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Species heaven a.k.a the Sunshine state20170105
Species heaven a.k.a the Sunshine state
Spring 2016, Barthold D.
Leaves are turning brown, temperature is dropping, and it’s getting darker and darker. Summertime is definitely over and winter is knocking at the door. This time of the year fishing is quite modest for me and I start to evaluate the year and looking forward for future plans. While looking back on a great year of fishing with many great memories and species, it came to me that I didn`t put anything on paper at all this year... Due to a busy job and a lot of fishing this summer, it just didn`t happen. So, now I spend more time behind my desk rather than the banks, I finally found some time to write about the best trip I made so far :).
Since I have a serious lack of vacation days, I have to spend them really efficient. This means that I have to plan a lot of fishing in a short period, combined with very productive and species rich waters. After some research and intel from fellow species hunters, I decided to plan a road/fishing trip to the Sunshine state: Florida!
During a previous visit of Miami, back in 2011, I didn`t fish at all. Although I’ve always considered myself an all-round angler since my childhood, I seriously started species hunting in 2014. As all of you know, being an angler means that you are looking for fish all the time. So I did in Miami and noticed lots of beautiful fish almost everywhere. Next to the species rich environment I also enjoyed the whole Florida experience. Therefore I was really looking forward to return, armed with rods and other gear.
Fellow species hunter Ken shared a very detailed map with many fishing spots and fishing techniques. This map formed the basis for my trip. I decided to visit 5 areas to cover most of the spots. Other than my previous reports, I will now report on a daily basis. Because I spent quite some days in Florida, the daily reports will be briefly with many photos.
Itinerary Florida 2016
DAY 1: Let the games begin!
Yesterday I left Amsterdam and took a flight to Miami. It was a terrible experience, with on the right of me a Turkish bodybuilder and on the left two older ladies having a never ending discussion. After this exhausting flight, I arrived around midnight in Miami. Due to the jetlag, for me it felt much later than midnight, so I booked a hotel room and slept immediately.
The bright sunshine in my room woke me up very easily. It has been a while since I enjoyed waking up by a powerful sun. I started the day with coffee and cereal when an older couple next to me started a conversation with me. The man told me he was in Florida for tarpon fishing at the keys, I told him that this was my first day of a road trip combined with a lot of fishing. He showed me some pictures and shared some intel. It felt that I had made the right choice to visit Florida. Just awake and already talking about big tarpons ;;;.
After breakfast I headed to the airport and rented a car. Since I never drove an automatic before, driving in this busy area of Miami was quite stressful. After some ‘almost accidents’ I quickly learned what not to do. My first stay was in Lauderdale-by-the-sea where I wanted to visit the famous Anglin’s pier. But before driving to my apartment I needed to buy some night crawlers, because next day is a Sunday, so I figured the shops would be closed (silly me). Unfortunately I couldn`t find the bass pro shop I was looking for. Meanwhile it was already afternoon and I really wanted to fish asap. So I decided to pick up some groceries and go directly to my apartment. After checking in I took my rod and walked to the pier, I wanted to explore the pier and do some sabiki fishing.
The conditions were tough, strong wind, murky water and aggressive pelicans. Why was I thinking that species hunting on the Anglin’s pier would be easy.. After an hour I got my first bites! And after some hours on the Anglin’s pier I caught around 6 new species. Not bad! I decided to return after dinner for some fishing in the dark.
My first visit of the Anglin’s pier.
These pelicans are very aggressive and bite.
After an hour I caught the first fish (Chloroscombruschrysurus)
Very happy with this Remora(Echeneisnaucrates)!
After a good American hamburger I headed back to the pier. When I arrived it was totally different then some hours before. It was dark and very crowded and there was loud music. I didn`t expect this at all.. Apparently the pier was the place to be on a Saturday night! Although it was crowded, there was a good atmosphere. Before I was even rigged up, some guys gave me a Budweiser. Soon I got my first bites and caught some new species. I still had to adjust to this new time zone, so I decided to fish just a couple of hours and get some extra sleep.
