Friday, December 27, 2019

Small Bass at Orange Lake

Back at Orange Lake Resort in central Florida, I was excited to hit the water and try again at catching Bass. I started out waking up early in the mornings and trying different lakes, however none of them worked. They didn’t seem to have much life either, and the water was flat and quiet, which isn’t exactly a great sign for active, feeding fish. I ended up going back to the lake on which I had caught a Bass before. There I had seen many birds, small fish, and splashes in the water caused by predatory fish chasing prey. I went fishing over the course of about 4 mornings, walking around to different lakes, casting with my bait caster reel and Zoom Trick Worm, and I had started to go to the Bass lake on the second day. That day I saw Bass bear the bank, however, I noticed that they were rather small. I got one strike and no hookup, while not enticing any other Bass, probably due to to the small size of the fish and the large bait and hook I was using. On the third day, I arrived to see, to my dismay, that it was raining and there was no life to be found. I casted around the lake for a few hours, but I did not manage to catch anything. I didn’t even see any fish this time. On the fourth day, I decided to change up my presentation. I used a smaller Zoom Ultra Vibe lure in the same color, Watermelon Red, and cut off a piece in order to shorten the lure. Now, the bait was manageable for the smaller Bass of the lake. I got to the lake and immediately started casting. I saw many small Bass schooled up near the Bass. (By small Bass I mean Largemouth Bass under a pound. I thought it must have been post-spawn for the Bass, as these were young.) I decided to focus my attention to a patch of weeds near the bank, repeatedly making casts around the patch. My retrieve was based on a pattern of making two quick jerks of the rod to bring the lure up off the bottom, letting it fall again, reeling in the slack, and repeating. At one point, a Bass hiding in the grass made a big splash as it jumped to try to take my bait near the surface. I got really excited, but the fish didn’t bite the bait. However, in about 20 minutes later, at 9:17 AM, I hooked up with a Bass and reeled it in. It was small, but a fish is a fish. Unfortunately, the fish was barely hooked and it came off and flopped down the bank and back into the lake before I could take a picture. I kept fishing afterwards, but not for long, without any other results. It was a fun trip, even though I only caught 1 small Bass. I was happy that I was able to come away with with a Largemouth Bass, even if it was a small one. That seemed to be how it was this winter, just small Bass swimming close enough to the bank to be caught.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Another Great Day Across the Street

Today was yet another great day for fishing in sunny South Florida. I woke up, looked out the window, and immediately called Arky's Live Bait to ensure they had some live shrimp waiting for me. It was a great day to fish. The temperature was in the 80s, there was a nice breeze, and not a single cloud in the sky. I went over to Arky’s, bought 2 dozen live shrimp, and then prepared to catch fish across the street from my house in a saltwater canal connected to Biscayne Bay. We started off by dropping our shrimp down near the dock into the clear water, and, sure enough we instantly started feeding frenzies. Schools of Snapper, Jacks, Pinfish, and more were fighting for our bait. Less than five minutes after initially putting the baits in the water, Jacob and I doubled up and caught a Mangrove Snapper each. The catching continued as Jacob then caught 2 more Mangroves and a Needlefish by suspending the bait on the surface of the water. I caught 2 Mangroves and a Schoolmaster in the same amount of time. We had our eyes on the Jacks and bigger Snapper, however. Jacob, once he started targeting Jacks, even had a Jack bite his shrimp, but then it spit it out only for a puffer to eat it and get hooked. Jacob then caught a Mangrove Snapper on the next drop. After catching those fish, Jacob went back to the house to bring some bottles of water. Meanwhile, I saw that the school, for the most part, had moved over to another part of the dock while the Jacks were still under me. I dropped the shrimp in front of their faces, and they couldn’t resist it. Two or three Jacks fought over the bait until one took a big bite and I set the hook. It put up a nice fight. Jack Cravalles are considered by many to be the best fighting saltwater fish pound for pound, and I strongly agree. I brought it up just in time for Jacob to see. We unhooked and released the fish. Then Jacob finished off the shrimp by surprisingly catching the only Pinfish of the day. This was surprising because Pinfish had made up around 40-50% of the school and yet we had only caught one all day. That was the last fish of the day, and Jacob and I went home satisfied. It was a great day to be outside catching fish, in late fall where the weather is just right in Miami. Today helped me really appreciate the area in which I live, where beautiful fish that are fun to fight can be caught literally right across the street from my house. Overall I caught 5 fish and Jacob caught 6, with my 9 inch Mangrove Snapper being the biggest fish caught, not including the Jack or Needlefish. We fished for about two hours combined.

