The Flying Kayak

Hunting, Fishing, Rambling, and Complete Outdoor Hilarity

Month: June 2010 (page 1 of 3)

Everglades 2010

Spent Monday through Thursday of last week spraying exotics. I despise them now and I cringe every time I see Cogan grass, even when it’s not on state land.
My dad came down Tuesday evening to stay through the week. He fished during the day while I worked and then we both fished in the evening. I was able to show him around the WMA too.
Thursday after work we took off for the Everglades. We made the horrible mistake of trusting the GPS navigation to get us to the Tamiami trail quickly and it took us down I-95 directly into Miami. The interstate was 12 lanes of chaos and a trip that would have taken between 2.5-3 hours on the Turnpike ended up taking 5. We fished the Tamiami for a short time then drove down to Homestead to the hotel.The next morning we went back to the Tamiami to put the kayaks in a canal. I fly fished for a few but had little to no luck. I then switched to a good ol’ fashioned worm. We were worried that the Cichlids had all died over the winter fish kills and I broke out the worm rod just to check. After only a short period of time, I landed a Mayan Cichlid. Soon after I got a Jaguar Guapote and these other Cichlids (Honestly not sure of their name. They look like a cross between a convict and a discus). We noticed some storms heading our direction so we paddled back. I didn’t have a cooler on the yak so I put my fish on a stringer. Once at the launch, I tied the stringer off to a bush to keep the fish alive in the canal. We loaded up the kayaks and put everything up in the bed. I walked down to the water’s edge and began untying the stringer from the bush. Suddenly, there was a flash and I felt a shock run up my arms to my elbows. A lightning bolt had struck the water VERY close by. WAY too close if you ask me. My hands tingled for about 10 minutes afterwards.
We then drove down to the Everglades National Park to do some fishing in ponds we’d had luck in during previous years. We launched the kayaks and quickly got to fishing. I used strictly top water and soon had tarpon exploding underneath the lure. None, however, could hook themselves. It was the perfect fishing evening…The kind fishing dreams are made of. Not a breath of wind, cool weather, the water was like a mirror, and HUGE fish chasing your lure. If only I could have hooked one. I counted during the trip and missed a total of 15 strikes from both Tarpon and Snook. I landed one bass and my dad landed a nice Snook.
Went back the next morning to the same pond. I paddled right back to where I had so many strikes and after about 10 casts, hooked up on a fish. It dragged me around the pond for over 15 minutes. I figured it was a juvenile Tarpon, but had never seen it jump. I finally got the fish up to the boat and had the best surprise of the trip. It was a monster Snook. I pulled the fish to the boat’s edge, reached down to lip him, the fish shook, and lodged the hook right into my finger. The thought of having myself attached by the hand to such a big fish made me rip the hook out instantly, ignoring the barbs (ouch). My second lipping attempt worked and I hefted the ogre into the yak. Before this fish, my biggest Snook may have been 18 inches. I was grateful for bringing my camera for this 40 inch, 30lbs fish.
My dad caught a small tarpon later (which I didn’t get a picture of) and that was that. We drove back to the Tamiami trail and there were a ton of people fishing it. We didn’t launch the kayaks again. Sunday morning we went back to the Everglades National Park again, but caught no fish in the ponds. On the way out, we stopped to look in a canal. To my surprise, it had cichlids in it. Lots of them. We launched the kayaks and I was determined to catch one on a fly. It took over 30 minutes of casting and maneuvering the boat in 20 mile/hour winds but I finally had a fish on. It turned out to be an Oscar (my favorite Cichlid by far).
A few casts later landed myself a very nice Mayan…
Ended the day with 4 Mayans and an Oscar on the fly. I’d never caught Cichlids on the fly before so the combination of a huge snook and cichlids on the fly definitely made my trip.

Snakes on a plane!…err…Truck!

Note: I’ve successfully not caught up like I planned. Everything from last week seems to have blended into one big work day so I’ll hit the high points.

I had to deal with more RCW stuff last week. As I was driving to meet Cliff, I noticed two Black Racers in the middle of the road. Not wishing to run them both over, I hopped out of the truck and began prodding them along with my boot. One slithered off into the bushes, while the other one went under my truck. I then watched in shock, as the snake lifted itself up and wrapped itself around the rear axle and up under the truck frame. I quickly produced a stick and rolled underneath the truck to start trying to remove the snake. Only moments later, I looked over to see the second snake had returned and had begun climbing up the front tire. I rolled out from underneath the truck and grabbed the second snake by the tail as it started to go into the engine. We were then at a stalemate. I couldn’t pull the snake any harder since he would probably pop in half and I couldn’t give in since he’d just go deeper into the truck. I snapped a picture because I knew no one would believe me.
After about 10 minutes I decided to let him go inside the engine. I popped the hood, and successfully chased him out. About that time, the first snake plopped out of the back and slithered off into the bushes to join his friend.

I had water monitoring to do last week as well. It seems that only on the days I wear dark colored shirts that I have to do water monitoring. There isn’t an ounce of shade and I therefore melt. After water monitoring, I had to take the four wheeler out to check a few more wood duck boxes. I managed to check only two of them before a storm brewed up and the bottom fell out. I got soaked and had to drive the four wheeler a few miles back in the rain.
Once the rain stopped. I dried off and hopped in Shrek to go make sure I knew where the transect was for the quail survey I had to do the next morning. On the way there, I had the usual herd of cattle in the road. One cow stuck out in particular and I deemed it picture worthy.
Had to do several quail surveys as well last week so I woke up early and got off early. I was too tired, however, on those days to fish so I came home and fell asleep. Thursday was a hoot. My four wheeler stopped working completely then the one I was given quite working as well. The following day I had to spray (yay) and I spent most of the morning taking the herbicide tank off of the old four wheeler and putting it on the new one. One thing was wrong after another and four hours later I had the pump working so that I could spray. I fished the Jackson-Kissimmie canal after work on Friday and had a good bit of luck. 3 bass and about 10 Stumpknockers made the evening.Saturday I traveled into Orlando to meet with friends to watch the World Cup. I’m rooting for Argentina so I made sure to catch their game. I unfortunately missed the first (and only) goal in the 8th minute of the game so I watched close to an hour and a half of nothing. I later got to watch the US vs. England game and I was surprised to see a tie at 1:1.