Selarcrumenopthalmus, caught on a crowded Anglin’s pier on a Saturday night.
Nice view from the Anglin’s pier.
DAY 2: Fish in the tank, means fish on the bank.
After some research I found out where the Bass Pro shop was located and that it’s open on Sundays. Today I wanted to visit some freshwater fishing spots, so I really needed good night crawlers. Visiting the Bass Pro shop was impressive, they have so much to offer for anglers. I never saw such a complete assortment before. Inside the shop there was a big tank with largemouth bass and Florida gars. I don`t have many targets for Florida, but I always want to catch fish that only can be caught local and most of the times targets arise during my trips. For this trip I really wanted to catch a Florida gar and snook. It was nice to see the gar.
The Florida Gar is one species I really would like to catch this trip
Nice indoor tank at the Bass Pro Shop
Next to fishing gear there is plenty other interesting equipment at the Bass pro shop.
Close to the shop there is the Fishing hall of fame & Museum
After the shopping it was already noon and I hadn`t fish at all. So I stopped at a canal and started to fish with lures. After a while I heard something falling quite hard and close to me. It was a coconut! So I had to be careful where to walk..
First freshwater spot.
Watch out for falling coconuts ! (seriously).
After half an hour I hooked a strange fish, which was very heavy and strong. My adrenaline level peaked, here in Florida you never know what you hook. Unfortunately It wasn`t a fish, it was a turtle! I took me 10 minutes to unhook this aggressive Michelangelo. Soon I got another bite and caught a bass. Later I found out this was a new species (Florida bass). While walking further and further, I spooked some very large animals. I had no clue what these animals could do, they were a combination of a lizard and an alligator. When they saw me, they jumped in the water. I noticed that all the buildings around me had fences. Maybe these animals (or alligators) are notorious here.. Time to leave!
This turtle took my lure and was very aggressive.
My first fresh water fish in Florida!
Next stop was a fishing spot in a recreational park. I had to pay some bucks to get in with my car and noticed there were a lot of families enjoying their Sunday. I found a great spot close to the parking and started to fish. Soon I caught my first bluegill. Although this maybe one of the most common species, for me it was a lifer. I wanted to use the bluegill to catch some predatory fish. So I rigged up a second rod and started to fish. Unfortunately there were much jet skis and speedboats navigating with high speed exactly over ‘my’ fishing spot. I learned my lesson, don`t go fishing in a park in the weekends. I was quite disappointed by all this activity, but I just had to wait until they would leave..
Fresh water fishing spot in a park, lots of jet skis and speedboats..
My rig for predatory fish.
After some hours the boats finally left and the water became calm. I was chilling on the bank and enjoying the sun, it was my second day in Florida and in the Netherlands it was still freezing. Then I noticed that the tip of my rod moved and moved again and again. Yes that’s a bite! I was using circle hooks for the first time, and I knew that I just had to reel instead of strike my rod. So I did, but I didn’t feel any resistance. The fish was gone and my bait too. In the meanwhile I had about 10 bluegills so I had a little stack of bait. Immediately I rigged up a new bluegill and casted at exactly the same spot. When I wanted to put the rod in the holder I felt something bite again. I quickly analyzed my previous bite, and thought it might be a Florida gar, those fish are quite hard to hook because of their long and hard mouth. In order to set the hook properly, I waited a long time now. After some minutes I started reeling and felt a fish! Again my adrenaline peaked, especially when I saw a Florida gar appearing at the surface! This morning I was dreaming about a Florida Gar in the Bass and Pro shop and now I’ve caught one. After making some pictures I began to fish again and immediately my bait was taken by a fish. Again I waited for a long time when I tried to set the hook. Unfortunately I didn`t hook the fish, this happened quite a few times. I had no idea why I didn`t manage to hook a fish, when after some attempts I finally got hooked up. When I saw it was a snook, I couldn’t believe my eyes. My main targets on the second day of arrival!
Florida Gar caught with a bluegill.
My first Snook.
