Spring Break Adventure 2012

Posted by 31 March, 2012 (0) Comment

Hi Everybody, Welcome back!!! We”ve just finished up another Spring Break Adventure and what a wonderful adventure we had!!! We spent the week boating, snorkeling, fishing, island hiking, exploring the sandbars, watching for manatees and bottlenose dolphins, finding horseshoe crabs, scaly mantis shrimp and cool starfish of al kinds. We found dozens of variegated sea […]

Hi Everybody, Welcome back!!!

We”ve just finished up another Spring Break Adventure and what a wonderful adventure we had!!! We spent the week boating, snorkeling, fishing, island hiking, exploring the sandbars, watching for manatees and bottlenose dolphins, finding horseshoe crabs, scaly mantis shrimp and cool starfish of al kinds. We found dozens of variegated sea urchins, west indian sea eggs, blue crabs and hermit crabs, watched schools of squid change colors right before our eyes, found beautiful pink queen conchs and fighting conchs galore, and caught pufferfish bare-handed day after day! We found a half dozen spotted yellow rays swimming amongst the shallows. I caught a few in hand net, took off the venemous barbs, which will begin to grow back after a few days, just so we could check them out up close and personal. We even went out along the beach most calm mornings to check out the schools of small spinner sharks and blacktip sharks that migrate past this time of year. We saw dozens swimming right off the beach! It was just GREAT!!! But best of all, I had a fabulous group of kids, and we had non-stop FUN and ADVENTURE from start to finish, each and every day!!! It just doesn’t get any better than that!!!

Group Photo

The tides were high most of the week and the Big Sandbar was covered underwater more often that not, but this didn’t stop us from romping around and catching blue crabs by the dozens! We had a blast chasing them down and catching them with our hand nets, and even at times with our bare hands. Occasionally, it would get really exciting when one would scurry right under your foot where the sand was stirred up, and we couldn’t help but think it was looking for our toes! This sure didn’t stop AdventureMatthew from catching his share and showing us one crab right after another!

Matthew with a blue crab

AdventureMax caught a pile himself and pretended he was the one that was going to have a blue crab for lunch. I wasn’t quite sure who was going to eat who, if he happened to drop it by mistake, still alive and kicking, right in his mouth! One thing for certain, he was sure having FUN, and he entertained us most of the morning! Way to go Max!!!

Max having fun

We spent a good bit of time each morning snorkeling about at the Rock Garden.Later, we would end up snorkeling in the protected inland lagoon looking for hermit crabs, juvenile lobsters, sea urchins and more! We hoped we might see a manatee again sun bathing in the shallows, but had no luck this day. AdventureMickey came up with a nice red hermit crab living within a discarded fighting conch shell, and I could tell he was having FUN holding that one up for us to see!!! His smile was contageous, and we all took turns checking that hermit crab out!

Mickey finds a hermit crab

Every morning we found spotted yellow rays swimming in the shallows or lying motionless on the gravelly sand. I caught one in a small hand net and removed the venemous barb so that we could handle it safely and check out its sphericals and tiny mouth, filled with two bony sand-paper like plates that are capable of crushing very small mollusks or invertebrates for food. The kids loved when the ray would “suck” on to their shirt, or head for that matter, and have to be gently removed by hand after a few seconds. I know AdventureMatthew was having FUN, but his older brother AdventureJohn was a bit more hesitant on this day. By the end of the week though, he was a trooper just like the rest of them!!! Way to go Matthew and John!!!

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Every morning that we passed by the Big Sandbar or had to slow down for a no-wake zone, I would put out a light tackle rod and troll for a barracuda, blue runner or jack crevalle. We all took turns putting the line out and reeling fish in, and every now and then we would catch a nice barracuda that we would later use as bait on a shark line or save for our crab traps. AdventureRachael holds up a nice barracuda that is about typical of the size we normally catch. Nice job Rachael! Nice barracuda too!!!

rachael with a barracuda

Each day we stopped by the Big Sandbar to do some exploring, shallow water snorkeling and look for big orange or red Cushion Starfish lying on the sandy bottom. Everytime we stopped by, the kids found a few, and we would all take turns checking them out and taking a few photos ops for our own entertainment, and for that of the parents as well! Some of these starfish were quite large, and the kids all loved that!!! AdventureJohn and Matthew would take turns catching crabs and finding starfish and I could tell they were having FUN too!!!

starfish heads

Not to be out done, AdventureDylan and Rachael had a blast finding Cushion Starfish of their own and acting silly along the way! They looked like naturals, wearing those two starfish as hats, and I could tell they must have practiced their posture, since those starfish never fell off! Way to be entertaining Dylan and Rachael!!! Nice Starfish Hairdo!!!

More starfish heads

One day we snorkeled the whole way around Peanut Island and had a blast finding all sorts of cool things! We saw more spotted yellow rays, schools of mullet by the hundreds and found queen conchs galore! We found tons of blue legged hermit crabs, chased and caught short nosed pufferfish by the dozens and had more FUN than you could imagine!!! AdventureRachael found piles of west indian sea eggs, which are an uncommon species of sea urchin around here. They were feeding on the algae and sea grass growing in the shallows. It was just GREAT!!! Nice find Rachael!!!

Rachael with a west indian sea egg

AdventureMickey had a blast snorkeling the whole way around the island and just checking out everything in general. He didn’t seem to care what he saw or found! He just loved it all!!! And so did we!!! AdventureMicky first came to my camp about 3 years ago, had never snorkeled, been on a boat or ever caught a fish! Let me tell you, 3 years later, he is as comfortable and a natural swimmer as you’ll ever see!!! Mickey, you have come a long ways!!! Way to ROCK, and SWIM for that matter!!!

Mickey underwater

We spent another morning exploring the islands and estuaries, and the shallow rocky oyster covered sandbars. We talked about the benefits of mangroves, algae’s and sea grasses, and how this type of natural habitat is necessary and crucial to the juvenile reef fish, crabs and millions of crustaceans and invertebrates that inhabit this marine ecosystem. It is vital and necessary to preserve and maintain as much of this environment as possible, for without this, the water quality and near shore marine life would diminish greatly! Along the way I showed them wild coffee plants and thorny knicker beans. An interesting fact, the husk of the knicker bean is used in making quinine, an anti-malarial medicine. How neat is that!

island adventure

We took a nice hike along a nature trail on Munyon Island to the backside, or east side of the island. We ended up hiking along a narrow spit of land along the red mangroves and found a half dozen or so molts of horseshoe crabs. We hoped to see a few live ones crawling along the bottom, but no luck today. Horseshoe crabs, like all marine crustaceans, shed their outer carapace as they grow. After this molt, they fill their now soft body with sea water, and stretch out their skin. After a few days, their now much larger outer shell turns hard, giving them room to grow. Horseshoe crabs are related to spiders and enzymes from their blood are used in medicine to make blood thinners. How cool is that!!!

finding horseshoe crabs

Thursday was our fishing day and we went to one of my secret spots and everyone caught lane snappers, pigfish, big grunts and tomtates non -stop! It was a blast watching everyone catch fish by the dozens!!! Like as fast as you could “bait your hook and drop down” dozens!!! It was just GREAT, and as usual, there were a few sore arms from reeling fish in afterwards!!! Just the way I love it!!! AdventureDylan, yes, the same girl who holds the all time biggest fish record caught for my summer camp on my boat Dylan, (49lb barracuda on 6lb test, Yippee!!!) and her brother, AdventureJohn holds up a couple of nice fish! Way to go again!!!

Dylan and Matthew

AdventureMax caught lane snappers, big grunts and tons of other fish, along with some unusual pufferfish with really neat markings, that we just started seeing in the lake a couple years ago. He always does well and is a great fisherman too! loves to fish like their is no tomorrow! And as he said to me about 3 years ago on one of his first adventures with me, “Fishing is my Mojo”. Well, mine too buddy! Nice Job!!!

Max catches a strange pufferfish

AdventureJohn, Dylan and Matthews brother, seemed to be fishing in the right spot! Time after time, he would hook up with something big and have a real battle trying to get it in on light tackle! It turned out to be one big porgy after another, and after watching that going on non-stop for half an hour, I was wanting to grab a rod myself and move over right next to him and have a go at it too!!! Needless to say, he seemed to be catching the biggest ones that day!!! Way to catch another big porgy John!!! Nice fish!!!

AdventureJohn catches a Big Porgy

The really great thing about this spot is, you never know what you might catch!!! Over the years we have caught dozens and dozens of different species of fish, in all sizes, shapes and colors!!! This is also where AdventureDylan caught her huge barracuda that ate her lane snapper she was reeling in, but not quite fast enough!!! Good thing for her too, cause that barracuda was a monster!!! Yes, I had to post a photo of that fish again!!!

Dylan's Monster Barracuda!

Anyway, on this day she didn’t catch another monster baracuda, but she did catch an unusual filefish that had a set of really sharp teeth and extremely rough skin covered with denticles, just like that of a shark, not with scales like most other fish. She always seems to catch not only a ton of fish, but all kinds as well!!! Nice Job Dylan!!! Again!!!

