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.