After catching these main targets I went home for dinner. After dinner I decided to explore the neighborhood with a rod. There is so much water in Florida! It was really nice to walk around with just a rod and some lures. Soon I caught some nice fish. After a while I saw those creepy creatures (lizard/alligator) again. These were very small, I guess they are juveniles. Nevertheless I decide to call It a day and went home to sleep.
Beautiful fish caught in an even more beautiful sunset. (Haemulonplumierii)
DAY 3: last session at Anglin`s Pier.
This is my last day at Lauderdale-by-the-sea and I decided to spend the whole day at the Anglin`s Pier. When I arrived it was totally different than my last visit. The water was calm and very clear. I noticed a lot of fish and couldn`t wait to start fishing. Soon I caught new species, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the fish. With this clear and calm water, it was very easy to catch them.
Beautiful fish (Aluterusscriptus) I caught the last day at the Anglin’s pier.
I really enjoyed this last day at the pier, I met a lot of interesting people. When you are in Florida you have to fish here!
DAY 4: Travel day
Today I have to travel from East Florida (Lauderdale-by-the-sea, North Atlantic) to West Florida (Palmetto, Gulf of Mexico). Total duration of this ride will be around 4/5 hours. While driving through the Everglades I noticed some nice fishing spots close to a parking. I decided to have a break and do some fishing. First I tried some lures, when a gar took my bait and bit my line. I saw many little fish, so I rigged up my micro rod. Soon I got a new species, the Gambusia holbrooki. After this nice break I drove to my new accommodation: a boat.
Gambusia holbrooki, caught during a break in the Everglades.
Parking next to the highway in the Everglades.
DAY 5: Meeting with fellow species hunter; Ryan.
I have been looking forward for this day for a long time. Today I will meet Ryan (http://fishihavecaught.com/), a local and a fellow species hunter. He texted me the coordinates of a species rich spot where we will be fishing. When I arrived, Ryan was already fishing so I rigged up quickly and started to fish. In no time I caught beautiful species.
After lunch we moved to a new spot. I told Ryan that I really like catching flatties, so we went to a jetty with a sandy bottom. After some pinfish and other species I tried for flounder with an ISOME. After some casts I got a bite and I was very happy to see it was a flounder! At the end of the day we tried another spot, not far from the flounder spot. Here I also tried to catch something by using ISOME as bait. After some little fish, something bigger caught my bait! I had no idea what kind of fish this could be.. Ryan ran to his car to get a net and when he returned he helped me to land a nice lookdown! What a fish to end this day, I managed to catch 10 new species this day. Thanks Ryan, for a great day of fishing with many beautiful species!
Very happy with this beautiful flounder! (Paralichthysalbigutta)
What a big surprise to catch such an amazing creature. (Selene vomer)
Because I rented a condo boat for some days, I planned to fish for sharks at night. I don`t have a lot of ‘shark experience’ but Pieter gave me some strong iron leaders that I wanted to give a try. I bought some small bait fish and rigged up an electric floater. I was very excited about this set up, I always like fishing with floaters, especially in the dark.
Shark set up.
The floater is very good visible in the darkness of the night.
After a good first cast I wanted to chill with a beer, but the bait was taken immediately! My adrenaline peaked, am I going to catch a big shark tonight?? I could see the floater moving very fast, which gave me such a good feeling. It was just magic. Then I decided to set the hook and expected strong resistance. There was some resistance, and it felt as if I hooked a nice fish, but not a huge one. After a minute I saw it was a catfish! Well a fish is a fish, and this is a new species. So I was happy with it. After some photos and a beer, I started to fish again. And immediately the bait was taken again. Then exactly the same happened again, I caught a catfish. And after the second one, a third one, and a fourth… I ended up in some sort of catfish loop. After 13 catfish I decided to call it a day. What a day! I was exhausted.
One of the catfish (Ariopsisfelis) I caught. That night I dreamt about hundreds of catfish under my boat.
DAY 6: Sweet species.
After a full day of salt water, I decided to spend this day on fresh water. I fished some spots and caught some nice species.
Centropomusensiferus, a rare snook species
DAY 7: Crazy ladies.