Dylan catches a filefish

On the last day we took another wonderful snorkel adventure along the backside of Peanut Island. As we were swimming along catching sharpnosed pufferfish and finding sea urchins, etc., I hear AdventureDylan yell, “AdventureMike, come over here quick! I’ve found something!!!”. I quickly swam over and took a look, and low and behold, she had found a large scaly mantis shrimp totally out of its burrough, just crusing along the bottom. What a find!!! This doesn’t happen often!!! Mantis shrimp have large front arms, like those of a preying mantis, with spikes on those arms used for impaling their prey, hence their name! When encountered, it would be best to leave these well enough alone so as not to get your thumb split, but I knew how to handle them and showed the kids the proper technique without getting stuck. We all took turns checking it out up close and personal, and loved the experience. It ws just GREAT!!! AdventureMax was careful to hold it well!!!

Max with a mantis shrimp

Just as our last day was coming to an end, we found another small spotted yellow ray that didn’t have a barb, and we all took turns checking that one out as well!!! It seemed to be a fitting way to end the weeks Adventure. We started out finding spotted yellow rays and ended finding spotted yellow rays. What a GREAT DAY!!! What a GREAT WEEK full of FUN and ADVENTURE!!! What a GREAT group of kids!!! It just doesn’t get any better than that!!!

Dylan with a spotted yellow ray

I just can’t wait to go do it all over again!!! Stay tuned…. See you all soon!!!

Let’s Go have Some Fun!!!

AdventureMike

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Boating, Fishing and Snorkeling FUN!!!

Posted by 25 July, 2011 (0) Comment

Hi Everybody, Welcome Back!!! I just wanted to drop a quick post about the weeks Adventure. Let me tell you, it has been another great week full of fun and excitement, and non stop adventure! We’ve had FUN, FUN, FUN all the way from Here to There!!! The whole week thru!!! It just doesn’t get […]

Hi Everybody, Welcome Back!!!

I just wanted to drop a quick post about the weeks Adventure. Let me tell you, it has been another great week full of fun and excitement, and non stop adventure! We’ve had FUN, FUN, FUN all the way from Here to There!!! The whole week thru!!! It just doesn’t get any better than that!!! And I know, I’ve said that before!!! I started out this week with just another absolutely wonderful, great group of kids raring to go!!! They were ready to go have FUN, and so was I!!! And they stayed that way the whole week thru!!! Just the way I love it!

group photo

We quickly loaded up, and off to the Rock Garden we went. The tide was high and the water absolutely beautiful! What a great way to start the day!!! There were menhaden by the thousands and dozens of big snook and juvenile barracudas were trying to eat them for lunch, right up next to the beach! It was darn exciting watching those menhaden race past us with some big fish right after them! It didn’t take long for AdventureMatthew to join the race and try to catch a few in his net as well!!! Way to go Buddy!!! Keep Chasing!!!

Matthew chasing fish

While we swam around the Rock Garden enjoying ourselves and checking out the hundreds of species of fish, one big giant ray came gliding right up next to us that was truly awesome!!! It had to have about a 6 foot wingspan and as it glided past us, it looked like a 747 going down the reef! It was absolutely GREAT, and we all loved it!!! It was cool to see!!! We spent a good bit of time searching for and finding blue legged hermit crabs by the hundreds! Along the way, we found one big, beautiful, mature queen conch that was about as nice as you can find around here. It was a nice find and we all took turns taking our photos with it. AdventureTripp sure had fun when it was his turn!!!

Trip with queen conch

We spent a little bit of time swimming around the lagoon on Peanut Island, and saw a manatee go by, found a school of reef squid hovering in mid water that were really great to watch as they changed colors by contracting and expanding their chromatophores.We found dozens of large short spined and variegated sea urchins that were totally covered with shells and algae. We came upon a nice rock that had a half dozen big lobsters underneath waving their antennae’s at us as if to say hello! AdventureDylan and Beau caught dozens of rock crabs and swimming crabs, and had fun feeding a few to the friendly sheep head and parrotfish that were following us around.

crab catchers

On the way back to the boat we found some small sea cucumbers and big tunicates, and at least a half dozen Giant Hermit crabs that were just waiting to crawl right out of their shells and grab your fingers if you gave them half a chance!!! There was nothing shy about these guys!!! The very second you grabbed their shell, they would stretch way out and try and reach around and take hold of your finger! It was just GREAT and EXCITING too trying to hold those crabs with getting pinched! AdventureDylan sure payed close attention to this one when he held it up for a picture!!! Nice Job!!! Didn’t get pinched either!!! Way to go!!!

Dylan with hermit crab

Each time we went by the Big Sandbar we put out a line with a shiny “Gotcha” plug and trolled along the shallows. A few times during the week a big barracuda would grab it, and we would all take turns reeling it in. A few we kept for our crab trap, and others to use as bait for our set line hoping to catch a small shark or a big ray! We didn’t have any luck this week on the line, but we sure had fun on the way there to check it out just in case! Sometimes anticipation is everything!!! AdventureMatthew sure had FUN when it was his turn to reel in a nice big barracuda!!!

matthew and barracuda

Everyday at low tide we stopped by the Big Sandbar to explore and see what we could find. We found hundreds of West Indian and Florida fighting conchs laying eggs, dozens of Baby Ear mollusks and olive snails, quite a few juvenile box crabs and blue claw crabs and a few nice, big, short-spined sea urchins and beaded starfish. Along the way AdventureRachel and Davina found the smallest, most tiniest beaded starfish that I’ve seen all year! It was a really nice find and we all took turns taking pictures of that tiny starfish as well. AdventureDavina was sure full of smiles when it was her turn to check it out!!! Way to go girls!!!

Davina with smallest starfish

Everyday we would check out our crab trap to see if we caught anything and to add a bit more bait. Some days we would have nothing, and other days we would have only spider crabs. One day we had a trap full of some of the biggest, meanest blue crabs you ever saw!!! I’m talking CRABS WITH ATTITUDE!!! And thats just the way we love it!!! I gave the kids a talk on how to hold a “big mean blue crab full of attitude”without getting pinched, and showed them the proper technique that works everytime!!! I could tell they paid close attention too the way they tamed these big ol’ Crabs!!! Nice job!!! Nobody was “crabby” here!!!

3 blue crabs

We stopped by Little Munyon Island a couple of times this week to look for horseshoe crabs and 9 armed starfish and to do a little bit of searching and exploring along the shallows on the backside of the island. We found loads of green legged hermit crabs and a few juvenile starfish that had most of the tips of the arms nibbled off by crabs. Probably by those very same ‘big mean blue crabs with attitude”!!! Most of the tips had begun to regenerate and that was cool for the kids to see! We stopped by the south end of the island to take a couple of group photos along the edge of the rocks, where everyone had fun posing for pictures!!!

On the rocks

Another day we stopped by little Munyon Island to do some seine netting along the shallow sea grass beds, and talk about how many juvenile reef fish begin their life cycles in the grass flats before moving out onto the reefs as adults. We never know what we might pull up, and that always seems to add to the excitement for the group! On this day, the lake was flat calm, the tide way out, and conditions were perfect for seineing. Everyone was excited and ready to get started, and so was I!!!

seine netting

By the end of the day we had caught more than a dozen juvenile barracudas, hundreds of mojarras, grunts, pinfish, snappers and tomtates. A half dozen or so big pipefish that are related to sea horses, tons of sea grass filefish that have rough skin with tiny teeth-like denticles similiar to that of sharks and lucky for the kids, a bunch of sharp-nosed puffers and checkerboard pufferfish that inflated right on demand!!! The kids loved these and we all took turns checking them out!!! It was a great day!!!

Juvenile barracudas and puffers

We spent another morning going over to Sea Urchin Shoals and found more short spined and variegated sea urchins than you could count!!! They came in every size and color combination you could think of!!! I’m not sure who won the contest that day for finding the smallest sea urchin, but I know it wasn’t me!!! And I gave it my best too! Oh well… We all took turns letting them stick to our hands using their tiny tube feet and checked out their tiny pyramidal teeth underneath, known as ‘Aristotle’s lantern”. They have the perfect teeth for grazing on sea grass, which is why we find them here in such large numbers. AdventureRachel had fun finding the perfect color she liked best!

Rachel with sea urchin

I took the kids down to a section of rocks that often has a few of the long-spined or diadema sea urchins hidden among the crevasses. I wanted to show them what another species looks like that is cool to see, but best left alone!!! These also feed on algae but usually are found on the rocks and not in the sea grass beds around here. These have long, black, venemous spines that easily break off in the skin leaving a painful puncture for an hour or so. Sometimes they can be carefully handled underneath where the spines have been worn down and dull at the tips. If you chose to pick one up, WHICH YOU SHOULDN”T!!!, be prepared to be stuck on more than a few occasions. It happens to me quite often!!! The kids sure loved seeing this one up close and personal!!!

Long spined urchin

On our fishing day we started out going to the artificial reef where we caught Ceasars grunts, snappers, tomtates, pinfish, pigfish and striped grunts, NON-STOP!!! We caught so many fish that I stopped counting after a couple hundred! I have no idea who caught the most, but I can guarantee you, we had FUN like there was no tomorrow!!! I don’t think I could count three seconds before someone else had a fish on, or there was 8 fish on at once!!! One thing is certain, AdventureDavina sure had FUN catching this nice fish!!!

