Monday, August 19, 2013

Many Apologies for a Lack of Content.......

I'm currently in the hospital.  I think you can guess what effect this has on my fishing.  :p  I have had an attack of Atrial Fibrillation, a rarely fatal cardiac issue, but it can and does cause strokes.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

It's Official, Red Tide in the Indian River Lagoon

MARTIN COUNTY — Algae found in the St. Lucie River is toxic, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection confirmed Tuesday.
Martin County health officials have warned residents to stay out of the water.
Looks like my plans to fish Jensen Beach this weekend are closed.  Then again, I'm not surprised, what with all the freshwater and citrus grove runoff this summer, and kind of expected it sooner than now.  Well, I've been hankering to try my hand at beach surf fishing over in Hobe Sound, and have a couple reef breaks in mind to try,

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Jensen Beach Causeway: Bad Weather, Low Salinity

With the lake level emergency in place, Lake Okeechobee has all the spillways wide open.  This is to reduce pressure on the Herbert Hoover Dike that surrounds the lake and prevent the potential of a collapse due to piping of water or hydraulic pressure failure.  Unfortunately, this ruins the salinity level of the various river outlets like the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon, and significantly reduces the salinity of the ICW as well, regionally.  Water temperature is in the upper 80's, and silty, with poor water clarity doe to the freshwater runoff.

The effect this has on the fishing is essentially, catastrophic.  Saltwater species head out tp the ocean for the salt, and what fish are left are the freshwater tolerant ones like baby snappers, and grunts.  There was one relatively small Crevalle Jack caught, yesterday, maybe a 5-7 pounder.  My catch was 1 very small red snapper (3 inches), and a 5 inch grunt I streamed on the big pole as swim bait, to no avail.  I spent the entire day in the rain being generated by the remnants of Dorian, just up to the north.

 By the way, Stearns Dryware is some pretty decent foul weather gear.  It breathes pretty well and it kept me dry and comfortable.  Even in the tropics, you can get a bit hypothermic in an all day rain, and I was just the right temperature....not so hot I sweated badly, and not clammy, either.  Exposure to the elements can be the worst enemy of a fisherman.  Just be aware that if you wear in out in the boat, have a life jacket on at all times.....your foulies can drown you if you go overboard.

One good point, I've been making my own bottom rigs, and I did get to test them for snaggability, and I can report that they don't seem to snag up as easily.  I use 80 pound test monofilament and the clip end is a Snell loop.  I use both pendulum bank weights and/or egg weights, and Kahle hooks or Circle, or Octopus hooks.  You get a good positive hook set with this and I do plan on making these for sale through the site when I have them in their final form.

I'm also working on a needle hook that you can use to draw a Snell line through a live fish's dorsal area in line with their long axis to be able to set a tailhook that the line exits the body ahead of the dorsal fin and allows a natural swimming motion for larger freeline live baitfish from grunt size up.  Essentially, you will be creating a "live" lure.  It will also work with whole dead bait.  Just Snell it and freeze it on a flat and toss it in Ziploc bags.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Port Mayaca, and the St Lucie Canal

Port Mayaca has the spillways wide open, so the retention pond has quite the current going.  Specks are hitting hard, but the Port was crowded today.  Everyone and their brother was h=there, it seemed.

I moved on to one of my holes on the St Lucie Canal.  I had several hits, with no landings before I finally hooked and landed an oddball.  I caught a Brown Hoplo.

Brown Hoplo, or Cascadura

 It's not a common fish to catch with chicken liver in a hook, they're mostly a castnet or speared fish, since they rarely will even look at a hook.  They look ugly and inedible, but apparently, they're pretty tasty in a Trinidad dish called Curry Cascadura and Dumplings.  You can find the recipe for this dish here.

Info on the Brown Hoplo:

Brown Hoplo: Hoplosternum littorale


Brown hoplo is less than a foot long and belongs to family of fishes known as Callichthyidae; has bony armor consisting of two rows of large hard scales forming plate-like armor along each side; dark brown to black in color with two pairs of long barbells on chin.


First documented in the Indian River Lagoon system in 1995; now found throughout central and south Florida from the St. John's River to Lake Trafford. Native to eastern South America.