Ryan gave me some suggestions for good fishing spots in this area and since this is my last day in Palmetto I decided to give it a try. I started at a long bridge with a sabiki baited with squid. Soon I got my first bites and caught some new species. While fishing I spotted some dolphins very close to my spot. Although it was nice to see, I believe those dolphins will spook my fish.. Then something happened I had never experienced before! I had a fish on and I saw a dolphin took it! I couldn`t believe my eyes. The dolphin was very strong and ran through my drag immediately. I didn`t hook the dolphin, they are too smart for that. So after 10 seconds my fish was off the hook in the mouth or belly of the dolphin.. This happened a couple of times this afternoon.
The dolphins really liked these fish (Decapterus punctatus)
In the late afternoon I visited a spot under a bridge. I hoped for some Spanish Mackerel and noticed some people catching fish which could be Spanish Mackerel. When I came closer to the other fisherman, I saw that the fish they caught were Ladyfish. After a little chat I learned that Spanish mackerel and Ladyfish sometime form schools together. Everybody around me was catching fish and the surface splattered all around. My first cast resulted in 3 bites, without a single fish on the bank! I was using a gotcha lure, which was new for me. The treble hooks were a bit bended by the strong bites. After 10 minutes and like 50 bites later, I still haven`t caught a fish! I never experienced something like this. The fisherman and his wife next to me couldn`t stop laughing.. ;;; I decided to set the hook a few times, maybe I could penetrate the hook more or set another hook of the treble. Then I finally landed a Ladyfish! All the fishermen gave an applause. I never forget this victorious moment.
After many attempts I finally caught a ladyfish.
View from my condo boat, I had a great time in Palmetto.
DAY 8: Travel day.
Today I leave early for my next destination: Bokeelia. This should be a 2 hour drive but it took me about 4 hours to arrive. Due to very bad weather (thunder/rain) and traffic jams it took much longer than expected. But when I arrived the weather was good and I wanted to fish. When I checked in, the lady told me that there was a pier/jetty nearby. Since it was already afternoon I decided to go there and give it a try. I found the place quickly and talked to the owner, he gave me a discount because I could only fish a few hours before he would close the pier. I bought some live bait (shrimps) and walked to the end of the pier. There were only a handful of people and there was a relaxed atmosphere.
I found a nice spot next to an older man who helped me rigging up with some hooks he used. I noticed he was an old Hell`s Angel, due to his bare torso completely covered with Hell`s Angel tattoo`s. We drunk some of his booze and I completely forgot to fish. He lived in Hawaii and was here to visit some friends, he told me some great stories that afternoon. Because I hadn`t any bites at all on the live bait, I decided to give the good old ISOME a try before closure of the pier. I immediately got a bite and hooked a nice fish. I had a great afternoon with this old man.
Good old ISOME did it again; a new species (Opistognathusrobinsi)
Live bait: Shrimp
DAY 9: Sanibel pier fishing
Today I will visit the Sanibel pier and the main target is: Sheepshead. Yesterday I already tried to catch some sheepshead, but they didn`t took my bait at all. I bought some fresh shrimp and some frozen crabs. It was quite crowded at the Sanibel pier with anglers and tourists, but I found a nice spot at the end of the pier. The first fish I caught was a hard head catfish, of which I already caught more than a dozen on my condo boat. Then I caught a Ladyfish, which was funny (they jump a lot). All around me they caught sheepshead, but I couldn`t manage to hook one. Even kids who never fished before caught sheepshead. For some reason this happens a lot to me; people around me catching my target over and over. Even back home in the Netherlands this situation appears once in a while. I don`t know what it is..
Anyways, after some hours of resultless sheepshead fishing I casted much further into the ocean. After ten minutes I had a good bite and I managed to set the hook. When I saw the fish appear at the surface, I was very happy to see it was a speckled trout! This was a fish I really wanted to catch. After this beautiful fish I decided to fully dedicate my time to catch a sheepshead. There were many sheepshead under and very close to the pillars of the jetty, in order to get the bait close to the fish I started to use my hands to drop the line correctly. While hand fishing I suddenly felt a good bite. Without any hesitation I pulled very hard and managed to hook a sheepshead!