Davina catches another fish

A bit later I took the group down to my secret lane snapper hole, and we caught lane snappers there, like there was no tomorrow too!!! After about 15 minutes of catching snappers non-stop, one big ,hungry barracuda decided to park itself right underneath the boat and start having our lane snappers for lunch!!! AdventureRachel was reeling in one fine snapper when this barracuda darted out and ate half of it for lunch. She dangled the remaining half just out of water and that baracuda never took its eyes off that fish. I thought it might jump out of the water and grab it in mid air. I took the rest of that snapper and put it on a slightly bigger rod with a hook and wire leader and gave it to Rachel. A split second later, she had that big Cuda on, and a while after that, she got it in the boat!!! Way to Go Rachel!!! How is it, that it always seems the girls catch the biggest fish??? HMMMNNNN?????

Rachel's Big Barracuda

The latter part of the day we went to the Big Sandbar to swim in the Deep Hole to rinse off. We collected a bunch of florida and west indian fighting conchs to check out, and take a few photos of the kids with Rachel’s Big Barracuda, now that it was dead and safe to handle! We had so much fun we never wanted the day to end!!! When I told the kids it was getting time to go, I could hardly get them to come back in the boat. I had to threaten them that if they didn’t hurry, I was going to have to BLOW MY WHISTLE!!! And lucky for me, it happens to be one of the worlds loudest whistles!!! This day was one of those very special days, and that barracuda was one heck of a FISH!!! Way to Go Everybody!!! You guys ROCK!!!

Group with barracuda

The last day we spent snorkeling around the Rock Garden, then took a quick boat ride along the beach so everyone could enjoy going “FAST”. From here we went to check the crab trap and shark line we set in the deep trough along the sea grass beds. Lotsa crabs!!! No shark!!! Oh well… But one thing very cool we did see when we went to check the line was 21, yes, that is the correct number!!!, 21 big huge manatees eating mouthfuls of sea grass, all around the boat!!! It was fantastic!!! And we loved every second of it!!! We spent at least 30 minutes watching them munch away just a few feet from our boat!!! What a sight to see!!! It was just GREAT!!! And did we EVER want to join them!!!

Manatees

And while we were all enjoying this, 3 bottlenose dolphin swam by to take a close up look for themselves! They spent about 15 minutes circling our boat looking at us, while we looked back at them!!! It was a great way to end the day and our week, and a put an exclamation point on another wonderful week full of FUN and ADVENTURE!!! All the way from HERE to THERE!!! Boating, Fishing and Snorkeling FUN!!!! What a week!!! What a day!!! What FUN we had!!! It just doesn’t get any better than this!!!!

Bottlenose Dolphin

I can’t wait till next week to do it all over again!!! Hope you’ll join us!!! Its going to be GREAT!!!

Let’s Go Have Some Fun!
AdventureMike

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Sea Creature Encounters, Big and Small !!!

Posted by 16 July, 2010 (0) Comment

Hi Everyone! Welcome back!!! We’ve just finished up another week of FUN and Adventure and let me tell you it was one of the best! We had so much FUN I don’t even know where to begin!!! It does seem that every week just gets better and better or maybe we are just getting lucky, […]

Hi Everyone! Welcome back!!!

We’ve just finished up another week of FUN and Adventure and let me tell you it was one of the best! We had so much FUN I don’t even know where to begin!!! It does seem that every week just gets better and better or maybe we are just getting lucky, but either way I LOVE IT!!! All week long we had the coolest encounters with all kinds of sea creatures both big and small! No matter where we went or under which rock we looked, we found something COOL! I think AdventureMandy summed this week up best when I asked the group at the end of the day, ‘Well, Did you have Fun?” And her response was, “This was AWESOME!!! This is the BEST camp I’ve ever been too!!! ” My thoughts exactly Mandy!!! I couldn’t have said it better!!!

Jack with a ghost crab

We began the first day stopping by the Big Sandbar. The tide was dead low and we all wanted to jump out and explore the bar to see what we could find. We hadn’t been out of the boat for more than a minute before we found something we liked or were fascinated with! Wherever we walked we found blue crabs scurrying by, or baby’s ear mollusks burrowing in the sand. As we walked we would occasionally stop to check out the Mantis shrimp and tube worm tunnels or pick up a handful of fighting conchs to watch for a bit. We kept our eyes open for starfish and before long we found a few. We came up with two beaded starfish, one big Cushion Starfish and shortly after that, we found a nice, medium sized 9 armed starfish that we loved! Some of the legs were shorter than others and we could see it was in the process of regenerating and growing new legs which we all found to be really neat! I know Mandy, Mac and Jack had a good time finding this one!

Mandy, Mac and jack

As we loaded up in the boat to head over to the Rock Garden to snorkel, we noticed a thin wispy water spout coming out of the very edge of beautiful cloud bank a ways offshore. We stopped and watched it develop a bit bigger than disappear in a blink of an eye as the cloud bank moved to the south. We thought that was just great too! No trouble for us! The minute we got in the water we were seeing fish by the thousands. Every where we looked there were FISH, FISH, FISH!!! And did we ever love that! While watching a school of parrotfish swim by one of the kids found a big slimy sea cucumber which we all took turns checking out. And did we ever enjoy that too! I know AdventureMandy sure did!!!

Mandy with a slimy sea cucmber

As we snorkeled along the edge of the Rock Garden we saw dozens of short-nosed puffers and quite a few checkerboard pufferfish. As usual, we all wanted to try and catch one to watch it “blow up” with air or water to more than twice its normal size. Chasing after and catching pufferfish has to be one of the most favorite things the kids love to do! We don’t always get them, but we sure LOVE trying! Sometimes it takes a combined effort to be successful. I know AdventureBobby was sure happy when it came his turn to get one in the net! We all were! Nice job!

Bobby with a checkerboard puffer

As some of the kids chased puffers or watched the thousands of fish swim by, others would search or turn over small rocks looking for crabs, shrimp, brittle starfish or anything else they could find. Every now and then someone would come up with a few small stone crabs or porcelain crabs or a nice big queen conch or two. But the prize they were after was a nice big swimming crab! Every now and then I would hear a squeal of glee and turn around just in time to see some big crab dart about scurrying from rock to rock or underneath a nearby foot. You have to be quick of foot and hand to get a big one in your net. All the while not getting pinched! Check out the impressive pincers on this one that AdventureJack was lucky to catch!

Jack catches a swimming crab

Another day we went to Little Munyon Island to search along Sea Urchin Shoals to see how many different color variations of short-spined urchins we could find. The ones most commonly found are the dark green varieties, but my favorite color phase is the bright white ones with rich dark purple spines. We found sea urchins in every size and color! There were so many urchins you could collect them by the armfuls. And by the armfuls we did! It looked like it had rained urchins all night long! On this day they literally covered the bottom and we picked them up one after another checking each one out! We loved when they would stick to our hands using their tiny little tube feet, and we would all share when a smaller one or new color variety was found.

Raining sea urchins

The latter part of the day we spent seine netting the shallow grass flat to the east. The tide had gone out and the flats were exposed like never before. This gave us a rare opportunity to seine in areas that were normally too deep. Here the sea grass was thick and luxuriant. The perfect home for fish! With the very first pull of the net we brought in some wonderful “treasures” that we placed in our tank of sea water to check out a bit later. They came in all sizes. You name it and I think we found it! The group loved to sort through the net the minute it reached the beach! And me too of course!

Low tide seine netting

The second pull of the net thru the grass flats brought in the typical assortment of juvenile fish ranging from tiny barracudas to filefish, mojarras, striped grunts, ceasars grunts, lane snappers, yellowtail snappers, pinfish, sea grass shrimp, pink shrimp and lucky for us, some striped burrfish! This fish are in the blowfish family of fishes and are striped to match the sea grass and covered in short spines. They can be handled easily from underneath if you are careful to keep your hands and fingers out of the way of their mouths. AdventureJacob, Harper and William loved taking a close-up look at these!

Jacob, Harper, William and striped burrfish

It seemed with every pull of the net we would come up with something different. It is amazing how many species of fish and juvenile fish depend on the grass flats to provide food and shelter until they are big enough to live on the reef. Many species of fish will never leave the grass flats their entire lives. This is the perfect habitat for slow swimming pufferfish and on this day we were finding them by the dozens. And were we ever happy with that! AdventureMandy, Mac and Bobby sure had FUN checking out this checkerboard pufferfish up close and personal!

Mandy, Mac, Bobby and checkerboard puffer

On the last pull of the net we came up with a juvenile long-spined porcupinefish and that was the very first one we have ever caught here. The minute the net came in to the beach this two inch long porcupinefish puffed up in all its glory and turned itself into a round little ball of quills. We absolutely loved that! This species of porcupinefish has the longest spines of any around, and even though it was tiny, we had to be very careful to hold it gingerly. All in all, we found 4 different species of blowfish or pufferfish in one pull of the net, and let me tell you that was just GREAT! AdventureHarper and Mandy loved the striped burrfish and long-spined porcupinefish best!

Harper, Mandy and porcupinefish

Of course, Thursday was our fishing day and it is mighty hard to beat the FUN and EXCITEMENT that we have on this day!!! Most days the kids will have a fish on within a few seconds of their bait hitting the bottom! On this day it was no different!!! We spent a little bit of time fishing the artificial reef and caught porkfish, grunts, snappers, tomtates, porgies, parrotfish and more! I took them to my secret snapper hole a bit later and we caught lane snappers non stop till we were almost too tired to bring any more in!!! And that’s just the way I love it!!!

