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!!!
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!
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!!!
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!
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!!!
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!!!
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!!!
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!!!
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!!!
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!!!
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!
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!!!
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!!!
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!!!
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!!!
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!!!
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!!!
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!!!
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!!!
I just can’t wait to go do it all over again!!! Stay tuned…. See you all soon!!!
Let’s Go have Some Fun!!!
Hi Everyone, Welcome Back!!! We’ve just finished up the third day of Adventure for week 10 and I’m not sure where all the time goes, but one things certain!!!! We’ve been HAVING FUN!!! There is no doubt time seems to fly by when you are having the time of your life, and this week has [...]
Hi Everyone, Welcome Back!!!
We’ve just finished up the third day of Adventure for week 10 and I’m not sure where all the time goes, but one things certain!!!! We’ve been HAVING FUN!!! There is no doubt time seems to fly by when you are having the time of your life, and this week has been as great as all the rest!!! Matter of fact, just perfect!!! And like I’ve said before, “It just doesn’t get any better than this!” This week AdventureSheri and I were joined by AdventureDaniel, Maxwell, Jake, Michael, Dylan, Kassedy, Sydney and Rylee. And let me tell you, it’s been non-stop fun from start to finish! As usual…
When I arrived at the dock I was greeted by one big happy and excited group of Adventurers and were they ever ready to go have some FUN!!! We loaded up and went straight over to the Rock Garden to do some snorkeling in the shallows. The tide was just beginning to ebb and there were schools of fish swimming back and forth in the shallows as far as you could see. Parrotfish, sheepshead, grunts, snapper, snook, small barracuda and menhaden were all around the boat. It was just great and we couldn’t wait to get in!!! It didn’t take long before we found some big beautiful beaded starfish and everyone was excited about that! Including me!!!
While we swam around in the shallows turning over small rocks looking for crabs, a big school of Sheepshead followed us and tried to catch and eat them before we could get the crabs in our nets. Were we ever having fun watching this!!! They were sure better at catching the crabs than we were! We found hundreds of swimming crabs, rock crabs, stone crabs and coral crabs. Under every rock were one or two crabs. AdventureDaniel came up with one nice big swimming crab attached to his net and hanging firmly by one claw. I could tell he loved this!!! Glad it was hanging on the net and not his finger since it took quite a while to let go! It was fun to watch!
We found four or five sharpnosed pufferfish swimming along the shallows, gave chase and were able to catch a few in our nets. I can’t tell you how much fun it was watching all the kids smile and laugh when those pufferfish decided to puff themselves up with water! Everyone wanted to be the first to hold them, and we all took turns until everyone had a chance to see them up close and personal.Once we all had our fill we let them go and searched for other undersea treasures. AdventureKassidy came up with a lovely pink sea urchin and we all went over and checked that out too. Nice find!
We took the long way back to the boat swimming along the rock piles looking at all the schools of fish and turning over more rocks as we went. We spent a little bit of time searching the shallow sandy patches looking for small flounder and saw a few but were not able to catch any as I had hoped. They sure know how to dart rapidly between your feet and disappear in a wink of an eye! I haven’t been able to catch one yet this summer, but I’m going to keep trying! While we were looking for flounder, AdventureJake came up with a nice pipefish. It was a very cool find! They are related to Seahorses, a slow swimming bony fish that blends in well with the seagrasses and was the first one we saw here this summer. We loved seeing that!
Yesterday we spent the morning going back to the Rock Garden for a quick snorkel, then motored over to the Big Sandbar and spent an hour snorkeling along the shallow edge looking for Mantis Shrimp. We found quite a few large ones peering out their holes and we loved watching them! It seemed they were just as curious about us as we were about them!!! It was just GREAT!!! We came upon a big tractor tire that had quite a few arrow crabs and banded coral shrimp and we caught a few in our nets and checked them out. Then we went off and found florida and west indian fighting conchs, hawkwing conchs and even a few large queen conchs with their bright pink shells on the inside. Michael had a ball following us around and watching all the FUN!!!
From here we went to Little Munyon Island to do some seine netting along the sea grass beds. Everybody loved this!!! With every pull of the net we found something new and exciting. The tide was high and a bit hard to pull the net in but we had a ball no matter what!!! We all took turns trying our luck in new areas we hadn’t tried before. We caught a nice juvenile triple tail that was bright yellow and only an inch long and that was a first for this year! Always love finding something new like this!!!
It is so cool to catch juvenile fish in the grass flat that spend their adult lives on the outer reefs. We caught quite a few juvenile barracudas, ceasars grunts, tomtates, needlefish, mojarras, snappers, parrotfish, pipefish, pink shrimp, sea grass shrimp and a host of other too numerous to mention. It was just great!!! I think the best catch of all came when we came up with a beautiful blue and green scrawled cowfish! They get their names from having horns on the top of their heads. I can tell you everyone loved that one!!!! There were smiles from ear to ear!!! Just the way I love it!!!
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 7 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!!! AdventureSydney, I’m sorry you weren’t feeling well today and didn’t make it cause I would sure have loved to have you along to join in FUN and EXCITEMENT!!! 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!!! It just can’t get any better than THIS!!!
I’m not sure how many fish everyone caught, but it seemed like hundreds to me!!! Most of the fish caught were tomtates, ceasars grunts, yellowtail snapper, sailors choice and a few porkfish. AdventureDaniel caught a venomous scorpionfish that I was quick to let go and AdventureDylan caught an unusual small barred hamlet that was a first for AdventureMike’s. One exciting moment came when a large barracuda came in and took a big tomtate for dinner right off the line next to the edge of the boat. We all LOVED THAT!!! I know the tomtate felt otherwise… The best fish of the day though was caught by AdventureMaxwell with Daniel’s help! It was a big Black Grouper!!! And a wonderful catch too!!! It gave a ferocious battle and we were lucky to get it out of the rocks. Nice Job Guys!!! You all ROCK!!! Never thought they would get it in for a while!!! It just doesn’t get any better than this!!!
All in all it was just a fabulous day of fishing!!! Everybody caught some really nice fish and I was extra glad about that!!! Love it when things like that come together!!! We had so much FUN!!! Everybody was baiting their own hooks and taking off their own fish and that really helped me to keep up. Thanks guys, you did GREAT!!! The last half hour we had left we spent swimming at the Big Sandbar rinsing off and just having a ball!!! Nobody wanted this day to end, and neither did I!!! We spent a little bit of time snorkeling around the big sunken tire and found a few more arrow crabs and shrimp, then it was time to go.
And like I said before, I don’t know where the time went, but one things certain we had fun from start to finish!!! This week seemed to fly by!!! I’m so glad we have one more day left!! It’s going to be great!!! I can’t wait till tomorrow!!! 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!!!
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!!!
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!!!
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.
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!
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!!!
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!!!
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!!!
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!!!