Speckled trout (Cynoscion nebulosus)
DAY 10: travel day, up to the Keys!
Today is a travel day, I have to leave Bokeelia and will drive to my favorite destination: the keys! It`s a five hour drive where I will take a route through the Everglades, to my apartment in Key Largo. It was a nice trip and while having lunch and some stops I spotted many cichlids. I decided not to fish and return later this trip, sometimes it’s all about focus, and my focus now are the keys. When I arrived at key Largo I had to check in at a boat shop, which also was a bait shop! How nice is that ;;; My plan for the next day was to leave early and fish at the famous channel 5 bridge. Therefore I bought a big frozen block of chum, squid and shrimp. Now that was quite a good feeling, checking in and walking straight to my apartment with good bait for the next day! Of course I also wanted to fish that evening and at the bait shop they suggested a spot very close to my apartment. That evening I did fish, but there were so many mosquito, I just fished for one hour (but I did catch one new species!).
Bait shop next to my apartment!
View from my apartment
DAY 11: Channel 5 bridge part 1
I`ve been looking forward for this day for a long time, the channel 5 bridge is one of the best spots around to catch new species. Packed with a chum bag, bait and a set of rods I headed to this famous bridge. It`s not hard to find this bridge and after an hour drive I arrived. The weather is not very promising its quite cloudy and windy. After a tough walk I found a nice spot and started to prepare the chum bag. I never used this tool before but Ken told me that a chum bag could make a difference. While unpacking I found out that such a net doesn`t contain a default rope.. Argh, I had to go back to the car to find a strong and long nylon ‘rope’. While I let the heavy frozen chum block drop from the bridge to the water the nylon cuts into my hands. Ok, after all the hassle I really wanted to fish. The current is very strong and I can’t use light tackle. Nevertheless I got many bites and soon I caught my first fish and new species.
The famous Channel 5 bridge, the conditions were tough.
Soon I started to catch beautiful species (Pomacanthusarcuatus)
Because of the tough weather conditions I decided to try another spot with less wind. I also decided to come back tomorrow, hoping the wind will lie down. This new spot produced some remoras immediately. Although I caught this species at the Anglin’s Pier, I was happy to catch them again. These fish use to suck sharks and rays, and they also suck your hand! Next to the remora I caught some pretty pork fish.
Remora, they use to suck Sharks/Rays, but they also suck your hand!
Beautiful Pork fish (Anisotremusvirginicus)
At the end of the day I still had some hours of light, so I gave the spot close to my apartment a second try. This time I covered my legs and arms and I used some DEET in order to control the mosquito’s. With some cold beers I really enjoyed this spot, nice ships came through and there was enough fish all around. After sunset some lights close to the water turned on and soon I spotted some predators hunting. Without any doubt I rigged a lure on my rod and got a bite immediately. After a very good fight I landed a Crevalle Jack! Wow, what a way to end this day!
Nice fishing spot very close to the apartment.
After sunset I noticed some predators and prepared my rod with a lure, which resulted in this Crevalle Jack (Caranx hippos)
DAY 12: Channel 5 bridge part 2
Today I will visit the Channel 5 bridge again. I was happy to see the weather was much better (less clouds and wind) than yesterday. Unfortunately there was a very big traffic jam and after half an hour of very slow driving I decided to pull over and try to fish an unknown spot. Some locals were fishing too and while casting lures we saw something strange in the water.. It looked like an alligator, but this was salt water and the current was very strong? The locals were surprised too, and told me that it was a very rare situation. This random spot produced some nice new species!
Due to a huge traffic jam, I fished an unknown spot.
While casting a lure I almost hit a crocodile!
Beautiful species caught on a random spot! (Ocyuruschrysurus)
When the traffic jam was solved I moved on to the channel 5 bridge. The conditions were much better and I caught nice species. One of my all-time favorite species: Stegastesvarabilis!