Great day of fishing!

It always seems on most trips the smallest person in the boat catches the biggest fish, and on this day it was no different. This was AdventureMandy’s first day of fishing and I think she stopped counting how many fish she caught once she reached about 40 or so. She seemed to be catching big fish one after another and sometimes I was wondering whether she would get them in or whether they would pull her out of the boat. She had quite a tussle with a few big fish but eventually got them in! I absolutely loved watching that! Great job Mandy! Nice big grunt too!

Mandy catches a ceasars grunt

The last half hour of the day we went back to the Big Sandbar and romped around in the shallows. The boys dug trenches in the sand like they were building an irrigation project and the girls played in the warm pool of water we call the Hot Tub. As we headed back to the boat to call it a day we came upon a large Cushion starfish at the edge of the bar. We all had a chance to check the starfish out and take some cool photos along the way!

sandbar starfish

When we arrived back at the dock we were met with Icecream bars to celebrate AdventureJacobs birthday, and the cool thing about that was not only did we love that ice cream, but AdventureJacob and I celebrate the very same birthday! That’s July 8th, so Happy Birthday again Jacob! You ROCK! Nice sharing a birthday with another Adventurer!!!

We began the last day going back to the Rock Garden to enjoy the fabulous snorkeling and of course spent a good bit of time chasing and netting fish and crabs. We always love that!!! I noticed the ocean was absolutely flat calm so I decided to take the kids for a short jaunt offshore looking for some loggerhead and green sea turtles to show them. On the way out we passed over a nice sargassum seaweed line so we stopped to dip net a bit to see what we could find. With the very first scoop we caught a half dozen filefish, numerous shrimp and crabs and a lovely juvenile long spined porcupinefish that filled itself with air as if right on cue! Harper was the first to check it out and I could tell she loved it!!! We all did!

Harper with a long spined porcupinefish

We all took turns checking out the porcupinefish and watched how cool it was to see it fill itself up with air to more than double its size. Being able to double its size and protrude hundreds of tiny sharp spines is a great way of preventing oneself from being eaten. Makes it also difficult to hold even if all you want to do just take a quick peek before leting it go! When fully grown this porcupinefishes spines can be over 2 inches long and needle sharp, making it almost impossible to be eaten or held! I know AdventureJason sure enjoyed checking it out when it came to his turn. Me too of course!

Jason with a long-spined porcupinefish

While all this FUN was going on a great big loggerhead sea turtle surfaced right by the boat and we all got a chance to see one right up close! And let me tell you, We Loved That Too!!! After this we went to the beach and anchored a few feet offshore. Most of us snorkeled while AdventureJoseph dug a huge hole in the sand to sit in. A second or two later I heard a yelp and watched as Joseph jumped up out of the hole with a huge Ghost Crab following closely behind! And “behind” is the key word! I think he even left a mark! How about it Joseph? I laughed so hard I could hardly take a picture! In a wink of an eye, Joseph quickly chased it down and held it up carefully for us to see. Nice Find Joseph!!! Well, I’m not really sure who found who, but it was great entertainment all the same! I loved it. :-)

Joseph with his ghost crab

Just as we were getting ready to call it a day and slowly swimming back to the boat, a huge friendly manatee swam right up to us as if to say ,”hello” and gave us another BIG THRILL!!! He hung around for a little bit, then moseyed off down the beach. We loved that so much we had to get in the boat and go by and take one last look before heading home! I can tell you none of us wanted to go back that day!!! It was GREAT to have such a wonderful encounter! I wish a big friendly manatee would come by for a visit everyday!!!

Coming by to say hello

On the way back we saw another big manatee swimming right down the beach in crystal clear, shallow water. And of course, we stopped to take a look at that one too. The amazing thing about what we saw that would have knocked our socks off if we were wearing any…. Following closely behind was a huge Manta Ray that swam right up to us looking like a Bomber coming in for a landing!!! Let me tell you, WE LOVED THAT TOO!!! So much so that I forgot to take a picture! Oh well… It was just unbelievable! What a way to end the week, any week!!!

We had Sea Creature Encounters, Big and Small, all week long!!! It just doesn’t get any better than that!!! How LUCKY we were!!! One things certain, I just can’t wait till next week to do it all over again!!! Hope you’ll join us and be a part of the ADVENTURE!!! I know its going to be GREAT!!! See you soon!!!

Let’s Go Have Some Fun!!!

AdventureMike

Categories : Summer 2010: July 6 - July 9 Tags : , , , , , , , ,

Another Week in Paradise!

Posted by 27 June, 2010 (1) Comment

Hi Everyone! Welcome Back!!! I’m finally getting a chance to write about last weeks Adventure. I left immediately after camp on Friday to spend the weekend in the Bahamas swimming with Spotted and Bottlenose Dolphin and some nice big Tiger Sharks on the ridge. Saw quite a few big grouper on some sunken wrecks too […]

Hi Everyone! Welcome Back!!!

I’m finally getting a chance to write about last weeks Adventure. I left immediately after camp on Friday to spend the weekend in the Bahamas swimming with Spotted and Bottlenose Dolphin and some nice big Tiger Sharks on the ridge. Saw quite a few big grouper on some sunken wrecks too which I loved. Wanted to do a little underwater photography! Let me tell you I had FUN doing that too, but that’s a another story for another day! Needless to say, its been FUN FUN FUN and I didn’t get a chance to write my blog!!! Oh well…Now is as good a time as any…

Having FUN at the beach!

Like always, I began the week with another great group of kids!!! We had perfect weather and perfect water conditions and boy were we ever ready to go have some fun!!! Like Fun all the way from here to there kind of FUN! Just the way I LOVE it! We spent the first morning visiting the Rock Garden and having a ball finding all kinds of things! There were so many fish in every direction we didn’t know which way to start swimming. Parrotfish, snappers, grunts, seargent majors, porkfish, barracudas, wrasse and snook! Everywhere!!! While we were looking at fish, AdventureDakota found a Big Sea Urchin which we all checked out and AdventureRocky found a nice one too. This photo of Rocky with a nice sea urchin shows you just how much fun we were having!

Rocky finds a nice sea urchin!

We spent a lot of time looking for new things and catching blennies, gobies, beau gregories, flounder, brittle starfish, short nosed pufferfish and conchs, etc. in our hand nets. It didn’t take long for everyone to get the hang of it! The kids would work together corralling the fish and before long someone had it in their net. The schools of fish were thick near the shallow rocks and this kept the kids busy for quite some time. Nobody wanted to give up! They were too busy having FUN chasing fish at the Rock Garden!!!

Chasing fish at the Rock Garden

After one of the kids turned over a rock and found a Big swimming crab hiding underneath, fish chasing turned into crab catching and off in that direction we went for a while. We didn’t care what we were doing, but boy were we ever having fun and keeping busy doing it all the same! Almost every single rock we looked under we found ourselves staring eye to eye with a nice BIG swiming crab, stone crab or coral crab! We even had schools of sheepshead and parrotfish following us around trying to eat the crabs we were finding out from underneath our fingertips. Were we ever loving that!!! It was cool to see!!! I watched AdventureJagger chase down a nice BIG crab and finally catch him and hold him up for all to see. Nice Job, and not getting pinched either!!! Alright!

Jagger catches a big crab

I watched as AdventureMaxwell perfected a fine technique of turning up a rock and snagging a Big Crab in his net all in one swift motion. That is not as easy as it sounds. These crabs have a habit of rapidly swimming under the next rock nearby or right under your feet before you can blink your eye! Sometimes they swim right under the next kids feet before they know whats going on, and that sure can get things exciting in a hurry. You should have heard the squeals of laughter when that would happen! We all loved it!!!

Maxwell nets another crab!

Another day we stopped by the Big Sandbar to look for mantis shrimp, fighting conchs, blue claw crabs, hermit crabs and anything else we could find to check out up close and personal. It didn’t take us long to find something we loved! We always love coming here and seem to come up with underwater “treasures” on every occasion. On this day I re-learned that important lesson why you should NOT wiggle your finger in the hole of a nice big mantis shrimp to see what might happen! And that’s because he might think its a fish and reach out quicker than you can imagine and grab that nice little finger with his sharp dagger like claws before you can move it!! When I pulled my finger back bleeding with 2 nice punctures in it, the kids thought that was just GREAT!!! I’m sure they learned an important lesson and so did I!!! AGAIN… ouch! When will I ever learn? One of the neatest things AdventureBeau found was a nice big 9 armed starfish that he shared with all of us, and we loved that too!!! Good JOB!

Beau finds a 9 armed starfish!

We spent one afternoon seine netting in the shallows and grass flats around Little Munyon Island. The kids always love this and you never know what you might come up with! We find so many cool things from juvenile barracudas to dwarf sea horses to sharp nosed pufferfish. You name it and I think we might be able to find it! Each time we pulled the net we found something new to share! On this day the tide was extra low and we had a chance to seine net in places we weren’t able to before. It was just great!

seine netting the grass flats

On one pull of the net on to the beach we came up with a lovely checkerboard pufferfish that everyone wanted to see! thes fish are commonly in the shallows eating barnackles off the rocks but aren’t easy to get in a seine net. I showed them the powerful jaws and dentures that these fish posses and made sure no one held this fish but me. Didn’t want anyone to get nibbled on. They are capable of giving a nasty bite if you by chance mistakenly slip your finger in their mouth when you are not paying as close attention as you should be. I’ll bet you would never guess how I found that outlong ago… ouch again… Needless to say we loved checking out this checkerboard pufferfish and his toothy dentures!