Sunday I waded a borrow pit close to the WMA entrance. I forgot the camera and therefore had a great afternoon of fishing. I landed about 8 bass, one of which was my biggest on the fly. I also lost one that was even bigger. I landed a few keeper bluegill as well.

And there you have it. (Nearly) caught up. I’m just a day behind now :)

Hmm…I might want to see a doctor

Note: I’m running low on pictures at the moment. I haven’t uploaded them to the computer yet. I’ve also, obviously, fallen behind in postings since I’m usually too tired to do much of anything after work.

Pulled the crawfish traps back in last week and had quite a surprise. I actually caught some! Well, by some, I mean two. But it’s more than I’ve ever caught. The picture is blurry, but I swear it’s a crawfish (the camera died right after I took the picture so I couldn’t get a better one).
As I was pulling in the traps, I was being eaten alive by flies. I didn’t pay them too much attention and focused mainly on getting out of the dome and back to the jeep. I got back to the trailer and sat down at the table in the kitchen to eat some dinner. I noticed then, that my hand had two giant welts on it. One on the top next to my index finger, and the other on the underside of my wrist. The welts had swollen and were close to the size of a paintball welt. I was rather surprised about how big they were, but couldn’t really do anything about it so I finished eating and went to take a nap. Upon waking, it felt like my hand was asleep. I looked down to see my entire right hand smooth and swollen. I immediately took an antihistamine to try to make the swelling go down.

I played around with the idea of going to see a doctor. But it seemed the swelling was slowly (very slowly) going down over the course of a few days. This picture was taken two days after I was bitten. I’ll let you use your imagination to figure out how I took the picture by myself.
Wednesday was a blast. I nearly put in 12 hours of work. I had to do a sex check on an RCW tree and after (sorta) getting the band combination of one adult, I went to peep the tree. The peeper, however, was broken and wouldn’t display a picture. I drove the four wheeler over to meet Cliff to see if he could fix it (which he couldn’t) and then drove back to the office. I had some bluebird stuff to take care of while I waited for Cliff to finish up with the good peeper and after he was done, I got to essentially start work (at 1:00pm). I had taken the four wheeler that morning because most of the places couldn’t be accessed by truck. Unfortunately, the good peeper can’t be put on the four wheeler so I had to take Shrek along with me which he was pleased about. I once again willed the truck through more places than I can remember and finally called it quits at 1830.

Thursday had me back out at a few places I couldn’t get to the day before. It nearly took all morning to find the different places (+ a few new ones that had been tacked on). The last cluster I had to check (cluster 45) actually required the four wheeler. It’s not that it was too muddy or wet, it was that the tree is literally close to a mile from the road through thick palmettos and cypress domes. I started to hoof it out there, following a small creek when a thunderstorm rolled in. I decided that holding a 30ft pole in a lightning storm wouldn’t be the best idea, so I turned back to the truck before I even made it there. Since I’d put so many hours in the day before, I just left work early.

Friday was yet again, another RCW day. I had to help Cliff do a fledge check in a specific cluster. The fledge check is just to see if the chick that hatched has successfully left the nest. This requires getting all of the band combinations of ALL birds in the area. I really wasn’t too much help, but I did help Cliff follow the birds all over creation for a few hours before we finally found the fledged chick. I then was lucky enough to go back to cluster 45 to find the tree. I made the mile hike through shoulder high palmetto, cypress swamps, and bogs. It took forever. I went all the way out there to look inside the tree, just to see….Nothing. It was empty. I trudged my way back and finished out the day by checking 3 more clusters.

Drove into town on Saturday to get groceries and a haircut. I finally got paid, so I was able to treat myself to the Wendy’s I was craving. I bought some fishing supplies that I wanted to trying to catch catfish and went back to the WMA to see what I could do. I set some limb lines and got chased off by another storm. The storm had passed before it got dark so I drove back out to check the lines. As I walked down to the canal, I noticed that one of my lines had been dragged up under some weeds. I started pulling on it only to find it hung up underneath the weeds. I walked out onto some stumps to find the leader and discovered about a 20 inch catfish on the end of it. Sadly, as I pulled on the line, the knot broke and the fish got away. I reset the lines and called it a day.

Sunday I tried catfishing again but with no luck whatsoever. I did learn a valuable lesson though. As I was fishing, I had two old women come up and start bream fishing literally on top of my lines. Close enough that when one of them accidentally caught a catfish (that I’d been fishing for over an hour for), her line got tangled around mine. I walked down and started to try to get the bird’s nest undone. She had hooked about a 14 inch Bullhead catfish. I lipped him and started to pull the hook out when it suddenly felt like someone had stomped on my thumb. The catfish had bitten me. Hard! Not wishing to hold the thing around the body, I kept my finger in its mouth as I desperately tried to remove the hook between his munches. I finally freed the fish and the women said they wanted to keep it. I threw the catfish at them in frustration and stalked back to my seat. (And no, I didn’t hit them with it. That certainly would be an interesting story to tell the police officer why I threw a catfish at some old ladies).

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