Stegastesvariabilis: when I caught this fish I was stunned by the beauty. I think this is the most beautiful fish I ever caught.
DAY 13: Back to college!
Today I will leave the keys and travel to my final area (around Miami). With only four days left, from now on I will focus on fresh water fishing. After checking into my new apartment, there was still some time left to go fishing. Ken gave me a good spot for new species which wasn`t too far from my apartment. When I arrived I noticed that the spot was right in the middle of a university campus area! This was new for me and although it had a great atmosphere, I did not feel very comfortable fishing here. Nobody was fishing and the place was just too good to be true. So after a while of sneaky fishing, I approached some students and asked whether it is allowed to fish here. They all confirmed that its allowed to fish and most of the students used to fish here too. That was all I wanted to hear!
The water I fished was some sort of a creek which was connected to a large pond with beautiful fountain. It was a strange water, although the place is not close to the sea at all, I spotted some big tarpons. They were too fast to even drop a bait in front of them. My focus was to catch some cichlids. Because the water level was very low, it was quite hard to spot some cichlids. I thought they might be concentrated in deeper parts of the pond, so I started to walk between all the students. Between all these students it felt like back in the days when I was in Sweden for an exchange program. It`s always nice to hear these students talking about politics, personal ambitions, etc... When I found a deeper spot I started to fish with just a split shot and a hook, baited with bread. Soon I caught a big cichlid! This was a very strong fish and a lot of students were watching me catching it. It felt like I was performing for an audience.
Ciclhasomaurophtalmum: caught in front of a dozen students.
DAY 14: The everglades
Although I crossed the Everglades for many hours, I only did some microfishing at the beginning of this trip. During all the stops in the Everglades I noticed a lot of cichlids and gars. Since I already caught a Florida Gar, my main focus for the Everglades is an Oscar cichlid. In the Everglades it’s not hard to find a good fishing spot, finding a safe spot is another story. Everywhere I stopped to fish, there were warnings for alligators.. I`m not anxious person, but I don`t take unnecessary risks. For example, I found a really really nice spot where I spotted very much Oscars and Gars, but soon after I started fishing I noticed a big ass gator very close. Without any hesitation I stopped fishing.
Beautiful fishing spot, with a lot of Oscars and Gars!
Soon I noticed this Gator; time to leave!
After leaving a hotspot for Gator danger, I soon found a new spot. It didn`t take long to catch two beautiful cichlids.
Beautiful colors on the cichlids (Astronotusocellatus)
In the afternoon I went to a new spot outside the Everglades. I wanted to catch a pike killifish and there was just one known spot to catch them. I guess this was one of the worst spots I ever fished, it was located on the outskirts of an agricultural area. There was a lot of trash all around (even a dumped jet ski and refrigerators) and there were big trucks driving just 5-6 feet from the pond. The pond itself was tiny and hold some trash as well. While fishing the pond 5 F-16 fighters were flying very low and did some stunning moves. It was a strange moment with a lot of noise and trash. Nevertheless I did spot a Killifish! So the intel was up to date and that gave me some hope.. But catching one is another story.. Although I didn’t like the environment and the pond, I really wanted to catch that fish. I did have some bites, but due to its hard mouth it is difficult to set the hook. While hunting the Killifish, I caught two other species, which gave a very good fight on the very light tackle I was fishing (the killifish is just some inches). The fish were strong and in good shape, I was a bit surprised by that. After some hours I decided that the killifish won and called it a day.
During the hunt for a Killifish I caught two other species, Oreochromis aureus
DAY 15: Sunny sunfish day
Without a real plan I decided to fish some spots close to the everglades. I was hoping to catch some new sunfish, all other new species would be a bonus. Because I was quite tired of the whole trip, I just fished around 4 hours in the afternoon. Although most sunfish aren`t very hard to catch, the first two stops only produced some bluegills. I couldn`t figure out where the sunfish were, so I decided to drive 1.5 hour for a new promising spot. When I arrived I was the only person around in a large and outlandish area. Soon I got my first bluegills and then I hooked something stronger! It was a Warmouth Sunfish, and I was very happy to finally catch a new sunfish species. Within 30 minutes, I managed to hook another new sunfish species: Spotted Sunfish. I finally found a good sunfish spot!