Today was great. Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thanksgiving Dock Fishing

It was Thanksgiving, and so I met up with family once again to eat, watch football, and go fishing! My cousin, Nathan, and my brother and I went over to the dock to cast a few lures in hopes of enticing any fish down there. On the second cast, Nathan casted out by the piling, and reeled in his lure.  During the retrieve, we saw a flash in the water, and the line got tight. Fish on! He reeled in while I grabbed the line and pulled the fish onto the dock. We caught it. A nice Jack to start off the day. The fish were there all day under the dock, but we only managed to catch 2 in about 30 minutes combined fishing. One time, I hooked one at the surface, but it came loose. Another time, Jacob and I brought a fish close to the dock, but it then powered under it and broke us off. We caught the second fish by using a white bucktail jig under the dock to imitate an injured baitfish. Overall, we didn't have much time to fish but it was great to be back at it, especially since I hadn't had the time to fish since August.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

New Species at Santa Monica Pier

       My family and I came back to Los Angeles, and, having not fished for so long, I planned to head out to Santa Monica Pier as soon as possible. On this trip, I went fishing with my dad and brother. Our goal was to catch as many fish as possible, of course, and to hopefully catch a new species. We had brought a rod of our own to the pier, and we had a sabiki rig on that one. We also rented a rod with a simple dropper rig for 2 hours, at $4/hour. We bought frozen squid for bait. When we got our rods and bait, I directed the group over to the right side of the pier, facing north. The end of the Santa Monica pier is quite convenient for fishermen, because of certain decks that are built closer to the water. It was a partly cloudy - sunny day, and very breezy. Temperature was around the mid-high 70s. Great day to be fishing. We set up our rods and we were ready to go.

       The frozen squid was tough to deal with. The insides were too frozen, which made them mushy and useless, and the outer part, the skin, was slimy and slippery. Regardless, I managed to tip each hook on the sabiki rig with a strip of squid before putting a bigger piece onto rental rod. Very soon after we dropped the baits, we felt nibbles. Last year, my brother and I had come to the pier, and we bought shrimp for bait. Although we felt fish, most likely Mackerel, nibbling our baits the whole time, the softness of the frozen shrimp made it easy for the fish to take the bait off without getting hooked. This time, we learned from our mistakes and used tougher squid bait, which stays of the hook much easier. The change in baits proved to work, because not long after we started feeling nibbles, I saw the line move out to sea, away from the pier. I reeled in the line, and gave it to my brother to finish the job and bring the fish up. We had caught the first fish of the day, a Pacific Mackerel. This was not the first time I had caught this fish. Pacific Mackerel, or Chub Mackerel are very common all over California. It was a nice catch, and we were happy to get on the board so early.

       After we caught the first fish, the nibbles seemed to slow down. We casted in different spots, but nothing changed. After a while, Jacob, my brother, and I decided to chum the water with our squid, as we had way too much bait to use in 2 hours of fishing. We cut up the bait, threw it out into the sea, and, sure enough, the squid had brought a school of fish to the surface! I started to jig the sabiki rod and Jacob casted the lighter dropper loop past the school, so he could reel the bait right into the school. The fish were nibbling, but the current had taken the chum, and the school, out too far in the pilings. I had already lost a hook back in the pilings when I decided to fish on the other side of the deck, under the pier. I told Jacob to cut some more squid and to throw it out into the Ocean side, North, so that the current would take the chum and the school into our lines. The plan worked! As I was jigging the sabiki rig in the school, a fish bit one of the hooks! I brought in the feisty fish and made sure to bring it over the railing as fast as possible. I didn't want to lose this fish. On the deck, I realized that I had just caught a new species! After researching the fish, I found out that it was a California Salema, Xenistius californiensis. It is a schooling grunt commonly found in Southern California. I was really excited to end the day with a new species!

       It was a fun day out on the water with my dad and brother, and I was happy with the results. The fish may not have been too big, but as a multi species angler and lifelister, I respect every fish I catch. After all, a fish is a fish, and we achieved our goal of catching them. One of my favorite things about fishing is how it allows one to experience, learn about, and appreciate our waters and marine ecosystems. Catching a new fish in new waters is always a really cool experience that gives one a greater appreciation for the diversity of the waters that they are fishing and they fish for which they are fishing. It's really fun to keep track of the fish you have caught before, and to set out to catch new ones.

       Anyways, like most fishing trips, we learned a lot from this one. It's no secret that current and positioning when chumming means everything when trying to bring fish to your bait, and we used this method to catch ourselves a new species. It was great to be fishing again. Stay tuned, and Tight Lines!

Sunday, June 2, 2019

A Slow Day at North Bayshore Park

Today was another slow day of fishing. School’s out, so my brother and I decided to fish at the pier near our house, at Willam Lehman Park. We first went to get live shrimp as bait, then we went to the pier. It was extreme low tide, and there was a little current off the pier. First we started to fish in the lagoon, where I caught a needlefish by letting it swallow the shrimp on the surface. Jacob hooked a small Barracuda, but it spit the hook shortly after. Then we decided to head over to the main part of the pier. There, Jacob caught a Mangrove Snapper and I caught two. Again, we casted into the sandy holes a few feet away from the pier itself to catch them. Those fish would be the only ones we caught today, however there was another bite I had at the main pier. I cared out and let out some line so that there would be a good amount of slack. When the line straightened out, I would know that a fish was on. One time, bout 3 seconds after I casted out, a fish took the bait and ran with it. I set the hook, but a few seconds later the fish came off. I reeled up the rest of the line only to find the hook missing. I’m pretty sure it was a Barracuda that bit through the line. Predatory fish like Barracudas and Mackerels are known for sometimes biting through the line before the fisherman has a chance to fight it. We finished the day having fished for about 2 hours, me having caught 3 fish and Jacob having caught 2.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Kelley Fleet Fishing

       It's the middle of a week off from school, and there's no better way to spend it than fishing in this perfect weather. My grandfather and I decided to try the Kelley Fleet in hopes of catching some big fish. The results were kind of disappointing, but, regardless, we had a great time.

