Monday, August 6, 2012

Suwannee River, 8/4/12

Saturday the wife and I took on the Suwannee River for the first time since living here in Lake City. Because of the tropical storm a few weeks back plus all the other rain we've been having, the river is still up quite a bit. As of Saturday it was at about 54 feet above sea level. We put in at the boat ramp on Hwy 41.

A view from the boat ramp down river.
The weather was great. We got there about 7:30 in the morning. A little ways up from the boat ramp were some shoals and some rapids, so we set out down river first.

Another river view from a little further down.
This is a beautiful river. Most of the river was several feet deep, the most shallow parts being only about 2 or 3 feet. It was moving pretty quickly as well. We went about 2 miles or so down from the boat ramp. We got to another spot that had shoals and what looked like some serious rapids, so we turned around there. We didn't want to have to try to navigate back up the rapids on the way back.

This river is mostly rock. There were a lot of interesting formations along the way for your viewing pleasure.

Another river view.

There were a couple of these small waterfalls too.
I was using my fly rod and Wife was using various rooster tails. We were just doing some relaxing bream fishing. We caught several, a couple of them about hand size, but most were smaller. Catching bream on the fly rod is a lot of fun though! I even caught 1 catfish with a fly. That was pretty exciting. They say there are a ton of catfish in this river, and I believe it too, if they're eating flies!

One of the bream we caught, after we released her.
All in all we were on the water about 4 and a half hours. It didn't take long to get down river, but the paddle back was a little more difficult against the swift current. It wasn't too bad though. We even stopped at one point on the way back and did a little swimming, because it had warmed up enough. Tthe water was a little chilly, but it felt good.

A very good, relaxing day on the water. We will definitely be going back, maybe trying a different spot on the river, or trying some catfishing with actual catfish bait instead of flies! Totally worth the trip!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Alligator Lake 7/7/12

We've been taking major advantage of all the water that tropical storm Debby dropped on the area a couple of weeks ago by hitting up Alligator Lake as often as possible. Unfortunately, the fishing hasn't been super great. Since there is so much water, the fish can go and hide in all kinds of places where they couldn't before so it makes it harder to find them. The day in question it was me and my son on the water. It was hot outside (in the 90's) and the water was really warm as well.

Here is what it loos like from the boat ramp. Notice the dock right on top of the water? Before it was several feet up.
This is a back area where we have never been able to get to before.
Another part of Alligator Lake we've never been to before.

Here is what the average fish we have been catching looks like. 

 The times we have gone since the storm, we only caught maybe 2 fish total between all the trips. I think both of them were caught this day. They were small, nothing "keeper" size. But a cool thing about all the water is we can get to places in Alligator Lake where we have never been able to get to before. You can actually go from one boat ramp to the other, where as before, the other boat ramp and area was completely dried up. There is a lot more to this lake than we've ever seen! All the water also makes it good for any regular boats with motors to be able to get in there in fish. It does make it more crowded than we are used to, but its so big that generally us kayakers aren't bothered by the bigger boats. We will hopefully be able to hit it up again soon!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Double Duty Saturday

This past Saturday we decided to try Suwannee Lake again. A co-worker of mine recently caught a near 10 pound fish out of there. And from the looks of it, you know there has to be some big ones in there, I can feel it.

So we got up super early, loaded the kayaks and gear, and headed out just before daylight. When we got there the sun had been up for only a few minutes, but there was already one boat on the water. Suwannee Lake has received a fair amount of rain recently so the water level is up.

Our focus was all the trees in the middle of the lake. We didn't really fish those that hard last time we were here, mostly because of the weather. I just knew that is where the big one was lurking. 

This is a picture from back in April when we went the first time. See all those trees? That's just one small section of them. 

 Since the water is higher, its much easier to navigate through all the tree stumps. And you can get to the other end we didn't get to last time because the water was lower. That is actually where the fish were caught.

 I caught 5 total. And nothing of significance. They were all 12 inches or smaller. Wife didn't catch any. It was fun, but still kind of a disappointment. I was hoping for a big one.

So we went home empty handed. We got some lunch. Took some naps. And then headed back out to Alligator Lake. I really wanted fish tacos for dinner.

So we fished, and fished, and fished. We had been there for a couple of hours before this happened:
Caught this one on a frog. First time I ever caught anything on a frog. He was small though. Barely the size limit.
 THEN. This happened:
A 4 pounder. FINALLY.

Over all, it ended up being a good fishing day. It just took a while to get there.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Lang Lake

This past Saturday took us to Lang Lake in Hamilton County Florida. Lang Lake is one of the Hamilton Phosphate Pits and the only lake of the pits that will be open this summer. Its 86 acres and you can only use trolling motors (or kayaks!) here, but gasoline motors can still be attached.