Warmouth Sunfish: Lepomisgulosus
Spotted Sunfish: Lepomis punctatus
Then, after these new species, for an unknown reason all the fish stopped feeding. Maybe a large predator was around, so I rigged a bigger hook and baited it with 3 large night crawlers. It was quite warm and after an hour without any action I almost fell asleep, when a airboat showed up. I was forgotten where I was and what I was doing ;;;, but soon I realized I was still fishing. So I tried to locate my floater but couldn`t find it.. I started to reel very slowly to find my line and floater, soon I felt some resistance, and managed to set the hook! It felt like a good fish, and I expected a largemouth bass. It was a real surprise when all the barbells of a catfish appeared on the surface!
When a fish is hooked like this, there is no escape possible. (Clariasbatrachus)
DAY 16: FINAL DAY
All good things come to an end.. Today is my last fishing day in Florida and I only have two targets left: a golden topminnow and a butterfly peacock bass. Since I arrived in Florida I did several butterfly peacock bass ‘missions’. Most of the time these were short attempts while driving to fishing spots.. Unfortunately it seems like there is a curse on catching this species, I have been scared away by dogs, snakes and humans. So on this final day I will use my last chance to catch this cursed species.
But before the peacock bass hunt starts, I wanted to catch a golden topminnow. The location was a pond in a park and since it was Easter it was very crowded. There was a good atmosphere, kids were wearing bunny ears, and a lot of BBQ`s were on fire. At the pond I threw some bread in the water to create some action. And soon there was action! Big cichlids and big bluegills appeared next to a turtle. There was just too much action for the little golden topminnow, so I decided to fish a bit further. Almost immediately I caught a new species: a golden topminnow. I was happy to catch it that fast, now there is more time left for the peacock hunt!
Soon I caught a golden topminnow (Funduluschrysotus)
While fishing at the pond, a boy approached me and started a chat. I told him that I was from The Netherlands and informed him a bit about species hunting. When I asked him about a good peacock spot, he started a story about big peacock bass very close to the pond. He told me they are easy to catch and he caught many of them last months. I estimated this boy around 16 years, and those boys sometimes have a great imagination :). But when he showed me some photos on his telephone, I was convinced. I talked to his parents and they approved to move to the peacock spot and fish together. At the pond I already caught some live bait: bluegill. The new ‘peacock bass spot’ was located in the same park and was a very big pond, I guess you could call it a lake. I was a bit tensed, would it finally happen on this last day??
For hours I tried to catch a Peacock bass, together with my new friend and guide. He was, just like me, very disappointed the peacocks weren`t biting at all that day. With only some hours left before sunset, I decided to give It a final shot at a canal. I thanked the boy for the intel and moved to a new spot and started fishing with a lure. After 30 minutes I saw some dogs and they were way to curious for me, when they started to bark loud, I called it a day. I was very tired and I had to pack all my stuff for the next day. So the peacock won.. This species is now very high on my wanted list!
This trip to Florida exceeded my expectations in several ways. First of all the number of species, in total I caught 80 species of which 78 lifers. This number is far beyond my wildest dreams. Next to all the new species, I was very pleased about the beauty and diversity of the fish. Secondly I had a great ‘Florida experience’, I really enjoyed driving around in this sunny state. I enjoyed meeting new people and although I travelled alone the times that I fished alone were rare. I didn`t had any bad experiences nor did I had any difficulties with other people and/or anglers. That’s not common everywhere, I guess the overload of good fishing spots and fish are due to this.
I highly recommend Florida to fellow species hunters, I guess you could call this a Mecca for people like us. Special thanks goes out to: Kenneth Tse, Ryan Crutchfield and Patrick Kerwin. Thank you guys for all the precious intel!
All my lifers caught in Florida can be seen here.
If you have any questions regarding this trip, feel free to contact me.