       We started off in the rather cold, cloudy morning, eager to catch some fish. We had dead ballyhoo as bait, and we were going for Kingfish. We would simply let line out from the reel and let the ballyhoo drift in the middle of the water column. After a little while at our first spot, Zaide, my grandfather, felt a tug. He handed the rod to me, and I reeled it in. We caught a Triggerfish. It was a nice catch, but we were hoping that it was a Kingfish. I had caught my first Kingfish on this boat, years before. The Triggerfish was pretty cool, and its skin was so tough that we had to use a knife to get the hook out. We had one.

       After a little while, the clouds went away and the sun came out. The water was really clear. The weather was perfect.

       Since we weren't catching anything, I asked for a chicken rig to drop to the bottom. We put cut squid on these hooks. It turned out to work! Once we arrived at a new spot, I felt the nibbles and then a nice pull. The rod bent over, and a fish was on. I reeled in a Squirrelfish! Although very colorful, the Squirrelfish is poisonous and I was very careful not to touch the fish directly when I was handling it. About 15 minutes later, there was another bite on my ballyhoo rod. I reeled it in, and it was another Triggerfish. We then waited quite a while for the next fish. After about 30 minutes, we went to a new spot which looked promising because there were already two boats there by the time we arrived. On the very first drop, I felt some small tugs, and I reeled in a Grunt. We threw it back before taking pictures. It was our 4th, and last, fish of the day.

       The clouds that were present in the morning left early on in the trip, and my grandfather and I had an awesome day on the water, even though we did not catch the Kingfish we were after. After all, "they call it fishing, not catching." A fish is a fish, and we caught 4. Today reminded me what fishing is all about, just having fun out on the water with friends and family.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

New Species on Pier 60

My family and I were on vacation in Clearwater, and I couldn't resist the temptation of fishing there. I found a few hours to take my dad and brother to Pier 60 to catch some fish. I decided to rent gear from the pier because I didn't bring much and preferred not to risk breaking my own rigs. The pier was very fisherman friendly, and it gave out free buckets to use for storing the frozen bait, as well as a hose for washing hands and melting the frozen bait. I settled for frozen shrimp to buy from the pier after checking a local bait shop that ran out of live shrimp. When the bait quickly defrosted, Jacob and I cut pieces of shrimp into small parts and baited them on the size 1-2 J-hooks. I wish we had smaller circle hooks, because that would have been easier to hook the fish with. In the end, it worked out. The bait was really soft. There was much life in the water, and we saw schools of fish in the water when we looked down. When we casted or dropped the bait, we would sometimes feel bites instantly, and then lose them. Whenever we would reel in to check on the bait, it was gone. This happened repeatedly for the first hour. It was quite disappointing. At one point, Jacob reeled up a cool-looking crab that feel off just as he was bringing it over the side of the pier. I'm not sure what it was, as I didn't have a chance to look at it very well. After a while, when the sun had just set, my brother turned to me excitedly and exclaimed, "Josh, I GOT ONE." I watched him reel in a small Pinfish, our first fish of the day. The catch itself wasn't extraordinary, but a fish is a fish, and it was our first of the day. On the very next drop, Jacob reeled in another fish! It looked like our missing streak was over. I checked to see which species it was, and it was a new one! A Sand Trout! A member of the Cynoscion family, the Sand Trout is recognizable by its white color and distinct lateral line. Although not as popular as Spotted Seatrout, their close relatives, they are also a great fish to catch. As it got darker, I became more desperate to catch a fish, especially a Sand Trout. Sure enough, I dropped my hook, reeled up slightly as I felt the bites, and subtly jerked the rod up. the Rod bent and I felt the tug. Fish on! I reeled in the fish which was almost mechanically vibrating as I brought it up and over the side of the pier. I caught a Sand Trout! A nice catch! I was really happy to finally get on the board. After about another 20 minutes of trying to catch fish, Jacob and I both reeled in a Pigfish! Another new species, the Pigfish is a member of the Grunt, or Haemulon family. It is known as being a good baitfish, and I tried to drop it in the pier lights for Snook in the time I had left. Alas, the fish was foul hooked and didn't survive for very long. Before leaving, we caught yet another new species, a Silver Perch! These fish, although very similar in appearance to the Sand Trout, can be distinguished by a rounder body and slightly taller fins. It makes sense that they were together at the pier, given their similarities. We packed up, returned the gear, and left with smiles on our faces. We had caught rather small fish, but we were happier with the fact that we were able to add a few more species to the life-list.