There were several other fishers there when we arrived. The weather wasn't great this day. It was cool, around mid 70's to 80 degrees and it rained off and on all morning, sometimes with heavy rain showers. We got there about 7:30 in the morning and stayed til around 2 that afternoon. The sun finally started peaking out about the time we were heading back to the boat ramp.

To look at this lake, you would think it would be great for fishing.

There is a lot of cover. A lot of cypress trees and grass and cattails around the edges. The water ranges from only about 1 foot deep to 20+ feet in places.

I have yet to figure this lake out. It seems like they will start biting one thing, then they just stop. I have fished here several times and I have yet to catch more than a few fish, and none with significant size (for keeping, bass have to be at least 18 inches in length). I know some big fish have been caught here, but none have ended up on the end of my line.

This is one of the 4 fish we caught this day. They were all around 12 inches. And there weren't any close together. We had several more bites than actual caught fish. And fish were bedding like crazy here.

We will probably try this lake again, especially since Eagle lake is closed til August. Maybe we will have better luck next time.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Guess where....Alligator Lake!

Thanks to a tropical storm that came through the area early last week, we got a pretty good amount of rain. Because of that, we decided to hit Alligator Lake again this past Saturday because it had been a while since we've fished there. Apparently we weren't alone in the idea, as there were several boats out there with us.

The lake itself got about 7 inches of rain, so the water was up above the weeds, making it much easier to fish. We went in the late afternoon, (about 5 o'clock) and stayed til dark (around 9 or so). The outside temp was in the upper 80's, with clear and sunny conditions. The water temp was in the lower to mid 80's.

Here was the first catch of the day.

This is one of the wife's looks like something (maybe a small gator)
 got a hold of this one before she got to it!

I even managed to catch a gar fish this day. Not a big one, but they're still fun to catch!

Over all, we only caught about 8 fish. The biggest was 14 inches, and it was the only "keeper" one we caught. All the others were around 12 to 13 inches. And we did miss several fish through out the evening. But it was still was nice to get back in to a familiar place and just relax and fish. Hopefully we can get in one more trip there before the water falls out again.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Lake Jeffery

Today we went to Lake Jeffery on the northwest side of Lake City. This lake is 114 acres and is considered a private lake, however it is accessible to the public. The entrance isn't anything formal; it looks like it would be someone's drive way if you were just driving by. There is a $3 launch fee, and it works on the honor system (there is a collection box at the top of the boat ramp). You can put in boats with motors, but the bottom is mossy, and slower boats/fishers have priority on the water. Also, since people live all around the lake, you can't fish within 50 feet of their docks. But there is still plenty of lake and edge to fish!

A couple of views from the boat ramp. 

The weather today was great. It was around 90 degrees outside, and bright and sunny. The only problem was the wind. Lake Jeffery is wide open, so the water was fairly choppy. Some times it felt like we were on the ocean. Ha.

The water was around 80 degrees, and clear. There is a lot of coon tail moss covering most of the bottom. There is a lot of cover for the fish around the whole edge of the lake though.
There are a lot of lily pads all around the lake edge.

The first catch of the day. Almost all of them were around this size.

Wife's first catch of the day.

Another small one.

Wife actually caught this one (I'm holding it so she can take the pic). It was the biggest catch of the day, measuring 19 inches and weighing in right at 3 pounds.

 Fishing here was pretty decent. The fish seem more particular here than some other places we've fished, so it took a little while to figure out what they were wanting. Even then, it wasn't consistent. Some wanted worms, some wanted top water was a mix. I used a buzz bait for the last hour or so and had several attack it, but none of them wanted to commit to it. Some fish were in deep cover (like way down in the moss) and some were out in the wide open. Although we didn't encounter any other fishers or boaters today, since people live all around the lake (and most have boats of some kind), and its open to the public, there is probably a lot of traffic. We will visit here again, hopefully when it's not so windy and not the day after the full moon. Over all though, it was a great day. Definitely worth a visit!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Suwannee Lake

Today we went to Suwannee Lake near Live Oak, Florida. Suwannee Lake is a man-made lake that is about 60 acres and filled with cypress trees. Most of the lake is shallow, so its definitely good for kayaking. You wouldn't be able to use a boat motor because there are a lot of submerged logs and stumps that are hiding just a few inches below the surface of the water.

This is the view you get from the boat ramp.

