Saturday, September 15, 2018

Red Tide Fishing

This trip was interesting, yet disappointing at the same time. It seemed like fate was against me this time. On a trip to the Tampa area with my family, I planned to fish at one of the piers at Ft. Desoto State Park. To start things off, I had forgotten to pack some extra sinkers and hooks that could have helped me rig up certain ways. When I got to the bait shop that was on the way to the park, we learned that it was closed, and because of the Red Tide. The Red Tide is an algae bloom on the gulf coat of Florida from Sanibel to Clearwater that occurs exactly when I went, late summer/early fall. It is not safe to take fish home during the Red Tide, and it also takes oxygen out of the water, something that fish don’t like. Luckily, we found another bait shop that was open, Mastry’s. The staff helped me out, and we bought some frozen shrimp and a silver spoon, as recommended by them for Spanish Mackerel. They tied on a steel leader for me, which helps because Mackerel and other fish in the area have sharp teeth that can bite through the line. Rigged up, we left for Ft. Desoto. Upon arriving, the person at the entrance booth said that any fish would most likely be at the bay pier, the shorter of the two, because it is more protected from the Red Tide. Once we got there, my dad, brother and I saw Snapper at the bottom of the clear water near the water. There was also a huge school of glass minnows. Perfect for throwing my spoon. We were casting out and dropping our shrimp, but we didn’t catch anything. While I was reeling in my shrimp that I fasted out, I felt thumps. A predator was trying to eat the bait. Jacob and I kept on throwing out our shrimp, but we couldn’t hook any. Finally, I felt a nice thump and set the hook. I brought it all the way up to the pier, and even out of the water, before it fell back in the water. It seems that I can never get some of my most interesting catches in film. Because I had brought it about halfway up the piling, it was a catch. Instead of being a Mackerel, I saw that is was long, thin, and silver. A Ladyfish, a new species for me. It is nicknamed the “Poor Man’s Tarpon” because of its look and it’s strong fight. It is a predator fish that is often overlooked because of it’s lack of meat. Surprisingly, retrieving shrimp with a sinker on the line actually worked. We kept on throwing the shrimp and the spoon, and we even saw multiple of them chasing our baits. But, we couldn’t hook another before the bite was over. We did not catch anything else for the rest of the trip. It was apparent that there wasn’t much oxygen in the water because there were barely any other fish in the water than the school of minnows and the Ladyfish and Snappers that had gone away. After seeing the sunset from the pier, over the beach, we left. It was an interesting day because I had caught a new fish, saw the Glass Minnow run, saw a great sunset, and found out a new fishing spot, but it was disappointing because of the Red Tide, lack of fish, and not landing the Ladyfish. But at least I wasn’t skunked, caught something new at a new place, and I definitely learned more about fishing and the nature of the area. There were some annoying setbacks this trip, but it was a pretty cool experience.

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