Category Archives: Conservation

Tailer Park Turtle Patrol

I recently had the pleasure of getting on the water with Michael Marco to chase redfish in Mosquito Lagoon. It had been quite some time since we had last fished together, so we were overdue to spend some time on the skiff.

 

Like me, Michael spends a good bit of time on the road logging what we like to call “windshield time”. I was cruising northbound on Interstate 95 and had decided to call and check in to see how his new Skimmer Skiff was coming along and found out he was actually in the area for a day or two, so we quickly hatched a plan to capitalize on the opportunity to get on the water.

 

When he arrived in the early evening a good number of thunderstorms were just beginning to fire off and drift through the area. After watching the radar for a while, we accepted the reality of having to cancel our evening patrol plans, but quickly pivoted to dinner plans at the local, Goodrich Seafood.

 

There is no doubt when you roll through Goodrich that the food will be fresh and the beers cold, so we made the short drive there and had a feast.

 

After returning home, we put out a call to fellow Fly Fishing After Dark Podcast members Avery and Cameron to join us for some beers. Once they arrived we spent a few hours catching up and telling lies.

 

Michael was freshly back in town from a trip to the former Soviet Union where he and his father had spent a week fly fishing for taimen. Other than a very scant few details to peak our interest, he kept stories of the adventure to himself so that we can bring him on a future episode of the podcast to reveal them for the first time. Based on the couple of nuggets he did share, I can’t wait!

 

The next morning we made the two-minute trip to the landing to launch the skiff as the sun was breaking the horizon over the eastern horizon. Surprisingly, we ended up finding redfish sparse, despite the cooling rains the evening prior. The handful we saw while Michael was up, were of the prissy variety for which our home waters are known.

 

As we prepared to pole off of a flat to fire up the engine and scoot across the channel, we spotted what we at first thought was a hawksbill terrapin. As we poled over to take a closer look, we were both shocked to see it was actually a Florida Box Turtle that was swimming, albeit slowly, across the skinny flat separating two islands. We scooped the obviously tired dude up and gave him a skiff ride with the plan to release him later.

Michael insisted on poling the next flat, so I got the chance to fish for a bit, which was great.

 

We eventually found some more agreeable fish and I was rewarded with a nice redfish that ate a well placed fly before it could even be stripped. The redfish literally made a hard U-turn and inhaled the fly that had dropped six inches away along its right side. It was the kind of eat you don’t forget.

fly fishing saltwater

We exchanged ends of the skiff and worked for a while to get Michael a fish, but despite some epic casts and even a follow that we both expected to end in a hook-up, we had to end the day before we tallied a second fish.

 

Work was calling for us both and more importantly, Michael had an appointment he needed to keep, the delivery of his shiny new Skimmer Skiff.

 

As we idled towards deeper water preparing to run back to put the skiff on the trailer, I saw what I thought was a crab trap buoy. Moments after looking at it, I saw a head pop up and realized it was a turtle of some kind.   Turns out, it was another Florida Box Turtle! We scooped him up too and gave him a lift back to the Tailer Park along with his smaller cousin who had already been chilling with us.

male box turtles

Both of the box turtles were set free to roam the neighborhood shortly after getting back to the house.

It was great spending time with Michael, and without a doubt it will be a trip I wont forget, not just because of the great redfish moment, but also for the unique opportunity to encounter two box turtles swimming in a saltwater estuary.

 

Fly-fishing never fails to deliver great friendships and amazing experiences. I’m looking forward to hearing the full taimen story, getting out on Michael’s new skiff or some other adventure that leads us to amazing places.

 

MINWR Shiloh Commercial Space Launch Environmental Impact Could Be Epic

Yesterday, as Tropical Storm Hermine brought wind and rain to the Space Coast; very few, if any, skiffs were on the water enjoying the mostly pristine beauty of Mosquito Lagoon.

The serenity of the quiet moment was interrupted when a thunderous series of booms shook the house again and again.

I immediately  went outside to investigate, knowing it wasn’t thunder from a storm band rain shower approaching.

Moments later, social media began to break the story of an “anomaly ” that had just occurred when SpaceX was testing a rocket motor in preparation for an early morning launch on Saturday.

I went to a nearby dock and immediately saw the smoke plume rising to the south, nearly 17 miles away.

