Category Archives: Space Coast

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.

 

IFTD 2015 – Playing Hookie on Day 3

After spending two days at the Flood Tide Company booth, I ducked out to film a little with Catch 1 Films on the home water; Mosquito Lagoon.

ONE: mosquito lagoon

Its always great to spend time on the water with friends.  Being able to relive the moments in film is priceless.

 

 

 

 

 

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

Old # 33 – A Term of Endearment

I searched for months for the skiff I have now owned for the past 9 years.  After missing a couple of similar models, I finally got the jump on everyone and got the first look at my 1998 Hells Bay Whipray – “Mosquito Lagoon” Edition, (the 33rd hull built) when my son was less than a day old.  I left the hospital a day later to see it for the first time.  I wrote a check that afternoon, knowing I had found my saltwater soulmate.

The near decade we’ve spent together has been epic.  She’s taken me on lots of adventures across the Sunshine State.

There is something special about that old skiff.  Today, I watched Flip Pallot opine, in the way only he can, the History of Hells Bay Boatworks.  It was fantastic.

In addition to hearing his thoughts on the journey that lead to the revolutionary skiffs we love, I’ve talked a lot with Chris Morejohn, the architect behind the design.  Having him remember my skiff and sharing details of its history was fulfilling and deepened my bond with it further.

A lot of people say there is no “perfect” skiff.  They’ve never been on mine.

No Outlet To Mainland

The stretch of dunes that comprises Canaveral National Seashore between New Smyrna Beach and NASA Kennedy Space Center are one of the last great remote stretches of coastal land in Florida.  Boats explore the Atlantic to the east and Mosquito Lagoon to the west, but vehicular travel of the four wheel kind is no-existent on the barrier island between the two in most of Canaveral National Seashore.  Miles of steep sandy beaches where you’ll struggle to find a human on a normal day lay in wait for exploration.

Before you head out there to find adventure, you’ll need to acquire a Backcountry Permit from the National Park Service.  Its a $2 formality, so don’t let it slow you down.

Walking the beach with a fly rod in search of a surf traveling target can be spotty at best, but it is definitely worth it.  From redfish, black drum and the occasional shark, targets will appear.

Adventure List:

Take a good pack with you, you’ll likely end up finding a treasure of some kind along the beach and it will come in handy to get it home.

Water is paramount.  At least a gallon of it if you plan to cover a few miles.

A fly rod between 7-9 weight depending on your preference is plenty for what you’ll encounter.  It will likely be a bit breezy so, make sure what you take will allow you to cast well into the wind.

Crab, baitfish and shrimp patterns in varying weight and size are your go to flies.  A handful will do, you won’t need a lot.

Be mindful of the weather, storms along the beach can approach rapidly and be severe.  There is no cover on the beach from lightning.

As you begin to egress, pick up as much plastic as you have room for in your pack.  Despite your commitment to Leave No Trace, lots of plastic is deposited on the beach by ocean currents and nature will appreciate your helping hand.

Get Out There – Adventure Awaits

 

 

Life Gets In The Way

The past weeks have been busy ones.  Aside from the usual things that make up a normal day, I’ve found myself working hard advocating for a skatepark to be built in the town where I live.  My son skates & loves it.  The lessons it teaches him, I love.

You would think that by 2015, elected officials would be more receptive to providing a fair shake to all sports.  Despite being globally popular and skateboarding being the second fastest growing sport in the US, the idea of a skatepark still scares a lot of politicians.

At any rate, I’ve still found a few minutes here and there to fish and by and large its been great.  The bass and redfish along the Space Coast of Florida have been obliged to tussle, and for that, I’m thankful.

Though the writing here on Salt Bum had slowed, I was still putting thoughts on paper.  Check out my latest ramblings in the Spring editions of The Drake Magazine and Southern Culture On The Fly.

Drake Spring 2015

SCOF Spring 2015

 

Watching History Pass Over & Reprise

A stiff north breeze was blowing a couple of days ago, so I opted to pond hop for bass in the neighborhood rather than launch the skiff and contend with wind.

It was a decent bite, but thats not unusual for our little utopia of interconnected retention ponds.

While taking a break, perched on the (pond hopping assault vehicle) golf cart & talking to a friend on the phone, I heard the joyful sounds of multiple radial engines approaching.

There she was, a B-24 Liberator, bearing down on me from the north at around 1600 feet.

I mentioned it to my friend as he too appreciates such things & held the phone skyward as it passed overhead in an attempt to share the sweet sounds of WWII heavy iron passing by on wing.

The aircraft is part of the Collings Foundation collection.  It is the only flying example of its exact type, the J model.

Check Here to view a schedule of where you can see it up close over the next couple of months.

As luck would have it, they had James Stafford aboard filming the flight from New Smyrna Beach to Stuart, FL.

Seeing the fly-by from their perspective was a cool reprise.

I wonder if they noticed me standing there, mouth agape, phone held high?