 Occur in a variety of freshwater habitats including muddy bottom and slow moving rivers, streams, side channels, ponds, marshes, and man-made waterways such as ditches and borrow pits; larvae and juveniles inhabit shallow water areas with lots of vegetation; adults prefer foraging in deeper, open water areas; gulps air, and tolerant of both low oxygen and high hydrogen-sulfide levels.


Spawning Habitats: Males build floating nests in vegetation near shore that consist of bubbles covered with plant material. Eggs are released by the female below the nest. The male fertilizes them and then takes them into his mouth and blows them up into the floating nest. Breeding males develop enlarged, red pectoral spines with hooks at the tips that are used to defend territories against other males. The eggs hatch in about four days.
Feeding Habits: Primarily feeds on benthic invertebrates and detritus.

Age and Growth:

Grows to about 2 inches in 2 months; however, rarely exceeds 10 inches.

Sporting Quality:

Little to none, but can be caught using live worms; normally fished for with cast nets.


Highly sought after as food by Floridians with cultural ties to Trinidad and parts of South America; raised as a food fish in native range; no bag or size limits.

Courtesy of the State of Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission under fair use and public ownership of State run servers.
Site URL:

Saturday will be Jensen Beach and possible Hobe Sound for some beach fishing.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

7/27 Fish Report

I fished the St Lucie Canal, and the current was strong.  I used a bottom rig with a 3 oz bank weight and a 30 pound test mono leader.  The bite was off today, but what did hit was too big for my rig.  Since I was using the heavy weight, I was able to cast out into the canal a lot further than I usually do from my "secret hole".

Hook was a 1/0 Hahke hook, and my bait was some truly stinky chicken liver.  When I took the hit, my rod tip just bobbled a bit and line started running out.  I had the drag set light, so that's not a surprise.  When I picked up the pole and started applying the drag, the line still kept running, until I had the drag nearly tight enough for a big Cobia on the beach.

I now have a really good idea that I have a pretty good sized fish on, since as of this point, my medium heavy rig is seriously bent, and I'm fighting the fish hard.  It took me about 40 minutes to work the fish in to the seawall to attempt to land it.  Good point:  I got to see and identify the fish.  Bad point:  I didn't have a landing net with me since I biked it to the hole, and didn't expect a fish that big, anyway.

Anyhoo, what I got to the seawall was a BIG flathead catfish, between 40 and 48 inches long.  This put the fish in the 35 to 50 pound weight class, and I'm rigged with 30 pound braid and a 30 pound mono leader, so I'm not shocked that the fish snapped the line right at the end.

Now, I would have released this fish anyway.  When a Flathead gets that big, they aren't good eating, first and foremost.  Also, when they get that big, it means they are a superior fish and desirable breeding stock, so we want to return these monsters alive if possible.  If this was a big female, she lays millions of eggs every time she lays, so it helps maintain the stock of superior fish.

The takeaway lessons here are that
1)  Always have a landing net.......period.  I could have at least gotten a photo trophy if I'd had my landing net.
2)  There are some really big cats in the canal, and I think I know where to start looking for them, and I may do some drop line fishing with my heavy rig and 80 pound test running as a freeline and live bait, and a big hook, and see what I can land.
3)  When you hook a fish that big, even if you lose it at the very end, it
s still a fun fight, and so what, the fish won today, maybe you will on your next encounter.
Tom Stormcrowe ©2013, all rights reserved

Friday, July 26, 2013

Sustainability and the Fisherman.....

So, I'm trying an experiment in sustainability.  First off, last month, 60% of the meat in our meals were caught with my poles.   My goal is around 80%.   We had a good variety from salt and freshwater sources for fish.  I'm also riding my recumbent trike more, to my closer fishing holes, about a 10 mile radius.

With my touring trailer, I can carry my gear, and a piece of PVC pipe makes a great fishing pole rack, zip tied to the back of the seat o the backrest.

Finally, I've also started a worm farm for my small fish bait.  It's fairly easy toraise worms, and my initial breeding stock seems to be going well.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Jensen Beach Causeway: Stormy Weather

Stormy Weather on the causeway Pier

OK, First, the information to present.  Jensen Beach Causeway Park West is going to be closed to fishing and such n July 20 and 21, for the Goombay Bash.  Unfortunately, it's already sold out, so I won't be buying tickets, it seems.

Now, to the fishing on the Causeway.  Salinity is still low, and the bite is off significantly.  Water temperature is quite warm, in the 80's.  Water conditions were weedy and the tide was running fast..  My catch was a half dozen stingrays in the 5 pound range, and 3 tiny hardhead cats.  Not a banner day, but I did get to try out a recipe I've been meaning to;  Sauteed Stingray Wings with garlic sauce.