Thanks to safety protocols, no human life was lost, nor were there any injuries.  The question that remains is: how much environmental damage might be done by the remnants of rocket fuel that were surely washed into the surrounding marshland when a deluge of water was applied to extinguish the massive fire.

Currently, Space Florida is awaiting an environmental impact study’s completion in an effort to bring just such a launch site to the MINWR, just 5-7 miles south of my home along the shores of Mosquito Lagoon.  I hope that a fully transparent and objective study includes the aftermath of this incident in the study.  The area being considered is home to many endangered and threatened species and is opposed by US Fish & Wildlife staff that run the Refuge.

Environmental Impact Study Pending
Environmental Impact Study Pending

Yesterday was a wake-up call.  Space flight remains a risky business and with that in mind, I remain opposed to the Commercial Launch Facility that is proposed.

Shiloh Commercial Spaceport

In 2012, the State of Florida requested 150 acres of NASA land located at the north end of the Kennedy Space Center, near Daytona. The site – known as “Shiloh,” which is largely unpopulated at this time, would be developed into a dedicated commercial spaceport. Kennedy Space Center Director Robert Cabana communicated his support to the Federal Aviation Administration in April 2013 for the preparation of an Environmental Impact Study of the site. Today, the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation is working with the State of Florida to complete the Environmental Impact Study, which is anticipated to be complete by late 2015. Following the successful completion of that study, Space Florida will submit a formal application to the FAA for consideration of a Spaceport Operators License at the site.

I support the creation of a new launch facility on the current NASA campus where infrastructure already exists to respond to and manage the next inevitable “anomaly” when it occurs.

Continue to stay engaged on this issue and have your voice heard saying No Shiloh Launch Complex.  The MINWR needs to remain pristine and clean.

 

What Happens After Dark?

Fly Anglers are typically found outdoors when the sun is shining or about to be.

The exploits that happen before and after the sun makes its trek from east to west are the stuff that brings it full circle and creates the basis of the lifestyle.

You know you’ve shot beer out both nose holes at the campfire, thats what I’m talking about.  Unedited, raw and no volume button in sight.

You can find that fly fishing vibe here:  Fly Fishing After Dark

From stories being recount from a day on the water, to analysis of the latest fad sweeping Instagram, you’ll get a fresh new perspective that hasn’t seen the desk of an industry insider before the publish button is clicked.

 

Environment: Easy Little Things That Make A Big Difference

The overwhelming push on environmental issues that are far from clear like anthropologic climate change on social media sometimes results in easily understood and non controversial  ones to be overlooked.  For instance, water quality in our communities’ waterways has declined over the past decades, yet not a lot of people are aware of the issue and how easily they can change their behavior to improve it.

Whether inland or along the coast in Florida, decades of fertilization of yards has resulted in lush landscapes around most neighborhoods.  The unintended consequence is run-off of excess fertilizer into adjacent streams, ponds, lakes and rivers.  The resulting nutrient load in the water results in algae blooms and uncontrolled growth of various submerged and emergent grasses and plants.  In the worst of cases, oxygen levels plummet and living creatures throughout the water column die.

Even cutting grass and allowing it to get washed into storm water sewers has the same effect, as the clippings contain high amounts of nutrients that are easily released into the water, upsetting the natural balance.

In order to combat these problems, many communities have asked their residents to suspend fertilizer application through the rainy season, June – December.  Doing so will help to prevent the run-off from thunderstorms being so easily loaded with excess nutrients.

In addition, several counties and municipalities  are using placards and public information campaigns to educate the population on how to avoid sending clippings downstream into bodies of water by simply being mindful of where your mower sheds clippings.  Don’t blow them into the street, send them back across the yard where they can degrade and release the nutrients into the lawn, where you want them anyway.

Simple problems and simple solutions are easy to understand.  They don’t contain hidden agendas or the creation of “credits” made out of a nebulous idea that go to an equally mysterious bank.

If your neighborhood lacks a similar program, get involved and get one started.  The cost is low and the benefit to the environment is real.

Check out how its being done along the Indian River Lagoon in Brevard County, Florida.  Its a great example of how little ideas can have a big impact.

