Category Archives: Week 8

A Weiss School Student Adventure – Part III

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,


A Weiss School Student Adventure – Part II

Hello All,

I just got back in from the second day of the Weiss School adventure session and let me tell you it was another great day! It started off with a real frenzy, feeding frenzy that is! I arrived at the dock early, and as usual, everyone was eagerly waiting for me and raring to go. Nobody ever seems to arrive late for departure at my summer camps, and that’s a good thing cause I’m just as excited about going as they are!!! You can never start having fun and adventure too early and we never know what we discover.

Sea Cucumber Head!

Today the adventure started at the dock just as we were beginning to load up. As we were walking down the dock a tremendous school of menhaden in the tens of thousands came racing along the seawall right towards us. They were being chased by hundreds of large blue runners intent on having them for breakfast. Just as they got to us the water boiled into a wild feeding frenzy and the school of menhaden erupted into the air intent on getting away. The blue runners cornered them along the wall and the water foamed and frothed in the melee as they ate their fill. All this commotion attracted jack crevalles and some really huge snook and they too joined in the feast. They in turn were followed closely by a half dozen extremely large rays hoping to pick up some scraps. By the time the commotion ended there was nothing but scales and tails sinking to the bottom, and a few frantic menhaden looking for a hole to hide in! All this took place in 3 feet of crystal clear water right beside us and the boat. Talk about exciting! What a way to start the day!!! At least for us that is! That was just unbelievable…

After this we couldn’t wait to get in the water so we hurried to the Rock Garden and dropped anchor. I couldn’t clean the masks and put defog in them fast enough for each adventurer today. Half of them were out of the boat the minute I dropped anchor into the shallow water! Nobody wanted to wait for me, last one in again! They didn’t even leave me a net to catch something myself. Going to have to use my hands again. Oh well…you have to be quick with this adventurous group, otherwise you’ll be left far behind! I just love that enthusiasm!!! It gets contagious!!! The way I love it… Right on!

JC with His Find!

We were lucky today! The tide was high, the water crystal clear and fish everywhere you looked! And best of all, we had the pool to ourselves and no one in sight. It was great and with this group, it doesn’t get any better than this!!! We saw just about every type of fish you could see around here today. I think the snook, barracudas, parrotfish, angelfish, needlefish, flounders, porkfish, surgeonfish, doctorfish, sheepshead and spotted moray eels were the biggest hit today! On the way to the new rock pile put in yesterday, AdventureAndrew found a nice chocolate chip sea-cucumber and this gave us a wonderful opportunity to see one up close and watch how it feeds. Sea cucumbers are basically the vacuum sweepers of the ocean floor that move slowly along the bottom ingesting sand particles and digesting the algae and detritus covering them. In one end goes the algae covered sand grains, and out the other comes nice clean sand particles, just the kind you would like to make a sand castle with! That is as long as you don’t mind sand going thru the intestinal tract of a sea cucumber first.

Andrew Discovers a Sea Cucumber!

Now for me, I just love it! Almost every grain of sand on the sea floor has at one time or another been thru the belly of a sea cucumber. So enjoy next time your making sand castles! But what I liked best about this opportunity was, and you guessed it? That’s right!, another wonderful opportunity to take pictures of the adventurers with “sea cucumber head”. And not just your everyday hairdo accessory either, but real life “chocolate chip sea cucumber head”. One of my all time favorites!, ranking right up there with my all time favorite, “starfish head” or “sea urchin head”. Now talk about having fun!!!, and yes, maybe even still acting like a child!!! Now we can’t always take life too seriously. Sometimes you just have to cut loose and have fun! And for me, sometimes acting in a non grown up sort of way keeps me young at heart and besides that, its good entertainment for all. Who cares if everyone is laughing at you instead of with you anyway? Fun is Fun, and you can’t beat that!

Lauren with a Chocolate Chip Sea Cucumber

We also had a wonderful opportunity to observe a spotted moray free swimming along the rocks, and AdventureLauren, Darby and Seth found some really lovely juvenile queen conchs that made another nice photo opportunity for all. AdventureMichael, JC and Andrew chased fish and caught crabs in nets and every now and then one large crab would swim out right past the girls and I would hear a scream of excitement, or maybe that was trepidation, right next to my ear. I think its still ringing. I tend to think it was excitement myself with this adventurous group! No wimps here! Just true adventurers!!! We caught one nice flounder in the net on the way back to the boat and everyone had a chance to hold it before we let it go. Now this one I remember they nick named “Fred” so “Fred the flounder” it was!

From here we motored to Munyon Island to do some seine netting in the shallows. We all took turns giving it a shot. We caught hundreds of juvenile parrotfish, grunts, filefish, wrasse, yellowtail snappers, hog snappers, mojarras, pinfish, barracudas but no pygmy sea horses this time. I was sure hoping!!! We swam south along the island and found hundreds of short spines sea urchins and hermit crabs and stopped to pick up a very large brilliant red cushion sea starfish. The largest species of starfish found around here. It was a such a great day and a real adventure for all of us!!!

Darby and Lauren with Sea Urchin

From here we had to hurry back. The day had come to an end, and all to quickly for us. But we knew that tomorrow was going to be another Great Day!!!,and another adventure to be lived!!! Its fishing day!!! And we know what kind of day that is!!! Its time to have FUN!, and we are going to enjoy the adventure and the ride along the way!!!

I can already hear it now! “MIKE, I NEED MORE BAIT!!! I NEED MORE BAIT!!!”

Right on, and just the way I love it!!! God, I love this job!!! Thank you…..


A Weiss School Student Adventure – Part I

Welcome back all,

We just finished up the first day of a new adventure session and as usual we had a fabulous time! I was joined by a whole new group of adventurers today, AdventureSeth, Michael, