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Down The River

   

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"Him no want um plastic. Him want um meat".
(Says
Watto to our guide on the Sebastian River after thrashing the water to a foam for hours with lures with nothing to show for it... and then catching an 8lb Snook first cast on a livebait!)

Fishing the Sebastian River for small Tarponettes- just before a huge Manatee appeared below my toes and snorted a spray of water up my shins. Scared the crap out of me until I realised what it was.

And another 12 pounder taken from the 'back lawn swim' on live Mullet. Nice.

One species on the list when heading out to the sunshine state was the Snook. We'd only ever seen photo's before, but some information Watto received told us that they could be caught at the Sebastian River inlet (along with Redfish and Weakfish, or Speckled Trout). So we set off on the drive to maybe 100 miles north of Miami, found a nice cheap motel, and set about getting some fishing.
We eventually found a local guide who would take us onto the river, and we finished up fishing for some 3 or 4 days in the end. The fishing wasn't easy, but we contacted (and lost) several small tarpon in the 10 to 25 pound range on spinning tackle further upstream, several small jacks that murdered all our livebaits, loads of catfish of varying types... and then finally we contacted 3 Snook- two to Watto, and then on the final morning I was lucky enough to have a wrestle with an 18lb 12oz munker, which took a free-roaming live mullet at first light. I had to hang on for dear life to keep it out of some pilings on a jetty some 60 yards distant, and I got really lucky, because as I stood with the rod bent double, I felt the hook pull... and then catch again just above the pectoral fin... phew. A terrific fish, and I was highly delighted to just get the thing ashore.

I also nearly needed to hit Walmart for some new shorts when a huge Manatee appeared through the murky water a foot from my toes as I stood on the skiff, and snorted a spray of water over em! I wondered what the hell it was!

Of course we were a bit daft really, cos when our guide told us that one of the owners of a house that backed onto one of the more productive jetties was on vacation, a quick sideways glance between Watto and yours truly confirmed what we were both thinking, and at 5.30 the next morning we were sneaking over the fence to get through the back garden to go and fish on the jetty while they weren't about. Now how wise that is in the U.S. of A., with the madness of gun-culture and shoot-first-ask-questions-later ethic is open for debate... well actually, no it isn't, cos it's downright stupid- full stop! But if we hadn't of done it we wouldn't have caught two of the three Snook we did. So the means obviously justified the end didn't it?!

The first Snook of the trip- taken by Watto on a live finger Mullet cast close to a jetty's pilings.

Expecting Huck Finn to put in an appearance at any moment.

A Sailfin Catfish which I took on live mullet fished from a jetty after dark. Didn't fancy handling it too much due to the array of spines all over it (having already been skewered by one of the normal 'shit' catfish), so I left it to Watto!

The Sebastian undergrowth.

And if the Jacks weren't stealing the baits the bloody Catfish were.

A tremendous 18lb 12oz Snook, taken from someone's back lawn at dawn. Our Guide Terry(osser) had told us that the guy who owned one of the houses with a productive jetty at waterside was away on vacation. Watto and I exchanged glances, and at 5.30am the next morning we had scaled the gate and were crawling into position. In Florida? Just what were we thinking?!! Looking back, we didn't even have the Kevlar Vests on.

A Trout, or Weakfish from the Sebastian River taken on a lure (can't remember what type). Apparently at 5lbs this is quite a big one.

Snook juniors from the dock. Ahhh.

This fella turned up in the live well. 'Andy, look at this one- ain't it cute?' said Watto. I agreed. 'Not that cute though!' he said, as he stuck a 6/0 Mustad through it's back and slung it out under a free-roaming float rig....

Another Weakfish taken on a surface popper from the flat outside the Sebastian Inlet. Hmmm; very bouffant....


The Gatorescapade.
Alligator Charmin' In The USA.

Click the link on the right. Remember kids, never mess with wildlife.

Watto In Search Of Cychlids, Oscars, Bass & Crappies.

Now that's simply not cricket, old chap.

During a day when all the other boys were out on the ocean, Watto and myself had a 'day off' from fishing, so to speak. So we decided to drive up the Tamiami Highway and do a spot of floatfishing for the multitude of freshwater species residing in the Tamiami Canal. So we took a light rod each, the cameras, some floats, hooks & shot and headed off to see what we could get.

We stopped off at a small 'bait shack' on the way and stocked up on some nightcrawlers (worms), and we were soon on the banks, after stopping to talk to a bloke sat on a stool fishing one of the sluices linking the canal to the Everglades, and he had a bucket full of all kinds of different types of fish next to him, including a nice Largemouth Bass- which Watto borrowed for a photo. He also had a bucket full of tiny freshwater shrimps next to him... and after telling us that they were a much better bait than nightcrawlers, Watto also borrowed another handful of them while he wasn't looking!

Once we had our baits in the water, we caught loads and loads of stuff- from tiny Perch and Oscars, to tricky little bait-stealing Garfish... oh and something a good deal larger... see above!

The Tamiami Canal. Like a tropical River Welland. Well, kind of.

Not Quite An Alligator Gar... but bloody difficult to catch. I think we missed dozens of them before finally hooking and landing one!

The place was full of these things. Every patch of pads or piece of structure in the water held a shoal of something willing to eat a worm or shrimp. A pleasant way to spend a couple of hours in the sun.

A Shiner- they hang around in huge shoals and look like a cross between a Dace and a Rudd to me. We threw one of these out as bait for a Mudfish, but unfortunately we didn't contact one.

A local angler with his catch. He had a bucket full of these fellas- along with Bass and Oscars all ready for the table, as well as a bucket full of shrimp which he assured us were the best bait. We only had worms (nightcrawlers)... so Watto 'borrowed' a handful from out of his supply. In fact Watto also 'borrowed' a Largemouth Bass from the bucket for a picture- see below. Who says the camera never lies?

Now how can we smuggle these home for the fish tank?

He could catch fish out of a bucket could Watto. Literally.

A proper 'organic' Largemouth capture taken on floatfished worm from out of the canal. Monster.

I can't remember whether this is a Crappie or a Sun Perch... or is a Sun Perch just an advanced stage of Crappie? I dunno. Well it was a long time ago now.... Very cute though.

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