5-10-15 St Joe and St George

St Joseph Peninsula is a beautiful park just south of Apalachicola Florida. The peninsula provides a sheltered bay on the northeast side. It is perfect for kayaking or wading since it is shallow, and has plenty of grass on the bottom. I picked a spot where the cut goes under the road and I could see some tide moving. I fished in front of the cut and picked up a Lady Fish right off the bat.

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Wading further out in the grass, I had several bites and missed them. I was using the small L minnow Yozuri, when a Redfish nailed it. It wasn’t that large but still pulled hard.

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I caught a few more :Lady Fish and a few Mangrove Snapper,

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and then I had the bite of the trip…… A huge Redfish grabbed the Yozuri and was off to the deeper lagoon. I fought him for what seemed several minutes, and had him coming to me. Sharon had the camera poised and shot a picture of him still fighting, but as he got within a few

yards of me, he made one last run and pulled off!

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Oh that one hurt! That’s what makes you come back for more…..

I thought St George would be more of the same, but it did not have the same kind of grassy bay. It did have a lot of oyster bars. I wadded out in the bars and worked a shrimp lure and the Yozuri. I ended up with one Lady Fish that jumped a few times and gave me a small thrill. The wind was pretty fierce that day, so the Gulf side was not an option.

5-16-15 Eden Gardens, Rocky Bayou, and Henderson Beach

Of the three parks we visited, the only one I caught fish in was Eden Gardens, which is the one I had the least faith in when arriving….. Eden Gardens is a beautiful restored house called the Wesley House, with lush gardens surrounding it. You have to walk about a quarter mile to get to a small bay off Tucker Bayou. The park is located off CR 395 in Santa Rosa beach Fl.

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I walked down to the dock on the small bay and immediately saw some fish busting just out of my reach. I casted the Yozuri L Minnow as far as I could, and on the second cast, I had a strike. It was a small redfish, but even these small ones fight good on spinning tackle.

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A few more cast and I hooked a trout, and right after I released him, I hooked into a catfish.

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What a flurry!  I had an older couple walk over and talk to me about the fish I was catching, and sure enough after they left, not another bite……  Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

At Rocky Bayou, located near Niceville Fl, has a decent beach to fish from after you go down the steps to the water. You actually need to wade out on the hard sand bottom to fish, but it is shallow on near the bank and then drops off nicely.

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I had one strike, but never did see what it was, but after about an hour and a half of fishing, I decided to get some lunch at one of the picnic tables that are scattered around the park. The park also has a boat ramp, and it appears it gets little use if you decide to check it out with your boat.

Henderson Beach is located near Destin which is a highly populated tourist destination. Needless to say, even on a weekday, this park is packed. It is located right on the beach, and the surf was really rolling on the day we visited. I fished the surf for just about 30 minutes, and could not take the pounding waves. It was a high surf watch warning day, (red flag) so it just was not a good surf fishing day.

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5-9-15 Blackwater River State Park

The Blackwater River is in the Panhandle, and is North of I-10 in the town of Holt Florida. It is located just NE of Milton. The park has a beach along the river for visitors to swim for fish, and I decided to wade since the current was not bad, and the bottom was a nice hard sand.

I found a little cove as I walked south with some pads and grass in the water, a perfect spot for a bass I thought. I made a few cast and a terrific bite on the Zoom speed worm, but lost the fish in the pads!  Ouch! I kept fishing the area with the speed worm, but did not have any more bites, so I went with the Fluke. On the first cast with the Fluke in the exact area where I had the other bite, I hooked a good one! Sharon got a great shot of it fighting, and as you can see a nice 4 pounder!

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I moved to the other side and fished a bush that produced an eddy, and as I was taking the Fluke out of the water after it got hung on a tree branch, I bass couldn’t stand it, and grabbed the Fluke. A small 13″ size, which was fun to catch in the current.

