The Flying Kayak

Hunting, Fishing, Rambling, and Complete Outdoor Hilarity

Month: September 2011 (page 1 of 3)

Tuesday Terrors: Lightning

As I sat in my tree stand this afternoon, wondering what this week’s Tuesday Terror would be, I watched (and listened as) a big thunderstorm rumble across the horizon. To my right was a pine tree quite similar to the one I was sitting in. The only difference was the giant inner-wood crack that ran from crown to roots. It had obviously been zapped by mother nature recently. After seeing all of this, it was clear what today’s terror would be…Lightning.

Photo taken from swfwmd.state.fl.us

According to national geographic (and about a billion other sources), Florida is the lightning strike capital of the US. Over 1500 lightning strike deaths have occurred in this state alone. Why? Might you ask…

Well, take today for example. My first hunt of the 2011 archery season and I nearly keeled over from the heat. I’m not usually one to complain about it being too hot for anything, but…today was too hot. I was drenched before I even got out of the Jeep. To add, it was so humid I could see the steam rising off the dirt road. This heat generates afternoon storms like crazy and it’s these storms that produce so much lightning.

Now, I took a meteorology class a few years back…but I honestly can’t remember what they tried to teach me about lightning aside from the fact that strikes apparently occur from the ground up and what we see is the electricity going back up. There was some other crazy stuff they tried to teach me, but my brain exploded while trying to wrap it around the concepts. All I know is that it likes to strike the highest point nearby…and it’ll kill you. That’s enough for me.

Florida probably leads the country in deaths not only because of it’s weather, but because some of our favorite outdoor activities involve sitting in trees, sitting in boats, or swinging clubs at little white balls. All of these activities (or any outdoor activity to be fair) makes one vulnerable to lightning should there be a storm nearby.

I had my close call with lightning two summers back. While pulling in a stringer from a canal in south Florida, a bolt struck the water nearby and shocked me up to my elbows. That was more than enough to make me extremely wary of lightning from now on.

Just try and be smart about it. Don’t go stand in some field when a storm’s nearby, or find shelter under the tallest tree. Seek some low-lying place and make yourself as short as possible if you’re stuck outside. Otherwise, get inside…or at least in a car.

Even though lightning can be something beautiful to look at from a distance, it’s something you just don’t play around with up close. It’s kinda light Russian-Roulette with mother nature…There’s no telling where the next strike will land.

Lightning at night during my internship

Should have a report from my hunting trip coming out later this week. Rutting deer already? Bird-like dragonflies? Stay tuned!

Hunting Season is Here…

And I haven’t made a hunt yet. It makes me….Angry

Rawr

What kind of teacher has an exam scheduled for the Monday morning after opening weekend?? Oh, a fisheries teacher…that’s who.

Yes, sadly I missed the opening weekend of archery season here in Florida due to having to study. I’m actually still in the process of it as I write this, but I’m taking a break from my 8 hour studying binge. I suppose I could have hunted had I studied last week, but who studies early? Honestly…

I made it out to Lochloosa WMA last Tuesday (and completely forgot about Tuesday Terrors…whoops) for a scouting trip. Lochloosa is home to the kevlar deer I encountered last year. Hopefully they’re feeling a little less…arrow proof this year. Scouting around in a new spot this time and wasn’t particularly impressed. What also turned me off on this particular spot was all the marking tape.

If any of you are public land hunters, you probably know what I’m talking about. Marking tape…It’s simply omnipresent on a management area. I understand if you need to mark a trail, or maybe the entrance to your trail from a road. But this was ridiculous. Some guy had gone ahead and marked EVERYWHERE. The flagging didn’t even lead anywhere. I think he just marked off an enormous area in hopes of deterring other hunters from hanging a stand near by. I usually rip this kind of flagging down, but seeing as how I had no intention of hunting there due to the lack of deer, I left it up. Still…It irks me.

I’ll probably end up hanging a stand in the same general area where I shot the doe last fall. I had a brief moment of clear thinking last week and realized that I could reach an area I had picked out on GoogleEarth by making bookmarks and then manually entering their coordinates on my GPS. I’ll try this out and will be making my first hunt of this season come Tuesday.

Wish me luck!

Last Gulf Trip of The Summer

Apologies for being late in posting this. Even though I’m not -that- busy with school this semester, I’m still having trouble finding time to write. This report is from back in August, right before school started.

My dad and I got down to Pensacola Beach right at dawn to discover the Gulf was doing its best impression of a mirror. Such rare events hardly ever happen to us, so we quickly took advantage of it and launched the kayaks in record time. I was after another King Mackerel from the kayak and I wouldn’t have been disappointed in another Tarpon either.

I trolled diving plugs around for a while with no luck and soon switched to a sabiki rig to catch bait. I realized I’d left my bait bucket at home, so I was forced to improvise with a plastic bag.

Let my live bait sit for almost an hour with -nothing- picking it up. And if it was even possible, the water slicked off even more. I soon decided to paddle out to a nearby buoy in hopes of picking something up. I slow trolled a live cigar minnow behind the yak and just as I rounded the buoy, something picked it up. Almost immediately, I was cut off on the buoy chain. So I rigged up another cig, cast it out, and failed to pick anything up. As I paddled back by the buoy, I looked down in the water and saw probably six or seven remora that thought my kayak was a big yellow shark. I watched the fish for a while, and noticed that one of them looked funny. It also had something sticking out of its mouth…

My king rig! And it wasn’t some dumb remora, it was some dumb Cobia. A VERY tiny Cobia. Like, maybe 20 inches long. He refused to spook and just kept swimming around the buoy and my kayak. After trying and failing to get the Cobia to bite again, I resorted to the one thing that usually works for me: Snatching. Now, some of you may be wondering, “Why would you snatch a baby Cobia? You can’t even keep it”. Well, I knew this, and since it was so young, I actually wanted to try and get the king rig out of its mouth (and get my king rig back…win-win). After only a few tries with a second wire king rig, I got the treble hooks right into the Cobia’s side. I’d like to say he put up a good fight, but it was over almost faster than it began. He we bonkers, dove straight down, and pulled the hooks right out. I never saw him again. I got a little video just prior to the snatching episode. I thought it was kinda neat seeing all the bait under the buoy.

After that, I decided to paddle back closer to shore. One thing I should mention is the abundance of Jellyfish. There were honestly hundreds of thousands of them. So many, in fact, that every time I’d make a stroke with my paddle, I’d hit one. And any time I got going some decent speed, my rudder would hit one and bring the yak almost to a halt.

There was a shocking lack of fish that day. No spanish jumping, King skying, or Tarpon rolling. Nothing. Just remora and one weird Cobia. I blame the jelly fish, but who knows. One thing I do know is that for the first time in almost 10 years of kayak fishing, I got a little sea sick.

Now I’ve been sea sick a few times in my life, but it’s always been on bigger boats and in rough water (like 5-7ft seas). This day was weird. There was hardly any wave action, but the boat still rocked slightly. I think the thing that really messed me up was the fact that the water and the sky blended together so I couldn’t find my horizon.

Just looking at the picture makes me feel funny

I didn’t get to the point of upchucking, but I really didn’t feel good. So with the lack of fish, and slight sea sickness, we decided to call it a day. I would have liked my last Gulf kayak trip of the summer to have been successful, but it at least gives me something to look forward to for next summer.

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