Monthly Archives: February 2015

A Few Things to Keep in Mind

From my good friend Terry Tomalin of the Tampa Bay Times.

Twenty-five years ago Sunday, I left my job in the News department and moved to Sports to cover the great outdoors. One week, I was falling asleep in a County Commission meeting, the next I was at Weedon Island catching snook.

http://www.tampabay.com/sports/outdoors/terry-tomalins-25-tips-after-a-quarter-century-outdoors/2219225

 

 

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First Time in the Everglades

I’m not a morning person. A 7 a.m. trico hatch? No way. Give me an evening Drake hatch any day. Tailing reds at sunrise? Not a chance. I’ll be there at sunset.

But my perspective on early-morning fishing all changed one Sunday when I met Dan Decibel for a late December trip to Flamingo.

I called him the night before from my hotel in Homestead. It was late. I asked what time we should meet. Thinking we’d meet at 7 or 8 AM, Dan suggested 5. I set the alarm for 4:15 and made sure the coffee pot worked. Four hours later, Dan’s silver truck pulled into the hotel parking lot, a Gheenoe Low Tide in tow.

Sustained by Red Bull and breakfast bars, we drove toward Florida City. About an hour later, we arrived in Flamingo, the southernmost point of Everglades National Park, greeted by hordes of blood-sucking mosquitoes.

http://www.hatchmag.com/articles/awakening-glades/7712374

 

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EP Baitfish Insight IV

Touching up, trimming. Joe wraps up the EP Baitfish. …

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EP Baitfish Insight III

Getting closer to the finish. … Not the tapering of material near the eye of the hook.

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EP Baitfish Insight II

Joe goes over the midsection, tapering, etc. Very detailed.

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EP Baitfish Insight

I admit it. I’ve been tying the EP Baitfish pattern for months and now I’ve finally gotten it right. I must give credit where credit is due. Joe C of YouTube fame has three in-depth videos. Each one is 10 minutes long. No detail is spared.

The main things I learned: Use less material. This pattern is wafer thin. How much is too much? If you can’t see the hook shank, it’s probably too thick. If you can see a bit of metal, that’s good. The fly will sink faster and the eyes will be easier to attach. Metal bonds better than EP fiber. Too much EP and you really don’t get a good foundation for the glue to hold the eyes in place.

Also, taper the EP as you tie in the material. Use longer strips at first. Cut those strips in half as you get to the mid point and then the eye. It makes trimming a LOT easier and gives the fly a more natural baitfish shape BEFORE you trim. This saves a lot of time. Essentially, you shape the fly as you go.

 

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The Life of an Oyster

I love oysters. Raw, roasted, doesn’t matter. If they’re on the menu, I order a batch.

Truth be told, I never really knew — or cared – what happened to the shells. A recent visit to the Florida Oceanographic Society’s Coastal Center changed my perspective when I saw clusters of shells sorted into piles next to a few outdoor tables.

Turns out, the shells come from local restaurants. Instead of shoveling the leftovers into a dumpster and a landfill, the scads of shells are recycled by the FOS staff and volunteers — from the table back to the sea.

It’s part of an oyster restoration project that’s designed to neutralize the damage from assorted pollution and freshwater discharges from Lake Okeechobee that have gradually eroded the habitat of the St. Lucie Estuary and Indian River Lagoon.

Oysters are a good barometer of aquatic health. They cleanse — one oyster can filter 50 gallons of water a day — they yield habitat for more than 300 species and they provide shoreline stabilization, which prevents erosion.

In the 1930s, the St. Lucie Estuary was said to be covered with oysters. Conservative estimates assess an 80 percent loss of that habitat since then.

What little terrain that’s left has been improved from conservation groups such as the FOS, which usually schedules one oyster restoration workday every month.

But the work starts well before dozens of volunteers line up to hoist bags of shells into the water. Twice a week, the FOS picks up shells from Martin County restaurants. Among those who contribute their leftovers are Spoto’s and Conchy Joe’s.

Once the shells are gathered, they’re brought to the FOS Coastal Center where they’re allowed to dry for at least three months. Once dry, they’re bagged and ready for the water.

The bags of shells, which typically weigh about 10 pounds, are loaded on to a truck in preparation for a workday. Each workday, FOS staff and volunteers of all ages form a line and pass the bags from the shore to the water. A half day’s labor can produce an implementation of at least 300 bags, more depending on the number of volunteers.

Every year more than 12 tons of shells are back in the water, not in the local dump. So far the FOS has cobbled together nearly 10,000 feet of reef at eight sites.

Each reef serves as a foundation for colonization, giving juvenile oysters a chance to grow. The hope, obviously, is that they will thrive enough that our murky waters will begin to cleanse and clear.

 

 

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