Thursday, October 23, 2008

by Robin

Left by 9am, stopped for fast food breakfast, 4 dozen live shrimp and then dunked "her" in the Indian River. Captain Jim Ross - fishing guide - had already beaten us here. I'm sure he gets up at the crack of dawn each morning. LOL.

I need a polarized lens on my camera for high glare moments like this. Here we're zooming up the Indian River heading north towards Haulover Canal and eventually Mosquito Lagoon.

Here is one of the many islands that lead to the entrance of Haulover Canal. Snook fishing is said to be excellent in this area because of the fast flow of water on each end.

I love when Photoshop overrides my command to straighten up a picture. Sorry. I had the camera angeled and thought I could crop out my mistake. But, nooooooo..... Kinda artsy. Here, we are past Haulover Canal and back onto the Indian River, which is better known at this intersection as the Intercoastal Waterway.

Because it is the IC, we saw boats coming down from Canada, NY, MA, VA and NC. Nice yachts, sails & cats. Everybody wants to cruise in protected waters because the seas are still 4-6 ft. Below is the city of Oak Hill. The mainland has primarily small houses or trailers waterside.

This entire area is a No Wake Zone (so is Haulover). In the winter, we have hundreds of manatees and young dolphin hanging in this area, feeding on easy fish dinners and staying warm. There is also plenty of grass bottom for the manatees to feed on.

Here is a home in Edgewater which is the next city north. We fell in love with this sailboat with a tug-boat wheelhouse. Very unique and antique. It was soooo antique that I felt the need to make a version of it in sepia too.

I can definitely see something like this adorning the walls of our house. Looks like you just stepped back in time and visited Olde Florida.

Here is more of Edgewater. Next city up is New Smyrna Beach which is famous for the title "Shark Bite Capital of the US." We stopped before we got there but we could see their Causeway over to the barrier islands.

We ended up at a little spot called Big Snapper Cut which promised loads of Mangrove Snapper. And loads of them, it did have!! Unfortunately, legal limit is 10" and above and all ours were 9 3/4". Soooo close but we had to throw one after another back to their mangrove homes.
Below, Jack gets a much nicer strike on his shrimp.

Oh my..... my mouth is salivating at this point..... it's a sheepshead.

Not any ol' sheepshead. It's at least 4 lbs! Big guy! Not only are their nice mangroves around the Mosquito Lagoon but this particular area has many oyster shells for bottom. The sheepshead love shells, coral, anything crunchy. They have the monster sheep teeth to bite through whatever they want and eat the goods inside. Speaking of teeth, the mangrove snapper have 2 fangs like a vampire. I was trying to be kind to one of them and remove a hook from his mouth and he turned and bit me with his needle-like teeth. I promise, it was like a chihuahua bite!

Fortunately for us, this one bit through the line right as we got it in the boat. We were so glad to have a net around him. He's going to be dinner tonight.

Don't you love those classic bars on him? They are sometimes called the Convict Fish. They have delicious filets great in part because of their high shellfish diet. They don't strike aggressively but they sure do fight nicely because of their flat body.

Here is another guy with a flat body and non-aggressive strike. The Summer Flounder. These are also delicious but again, this one was just a hair short of the legal limit. Legalities aside, we wouldn't have kept this one anyhow because there just wouldn't have been enough meat on him to justify the kill. If he'd been another few inches bigger, he'd probably come home with us.

Here is my eldest with his catch before we released him.

Here he is with another popular catch of the day. Clump o' Oyster shells. I sure do wish they were filled with oysters and it was legal to harvest them. We'd be eating REAL good tonight.

I just realized I didn't take a single picture of those small mangrove snapper. They very pretty mahogany/red.

By 3:30pm, we were out of the 4 dozen shrimp. Jack washed down the deck while I got a late lunch out of the cooler. Sun was getting lower in the sky and we had intended to get back to church; however, that didn't happen. We were much further north than we had realized and it took over 1.5 hrs to get to the dock.

Big Snapper Cut Point - above. Isn't it beautiful? It it is so peaceful there too (except for 2 chatty boys). I think we saw only 2 boats while anchored there. They passed by slowly and waved. Boaters are friendly people.
Oh, while I'm thinking of it, let me interject here. There are several hundred islands in this area. Most of them only accessible by flats boats. "Skinny water" is about 1/2 - 2 ft deep. Some areas need a pole to push the boats through. This was one of the few areas where we could fit our big offshore boat through 4 ft+ water. (Dad, I felt hesitant to navigate so many nooks & crannies for fear of getting lost. It reminds me of Lake Lanier.) Maybe some people are more comfortable inshore but give me the big open ocean any day (& a compass).
Jack was kind enough to let me pose with his sheepshead.
It was a great family day. Couldn't have asked for nicer weather & scenery. We love seeing all the wildlife. We even saw a Bald Eagle on the way home.
I'm sure the boat was happy to be in the water too. She ran fine with the exception of the trim tabs. There's always something to fix on a boat, right? I was very relieved to find out that the fish finder worked and that whatever blip is had 2 months ago is gone now.
Happy Fishing!


Karen said...

So this is a Mongrove snapper?
Interesting looking fish and bigger than I thought.
Glad you had a fun day. There's nothing like being on the water. Catching fish is an added gift.

Robin's Reports said...

No, this is a sheepshead, not a mangrove snapper. I'll find a picture of one and post it up.