 

Salt Bum Environmental Issues
Protect Local Waterways
Salt Bum Environmental Issues
Mark Drains For Awareness

Horizons Teaser

Continuing with the idea of lifestyle, the crew at Forever West Media and World Angling have teamed up to produce a film that captures the essence of what drives the fly fishing lifestyle.

I’m looking forward to seeing their work in its entirety.

Horizons Teaser on Vimeo

If you live and breathe this thing called fly fishing, you’re going to love this one.

Loose Lips Sink Ships

Have you ever found a special place on the water that seems to be that out of the way location which always produces days that leave you smiling?  You know, the one I’m talking about, that lonely slice of water that takes a bit of effort to reach, where you never see another soul.

The truth is, you’re not the only one that knows where it is, its just that the effort to get there limits even you and it it quickly becomes the spot reserved for special days when solitude is required and you know it can be found there, if you’re in the mood to work for it.

After a while, you’ve grown so fond of your out of the way slice of heaven that you take someone along to show them the unreal beauty and charm your little Shangri-La possesses.  Even though that little voice in the back of your head cautions you to keep it to yourself, you convince yourself it will be kept in confidence, so off you go.

The magic is in the air and the birds are chirping as you and your guest revel in the moments where your rod is bent and fish come to hand in a way that never happens on a normal day, in the usual spots.  You keep reminding them that the place you’re visiting is special and warrants secrecy, hoping that your trust won’t be betrayed.

By day’s end, you know that you’ve shared a truly special place and time and the allure of it is almost fairytale in its splendor, which makes you nervous.

As you finish a beer with your friend, they thank you for the special day and reassure you that the secret is going to be kept.  They express reverence for the location, and pour on the charm letting you know its safe.

A month or two later, it happens.  There in all of its glory, laid bare for the world to see on Instagram or Facebook is the spot you’ve cherished for so long.  That place you’ve always held dear and protected. Your pulse quickens, and in mere moments, you know its over, the secret is out.

The temptation was too great for the person who didn’t earn it.  They were given the privilege, and without the investment of sweat equity, they gave it away.

Worse yet, they begin to abuse it.  Almost weekly at first, them more and more often, until its not just the recipient of your friendly benevolence, but now others are there and posting about too.

Forgiving those who trespass against you is tough.  But truth be told, its best that you do, for they know not what they’re doing.  The  luster will fade on that place of beauty in due time, for once its been burned, the patina of overuse will erase it.

Don’t despair, but rather, channel your efforts in finding your next quiet corner and remember, Loose Lips Sink Ships.

 

Anything Happens, Everyday

The more time I spend on the water, the more I get it. Even though I’m standing there with a fly rod in hand, its the total immersion into the environment that impresses upon me the essence of why I’m there.

After pulling on the rope to start up my faithful 25 HP outboard a simple twist of the tiller washes away the daily grind of the day job and my soul is set free to roam unabated.

I used to think these adventures were about stalking and catching fish. Now I simply let it happen along the periphery of the overall adventure and where it might lead.

I always have my head on swivel, searching for the next target that happens to be swimming by, but it is the macro view of the environment that brings the most joy.

I’ve seen a bobcat standing some 20 feet away along the mangrove sprinkled shoreline as curious and startled by my presence as I am of it. I’ve watched in awe as a bobcat swam between two islands carefully watching me as I passed by on plane, gawking.

The myriad of shore birds that ignore my presence as I slide by silently until I’m within a stone’s throw give me pause.

Seeing the ground appear to move as hundreds of fiddler crabs retreat from the waters edge in unison mesmerizes me.

I cherish this thing we call fly fishing. Not because of the fish I’ll hold for a moment or two to admire, but for the experiences that will form my fondest memories, for it is every time I go forth, I reinforce the notion that anything happens, everyday.

A Life At Sea Ends

The Summer of 2014 will forever be seared into my memory thanks to the time I spent in the wilds of Western Alaska. Two weeks of self-reliance with a small group of fellow riverine fly fishing nomads was filled with memories that have crept into my mind everyday since my return. It was epic.

The salmon we sought were old salts, making their way back to the waters from which they had sprung. Theirs was a one way journey, undertaken to sustain their family lineage.

Up the coast from Florida, one of the great storytellers of the Lowcountry made a similar trip. His lens captured the essence and minutia of it in fine fashion.

Enjoy…