Tarpon Poem

I hope to publish the poem below every year until I die.

an ideal world
hot sun, blue sky, clear, slick water
sweat
a graphite wand, a sliver of steel, a wisp of feathers

a flash of silver breaks the mirror
then another, and another
feathers land in water
magically, they come to life

line tightens
mirror smashed
power
water flies, gills flare, body shakes, shudders
again, and again, and again

the beast tires
arms ache
hand grasps jaw
feathers removed
great fish swims free once more

tarpon
one of God’s gifts to fly fishers
———
it’s tarpon fishing time…

John Kumiski

http://www.spottedtail.com

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2014. All rights are reserved.

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Two Birds to Watch While Fishing

two birds to watch while fishing

Two Birds to Watch While Fishing

One of the pleasures that fishing so generously provides to its participants is the opportunity to watch some spectacular bird life. Two birds to watch while fishing in central Florida waters include the migratory white pelican, and the resident roseate spoonbill.

White pelicans migrate here to central Florida for the winter, arriving somewhere around Thanksgiving. Summer finds them in the Dakotas and the prairie provinces of Canada, where they nest on isolated islands.

two birds to watch while fishing

Watching them feed I often wonder how they catch enough fish to maintain that large body. Unlike brown pelicans they don’t dive; rather, as they swim they dip their bills into the water to catch their fish. They usually fish in groups, finding it more efficient that way. They actually herd the fish to make them easier to catch. Ease of capture is important, since each bird needs at least three pounds of fish daily. That’s a lot of minnows! Actually, white pelicans can eat fish ranging in size from minnows up to three pounds or so.

White pelicans fly very gracefully. A flock will ride thermals, circling higher and higher for no apparent reason other than the sheer joy of flying. An observant angler will see hundreds of tiny specks elegantly circling together, thousands of feet above the water, an aerial ballet if you will.

Large, pink, spectacular roseate spoonbills do live here all year. If you want to see some, the area around the Merritt Island wildlife refuge is one of the best places in the state to look. They feed while wading in shallow water, sweeping their spatulate (duck-shaped), partly opened bill from side to side. The moment any small aquatic creature touches the inside of the bill—an insect, crustacean, or tiny fish—the bill snaps shut. They need to feed many hours each day to find adequate food. Their dabbling technique only works well when there are lots of small organisms in the water.

two birds to watch while fishing

Watching these and any of the many other types of birds out there can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of any fishing trip- especially when the fishing is slow. It’s good to take a break from chasing fish and observe what else is out there sometimes. The white pelican and the spoonbills are two birds to watch while fishing.

John Kumiski
http://www.spottedtail.com

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2014. All rights are reserved.



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Oil Drilling Coming to the Everglades

Fight for your right to clean water!

Oil Drilling Coming to the Everglades?

Is oil drilling coming to the Everglades?1798497_10203291943840558_357090852_n

This request came from Dr. Karen Dwyer in Naples, Florida:

“Join us, March 11, in Naples and bring as many people as you can. This is an URGENT REQUEST. The federal EPA is flying in for a hearing that could decide the fate of Florida water and open the door to Everglades drilling. We need to act fast and get big. It’s time to show just how strong and far reaching opposition is to Everglades drilling. We need you at the hearing to say “NO” to the injection well. March 11. Clean water not dirty drilling. See you in Naples!”

If you fish or bird watch in Everglades National Park, if you don’t want the door swung wide open to oil drilling in or off the beaches of Florida, you need to sport these folks any way you can. For more information visit this link

Help stop oil drilling coming to the Everglades!

John Kumiski



 

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Make a Home for Florida Bats

florida bats

Make a Home for Florida Bats

florida bats

Bats. From as early as I can remember (and probably long before that) they’ve been associated with Halloween, haunted houses, ghosts, and such nonsense. Bats are actually very cool little mammals, the only ones that can fly, and they perform many useful functions for humans.

Here in Florida bats are the most important controller of night-flying insects, including many agricultural pests. One small bat can eat up to 3,000 insects in a night!  Unfortunately, many bat species are disappearing at alarming rates.  Disturbance or destruction of roost sites due to development and vandalism constitute the greatest threat to the Florida’s bats.

Here in Florida thirteen species of bats are permanent or seasonal residents. Bats often live in natural structures such as caves when available. We don’t find many caves in Florida, so where do the bats live?

Most Florida bats prefer to roost in mature trees, or large dead trees (snags). However, many bats take up residence in buildings or other manmade structures, due to loss of habitat. If you would like the benefits of having bats live near your property, but don’t want them in your house, you can always put up a bat house.

