Friday, December 23, 2011

Keeping up

I used to think that I'd always be "up to date" with the current technology and what not.

That dream, however, soon faded and before I knew it I was -way- behind. Actually, I should'nt say 'was'...I still -am-. I use my flip phone to actually make phone calls, I don't have a facebook, and my 0.003 words per minute texting speed throws my friends into fits of laughter. To be perfectly honest, it doesn't really bother me. I seem to be doing just fine while still behind on the technology curve.

But today, I took one step forward in the world of technology as my girlfriend finally convinced me to get a twitter. I still haven't grasped the whole awesomeness of it yet, but I think I've got a basic understanding of it and have even found a few fellow bloggers to follow. And from what I understand, it should be pretty easy to post a picture (of hunting or fishing) quickly if I don't have time to write a full report.

So I've added a little 'follow me' button in the upper right of the page for you fellow twitter users. Please feel free to follow me and if I haven't found you yet on there, please let me know!

P.S. I've been a bit slow with the fishing reports. Good news is that it's because I've been too! Expect some reports soon!

Monday, December 19, 2011

GreenFish Photo Prompt: The Release

GreenFish is a company that emphasizes fishing ethics in order to have a sustainable fishery. One cannot discuss a sustainable fishery without mentioning catch and release methods, and thus, here is a photo-prompt regarding this practice.

“This is my photo submission for the GreenFish and Outdoor Blogger Network Photo Contest

The release...

 It has been done a thousand times before. The cast, action, hooking, fighting, landing, picture taking, and finally, the release, have been repeated over and over throughout my fishing career. It’s often done due to specific size limits, seasons, species, and even from laziness (cleaning fish -is- work). So why does the picture above really pound home the idea behind catch and release?  And why is catch and release so important?

This picture is of me releasing the biggest Snook I’ve caught to date. It was landed during the summer of 2010 which was approximately six months after a major Snook kill. The kill was caused by record low temperatures in southern Florida and although many undesirable non-native species perished, thousands of Snook died as well. The impact of the freezing temperatures was so severe that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) was forced to change the existing Snook season. With such a large percentage of the population gone, it was vitally important to ensure the survivability of the species’ primary breeders.

I knew this prior to going fishing in the Everglades that summer day. I didn’t have a permit to keep Snook and the season was closed anyway. But even if I had a permit…even if the season wasn’t closed…even if the Snook population -hadn’t- taken a huge hit…I still think I would have released this fish.

For me, it’s often not about the dinner table. Believe it or not, catch and release plays an enormous role in a sustainable fishery. Don’t get me wrong of course. I won’t hesitate to harvest fish for dinner fare. But I firmly believe in a sort of give-and-take relationship with a fishery. Allowing the bigger breeding fish to live will help ensure that there is a consistent, large scale recruitment into the population each year. If it weren’t for this, I, nor anyone else, would not be able to enjoy the freedom to fill the cooler from time to time.

This fish was special. It showed that the population was still persisting and it felt tremendous to allow a fish like this to return unharmed. Releasing it really made me feel like I was giving back to the species, and in turn, future generations. It’s our job to practice ethical and sustainable fishing. One cannot always rely solely on rules and regulations. It is these practices that must be passed on to future generations if we expect to have sustainable fisheries for everyone to enjoy in the future.

As usual, no one was around to snap a picture of me -with- this beautiful fish. I did my best to awkwardly snap pictures in my lap, and tried to return the fish quickly to the water to not only fight another day, but help contribute to the hurting population.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Big News

Well...I found out earlier this week...


*Cheering and applause*

It's been since last summer that I had a job. During that one I worked as an intern for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and I enjoyed every minute of it. So when I heard that I'd landed this new job, I literally jumped up and down.

Why so excited?

Well, aside from the fact that I'm flat broke, and it's relatively hard to find a job right now, and it's a wildlife job...It's working with Whitetail Deer!

I'm helping out a PH.D student with his project through the University of Florida. The study involves examining the effects of Coyotes on Whitetail Deer. In order to do this, I'll get to essentially hunt does with night vision goggles and a tranquilizer gun, radio collar them, and later use telemetry to track them down and check on the fawns. Two different areas will be compared to examine deer mortality with the presence and absence of coyote control.

Oh yeah...and I'll be getting paid to do this. The study is on a large piece of private land that I've also been given access to hunt and fish on. So excited isn't even the right word.

This job sounds like -exactly- the kind of experience I'd like and I'm truly thankful (and lucky) to have gotten it. I start in February, so hopefully I'll start getting pictures and what not by then. 'Till, then, I'll just have to fill my time with some fishing reports (that should be coming soon as well).

Monday, December 12, 2011

Almost There

So I survived my hell week. Tons of writing, quite a few tests...all that fun stuff. One of my final papers ended up being an absolute nightmare. I want to thank my mom (a librarian) for helping me with finding up to date papers on a subject. I've also gotta thank Kirk over at River Mud for helping me find material that practically invalidates one of USFW's hypotheses for a bird kill over a decade ago (it was all part of the paper). Without them I would have probably slammed my head through the monitor in frustration. Now I just have one more test and a lab practical on Wednesday before the semester officially ends.

Since I got slightly caught up in my school business, I missed writing about the other fishing trips over Thanksgiving break. So here it goes...

The Saturday before I left to come back to school, I got a chance to head out on my brother's boat. It would be my second time fishing on his boat. I was pretty excited since the last time I went out with him, I landed my first Dolphin which you can read about here: The Maritime Wrecking Ball

I knew we weren't going offshore, so there was no chance for Dolphin, but I was excited just to motor around the bay and look for Reds. The wind was surprisingly strong for us -not- having the fly rods on board. Strong enough, in fact, that casting into it even with conventional tackle was nearly impossible. We drove around the bay for a few hours, looking for bird activity and trolled a bit in hopes of picking up a bull. With absolutely nothing biting, we decided to head out to the pass to see what was going on.

We were in for a rather pleasant surprise. Enormous schools of Bonito were chasing bait right on the surface. Each school went 100-200 fish easily and they lazily laid on their sides with the mouths open while they chased the bait. For some bizarre reason, I fail to take pictures while on a motor boat. Put me in a kayak, and I'll snap pictures all day long. But put me in a boat with an engine, and I can almost guarantee no pictures will be taken. So forgive me for the lack of pictures...I was far too busy throwing everything in the tackle box at them.

It was really weird. They were next to impossible to hook. I was finally forced to break out the snatch hook just because I wanted to land -something-. Snatch hooking is still sporty...right?

What I failed to take into account was the hurricane force wind that I tried to cast a treble hook into. Unless I wanted a staggering 8 foot cast, I had to wait for the school to circle around down wind of the boat before casting. Then I had the school right where I wanted them. With the wind now at my back, I was free to unleash rocketing casts that threatened to land in Alabama and spool me before ever touching water. After multiple failed casts, I finally got the snatch hook where I wanted it. I let it sink for a moment, then snatched.

The rod quickly double over and the reel began to sing. Finally, I thought to myself. But before the thought could fully pass through my mind, I was broken off. Not wanting to give up so easily, I tied another snatch hook on, and repeated the whole process for a second time. Even the breaking off part.

Fresh out of snatch hooks, I began throwing whatever was in the tackle box at them. Diamond jigs, Mr. Champs, Gotcha's. You name it, I threw it. And the result?


I finally opened my brother's tackle box and found possibly the only thing I hadn't thrown yet: A pompano jig. I quickly cast it out into the middle of the giant school and almost before it could hit the water, my drag was screaming again.

I fought the fish for maybe 30 seconds before...once again...I was cut off. I quickly tied on another pompano jig guessed it...was cut off again. The 10lb test just wasn't enough against the Bonito's tiny little teeth. I settled for tying on a 20lb Flourocarbon leader and tried again. And tried...and tried. But never hooked into another fish. By this point, even the bay was getting too rough, so we called it a day. Fishless. Bonito: 4, Me: 0.

Hopefully over Christmas break I can get some fishing in. If I'm lucky, I can have another go at some Bonito. I absolutely -have- to get some beach fishing done. J.M over at Something's Fishy tied me up some rigs months ago that I've been wanting to try out on the bull Reds, so I think it's time I finally do so. Look for some reports soon!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hell Week

Oh yes...

It's eluded me all semester...

But it's finally pounced...

My hell week is here. Please don't expect much out of me for about the next week and a half. In that time period I will be knocking out a total of 26 pages of writing (single-spaced *cringe*), a final presentation, two lab practicals, and two big final exams.

I'm currently attempting to chomp away at this behemoth of a work load, but I was forced to take a break because my eyes were bleeding. I'll pick it back up in an hour or so.

'Till next time I post, I'll leave everyone with a picture I snapped last week. I'm REALLY looking forward to being done this semester and getting back to views like this:
Far away from school