Today was mostly overcast, as we were on the front side of a storm system that was moving across the area so we were trying to beat the weather. We got there about 9:00 this morning and stayed until around 1:30 when the weather forced us to head home. It was warm, about 80 to 85 degrees with high humidity. The water temperature was 78 degrees. We caught around 20 bass, and Wife caught 1 decent sized mudfish.

My first catch of the day. Most of the were about this size. 

This was the biggest fish of the day. Wife caught this one. 

This one wanted some top water action. 

Suwannee Lake has size restrictions that are different than other lakes in our area. Here the bass have to be at least 18 inches. We didn't catch anything today that would have been a "keeper" for this lake. We started with plastic worms and switched to top water plugs after a couple of hours. We had good luck with both. 

We also saw a lot of different birds here, so its a nice bird watching area. The highlights were the wood ducks and several osprey. We also saw one huge alligator. This was a fun lake, we will definitely hit it up again when we aren't trying to beat a storm. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Santa Fe River

Yesterday we hit the Santa Fe river in High Springs, Florida for the first time. Right now the river is really low. We put in at the High Springs boat ramp off of Highway 441 and we had to walk the kayaks out a little ways before the water was deep enough to paddle. We went up river, to the River Rise, which is about 3 miles from the boat ramp (6 miles round trip). The River Rise is part of the River Rise Preserve State Park and its where the Santa Fe river comes back above ground after being underground for about 3 miles (it goes underground at O'Leno State Park). We had to get out and walk the kayaks once over some shoals, and there were a couple of really dense patches of water hyacinth we had to paddle though but otherwise, it was a smooth ride.

Here's what it looks like for most of the river. Some places are more narrow, but it mostly looked like this.  The water ranged in depth from only a few inches to several feet. The water here is clear as well and about 70 degrees right now.
I did some fly fishing on the journey and caught a lot of bream, stump knockers and shell crackers. All of them were pretty small though, but it was lots of fun.

The first fish of the day.

A lot of them were about this size. Little, but fighters.

This was the biggest catch of the day.
We saw several deer. They were pretty calm. This one just laid here. We got about 20 feet from her and she didn't even move.

Here's one of the patches of water hyacinth we had to paddle through. There were 2 of them,  but both were close  together. 

This is River Rise, where the river comes back above ground (also as far as you can paddle upstream because it dead ends). The water here is 35 feet deep according to my depth finder.

 Over all it was fun day. The river is peaceful and relaxing. We only encountered 4 other kayakers/canoers the whole day. We will definitely go again. Hopefully we will get some significant rain soon so we can try a down river trip because right now you can't go down river from 441. There are other spots on other highways were you can put in, but we haven't explored them yet. Hopefully we will be able to check them out as well. The Santa Fe also has several springs that are popular for swimming and snorkeling and cave diving. Definitely worth the trip.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Possibly the last Alligator Lake til Winter!

My son and I went to Alligator Lake again yesterday (4/2/2012). It will probably be my last trip there until the winter strikes again. Unless I decide to try my hand at carp fishing here, because Ive seen some massive carp in this lake. They make waves like ocean waves. Its insane!

The weeds and moss and vegetation have grown up so much since the weather started staying warm that it makes it hard to fish. Even in a kayak. Mostly moss (duckweed on top and coontail underneath the water) is the issue. No matter what kind of bait you use, its impossible with the moss. You can only really use plastic worms now (and even then, they end up covered after one retrieve)...definitely no way to use spinner or buzz baits. The water is mostly clear, so a lot of light gets to the bottom of the lake to make the vegetation grow quicker there too.

But, as far as yesterday went, it was a beautiful day. Bright and sunny and around 90 degrees. The water was 74 degrees. There was a light wind, but nothing too crazy. We only caught about 6 this day, but we were only there for about 3 hours.

This is what we are working with here.

One of the fish.

Looks like there are wide open spaces of water...but about 1 inch below the surface is moss that goes down for a couple of feet, at least. The majority of the lake is only 2 to 3 feet deep.

Only 3 of the total fish were actual keeper size. The rest were on the small size.

Ive been reading a lot about dough balls for catching carp. My wife and I made some the other day, but when we tried to use them, they wouldnt stay on the hook at all. Any one have a tried and true carp catching recipe they would like to share? 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Alligator Lake again

Today we went to Alligator Lake again. We only had a couple of hours to fish today, so we went where was closest. We got there about 2 and left around 430. It was sunny most of the time we were out there, and about mid 80s. There were a couple of small rain showers, but nothing bad. I dont know the water temp for today because the battery for my depth finder died. We caught 13 total, but most of them were small. Only 2 were 15 inches.

First fish of the day

Todays baby fish

Wife caught this one

2 were caught that were this size (15 inches)