Sunday, July 08, 2007

She Out-Fished Me

Technically, I am standing about two miles offshore of the Florida mainland. Florida proper is way off in the distance, that's a small island called Snake Key in the background. In front of me, the next piece of dry ground is Texas.
Mrs. FC and I took the boat out off Cedar Key this morning. Normally, we would have at least one or two of our kids along, but everybody was somewhere else, so it was just the two of us.
That was pretty weird, let me tell ya.
The day was beautiful, but there was a brisk steady wind out of the northwest that kept a good chop going on the open waters of the Gulf Of Florida, so we headed for the Snake Key Flats. The flats are extensive shallow areas that extend far out to sea from Snake Key, the island. The water on the flats is usually calm since the seaward edge of the flats breaks the wave energy.

It's beautiful and a pretty fishy place. Running through the shallows are deeper channels that funnel fish in or out of the flats, depending on the tidal flow. When we arrived the tide was beginning to ebb.

There she is in her prefish zen state, preparing to catch two fish for every one I caught. She also took all the photos for this post ... except for this one.

Once we were over a sufficiently fishy looking bit of spotty bottom (alternating light sand bottom and darker seagrass covered bottom = spotty bottom) we started fishing.
We were tossing jigs sweetened with small chunks of a synthetic shrimp flavored bait called "Fish Bites".
This stuff was amazing. I know that sounds like a commercial, but it's just an honest appraisal of the product. It's cool stuff. I think it was invented at the University Of Florida.
We didn't catch anything of legal size, so all the fish went free and we actually had hamburgers, not fish, for supper.
We were catching two species of seatrout ... only neither one is actually a trout. They are really members of the drum family, but they are troutlike in appearance, hence the common names.
Above is a little yellowmouth trout waiting to be released.

This is a spotted seatrout just before being released to grow at least another three inches, preferably more.
Before you say it, I know it's a goofy hat, but it makes lots of shade and it's rated at SPF 30, the Columbia fishing shirt is SPF 50 rated. Both were gifts from my kids. Nothing like a little basal cell carcinoma to make you a believer in sun screen and goofy hats.

What's left after many casts.
This is the jig I started with. Later I switched the black minnow rubber body for an electric chicken color body (thanks for the tip Rick) and had better luck.
The point of this picture is the bit of mesh stuck on the hook. This is a well used piece of the Fish Bites synthetic bait with only a speck (bright green) of the flavored part left after many casts and several trout brought to the boat.
On a fresh piece the mesh is hidden by the green flavored part.
Time to change this one out.

A happy fish nerd in his element.
When the tide finally went all the way out, the fish stopped biting for awhile and Mrs. FC broke out her book and stretched out on the boat seat to read. I hopped out of the boat and walked around on the now very shallow (knee deep) flats looking for critters. I love doing that ... just poking around in an aquatic habitat. There's so much to see, and in salt water you never know what may turn up.
After a while the returning tide signaled it was time to climb back in the boat and fish a little more. Confident in her fishing victory, Mrs. FC continued reading as I tossed my line back into the now rising waters. Schools of baitfish were moving in with the incoming tide, but nothing seemed to be chasing them.
It appeared that our fishy mojo had been all used up for this day, so we cruised slowly back to port, stretching out the day just a little longer.
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Hurricane Teen said...

HA!! I caught you before you had the chance to write the text!
I was thinking today...Are we going to see another "stupid things I have done" post sometime soon? I know there's no shortage of material on the subject,'ve just got too many other things to write about, I suppose :-D

Floridacracker said...

I'm thinking my stingray sting experience may qualify for that label.

threecollie said...

Looks like you had a simply glorious day. You can't fake a grin like that.

rcwbiologist said...

Thanks for taking us along on your trip. I have never seen pictures from this area of the gulf.

rick said...

glad to hear the electric chicken worked (does someone get paid to come up with these names?)flounder love them too, hopefully not the 4 legged flounder

pissed off patricia said...

Thanks for the review of the fish bites. Mr Pop had been wondering if they did the trick. He was tempted to buy some while we were on vacation. I'll tell him what you said about them.