Checking out a checkerboard pufferfish!

Thursday was our fishing day and as usual we caught fish almost non stop! The most common thing I heard all day was, “AdventureMike I need more BAIT!!!” And let me tell you I heard that before!!! We spent a little bit of time fishing the artificial reef and caught porkfish, grunts, tomtates, porgies, parrotfish and more. I decided to run down to my snapper hole and before long everyone was catching some nice BIG snappers! And I mean one right after another!!! Over and over and over… AdventureSamantha sure had FUN fighting and catching this nice BIG one all by herself!!! YOU ROCK!

Samantha catches a BIG lane snapper!

I’m not sure how many snapper we caught here, but it seemed to many for me to keep count!!! A few of the kids caught some nice big porgies and they had to work hard bringing those fish in on light tackle! A few times I heard the kids say their wrists were getting tired from reeling in so many fish and thats a “complaint” I love to hear!!! It seems our fishing day is always like this! On one occassion AdventureDakota came up with a nice BIG blue claw crab hanging on his bait and thats the first one anybody has caught during my summer camp! Lucky for us he let go on his own and fell over the side to swim away! Nice catch Dakota!

Dakota catches a blue crab!

The last day we spent a bit of time swimming at the Rock Garden chasing more fish and darting after swimming crabs and having so much fun trying to catch sharpnosed pufferfish when we would see them. When first spotted they don’t appear to be able to swim fast but don’t be fooled by their diminutive size. They can dart away quickly and disappear before you can say, “Where did he go?”. That happened more often than not!!! AdventureMichael came up with a nice one and everyone loved watching it puff up to more than twice its size!!

Michael with a pufferfish!

We ended the day going back to Little Munyon Island and walking around in the shallows finding thousands, and I mean thousands of short spined sea urchins, hundreds of hermit crabs and juvenile blue crabs and a few beaded starfish that everyone loved to see! The tide was so low we had a chance to walk all the way around the island and look for shells and what ever else we could find. AdventureJake came up with a juvenile striped burrfish that had short little spines on top and blue and yellow polka dots on the bottom, and let me tell you we ALL loved that!!! Nice Find!!!

Jake with a juvenile burrfish!

Before we knew it the week had come to an end and none of us was ready to call it a day! We had so much FUN we never wanted it to stop!!! But I knew I couldn’t wait any longer. I had to drop off the group and head to the Bahamas and I knew it was going to be a long day, Having FUN that is, before I cleared customs and I couldn’t wait to get started!!! . And just like I thought, it was wonderful! Wish you all could have joined me! It was just GREAT!!!

Having all this Fun left me looking forward to this week. And one things certain, I couldn’t wait to head out in the boat with the kids and have fun doing it all over again! I know its going to be great! I can just feel it!!! Hope you’ll join us in the Adventure!!! Stay tuned, it will be here before you know it! Time Flies when your having FUN!!!! And we’re going to have it from start to finish!!! See you soon!

Let’s Go Have Some FUN!!!
AdventureMike

Categories : Summer 2010: June 21 - 25 Tags : , , , , , , , , , , ,

Holiday Adventure! Session 1

Posted by 1 January, 2010 (0) Comment

Hi Everyone, Welcome back!!! We’ve just finished up the first Holiday Adventure and let me tell you, We had a blast!!! It started off a bit cold on Sunday morning, temperature in the mid 40′s, but that didn’t stop us from having FUN!  Not this group of Adventurers! Not for one second! And lucky for […]

Hi Everyone, Welcome back!!!

We’ve just finished up the first Holiday Adventure and let me tell you, We had a blast!!! It started off a bit cold on Sunday morning, temperature in the mid 40′s, but that didn’t stop us from having FUN!  Not this group of Adventurers! Not for one second! And lucky for us it warmed up into the mid 70′s by the end of the week, and we loved that. I knew we were not going to be doing any snorkeling this week as the water temp. was in the low 60′ but this gave us an opportunity to have 2 full fishing days instead of one, a chance to do some island hikes, scope out manatees in the shallows and visit the HMS Bounty docked at Peanut Island. And that was cool too!

Group with HMS Bounty

Group with HMS Bounty

When I arrived at the dock Sunday morning I was greeted by a great group of Adventurers all bundled up to stay warm and ready to go have some FUN!!! As soon as AdventureMegan, McKenzie, Brendan, Brian, John, Leah, Reese, Matthew, Jackie and Lucia boarded the DREAMCHASER, we were off and going. First stop was a visit and tour on board the HMS Bounty moored at Peanut Island. This was the exact boat built in Nova Scotia for the 1962 movie Mutiny on the Bounty starring Marlin Brando and later used in Pirates of the Caribbean – Dead Man’s Chest. We had a ball walking the decks, exploring below and learning the ropes so to speak. It was Great!

Group Photo

Group Photo

After we were done we took a hike all around Peanut Island, stopping occasionally to collect some shells and knickerbeans and look for fish and eagle rays in the shallows. Before we knew it, the day had come to an end and on the way back to the boat I could tell nobody was ready to call it a day!  All I heard was, “Is it time to go back already?”  I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that before! One thing was certain though, we were all looking forward to tomorrow! It was going to be the first “Fishing Day” and we just couldn’t wait!

Lucia catches a Big Lane Snapper

Lucia catches a Big Lane Snapper

When I arrived Monday morning everybody was ready and raring to go! We loaded up in a hurry and off we went. The minute we were anchored over my secret fishing hole, ten lines went down and simultaneously ten kids had Fish On!!! From that second on, the rest of the day was just a blur! I didn’t even get a chance to look at my watch once until someone said we only had fifteen minutes left. Where had the day gone? How could time fly by so quickly? Man were we ever having FUN!!!

McKenzie catches a nice Flounder

McKenzie catches a nice Flounder

I don’t know how many fish everyone caught, but I know one thing for sure! I could have used 3 of me to bait hooks, take fish off and re-rig lines as quite a few big fish swam back into the reef taking hooks, lines and sinkers!!! I know we caught flounders, blue runners, yellowtail snappers, lane snappers, mangrove snappers, ceasars grunts, tomtates, filefish, sailor’s choice, margates, butter hamlets, spot-tail pinfishand others I can’t even remember! As fast as you could get your line down, something was eating your bait! It was just GREAT and everyone was having FUN!!! Just the way I love it!!!

Matthew catches a Big Margate

Matthew catches a Big Margate

When I arrived at the dock I was greeted by one new Adventurer, AdventureNick, that decided to take the place of McKenzie for the day. We spent Tuesday morning scouting out for manatees and had one nice up close and personal encounter that lasted about 30 minutes over by the Florida Power and Light plant. Everybody loved that!!! From here we took a quick run down to Munyon Island and to take an island hike and explore the trails and all around the shallow estuary looking for horseshoe crabs and what ever else we could find. We talked about the mangrove trees and sea grasses and the critical role they play in providing habitat for the juvenile fish, invertebrates and crustaceans that call them home. As we hiked the island, I pointed out the wild grape and coffee plants, the zebra and swallowtail butterflies and the crab spiders and banana spiders that were everywhere. And I mean everywhere!!! The group decided to nickname the island, “Spider Island”. On at least a dozen occasions as we hiked the trails I walked face first into a nice sturdy web with an impressive banana spider hanging right in the middle just about dangling off my nose. Let me tell you the kids loved that as I danced around wiping webs off my face. They couldn’t stop laughing and I have to say it was fun for all!!!  From here we took a quick run by little Munyon Island then hurried back to make it in time. Each one of us was looking forward to tomorrow and another wonderful day of fishing Adventure!!!

Jackie catches 2 fish on one hook!

Jackie catches 2 fish on one hook!

I expected the action on this fishing day was going to  be similar to the first and lucky for me one of my very best friends, AdventureBill, decided to come along and give me a hand. Let me tell you I couldn’t have done it without him! Baiting hooks, releasing fish, rigging lines, one after another, after another, all day long!!!  Just like before, as soon as the baits hit the bottom, the fish were biting! The action was so unbelievable that AdventureJackie was able to catch 2 fish on one hook at the same time!!!  A feat that I have never seen done before in all my years of fishing!!! What a way to start the day!!! It was just GREAT! And just like before, I couldn’t keep track of how many fish we boated and released that day, but it was non-stop from start to finish! Were we ever having FUN!!!  The last hour of the day we moved away from the reef to try and catch a few different species of fish. The kids caught some nice flounders, some huge blue runners and one very Big sail catfish that in no way wanted to come to the boat on light tackle. By the time Jackie got that fish in her arm was ready to fall off! Nice Job!!! All in all, everyone did great and caught a ton of fish and I just couldn’t have been happier! You guys ROCK!!!

Leah catches a Big Tomtate

Leah catches a Big Tomtate

Needless to say, the week flew by faster than we wanted and none of us was ready to call it quits! We had so much FUN, we never wanted it to end!!! Somehow it always seems to be this way, and I just LOVE IT!!! Lucky for me I have another group coming December 28th and I know one thing for sure, it’s going to be great!  Holiday Adventure, Session 2, Here we come!!! I just can’t wait!!! Hope you’ll join us and live the Adventure!!!