Bat houses provide alternative roost sites for Florida’s colonial bat species.  A bat house in your backyard will offer local bats a much needed place to live.  They will also do you a return favor by helping to control the insects in the area. You can buy one already made, or if you’re handy build your own.

If you would like to build your own bat house, you can obtain plans for a triple chambered bat house by clicking on Bat House Plans.  To see photographs of the bat house under construction, click on Construction Photos. To watch Florida Bat Conservancy volunteer, George Fenner, describe how to build a quality bat house, click on http://wildflorida.tv/bats/downloads.html.

Of course, like any other wild animals bats will benefit from having natural, undeveloped areas. You can help bats, birds, and all kinds of other wildlife by supporting the work of organizations such as the Nature Conservancy and the Audubon Society. There are also organizations that works on behalf of bats, the Florida Bat Conservancy and the Lubee Bat Conservancy. They put on an annual bat festival you can attend to learn more about these fascinating, little understood mammals.

florida bats

Consider putting a house for Florida bats on your property. The bats will appreciate the love, and you’ll appreciate the sudden disappearance of mosquitos and other biting insects.

 

John Kumiski
http://www.spottedtail.com

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2014. All rights are reserved.



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Demand Clean Water Now

demand clean water

Demand Clean Water Now

Most of my readers are fishermen. For obvious reasons they need clean water. But all humans and most other organisms require clean water. Since our elected and appointed officials are in many cases taking liberties with that vital resource, it’s time all responsible citizens demand clean water now.

demand clean water

Should Florida’s citizens have to put up with this? Is it a sewer or a river?

On December 1 the Indian River Lagoon Paddle Adventure kicked off. One of the reasons we made this paddle voyage is to highlight the plight of the most biologically diverse estuary in North America. What plight, you ask? Algae blooms have badly fouled lagoon waters the past two summers, caused by nutrient overload in the north half of the lagoon. Nutrient-laden fresh water discharges from Lake Okeechobee have wreaked havoc on the south half of the lagoon for years.

No Drinking Water

Coming soon to a faucet near you?

It’s got to stop.

There are similar problems going on in water bodies state-wide. Coral reefs in the Keys are dying. What happened to the bonefish??? Springs are losing flow. The Floridan Aquifer is becoming polluted. Click on this link to see the hot spots in your community (and there probably are some). Click this link to see photos of the nasty stuff. Is your favorite fishing hole here yet?

If we don’t take action the quality of life we so often take for granted will continue to spiral downward.

The Indian River Lagoon has gotten bad press for the past two years. “Toxic algae blooms”, “fish kills”, “dead dolphins and manatees”, “loss of seagrass”, “a dying lagoon.” It’s affected the economy of the region. Tourists don’t want to visit or go fishing on a dying lagoon.

No one needs to re-invent the wheel. There already exists a core of clean water activists. Help them by offering support in any way you can. You can volunteer at this link…

One easy way to offer support is by signing the Floridian’s Clean Water Declaration.

FLORIDIANS’ CLEAN WATER DECLARATION

In recognition that:

Clean water is essential for healthy people and a healthy economy. Florida water quality and quantity are inseparably linked.

Florida waters are held in public trust by the State of Florida for the benefit of its people and the maintenance of natural ecosystems.

We the undersigned hereby declare:

The people of Florida have an inalienable right to:

  1. Clean drinking water whether that water is drawn from public sources or private wells.
  2. Safe lakes, streams, springs, rivers, canals and coastal waters for swimming and fishing.
  3. Protection from water pollution and its effects.
  4. Know the sources of pollution that threaten Florida’s waters.
  5. Protection from water privatization and its effects.
  6. Abundant water for drinking, fishing and recreation.

The people of Florida, the state government, and the industries that benefit from Florida’s natural resources have the responsibility to:

  1. Stop pollution at its source rather than allowing it to enter our waters.
  2. Protect Florida’s waters, as well as the people who depend on them, fromoverconsumption and privatization.
  3. Protect the natural environment which is critical to the health of Florida’s people,wildlife and economy.
  4. Provide clean water for future generations.

By signing this declaration, we agree to its principles and resolve to work together in good faith to ensure that the future of our waters will be driven by the concepts contained within this FLORIDIANS’ CLEAN WATER DECLARATION.

If you agree with this statement and want to sign on, please visit this link NOW…

It only makes sense that we all demand clean water now.

John Kumiski
http://www.spottedtail.com

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2013. All rights are reserved.



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A Florida Photo Essay- A Day on the Water

florida photo essay

Florida Photo Essay

Sometimes, when you go fishing, you don’t find many fish. So it was when I went to the St. Johns River this week.