Being out on a boat on a day like that is a preview of what heaven might be.

Deb said...

I hear ya, those rare kid-free times are weird. But fun.

robin andrea said...

Oh yes a whole day of zen!

Mechelle said...

OK - I'm sold - going to buy some Fish Bites today! What is an electric chicken? I'm sure it has nothing to do w/funny picture I have in my head....

Doug Taron said...

Looks like a wonderful day. I miss the ocean.

P.S. my head may explode if I don't find out what the powdery insect photo from the last post was.

Floridacracker said...

It was really nice... even if there was no fish dinner at the end of the day.

It's pretty unique, the sea only barely covers this section of the Gulf so there are vast seagrass beds that seem to go on forever.
Check out Big Bend Seagrass National Marine Preserve on the web.

Someone must!
She was using a Berkley Gulp white shrimp body and fish bites. My luck was okay, but improved after switching to the electric chicken.

It was a heavenly day that's for sure. The fish bites were reasonable compared to the bait cost of live shrimp and the convenience factor having them on hand can't be discounted. I kept these in the JEEP glove compartment until I needed them.
Can't do that with bait shrimp!!!!

I thought it was funny you posted a similar day.

Let me tell ya, I was just about Zenned out by the time it was over.

I give Fish Bites a definite thumbs up, I want to try them in the surf now.
The electric chicken is one color variation of some lures called Saltwater Assassin. Someone in marketing there thinks of bizzarre names for each possible color.

Floridacracker said...

You slipped in a comment while I was recommenting.
I was expecting either you or Wayne of Niches to nail that puzzler.
New clue coming up in a few minutes.

Hurricane Teen said...

I'm glad you had a good time out there...even though you were outfished by a GIRL!!! ha ha, I'm just kidding...I don't want to be sacked by any feminists that may be reading.
I have used "Gator Bait" before, which was also invented at UF. Seems like it works wonders just about anywhere...I've caught a few bass and catfish that way (hooked to a lure.)
And I LOVE the name of those fishing lures...I would really like to meet the marketing guy who named it "Electric Chicken."

Hurricane Teen said...

By the way, you said that you were one year younger than Chris Way (of Dat'l Do It?) Because if that's the case my mom is one year older than you...I may have to look through the old SAHS yearbook for you...I'll just have to imagine you 30 years younger, and with an afro...hmmmm...I'll let you know what I come up with :-D

kathy a said...

well, i was only going to comment on the hat, but hurricane teen's comments have left me feeling all old and frowsy. son, you're gonna have to live with the fact that sometimes the fish aren't going your way. also, i'm glad you don't have access to my yearbooks -- the worst of them are lost in the garage, thankfully.

ahem, back to the hat. my beloved just came back from a backpacking trip, and he was embarassed about the packable sun hat he took along. i think it's cute. [ok, i didn't say that out loud.] beats a burnt scalp, for sure.

Laura said...

I was about to comment what a great day that must have been, but Hurricane Teen's comment about catching you before the text appeared, thinking it was another "stupid things I have done" post had me busting out laughing.

In any event, congrats to Mrs. FC for the great pics and some outstanding fishing! LOL!

Floridacracker said...

I checked my yearbooks, and I was mistaken, Chris was SAHS class of '74, not '75 like I thought. I'm class of '76, so I'm actually 2 years younger than Chris Way.

Sounds like your Mom is the same (74) class with Chris?
Let me know if you have a '74-76 yearbook and I'll direct you.
Neat if we know each other.

Kathy A,
Beats a new scar and a dermatologist bill too!!

Thanks ... I must have a stupid thing post somewhere.
I'll pass along the photo kudos to the queen.

Hurricane Teen said...

Oh well, you should still be in my mom's yearbook...We'll see if I can rummage around and find them...You would have been a freshman when my mom was a senior, I think.

LauraHinNJ said...

You look very happy for a guy who had been outfished!

Floridacracker said...

Let me know and I'll give you a page number :)

If I'm fishing, I'm happy.
Even if the fish don't participate.