Let’s Go Have Some Fun!!!

AdventureMike

Categories : Holiday Session 1: December 2009 Tags : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Summer 2009 Week 7: Time Flies When You’re Having FUN!!!

Posted by 18 July, 2009 (4) Comment

Hi Everyone, Welcome Back!!! It seems like these weeks are just flying by!!! The old adage about “Time flies when you’re having fun”  sure seems to be true about this week, actually, every week we’ve had so far!!! This Summer has been absolutely perfect from the very beginning!!! It just doesn’t get any better than […]

Hi Everyone, Welcome Back!!!

It seems like these weeks are just flying by!!! The old adage about “Time flies when you’re having fun”  sure seems to be true about this week, actually, every week we’ve had so far!!! This Summer has been absolutely perfect from the very beginning!!! It just doesn’t get any better than this!!! Perfect weather, crystal clear warm water, tons of fish and an unbelievably GREAT group of kids!!!  And all of us having non-stop FUN no matter which direction we seem to go!!! Laughing and smiling from start to finish and none of us ever wanting to come back home!!! Just the way I LOVE IT!!!

Group photo at the sandbar!

Group photo at the sandbar!

I arrived at the dock bright and early Tuesday morning and was greeted by another GREAT group of Adventurers!!! Matter of fact they were waiting for me and raring to go like there was no tomorrow!!! I always love it when everybody is a little bit early, full of energy and smiles from ear to ear!!! That’s the same way I feel on the way to get everybody! I just can’t wait for the day to begin!!! I just love this “job”!!! As soon as AdventureDahlia, Davina, Julia, Megan, Maria, Dakota, Dylan, Breeann and Vincent boarded the boat we headed off the Big Sandbar to do some exploring and a little bit of snorkeling. The tide was out and the bar was exposed from end to end. We could already see shells and sea urchins popping out of the sand and even a few starfish were visible from the boat. I could already tell it was going to be another fabulous start for the weeks adventure!!!

Julia with a Beaded Sea Star

Julia with a Beaded Sea Star

We ran around the bar finding baby ears mollusks, beaded and banded starfish, west Indian and Florida fighting conchs, mantis shrimp, blue crabs, box crabs, hermit crabs, etc. You name it, I think we found it. It was just GREAT!!! Everybody was finding something no matter which direction we went! After we searched the whole bar for hidden treasures we raced over to the “Hot Tub” and took a plunge into the warm water. Everybody wanted to be the first in! We raced back and forth from one deep hole to another until the tide came in and covered the bar. The water was coming in crystal clear and we decided to head over to the Rock Garden to do some snorkeling.

Having FUN at the Rock Garden!

Having FUN at the Rock Garden!

The minute we arrived we could see fish in every direction. Before we even got in we were seeing snook, houndfish, needlefish, blue runners and small barracudas chasing menhaden from end to end. The shoreline was covered with herons and egrets trying to catch their fill too. We donned our snorkel gear, grabbed some nets and jumped in to try our luck at catching fish too. It wasn’t long before we were catching large swimming crabs and stone crabs around the rocks. AdventureDakota, Dylan and Vincent caught some nice big ones while the rest of us tried our luck at catching pufferfish. AdventureDahlia, Davina, Julia, Maria and Breeann found some cool hawk-wing conchs, juvenile queen conchs and tons of blue legged hermit crabs. It was just GREAT!!! Finally I was able to catch a pufferfish and we all had a ball watching it balloon up just for our entertainment. We took turns passing it around then let it go to swim on its merry way. When the day came to an end, none of us was ready to call it quits. We were having too much FUN!!!

Yesterday morning we stopped by the Big Sandbar to spend a few minutes exploring the bar while it was high and dry and AdventureJulia, Dahlia, Davina and Vincent found some more beaded starfish and baby ears mollusks just creeping out from under the sand. Always love when that happens!!! The rest of us romped around and swam in the hot tub enjoying the water!

Into the Hot Tub!!!

Into the Hot Tub!!!

From here we decided to head down to Little Munyon Island to search for short spined sea urchins and green legged hermit crabs. The south end of the bar was high and dry and we could see hundreds before we even got in! The minute the anchor hit bottom we were out of the boat and on our way!!! In seconds we all had handfuls of urchins in every size and color combination you could think of. We all loved having them suck onto our hands with their tiny tube feet and hold on for dear life as we swam and swam and swam. We didn’t have any luck beating the “smallest sea urchin contest” from a week ago but we had fun trying!!! We were finding sea urchins from head to toe, but no small ones around. We didn’t care though cause we were having fun like no tomorrow!!!

Finding Sea Urchins!

Finding Sea Urchins!

On the way back to the boat we found a horseshoe crab crawling around in the shallows and boy did we all love that!!! We had a chance to check out its compound eyes, book lungs, clawed feet and spiny tail up close and personal. A type of blood thinner used in medicine is actually derived from the blue blood of horseshoe crabs and given to stroke and heart attack victims to help in their recovery.We were lucky to find one as they are not too common around here anymore. This was the first one we found this summer. Lucky for Us!!!

We spent the last hour of the day going out to the beach, playing in the shallows, looking for sea glass, shells and of course trying to catch fish and sand fleas with our bare hands. We caught a few sand fleas but no fish this time. We saw some huge tarpon swimming back and forth just a few feet from the beach chasing mullet and we all loved that too! And let me tell you, we weren’t ready to call it a day either when our time was up! None of us wanted to go back!!!

And as you all know if you follow our blog, today was our fishing day!!! And as usual it was non stop action from start to finish!!! With just one of me and 9 kids hooking fish as fast as they could get lines down, I didn’t have a chance to even look at my watch for 3 hours!!! And YES, I heard those infamous words that will for-ever be etched into my brain, “I NEED MORE BAIT!!!” more than a thousand times I’m sure!!! It was just GREAT!!! JUST LOVE IT LIKE THAT!!!

Dahlia With a Sailors Choice!

Dahlia With a Sailor's Choice!

Everybody was having action the very second their lines hit bottom, and I mean sometimes even faster than that!!! I couldn’t count one second between bites at times!!!! Luckily for me everybody was taking off their own fish, baiting their hooks and dropping down on their own or I wouldn’t have been able to take a single photo!! The action was that hot!!! This group caught some really big Caesar’s Grunts, Sailors Choice, Yellowtail Snapper, Tomtates and Porkfish!!! AdventureDylan caught even caught a tiny Butter Hamlet which tied with the win for smallest fish along with a tiny Tomtate and Lane Snapper. Only one small Scorpionfish was caught the whole day. YEAH!!!  Everybody caught some really nice fish and I was extra glad about that!!! Love it when things like that come together!!! If I might have had help this day, we might even have beaten last weeks record of 419 fish boated in 3 hours. At times I need 3 of me to catch up with all the lines full of fish!!! Non-stop action from start to finish!!!

We ALL have fish!!!

We ALL have fish!!!

The last hour of the day we went back out to the beach to swim in the crystal clear water and wash off all the fish juice that seemed to find its way into every fiber of my clothes!!! And again, we saw the Big Tarpon swimming in the shallows right up next to the beach just where we had seen them yesterday. As if inviting us in for a swim and a cool encounter!!! I think by now we are starting to know each other. It was just GREAT and a wonderful way to end the day!!!! From start to finish, this week has been just perfect, absolutely PERFECT!!!! And the very best thing about it all, WE STILL HAVE ONE MORE DAY LEFT!!!  Who knows what we may find or discover… but one thing’s certain…  We’re going to have FUN!!! Wish you could join us!!! It’s going to be great!!!!

LET’S GO HAVE SOME FUN!!!

AdventureMike

Categories : Summer 2009: July 13 - July 16 Tags : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Summer 2009 Week 3: Summertime Fun!

Posted by 19 June, 2009 (0) Comment

Hi Everyone, Welcome Back!!! We’ve just finished up the first three days of week 3 and let me tell you it has been absolutely perfect the whole week!!!  The weather, the water, the group, just perfect!!! Things just seem to get better and better and better as the days go on! Everyone in this group […]

Hi Everyone, Welcome Back!!! We’ve just finished up the first three days of week 3 and let me tell you it has been absolutely perfect the whole week!!!  The weather, the water, the group, just perfect!!! Things just seem to get better and better and better as the days go on! Everyone in this group can swim like fish and has so much energy and enthusiasm I can barely keep up with them! Non stop laughter and smiles from start to finish! Just the way I love it!!!

Having FUN in the hot tub!

Having FUN in the hot tub!

This week I was joined by AdventureJoseph, Robert and Acadia who have been with me before and 5 new Adventurers, AdventureKelsey, Ella, Zara, Hannah and Beth. And let me tell you when this group is having fun they sure let you know it! And boy, were they having FUN this week!! My ears are still ringing!!! Had to purposely stick my head underwater a few times and hold my breathe as long as I could just to get a few minutes of “peace and quiet”, and even that didn’t work. In seconds, I’d have 8 kids with masks staring at me and even asking me questions while I was underwater. Oh well, When your having fun, your having fun…

We spent most of the first day at the Big Sandbar finding just about everything you could imagine. The tide was so low we had acres of exposed bar to explore. And Explore we DID!!! Everywhere we looked were short-spined sea urchins, fighting conchs, crabs, starfish, horse conchs, etc. You name it, I think we found it. We hadn’t been on the bar more than a few seconds before this group of adventurers had found Cushion Starfish, Beaded Starfish and even Nine-armed Starfish. And you know this gave us that perfect opportunity to take those now infamous “starfish head” photos that the kids seem to love. I’m beginning to like nine armed starfish head photos even better than cushion Starfish head photos. And of course, the kids love them both!