Fortunately I brought my cameras. I managed to find a few images instead. I present some here for your perusal.

florida photo essay

The lower Econlockhatchee River, a lovely stream.

 

florida photo essay

This Snowy Egret has its breeding plumage on.

 

I found a place where several roseate spoonbills were roosting. I was quiet. They were tolerant. I was able to get some photographs and leave. They never flew away.

 

florida photo essay

 

florida photo essay

 

florida photo essay

 

 

Florida has about one and a half million cattle, and ranks tenth in the nation in beef production. Cows, however, do not make intelligent photo models.

 

florida photo essay

Moooooo!

 

florida photo essay

 

Horses are a little smarter than cows but still aren’t interested in modeling. Thank goodness for cabbage palms.

 

florida photo essay

I thought this was the strongest shot of the day.

 

What would a Florida photo essay be without a sunset shot?

 

nebularcloud

 

 

John Kumiski
http://www.spottedtail.com

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2013. All rights are reserved.



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the everglades- an excerpt

the everglades

the everglades john kumiski

First Trip

My first trip to the everglades was a five-day canoe trip in March 1980. A friend from Massachusetts and I drove down for spring break. We dropped the boat into Coot Bay Pond and paddled to Cape Sable, then back to Flamingo. I think we saw four other boats during that time. It was a wild, unforgiving place- hot, no fresh water, bad bugs, hellish sun. There was no one around. If you had a problem you were on your own.

I loved it.

The birds were incredible. We caught a chunky fish with a big spot near its tail. We didn’t know what it was but we ate it. It was good.

the everglades john kumiski

the birds were incredible

We left the Joe River chickee at dawn one morning. We had to catch the last of the tide to the Gulf. We got to the mouth of Little Shark River just after sunrise, at almost dead low tide. Tarpon rolled everywhere. I’d never seen one before. Each fish we saw just added to the magic and excitement of the moment.

Three hit my Rebel. Of course, all jumped right off. It was a watershed moment for me in my fishing career, simply a spectacular, unexpected, amazing event.

In spite of all the fish we had to keep going. There were many miles left.

When we got to middle Cape Sable there was a small aluminum skiff beached there. The lone fisherman walked the beach, casting. Not much was said at first.

The moon must have been at the right phase because the current ran so hard off the point that a whirlpool had formed. You didn’t need to be Joe Brooks to know that fish were there. I cast a jig over and over but did not get a bite.

Read the rest at http://johnkumiski.com/the-everglades/

John Kumiski
http://www.spottedtail.com

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2013. All rights are reserved.

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Trip Planning

trip planning

Trip Planning

trip planning

Hopefully we’ll see lots of this on our trip.

Rodney Smith and I plan to paddle a canoe the length of the Indian River Lagoon come December. For those unfamiliar with Florida geography, we intend to start in New Smyrna Beach and paddle to Hutchison Island, a distance of 160 miles plus change. If we average 10 miles a day, a very makeable distance, it will take us 16 days, assuming no lost time to weather. Yes, that is a ridiculous assumption.

It’s Rodney and me, so yes, we might be crazy.

A minor expedition like this requires some trip planning. I’ve already started.

Unlike a wilderness trip, where you must bring everything you need, we’ll be travelling through a densely populated area. This frees us from having to carry close to three weeks worth of food, since we can re-stock our larder along the way. That’s huge.

The same goes for water. If we were taking an Everglades trip we’d have to carry every drop of fresh water we would need. There will be lots of places to refill our water jug on this trip.

Where will we sleep? The men who dug the Intracoastal Waterway left big piles of dredged material as islands all along the trench. Camping is allowed on most of them.

So what will we be bringing? Here are the headings on my list, in no particular order:

-house
-boat
-fishing
-kitchen
-personal
-first aid
-clothes
-miscellaneous
-menu

If there’s any interest I will post the complete list as a web page. The same goes for our route and projected camping areas.

Rodney wants to raise enough money to establish an educational trust fund for students who wish to study the ecology of the lagoon. So he is actively looking for sponsors. Old Town Canoe is our first, putting a new Penobscot 17 at our disposal. Hurray for Old Town!

If you have any interest in helping us reach our goals, or know someone who might, please have them contact either Rodney or me.

John Kumiski
http://www.spottedtail.com

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2013. All rights are reserved.



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Enjoying Life on the Indian River Lagoon

Enjoying Life on the Indian River Lagoon

A Guest Blog by Rodney Smith

Enjoying Life on the Indian River Lagoon

 

Enjoying Life on the Indian River Lagoon

James Smith with some fine Indian River Lagoon crab claws.

