Yes, the weather and seas were almost perfect by Floridian standards, PERFECT by all others.
Yes, we caught fish until we were silly and sore.
Yes, we were predators on this day and did keep some to eat, but most went flipping back into the Gulf of Florida.
Yes, the sand gnats came out in hordes back on shore and ate us alive as we cleaned fish.
Above: Captain Denny (Voylesguideservice.com) is in to a good fish.
I can't share the details or video of this trip for a few weeks, for good reasons.
Let's talk about sandgnats or sand gnats, whichever you prefer.
I would tell you what the silent "G" stands for in the word "gnat", but my policy is not to swear here on Pure Florida.
Use your imagination.
Once Mrs. FC saw my speckled arms with a "ooh, perfect coverage pattern", she requested a photo to use with her staff doctors.
I wore a regular T-shirt while cleaning fish and being gnat lunch, so the pattern of bites ends at the point of the sleeve coverage.
This information is used to diagnose mystery specks and spots on patients. She told me that a doctor new to the area had diagnosed a kid with Chicken Pox only to find the spots had miraculously disappeared the next day.
Her point was the pattern of spots only on exposed areas was a giveaway that it was something contact or insect related.
We actually have a local school who celebrates the sand gnat as their mascot.
I suppose my polka dot arm will be famous now among health clinics in the state of Florida ... (until Gov. Scott closes them all of course).
So here is my bitten arm. Notice the stoppage at T-shirt Sleeve beginage.
Here is a close-up.
The pain is only at the moment of sand gnat munchage. These red spots are flat and there is no after itch (on me) later.
Whew! Good thing, huh?
Rest assured that the red speckles go all the way around the arm and the hairy top side was even more densely spotted.
How do you deal with sand gnats?
You can douse yourself with chemicals from Avon Skin So Soft to OFF, but you will either smell like someone's grandma or have weird chemicals soaking into your skin.
My basic plan is to not be where the gnats are.
Yesterday that did not work, because we had a nice mess of fish to clean and Denny's house sits in prime sand gnat habitat, near the marsh.
So we just kept busy, he filleted, I skinned, and the gnats had lunch.
It was a great motivator to not dilly dally around and to get the job done.
For now, sand gnats are a spring and fall nuisance with little or no after affects.
Will that always be the case?
Consider that sand gnats and their cousins are known disease vectors in tropical areas of the world.
Consider that most of our illegal immigrants ,(I refuse to call them "undocumented workers" ...I'm FC, not PC), come from tropical climes and you have a scenario where something very bad could become established here.
The CDC has numerous reports on malaria, TB, and other infectious diseases arriving in the United States via illegal immigration.
I can't sugar coat the harsh facts by feeling sorry for people (and I do) in countries with unresponsive governments and poor economies ... worse than our own of course.
I look at the biology involved and worry about disease transmission due to illegal immigration.
What adds to my concern is the fact that Florida's current Governor seems hell bent to slash any service for the poor from education to public health. Actually, he plans to cut corporate income taxes for the rich WHILE slashing services for the poor.
What a guy!
The picket line for early detection and prevention of any disease outbreak is not the golf playing cosmetic surgeon in South Beach.
It's the Public Health Department doctor or nurse who is out there on the front lines and it is these very same people who are facing large budget cuts.
Is it 2014 yet?