Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sloughs of Whiting

I grew up in a multigenerational surf-fishing family who spent vast amounts of time on the beaches of St. Johns county, Florida.

My earliest fishing memories are all surf fishing ... we didn't have a boat until I was 13 or 14, and even then, most fishing trips were surf ones.

This is not a long nostalgic post about those times, but let me tell you, we lived on the beach for days at a time with my surfishing fanatic parents and grand parents and it was outstanding!

We weren't staying at any beach house or yet to be built (ugh) condo's ... we camped.

Nana and Papa had a camper trailer that they hooked to their JEEP. They would drive north along the Anastasia Island beach until they found a good slough, far away from the tourists who clumped near the beach entrance ramp.

There they would stay for weeks at a time while we grandkids rotated in and out in shifts. We lived like wild things and ... whoa ... this IS turning in to a long nostalgia post.

Not gonna do it. Nope.

So, anyway ... the video illustrates what we surf fishing fans call a slough. It's nothing more than a trough that forms between longshore bars. These bars build up parallel to the shore as the currents constantly shift sand from here to there.

Probably THE most delicious fish to come out of a slough is the hard biting, hard fighting peepsqueak called the "WHITING".

Having said that, please realize that the term "Whiting" applies to a host of other fish species and your whiting is not necessarily MY whiting.

The whiting down here is really a kingfish ... but not the kingfish in the mackerel family. That "Kingfish" is really a "King Mackerel", but everybody 'round here calls them either "Kingfish" or just "Kings".


This is why we need those Latinerdy scientific names.

We would go bonkers without them ... or should I say, "DELIRUS ire placet sine."

Here in Pure Florida, our "Whiting" are two cousins ... either the Gulf Kingfish (Menticirrhus littoralis) or Southern Kingfish (Menticirrhus americanus).

Whiting love those sloughs and the chow that gets washed in to them... shrimp, sand fleas, tiny crabs. Whiting are not big fish, a two pounder is HUGE for whiting. If you are familiar with the more glamorous redfish, whiting look a little like mini-redfish without the coppery color or the tailspot.

The similarity is not coincidence, both reds and whiting are in the croaker/drum family, and both can be caught in a beach slough ... as can sharks, flounder, black drum, and pompano.
Of those other fish, only the flounder can compare with whiting for sweet fish goodness.

If I were going to get all nostalgic here, I would go on about the smell and taste of whiting only ten minutes out of the sea,dredged in cornmeal and fried by your Nana on a camp stove, on a beach long ago, in a Florida far way from this one.

But I am not going to get nostalgic over a fish and a depression between sandbars on a beach.


Not gonna do it.


Sayre said...

My husband's going fishing today... At St. Marks Refuge. Looking for redfish.

But he spend most of his youth hanging out in the sands near Ft. Myers doing exactly the same thing - fishing the sloughs for whiting.

lisa said...

Thanks for the video!

threecollie said...

Far as I'm concerned you can get as nostalgic as you want to. I love reading about stuff like this. Perfect pelican splashdown.

Bill said...

Remember when.....
Salt run ran all the way to the ocean? You had to wait until low tide to get to bird island? They had the dune buggy races through the dunes? There was that oyster experiment thingy in salt run? The crazy keg parties on the beach in broad daylight, with fires? Oh nostalgia... You have just started a flame on the tip of the iceburg that will burn me all day..

Thanks for sharing,


Sharon said...

And not only that, now I've got an overpowering craving for some good, fried FISH!!! LOL

edifice rex said...

Yeah, I don't blame you for not gettin' all nostalgic..;)
but boy, I bet that was SOME fun camping on the beach like that and just runnin' free.

Dani said...

What wonderful memories this land and your family have given you.

rsobczak said...

Those shallow tidal sloughs sort of look like the St Johns, on a smaller scale of course ...

BTW: Where does a fella get his hands on a good hydrologic record for Paynes Prairie?

The Florida Blogger said...

My grandpa and I would fish for whiting out by Deer Island just outside the Suwannee River. They were good eating.

amarkonmywall said...

Oh, please. Pretty please. Do go on. I need a LOT more of this nostalgic post. Seriously. And, BTW, how is your book coming along??? Because I see a background here.

kathy a. said...

i want your grandparents' stories, especially nana, and some sketches of the camper trailer.

my husband's grandparents [from louisiana] used to have a cabin [really a shack, no amenities] that they went to in the summer, up in the sierra nevada. they did a lot of fishing and cooking, and the grandkids rotated through.

Floridacracker said...

I hope he caught some.

Glad you liked it!

Thanks for the encouragement!

I can remember everything except the keg parties. For some reason, they are very fuzzy.

It's always time for good fried fish!

We had a special childhood for sure!

So, no secret why I love FL so much.

The SJRWMD and Paynes Prairie State Preserve would by my first choices, and then USGS.

Sounds good!

Please do not stop hounding me. Between you and Zick, I am going to get it done.

Kathy A,
These places exist in all kinds of habitats, like memory factories for lucky, lucky kids.

Karl said...

Good afternoon FC,

Another enjoyable video, well done. I've never tasted whiting although I would like to and flounder is a favorite.

I don't know if you're interested but this weekend is the great backyard bird count, you can find out about it here. Since most of the birds around me are marine birds. I like to do it to help balance some of the data.

Enjoy your weekend.

Anonymous said...

Just caught a whiting off Pine Island FL.... found this old thread and just had to say thanks... best fish ever