Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Ultralight Surf Fishing

Is it OK to fish while on a date with your wife?

Only if you catch something!

After scouting around last evening we found the local Starbucks and a great looking bagel place, Morty's Bagel Cafe across the Manatee River in Palmetto.

We had planed to take a day of vacation and do some exploring while in Florida.

We had seen enough development and traffic since we had arrived and decided to try out some of the "Real Florida" by visiting some of the nearby state parks.

There are several in the area including Desoto and the two we chose - Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island. Both are considered good for nature hikes, shelling, bird watching, and "other aquatic activities".

After a couple of cups of Starbucks finest and some of Morty's bagels, we took the long way to Clearwater and then up 19A to the entrance to Honeymoon Island. There was a change in weather coming but the temperature was a comfortable 80 deg and despite the gusty wind it looked to be a nice day.

We arrived at Honeymoon Island shortly after lunch and were scheduled for the next ferry ride to Caladesi Island at 1:00PM. I noticed some other visitors looking at something off the boardwalk and went over to see what all the commotion was about.

They were looking at a 6-7 ft Coachwhip snake.

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The word on the "street" was that it had been chasing a rodent and it was fast!

After checking it out and taking some pictures, I motioned for Tracy to come over so she could see it. After she got a look we headed back the way she had come from and saw another equally as big and very close to the walkway.

That was a little un-nerving to Tracy.

She hadn't even seen it when she walked by it the first time.

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We boarded the ferry to go to Caladesi and the wind was blowing about 20 knots. We got a little spray on the trip over as we were going against the wind most of the time.
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Ferry Dock

The island was beautiful and we enjoyed a long walk down the beach picking up sand dollars and shells and watching the shore birds and pelicans.

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Beach Access

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Egret in the Surf

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Raft of shore birds

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Sea Oats

After a time, we decided to stop and take some pictures. I had "volunteered" to bring my backpack to carry water and snacks and it just so happened that I had the telescopic UL and some lures handy.

I began casting out into the surf of the eastern Gulf of Mexico not sure about what I might catch.
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I soon spotted several fins cutting the surface of the water. They were black and together in a pod and I couldn't tell if they were sharks, dolphin, or what.

I repositioned and started casting to them with a Renegade stickbait.

Whatever it was all but ignored my offering but I continued to cast as the school moved up and down the coastline.

I was retrieving right through the middle of the pod when I hooked one and off it went.

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It turns out that these were Atlantic Devil Rays and I had "winged" one.
I was woried I might not be able to land them on the UL even though I had spooled up 10 lb test Berkley Fireline.

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I found out that I don't know much about these sea dwellers but I am a quick learner.

I now know that they will jump like a Rainbow trout when hooked.
They flap their fins and look very similar to a bird in the air.

I even saw one jumping that was not hooked.

I caught two Atlantic Devil Rays on the UL.

It was quite a ride but I managed to beach them and get them back to the pod unharmed.

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This baby had a nice wingspan.

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This is where they get the "devil" from.
These are supposed to look like horns.

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Hold on!

I'm trying to get you back in the water!

We took a little nature hike on the way back to the ferry dock but arrived 30 minutes before the boat was due. I took the time to make a few extra casts and managed to find this little redfish across the channel near the mangroves.
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We had a uneventful ride back to Honeymoon Island and decided to hang out and watch the sun go down before heading back.

I made a few final casts with my medium weight rod but the surf was too rough for there to be anything in close to shore.
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Fading Light

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Working the Surf

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God's Blessings

Believe it or not we actually did spend most of the day together even though this post seems to be all about fishing! Thanks for taking the pictures Tracy. I had a great day!

1 comment:

Bawana said...

Say, what does the Sting in Stingray mean??????????????