I waded for the last half hour in the main part of the river where a sand bar extended out so I could reach the opposite side with long casts, but never had another bite. I think the 4 pounder is my best bass so far from my State Park tour, so I am proud of that one……

4-25-15 Gold Head Branch and Payne’s Prairie State Parks

Gold Head Branch is located in the Keystone Heights area of Florida, NE of Gainesville. This area of Florida has a major issue with the water levels and the Floridian Aquifer. Even with record rainfalls in Florida state wide, the lakes in this region of Florida, are still extremely low. This is very unfortunate, since the area has so many beautiful sand bottom lakes.

The park’s lakes are also very much effected by the photo I took of one of the largest lakes that has been reduced by more than 50% by my estimation.

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The park has many cabins for rent, and a lot of activities for kids. They still have one lake that has a beach where the kids can swim, and it was jam packed the day we arrived.

I was able to fish just down from the swimming area, but I think the traffic influenced the bite. I did get a few bites but never was able to set up on a fish. The only bites that I received that were successful, were fire ant bites on my ankles…….. Ouch.

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We also visited Payne’s Prairie just south of Gainesville. The park is a must see in Florida, especially in the summer when the Pickerel  weed is blooming bright purple. There are buffalo roaming the prairie I am told, but we did not see any. There is a lake with a dock and a picnic area that I was able to fish. The water color was very off colored by algae. I tried several lures, but had no success. So no fish pictures today, but with our trip to the panhandle of Florida coming up, I am sure I will have some to share very soon!

 

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4-18 Oleno State Park

Oleno is a very picturesque state park near High Springs Florida. It has a swinging walking bridge that takes you over the Santa Fe River. The river is lined with Cypress trees, and the current flows well. Ideal for bass fishing current breaks and eddies.

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You can walk both sides of the river, thanks to the bridge, and pick spots along the river. I walked about a 1/4 mile on both sides. I missed a nice bass in my first spot fishing a shaky head jog with a junebug worm. I switched to a texas rig worm after getting hung up too many times on the shaky head. I ended up catching two 12-13 inch bass on the texas rigged worm, and had about 5-7 bites in two hours of fishing.

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We also went to the River Rise park just down the road. You have to get permission from Oleno to unlock the gate to get in. It is a very interesting spot where the Santa Fe River runs underground and then enters above ground at the park. A very unique Florida land phenomena.

4-4-15 Honeymoon Island & Caladesi Island State Parks

Sharon and I went to the Islands on the Saturday before Easter! Caladesi and Honeymoon to be exact, and I think everybody in the state of Florida had the same idea…….  It was crowded to say the least at both parks. I walked quite a ways to find some open area to fish.

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Since Sharon is plein air painting at all the state parks, we had advanced reservations to get on the ferry to Caladesi, or I am not sure if we would have made it.

Honeymoon Island is a short causeway drive from Clearwater, and Caladesi is only reachable by boat. The park has a few pontoon ferry boats that shuttle patrons back and forth.

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We went to Caladesi first, and I decided to wade the gulf for some early snook or trout. I was surprised by the action, but not so happy about the type of fish. I caught about a dozen Lady Fish, or “poor man’s Tarpon” as some call them. They are fun to catch, but not so fun to remove the hooks sometimes since they really like to thrash around. They sure make some nice jumps and get the attention of the beachgoers! I did end up catching a “double” with two Jack Crevalle which was a nice surprise. Those Jacks can really pull, and getting two of them on one plug is a nice fight.

On our way back we got a nice visit from a few dolphin that followed our boat back to Honeymoon island.

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I tried wading in the gulf there, but to no avail, so I moved to the bay side, and caught a small lady fish. We had a real nice day, and even though I did not get any trout, snook, or reds, the action with the Lady Fish kept me entertained.

