Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Florida: The Spots Between The Spots

Florida is a big state. There are a lot of species and a lot of different waters to fish, and it can be a pretty long drive between spots. As such, we try to stop at a few spots on the way to and from our main objectives. As you will see in future posts, some of those spots are such gems that we have been going back over and over with good success getting new species.

On our first fully lucid (we fished most of the previous day in an exhausted state) fishing day in FL we started in Melbourne and worked south towards Jupiter. Noah had caught a ladyfish in a spot nearby my grandparents the previous day, not only so that I could get a shot at my own lifer ladyfish but because there were a lot of other possibilities there. I caught three fish, all ladyfish. Good enough I guess. The first new species of the trip came to hand!

Elops saurus

The next spot we fished produced takes from tarpon last year. This year is more dry and the slew that had those young tarpon was partly dry and the rest was too weeded over to be worth fishing for anything but bass. Bellow a spillway we found schools of big horse mullet and a few manatees but no willing fish. On to the next spot even further south....

The next spot was another spillway, though one with much more fish life. I caught a very tiny common snook after getting frustrated with the ever abundant eastern mosquitofish which I could never seem to bring to hand.

Then an absolute monster vermiculated sailfin catfish. These things and their close relatives, armored sailfin and common pleco, and absolutely everywhere in FL. But I can't seem to catch the other two species. After missing a gar on the plug Noah began attempting to target the abundant mullet there using bread with no success. This and every other experience with mullet since made me realize how lucky I was to catch the one I did get in November.

I decided to buckle down and get myself into one of those darn mosquitofish once and for all. I did, on a size 24 foam bread fly. It wasn't the greatest example of the species by any stretch but it was all I needed to add it to the life list.

Gambusia holbrooki

Mayan cichlid
 We jumped south yet again for the last time that day, rounding out our day on what was more of a spot within a spot rather than a spot between spots. We would be visiting the park where we located this little honey hole again, and we'd also come back to that specific creek arm too. In the rocks under a bridge and below yet another spillway we found small cichlids, tilapia, sunfish, and to our surprise a few sleepers. I missed two bigmouth sleeper there, and that would still sting were it not for the next day's fortune. I also lost what I think was a black acara and what we thought were convict cichlids but where most likely actually spotted tilapia, which we now know change colors both with age and in accordance with stimuli.

I did catch a tilapia in that spot, and it was a new species.
Blue tilapia,  Oreochromis aureus. 
I ended the 2nd day with 3 new species putting my life list at 103. But in the next couple days things would really start to pile on, and I'd catch some species I did not expect to on this trip. I'd even get one I'd never heard of before.

Spanish moss and air plants make Florida forests feel even older than they are.


  1. WOW, like fishing on another continent. Some of these fish must be from the Amazon. Very interesting species.
    Tie, fish, write, conserve and photo on...

    1. Aquarium transplants and some aquaculture transplants. Many of the invasive speciea in FL did come from the Amazon.