My oldest son, James, has been getting on me to write a blog entitled “Enjoying Life on the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) Coast.” As much as I write, you’d think it would be an easy task, but at the end of the day, I felt like the task of writing a blog was about as exciting as being flogged with a soft-shell blue crab. Useless!

But then again, James reminded me why I should be communicating more frequently with other folks who also love and cherish the Indian River Lagoon coast. So, to restart my blog I have a question for you:

Why do you love the IRL coast in winter?

Please answer at irlcoast@gmail.com . If I get feedback on this question I’ll know some of you out there are reading this blog, and this will help me judge my course, blog-wise, moving into a new year!

Funny what a difference a month can make. It’s been the opposite of what you would typically consider standard conditions; in mid-November water temperatures along the entire Indian River Lagoon coast were in the mid-sixties in the north-central inshore ocean waters, well below normal. It looked like we were in for a long winter, but the weather flipped between Thanksgiving and Christmas and ocean temperatures rose nearly ten degrees.

The mild late fall weather guided thick schools of Atlantic menhaden toward the beaches along the north-central IRL coast. This, along with a steady stream of late season mullet still lingering near ocean inlets, attracted a smorgasbord of gamefish.

Because of the mild weather, tripletail, cobia, king mackerel and shark could be caught not far from where the Atlantic Ocean met the beaches. Tarpon by the hundreds flocked to Sebastian Inlet, snook packed the Ft. Pierce area and flounder and red and black drum roamed the beaches and inlets. Large schools of pompano, pushed south by the early cold and dirty water surged north, creating plenty of happy anglers from Sebastian to Hobe Sound.

Yes, December can be a fickle weather month along the Indian River Lagoon coast; tropical one day, winter-like the next. But as I found from going back to my twenty years of journals on the outdoor history of the IRL coast, much of the time the fishing and catching are above par this time of year.

If you’re interested in learning more about what to expect each month of the year along Florida’s IRL coast, check out my book Enjoying Life on the Indian River Lagoon Coast.  It touches on a wide range of topics, from shrimping and crabbing, to fishing for snook, tarpon, pompano, spotted seatrout and a large number of ocean pelagics. This book is jam-packed with useful information concerning the IRL coast for every month of the year.

Visit rodneysmithmedia.bigcartel.com for more information, or to order.

Rodney Smith is a writer and author, and currently director of Anglers for Conservation. He lives with his family in Satellite Beach.

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Black Drum Images- A Pictorial

black drum

Black Drum.

Thanksgiving blessings to all. The holiday lies a few hours off. To central Florida fly fishers that should mean black drum begin appearing on shallow flats of the Banana River Lagoon.

We sight fish for these brutes, using seven-weight (some folks like more rod) fly rods with such flies as black Clouser Minnows, black bunny leeches, or Merkin crabs in brown. My preference is for size two hooks. a 1/5oth ounce lead eye. Weed guards are essential.

First you search for the fish. There are no guarantees you will find them. Sometimes it’s a long day, lots of water covered, nothing to show for it.

black drum

Searching for black drum in the Banana River Lagoon.

Sometimes, though, you hit the jackpot.

black drum image

John Thompson with a big black drum.

The best days for them are warm and sunny with little or no wind.

black drum image

The first time Barry Kent fished with me he got this black drum.

The water is cold though. You need waders unless you’re tough.

black drum

Greg Ritland fights a black drum.

Many moons ago I brought one of my students, a seventh grader, fishing there. He had a brand new fly rod. This is the first fish he caught with it.

black drum image

Matt Van Pelt broke in his new fly rod with this fish. He’s in his thirties now.

No one will mistake these fish for a bonefish or a rainbow trout. But they are probably the largest tailing fish in North America, reaching sizes over 100 pounds.

black drum image

It’s a face only a fisherman could love,

My good friend Rodney Smith and I had a banner day on drum one time.

black drum

Rodney Smith, when he had time to go fishing.

Another good friend, Rick DePaiva, has had more luck there than anyone else I know.

black drum image

Ricky D with one of the many big black drum he’s taken there.

 

black drum

This was the first fish we saw this particular morning.

 

black drum

We photographed the daylights out of this fish, taking advantage of a good fish and great light.

 

black drum release

We took several more fish this day, but this was the best one.

 

Black drum should be on the flats until about Easter time. Make some time to get out there and pursue these unusual fish.

 

John Kumiski
http://www.spottedtail.com

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2012. All rights are reserved.



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