fish.  It was a 30" Cuda.

30" Cuda

and so the game was on...we were decidedly Cuda fishing the flats with occasional forays into the mangroves.
This picture tells it's own story... the fight was short

many Mangroves
After being on the water all day, drifting with the wind to the bottom of the island, and seeing a variety of small sharks, spotted rays, sea turtles, all in all tons of wildlife, we decided we ought to start heading back to be at camp around sunset.   Just as we were approaching the final turn to get to camp, I was relentlessly trolling anything that would work between the shallow water and the weeds, and at this moment it happened to be a very small Yozuri crystal minnow on my 200 Curado and med-light rod.  Just as we went over a sandbar my rod went down and line started peeling off of my reel.  I hollered to Steve to come over because I had "something big on my light set-up."   After several long runs, and the fish running under Steve's boat, and me wondering out loud if this thing would EVER get tired, I managed to land a 40" Barracuda.  That was definitely the highlight of the trip for me.

40" Barracuda

Day 7:     Sunday March 19

This was the first bit of rest KGB and I got, as we opted not to fish the whole day, just half.  Steve went out in the AM and got into some more small Barracuda and some Mangrove Snappers.  We had decided to fish a different area that day, so we went under the bridge towards the bayside.  We fished around Mangrove Key and caught Cuda's on Cuda on a flats jig-head.  Nothing of any size was brought to the side of the boat.  Before we had met up with Steve he had already been hanging out with a Manatee.


     It was windy, and if the chop across the channel was sporty, then the chop in the water getting under the bridge was a downright Carnival ride.  We finished the day off on the ocean side flat fishing the potholes hoping for another big Cuda.  That evening was slow, we had some more small ones, but nothing over 30"

Day 8:    Monday March 20

Another mellow day, we decided to spend the morning bridge fishing for Mangrove Snappers with live shrimp.
bridge fishing

KGB basically killed it, though we didn't get any keepers, we caught lots of small fish and quite a variety.

That evening we fished the ocean side flats again.  Again hoping for another big Cuda.  I had a decent sized needlefish, but no more big Barracuda's.

fishing up until sunset every day

     We put in many hours of fishing, and much much more happened than could be explained in detail in one blog-post.  It was an epic trip, and we learned a lot about our own expectations and abilities.  The most limiting factor was time.  The next most limiting factor for me personally was my recent shoulder surgery.  I limited my casting and resorted to trolling as much as possible, though I couldn't resist a well placed cast if I felt I could land one.  I could go on about the camp sites and the neighbors, or the food we ate and didn't eat, the fish we cooked, the mini deer, the fish we released, the millions of beers we drank, and then the nights we were so tired we fell asleep before we could even do that.  Or the lures we used, and the rods and reels, or any of the technical aspects of our trip.  But really, the essence of it is in the fish, and the fishing.  

Day 9 and 10:   Tuesday March 21, Wednesday March 22

We drove back in time...back into winter....

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Parvin Lake February 28, By: Steve

Work without Hope
By: Samuel Taylor Coleridge
All Nature seems at work. Slugs leave their lair--
The bees are stirring--birds are on the wing--
And Winter slumbering in the open air,
Wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring!
And I the while, the sole unbusy thing,
Nor honey make, nor pair, nor build, nor sing.
Yet, well I ken the banks where amaranths blow,
Have traced the fount whence streams of nectar flow.
Bloom, O ye amaranths! bloom for whom ye may,
For me ye bloom not! Glide, rich streams, away!
With lips unbrightened, wreathless brow, I stroll:
And would you learn the spells that drowse my soul?
Work without Hope draws nectar in a sieve,
And hope without an object cannot live.

Parvin Lake
By: Steve
No matter where you go, you can hear that jack-ass in the bass-boat prattle.
 Go as far as you try, you will find a swan to battle.
There is a man-made, couched, partitioned, stranded, proud, little sand beach. 
This depthless pond (not a lake) is a place to teach
the little ones how to catch fish.