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3-28-15 Skyway Bridge and Terra Ceia Preserve State Parks

It was a little cool for the end of March when we left in the morning for St. Petersburg and Bradenton Florida. The temperature read a brisk 48 on the dash of the Equinox. But as usual in Florida, it warmed up quick and we got to the Skyway Bridge State Park around 10:00. The state turned the old bridge into a fishing pier when the new bridge was built. It is always crowded with anglers on the weekend.

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The first section of the park is a rest area on the St. Petersburg side of the bridge, that has some nice areas to fish form the shore. This is my preference since I only fish with artificial lures on my quest to fish the state parks. The tide was low, and wading was the natural choice. I fished off a point close to rest area. It was difficult throwing my normal Yozuri jerkbait, since the grass was near the surface, and the wind was howling at about 15-20 mph. I managed only a few Pinfish with my bait, which were barely larger than what I was throwing……. Here are a few shots of the park.

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Next we crossed the bridge and took a small road off 19 and found a secluded park called Terra Ceia Preserve. This park doesn’t even have a sign or admittance. It is a nice marshy area with winding creeks around mangrove islands. I was able to walk around some of the area and cast to some of the mangrove islands.

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I used the Yozuri, and right off the bat this nice snook nailed my lure, and the fight was on!

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It happened to be the only bite I had in the two hours we visited the park, but still put up a nice fight and made the trip!

 

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3-8-15 Lake Kissimmee State Park

This park has a nice Marina and is located on a canal that runs into Tiger Cove on Lake Kissimmee when you run east. The canal dead ends if you go west out the marina since there is a lock on the canal. The canal does run to lake Rosalie, but it is not accessible by boat.

I fished the canal near the Marina first, and saw a feeding bass bust some minnows, but was unsuccessful in getting him to bite. I was using a fluke, trick worm, and ultra-vibe speed worm. I worked the canal by the lock and bridge, and did get a bite on the trick worm. I missed the fish as he must have spit it before I set up on him. It looked like a real “fishy” area, but I never did get another bite. Here is a picture of the canal area from the bridge going west towards Rosalie.

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Below is a view of the marina.

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3-7-15 Delnor-Wiggins State Park

Delnor-Wiggins is a beach front park near Naples Florida. It has a large boat channel that runs along the north side where most people fish. I decided to walk along the channel side and get as close to the mangroves and close to the channel drop off.

I used the Yozuri L-Minnow jerk-bait and within a few minutes I caught a nice Lady fish. There was current in the channels the tide was going out. I moved further into the channel but never got another bite.

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Since this park is located near Naples, it is a nice viewing site for some large boats and very popular with the beach crowd. I guess if I was fishing with some live bait, it could be good for fishing, but that is not what I am doing on my State park’s tour. I only fish with lures, and only fish for an hour or two in each park.

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3-7-15 Lovers Key State Park

Driving along Estero Blvd. from Bonita Springs is a beautiful drive with the ocean on one side and Estero Bay on the other.  We pulled into the south entrance to the park and drove up to the parking area where the canoe/kayak launch is located.  We ate lunch and Sharon looked for a place to paint. She decided to go,over to the beach side by tram, and I liked the bay side to fish.  The bay was clear with mangroves lining all sides of the twisty creek like bay.

I was excited to see this kind of water, since it is more red fish and snooky looking……  There were a bunch of different cuts in the mangroves, but they were spaced a fair distance apart. I walked to each spot and waded.  I could only wade a few steps out since it dropped off pretty quick. It took about an hour, but as I walked down to a spot near the bridge, I saw a red and spooked him. I made a few casts and had a follow. A few more cast with my Yozuri L minnow p, and wham! I had a red on!  I was hing the red did not try to take me into the mangroves, or I would surely lose this battle.  But, he didn’t and pulled hard to deep water. It is my best fish of the tour, and weighed close to 5 pounds.

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On my way back to the car, I noticed a few manatees swimming near the bridge and took a short video. I hope you enjoy.

http://youtu.be/8ZOGFo-1-Is

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