So... first, I'll show our method for attaching kayaks to the roof of the new Subaru Outback adventure wagon... and then I'll get back to the fishing. We didn't spring for the Subaru factory accessory kayak rack (sorry, Subaru), but instead used four ratchet straps and two pieces of square 1" aluminum tubing (with some eye bolts attached) wrapped in foam pipe insulation. I'll probably improve on the foam wrapping before the next long trip.
|Adventure Wagon all packed and ready to go.|
For those that may be interested... the Outback averaged around 27 mpg with the kayaks strapped to the roof... not too shabby. Kelly has gotten close to 34 mpg on a "kayak-less" highway trip... which the Subaru dealership in Memphis is now advertising on their television commercials after she sent them a photo of the dashboard readout. The two kayaks are a Crow Wing 1080 Pro-Angler (the olive one) and an Emotion Glide Angler (mustard colored one in back).
Before I left Memphis Friday, I went to Bass Pro to pick up some of that mystery bargain Cortland fly line that Owl Jones told us about. Well, it's still a bit of a mystery, as it was packaged specifically for the Spring Fishing Classic sale event. The 8 wt lines look like they could be some type of Cortland Precision since they are two-toned, but who knows?
|"PREMIUM FLY LINE"?|
I picked up four lines total, one 5 wt, one 6 wt, and two 8 wt. If it really is as valuable as they advertised, I guess I got about $240 worth of fly line for about $40.
Now, for the fishing report in reverse order...
We stopped at two places in Alabama on the way back to Memphis. First we stopped and camped at DeSoto State Park (Thursday) in hopes of catching a Redeye Bass. Unfortunately, the west fork of the Little River in the park was too high, too swift, and mostly unwadable. We tried in vain to catch a fish from the few spots where we could cast from the overgrown banks. We didn't catch any fish, but I did capture these photos of calling male American Toads (Bufo americanus) back at the campground just after we roasted hot dogs and marshmallows over the campfire.
The frogs and toads calling from the vernal pool in the campground were a nice treat for the nocturnal naturalist.
The second place we stopped in Alabama on the final leg of our journey (Friday) was at one of our favorite fishin' holes, Cypress Creek near the town of Florence, but it was pretty slow fishing there too. The water was high and a little cloudy (for what is usually a crystal clear stream). Kelly caught one small Spotted Bass and a Rock Bass (Ambloplites rupestris) while I managed only one Rock Bass (see title of this post).
So, as I already mentioned the fishing in Georgia was pretty much a total bust. (We did catch a few Bluegills and one small Largemouth at the state park lake where we camped.) To be specific, the Flint River at Sprewell Bluff State Park was blown out from heavy rain the day before we arrived... which meant we did not catch our Shoal Bass. We casted from shore to some likely looking spots, but we were pretty much wasting our time. We camped in the area for one day and waited for the river to go down and clear up... but it actually looked worse after the second day. Time to move on. There must have been a lot of rain further upstream. We never actually encountered any rainfall on our trip... only it's ugly aftermath.
The second half of our fishing mission in Florida was to catch Suwannee Bass from the Suwannee River drainage. We apparently arrived just after a cold front moved through that put the fish off. We fished the afternoon we arrived (Monday) and the following morning (Tuesday) and between the two of us (actually just Kelly- again, see title of this post) only managed a couple of sunfish. I can't say exactly what this fish is. A field guide (and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) would tell you it's a Redbreast Sunfish (Lepomis auritus), but I have my suspicions that the taxonomy of these fish is not fully resolved. These fish don't look much like the Redbreasts we catch in Alabama or ones that I have caught in east Tennessee.
It is a very cool looking sunfish whatever its true classification.
So, now we're back to the beginning of our journey on Saturday evening. We had planned to camp at Lake Louisa State Park on the outskirts of Orlando, Florida. Little did we know, they lock the park gates at dark and you can't register for camping "after hours." We didn't make reservations so we didn't have the secret code for the automatic gate they give you if you plan to arrive late.
We ended up staying at a really funky motel. The sign says "deluxe," but I found no evidence of this in the room where I had a hard time sleeping.
|They've got PHONES... that's DELUXE.|
Sunday, after we finally got into Lake Louisa State Park, we set up our tent, ate lunch, and then promptly got our kayaks in the water. Kelly quickly caught the first Florida Largemouth Bass on a woolly bugger.
Shortly after Kelly caught that first fish, I got a follow from a Chain Pickerel (Esox niger) which I think is a big deal when fishing for toothy critters based on Clif's assessment of Musky Fishing. After about an hour or so of not catching much, we decided to wait until a little closer to sunset so that maybe we could catch a few on the surface. Before we got out of the water for the afternoon, Kelly snapped a pretty awesome photo of an Osprey.
|Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), Hammond Lake, LLSP, FL|
Our plan to get in on the sunset topwater bite didn't work out for me, but Kelly did okay... pretty well actually.
|Kelly's BIG Bass, Hammond Lake, LLSP, FL|
|21.5"... estimated around 5.5 to 5.75 lbs... nice fake Crocs.|
Not only does this Florida Largemouth more than qualify for the Bass Slam, it was Kelly's biggest bass ever. I was very happy for her... and proud of her. I still am.
The following morning, I lost two good fish. One I know was over five pounds (it doubled over my 9 wt during the brief five seconds while it was hooked) and another that was probably around three. I'll give another report soon on the best flies we found for fishing among the lotus pads.
I managed only one (barely) qualifying 16" Florida Largemouth.
Outfished by a girl... always.