Monday, July 15, 2013

More on Freshwater Fishing; Fishing in the rain from Chantal

They say that a dedicated fisherman has his lines in the water, rain or shine.  They also say that low pressure improves the bite, and I can tell you that that is true. 

This was what the weather looked like, or worse.  This is Lake Okeechobee with a thunderstorm blowing in.. It's hard to tell, but the lake is very rough with some pretty big chop out there.

Here was my take for the day.  16 assorted sunfish and bluegills, all pretty good sized and two channel cats.  The bigger of the two was quite the acrobat, by the way.

I say this, because this cat was a strong, wily, challenging fish.  It was a male, by the way, and about 24" long.  He was also a jumper.  He got lots of airtime, trying to throw the hook.

Freshwater Fishing Opportunities in Martin and Okeechobee County

View Freshwater Fishing in Martin County in a larger map

I've been exploring the freshwater opportunities around Martin County, and will add to this map as I go.....well, except for a couple hot catfish holes I want to keep my little secret. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Indian River Lagoon.....a little scenicism.

This is a terrible way to have to live, ain't it? 

Indian River Lagoon near Jensen Beach, Florida

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

BIG FISH!!!!!!

Well, we had a winnah at the pier today in the "Big Fish" category at Jensen Beach Causeway.  I'm mildly envious, too.  He was next to me in the pier, and he hooked into this monster 40 pound +/- Jack.  His name is withheld for privacy reasons.

My little Blue Runner paled in comparison.

Fishing was very slow, though today, again at the Causeway.  The tide came in so fast my bait was planing on the surface with even my big baitcaster rod and 6 oz of lead weights on the head of the leader on the main causeway pier.  There was an inordinate amount of weed floating in as well that kept fouling everyone's hooks.

In addition, the Army Corp of Engineers is reducing the water levels in Okeechobee, so the salinity is down again in the Indian River Lagoon, which is adversely affecting the fishing.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Stuart Causeway and Jensen Beach Causeway and Elsewhere

The bite was slow and small this afternoon at both bridges, Stuart A1A Causeway and Jensen Beach Causeway.  All I got was nibbles and a lost rig at Stuart, and over at Jensen Beach, I caught a whopping 2 Grunts and a Red Snapper too small to keep.  In both cases, I tried the East sides today, rather than the west  Both locations were crowded and not really pleasant to fish.  Then again, it was Father's Day, today and there were lots of families at all locations, and it's no surprise that all locations were swamped.

Conditions at Stuart are shallow with a sloping drop and beach conditions.  The East side of Jensen Beach causeway has a large grassbed on the downstream side of the bridge  with  an inbound tide.  If you are using a rig that depends on a tidal float to get out away from the dock, this location really isn't for you. One of my pol4es is a vintage Lamiglass pole with roller guides and Penn Senator reel from the 1950's, for example, strung with 80 pound test.  Not really a good pole for this location, although the west side is a perfect location for it with stronger tidal flow and no deep weed bed to snag your hook if you are trying to stream with a float on  the tide.   Water depth is around 8 feet, though off the pier.  The fish in the east side seem to run more to smaller snappers and grunts.

On my way home, I stopped and made a few casts at the small riverside park in Stuart at SW Gaines and SE Paulson near Lost River Road.  Water conditions were murky and black.  This isn't unusual.  I got a few nibbles on some shrimp, but no solid bites.

Tomorrow, St Lucie Locks is on the agenda for both some salt and freshwater fishing.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Welcome to the Martin County, Florida Fishing Report.  Recent fishing conditions in the Indian River lagoon around the Jensen Beach causeway.  Tropical Storm Andrea dumped a huge amount of rain and the runoff reduced the salinity in the lagoon, so we've had a few days of poor to mediocre fishing.

Salinity is returning to normal levels, though and as a result fishing is improving.  My last trip was 6/10/13 and I had a pretty good day.  I baited with shrimp, squid, and swam a live fish (Pinfish) on my heavy action rod. Catch was 2 sheephead, one spadefish and one 25" Bluefish.  The Blue I caught on the live bait on my heavy.

Hobe Sound:  No bites of note and mostly bait thief small fish at the Greenfield Park Fishing Dock.