What a year! We started at Crystal River State Park, and ended in the Keys! We got to see everything from underground rivers, to pristine beaches, to old Florida Marshes, to Civil War Battlefields!
I never thought I could catch the variety of fish, and the numbers of fish by walking the shores, and using only artificial lures! I like most, normally fish out of boat, when I fish. I have a Triton bass boat which is my normal mode of fishing transportation.
When Sharon and I decided to do this, my thought was, Gee… I hope I don’t make a fool out of myself and have nothing to show but a bluegill or two!
To start this off, I had to set a few ground rules. Not all parks had fishing, so I had to eliminate those, which was far less than half. We also did not go to parks that were only accessible by private boat. Some parks offered transportation to islands, like Honeymoon Island. I was only going to use artificial lures, and I was only going to wade or walk the banks. (as you will see I did break this one time with a Kayak) Since Sharon was painting at each park, I limited my time to about 2 hours per park to make things consistent.
So here are the numbers! I fished in 77 parks from Pensacola to the Keys. The most shocking numbers to me where the variety of fish. I caught 16 different varieties of fish! I had to look some up, and some I am not totally sure of today…. The most unusual had to be a Puffer fish caught at Stump Pass. The largest fish was a beautiful redfish that I caught at Lovers Key.
Sharon wasn’t close by, so I had to do the best I could with my cell phone camera. The total number of fish caught was 123 with bass leading the way with 26. That wasn’t surprising since I was only fishing artificials, and many of the parks were freshwater. Of the big 3 game fish for saltwater; Trout, Redfish, and Snook, Snook was the highest with 10. I was surprised trout was as low as it was (8), but I just never got into a big school, except one time on Big Talbot. I had a hook up problem there, and only managed 2, after hooking about a dozen!
What other kinds of fish did I catch you might ask? Well, here is a run down of all of them: Redfish, Snook, Trout, Snapper, Ladyfish, Jacks, Whiting, Bass, Bream, Flounder, Tilapia, Saltwater Catfish, Gar, Barracuda, Mudfish, and the Puffer…….
What park was my favorite you may ask? I love to wade in the saltwater, so my favorite park was St Joe up in the panhandle. There is a huge flat to wade, loaded with eel grass which makes it perfect for wading and target fishing. I had several opportunities for reds, and only landed one but had some real zingers hooked up!
Breaking down the lure choices, I tried to keep it simple and only carry what was necessary. I have a favorite saltwater lure called the L-Minnow by Yo-zuri. It catches everything, so you will see me using that the majority of the time. I also kept it simple for bass fishing with a trick worm and a fluke most of the time. I could cover all depths from top to bottom with those two lures.
To sum it all up, Florida State parks offer some fantastic fishing, and you will not be disappointed! Give it a shot! Have a great Christmas and New Year, and I will see you on the water!