We found every color combination of short spined sea urchins I think possible around here. My favorite color combination is the pure white body with bright purple spines, but the bright pink ones and the green with pink spines were a big hit for the group too. I think Acadia, Beth, Ella, Zara, Kelsey and Hannah loved every one they found. They had hands full of them the whole time and when ever they found a new color combination we hadn’t seen before, they would make sure to let me know! Just love that enthusiasm!!! I guarantee you we tried to find every color combination that existed before we left here! While they were finding urchins, Joseph and Robert were busy finding starfish and releasing them into deeper water so they wouldn’t dry out or be pecked on by the sea gulls. It was just great and FUN for all!

Acadia and a handful of sea urchins!

Acadia and a handful of sea urchins!

We spent some time swimming in the shallows and caught some nice checkerboard pufferfish, sharp nose pufferfish, blue legged hermit crabs and some nice big swimming crabs too! Everyone had a ball trying to catch them themselves and I could see feet flying and nets swishing in all directions. It was just great to see someone catch one then let every one take turns holding it and checking it out before letting it go. Really Cool… We had a another great encounter too when a large Eagle Ray jumped out of the water numerous times right in front of us with a big remora stuck on it. After a few times it was able to dislodge the remora and swim off. Shortly after that we saw a big ray foraging in the shallows over the sandbar and we were lucky to have it swim right under the boat in 18 inches of water and give us a good look. We all loved that! The kids were screaming with excitement the whole time. I never wanted it to end.

On Wednesday we had a chance to do some island and tidal flat exploration around Munyon Island and found some really large sea grass hermits in a variety of different shells that we hadn’t found before. Really nice! Had a chance to take some photos of the group surrounded by weathered stumps of australian pines and mangroves that I thought were great! We’ll see…

Large ray in the shadows!

Large ray in the shadows!

And of course, today was our fishing day and lucky for me, AdventureNicholas came along to give me a hand!! And let me tell you, I really needed it!!! We didn’t boat record numbers of fish today, but the action was non stop and as usual, we couldn’t bait hooks fast enough for three kids, much less eight!!! It was nice to see that everyone was having a GREAT time!!! We boated some nice big (and small) yellowtail snapper, Porkfish, sailor’s choice, tomtates, caesars grunts and had quite a few big ones on that got away. The highlight of the fishing day came when AdventureElla hooked a really BIG fish and after about 5 minutes of trying hard to get it in, she finally turned it towards the boat and was making real headway.  Just as it got near, there was a tremendous swirl and a huge splash and you can guess what happened next. That’s right, a great BIG Barracuda decided to have it for lunch, and after a second or two more of thrashing, Ella reeled in the what was left of a nice Mutton Snapper. It would have been a nice keeper too. Needless to say we took a few photos and then sadly tossed the head back to the waiting barracuda who was wanting the rest of his meal. And with another mighty swoosh, that was gone too!! It was a great thrill for all of us though I am sure the snapper thought otherwise!!!

Whats left of Ellas Big Fish

What's left of Ella's "Big Fish"

From here we took a quick run back to the Big Sandbar and everybody had a ball playing in the hot tub and chasing after Nicholas who was doing his best to play “keep away” from 8 kids with a lot of energy. I think that wore about everybody out and was an absolutely great way to end the day!!! We had such a great week so far, and I know one thing for sure… I can’t wait till tomorrow to do it all over again!!! The Ocean is flat calm, the water crystal clear and shells on the beach as far as the eyes can see. Am thinking about pulling right up on the beach, hopping out and going beach combing and snorkeling, and hopefully if we are lucky like last week, have another wonderful manatee encounter. I know one thing for sure, whatever we decide, we are going to have FUN!!! Wish you could join us, It’s going to be GREAT!!! And after the day is over, I’m off to the Bahamas to swim with some wild spotted dolphin for the weekend! Does it get any better than this? I Don’t Think So!!!

Stay tuned, We’re going to have some Fun!!! See you soon,

AdventureMike

Categories : Summer 2009: June 6 - 19 Tags : , , , , , , , ,

A Weiss School Student Adventure – Part III

Posted by 18 July, 2008 (0) Comment

Hi everyone, I just finished up the third day of our adventure session and as usual, we had a wonderful day!, and boy was I busy! Today was our weekly fishing adventure and I knew things could get hectic so I had AdventureChaz from a couple weeks back come along to give me a hand […]

Hi everyone,

I just finished up the third day of our adventure session and as usual, we had a wonderful day!, and boy was I busy! Today was our weekly fishing adventure and I knew things could get hectic so I had AdventureChaz from a couple weeks back come along to give me a hand running the boat, keeping the hooks baited and helping me take the fish off the lines that everyone caught. AdventureAndrew, Lauren, Darby, Michael, Seth and JC were at the dock waiting when I arrived. It seems no matter how early I get there, this group is ready to go! I love it that way!!! Kinda makes me feel special, thank you! What a great group!

Group Underwater Photo

We started the day heading over to the Deep Hole to cast net some menhaden in case anyone wanted to use live bait. Fresh squid seems to give us the most non-stop action, but live bait gives us the bigger fish. Three throws with the net and our live-well was filled to the brim and off we went to the artificial reef to drop anchor. I motored around the best spots I had fished before but did not mark the same quantity of fish I did the week earlier. The tide was much lower than before and the water quite a bit dirtier with all the rain we have had the past week. I was still hoping for the best and hoping everyone would still have the time of their life even if we didn’t catch 200+ fish like the week before. We dropped anchor to give it a shot.

It wasn’t long before AdventureAndrew, Lauren, Darby and JC had fish on! A few seconds later AdventureMichael and Seth began to catch up! The action was not as fast and furious as before but we were catching fish and having a great time! And that’s what makes the day special! AdventureLauren caught a really nice Porkfish, the first one all summer, and I was really happy with that! I love their coloring of bright yellow with two dark black bands covering the eye and gill. Nice catch! Just after that AdventureAndrew caught a really nice Sheepshead Porgy, and big enough to keep too! Nice Job! AdventureSeth, Michael, JC and Darby caught quite a pile of Sailor’s Choice but only a few were big enough to keep.

We tried moving to a few different spots just to see if the action would increase or have better luck but things stayed about the same. We had lots of bites but today they were harder to hook. I could still here that familiar sound, “Mike, Chaz, I need more bait!!!! I need more bait!!!” coming from all different directions at once and it was still difficult to ever catch up. No taking breaks or breathers for us, didn’t even have time to take a drink! AdventureAndrew caught another nice Sheepshead Porgy and a large Sailor’s Choice which we kept too. AdventureLauren caught another nice Sailor’s Choice, so nice matter of fact that a hungry barracuda decided to eat the middle out of it on the way up so we decided to throw that one back so he could finish his meal. All in all, everyone caught fish, but most were difficult to hook and maybe that why they call it “fishing” instead of “catching”. I guess every week can’t set a new record, but I always hope it will and I’m going to keep trying to make that happen!!! We still had a great day!!! We boated Yellowtails, Porgies, Sailor’s Choice, Flounder, French Grunts, Lane Snappers, Spottail pinfish, Caesars Grunts and even a couple of Adventurers caught a few sponges! Or as someone mentioned a few weeks ago, “the pants off Sponge Bob Square Pants”. I still laugh when I think of that! Some day, I’ll have to write a book…

With one hour left we went to the Sand Bar to swim and play around in the shallows. AdventureChaz kept everyone entertained while I filleted the fish and cleaned up the boat. When it was time to head back no one was ready to call it a day. We were still having fun, still smiling and laughing, and its times like this, that I love best!!! Even though we didn’t boat the “Big Ones” today, we had a blast!, and one things certain, We’re going to have Fun tomorrow!!!

See you on the return,

AdventureMike

Categories : Week 8 Tags : , , , , , , , ,

Fishing Near Peanut Island

Posted by 10 July, 2008 (0) Comment

Hi All, I just finished up the days fishing camp adventure session and let me tell you WE HAD FUN TODAY!!! Today was our weekly fishing day and we set an all time record that may never be beaten!!! We started the day going to the Deep Hole to cast net bait. Two throws later […]

Hi All,

I just finished up the days fishing camp adventure session and let me tell you WE HAD FUN TODAY!!! Today was our weekly fishing day and we set an all time record that may never be beaten!!! We started the day going to the Deep Hole to cast net bait. Two throws later our livewell was filled to the brim with hundreds of menhaden. These would help augment the 3 lbs of fresh cut up squid that I had gotten ready earlier. Little did I know then what an unbelievable day we were going to have!!!! As I sit here and write about it I know nobody is going to believe me but it is all true!

Dakota with a Black Grouper

I knew I was going to be busy today so I was joined by two great friends to help give me a hand, AdventureMatt, who I love like my own son, and his girlfriend Michelle who I love dearly too. Matt was going to help me bait the hooks and take off the fish and Michelle was going to help wash the boat down as things got fishy. All this seemed simple enough to me on the way to my secret spot along the artificial reef. Just how confusing could things get anyway?

