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?