Jason with a Lane Snapper

Well we arrived at my GPS numbers and AdventureMatt dropped anchor. When the anchor came taught we were about 15 feet from where I really wanted to be, didn’t seem like much so we baited the hooks and sent them down. After about 1 minute I knew things were wrong. We only had 2 bites, not the non stop action I expected and had in the past. We motored up and pulled anchor and moved 15 feet further to the north, right over the 12 foot drop off where my fish finder was marking fish by the hundreds. We re-baited the hooks and let them down and from that second on, my day was only a blur!!! Instantly, and I mean INSTANTLY everyone had a fish on. AdventureJason, Jordyn, Brian, Carolyn, and Dakota caught fish faster than I have ever seen, and I mean EVER SEEN!!! Like in my whole life of fishing!

Brian with a Lane Snapper

I could not count 3 seconds between the time their bait hit bottom and a fish eating it! All AdventureMatt, Michelle and I heard for 4 non stop hours was, “I NEED MORE BAIT!!!, I NEED MORE BAIT!!!” That was coming from 5 different directions all at once and it never stopped! We couldn’t even think about wiping up anything. Even AdventureMichelle was taking fish off the line non stop and re-baiting hooks! With all the bait previously cut up and in buckets in 3 different spots on the boat, we could never catch up!! Three seasoned adults could not keep up with my 5 adventurers today!!! We could not keep bait on the hooks or take fish of them fast enough. I have never see
action like this in my life! I may never again!

Jordyn with a Grunt

AdventureCarolyn, Brian , Dakota, Jason and Jordyn caught everything from mangrove snappers, mutton snappers, yellowtail snappers, lane snappers, schoolmaster snappers, red groupers, black groupers, caesar’s grunts, french grunts, striped grunts, white grunts, smallmouth grunts, tomtates, cottonwicks, spottail pinfish and one lonely scorpionfish! We had one truly monsterous Barracuda on that ate a large yellowtail snapper, that not only ate the snapper, but the 20 inches of wire leader that was attached to it also, right up past the swivel to cut us off. A mighty impressive fish! Looked much bigger around then my leg, kinda like a swimming telephone pole with some razor sharp and snaggled toothed dentures!!! That one line from “JAWS” came to mind. “WE NEED A BIGGER BOAT!”. I’ll never forget that!

Carolyn with a Grunt

AdventureCarolyn was going to quit fishing after she caught, (and we all counted) 50 fish because her arm was tired and her hand hurt, but I talked her into trying to make 61 instead. I said, “when are you ever going to catch fish like this again?” keep fishing, and she did! And she made it to 61, and when she got there I said now go for 70!!!, just thinking that can’t be possible! She said if she got to 70, “THAT”, was definitely going to be IT! Well you guessed it, she made it to 70 and I was only able to talk her into catching one more. So, she stopped at 71 fish caught all by herself and took her first break of the day! AdventureDakota and Jason had to catch over 50 fish each themselves, some of those nice groupers and yellowtail snappers, and AdventureBrian caught close to that many himself! AdventureJordyn stopped at around 30 and spent the rest of the day handing bait out of the bucket to help Matt, Michelle and I to try and catch up. What a day it was!!! I will never hear the words, “I need more bait” without thinking of this day.

I know well over 200 fish were brought in the boat. I can’t even begin to guess how many we had on besides that. It was amazing how moving the boat only 15 feet made this difference. I have no idea what made the action so extra special, or what made the fish bite like they did, but I know one thing for sure, not one of these adventurers will ever forget this day, and neither will Matt, Michelle or I!!!

We had fun!!! We had a blast!! ! We had a once in a lifetime day!!! And we all had a story to tell!!! It may sound like a “fish story” to some, but we all know differently! WE LIVED THE ADVENTURE!!! And if you saw the smiles on the faces that I did today, you will never forget it!!! Thank you !!!

God, I love my job!!!! How can we have this much fun!!! I must still be dreaming…

AdventureMike

Categories : Week 7 Tags : , , , , , , , ,

Fishing Near Peanut Island

Posted by 2 July, 2008 (1) Comment

Hi Everyone, I just got back in from the third day of our Adventure session and let me tell you we had fun today, and boy was I busy!!! AdventureDavid, Dina, Corey, Hannah, Parker, Maxwell and I were joined by two new adventurers, Adventurers Ryan and Chris, who just returned from white water rafting the […]

Hi Everyone,

I just got back in from the third day of our Adventure session and let me tell you we had fun today, and boy was I busy!!! AdventureDavid, Dina, Corey, Hannah, Parker, Maxwell and I were joined by two new adventurers, Adventurers Ryan and Chris, who just returned from white water rafting the Green River in Utah. Talk about adventurers, I don’t think they know when to call it quits, my kind of guys, and great kids too!

Today was our weekly fishing day adventure and I had a full load! I knew I was going to be busy today trying to keep up with this crew. We started off heading to the “Deep Hole” by the sandbar to cast net some Menhaden to augment our bait supply of fresh squid. AdventureCorey and I threw the nets a few times and filled the live-well with a couple hundred and off we went to the artificial reef to drop anchor.

Two Fish

From the very first second I couldn’t bait hooks fast enough! Some wanted live bait and some wanted fresh squid and every one wanted to fish at once. Luckily I had 10 rods on the boat, 8 to use for bottom fishing and 2 to put out larger baits for Barracuda. We decided to fish them all at once, and amazingly enough I don’t remember having to untangle one line. Now that’s a fine group of adventurers! What I do remember is having to bait hooks faster than I have ever done in my life before. We had lots of nonstop action, but the fish were a little more difficult to hook today. Maybe they remembered from the last time we were here and were a bit more careful.

Adventurers Ryan, David, Corey and Hannah were quick to hook up and bring fish to the boat while Dinah, Parker, Maxwell and Chris spent a bit of time feeding those on the bottom. AdventureRyan caught a nice big Caesar’s Grunt while AdventureHannah was quick to boat a big Black Grouper! AdventureDavid boated a beautiful yellowtail snapper and AdventureCorey boated a large Lane Snapper! Now that’s fishing!!! It didn’t make a difference where you fished from the boat, everyone was having bites! It just was a lot harder to hook them today. The current was ripping out over the top of the reef and it was definitely harder keeping your bait on the bottom, and that can make all the difference in the world.

Blue Fish

All of a sudden I heard AdventureDavid yell he had another big one on and I looked over to see his fishing rod bent double. A second later the line slackened and I watched as David reeled in a 6 inch long Butter Hamlet wrapped around a nice red sponge. Someone said he caught the ‘pants” off of Sponge Bob Square Pants and I almost fell out of the boat laughing. Of course, I had to take a picture of that!

Sponge Bob's Pants!

AdventureDina and Parker caught some nice Caesar’s Grunts while Ryan boated a big Porgy. AdventureHannah wasn’t saying too much but I watched her catch fish non-stop! I don’t think she wanted anybody else to notice how many fish she was catching and crowd her spot!
I always have to admire when the girls out fish the boys, kinda like AdventureAllison last week who caught fish non-stop and didn’t say a word either. Maybe there is an important lesson to be learned there. I wonder…

Red Fish

We caught all kinds of fish non stop but surprisingly enough the big barracudas didn’t show up. A little bit later Ryan caught a scorpionfish, a nice ugly bottom dwelling poisonous fish full of spines and loaded to the hilt with a very painful toxin. Yep, you guessed it, as a very inquisitive, (some would say careless) child, it didn’t take me long to find the business end of one of those either! And that left a lasting impression that I never wanted to repeat, ever again! From that moment on, I have been very careful taking these off the hook. Sometimes I think it’s best to cut the hook off and leave the fish well enough alone! At this point we decided to call it a day fishing and spend the last hour left snorkeling the Rock Garden or going back to swim in the Deep hole. Just as we were leaving I think AdventureDavid spotted a dead Loggerhead turtle floating on the surface and the current swept it right by the boat. When it came by, you could tell what caused its demise! Missing out of the right side was a large ragged circular bite, right thru both sides of the carapace, and only one very large toothy critter does that! I decided not to hum the tune of, ” When the shark bites” at that moment, but I thought about it. I just knew that my humming was no better than my singing or dancing and I didn’t want to embarrass myself… Stick to what I can do and avoid what I can’t do kind of thing!

Shortly after this we arrived at the Rock Garden and everyone spent a half hour snorkeling, catching fish and crabs in the nets and just having a blast! AdventureRyan found a nice Jawfish in his tunnel and we all checked it out then boarded the “Dream Chaser” and headed to the Deep Hole for a quick snorkel with the thousands Menhaden swimming here before having to call it a day. AdventureCorey took a few throws with the cast net and caught a bunch of menhaden and the terns and seagulls were quick to make a meal of a few. almost off our finger tips. It was great for us, maybe not so much for the menhaden though, but the terns and sea gulls loved it too!

From here we hurried back, each one of us with smiles on our faces, and looking forward to tomorrow! Not all of us actually boated fish today, but we had fun trying!!!! We knew there was always another day and another adventure to be lived and we were going to make the most of it!!!

Come join us, and Let’s go have some Fun!!!!

AdventureMike

Categories : Week 6 Tags : , , , , , , ,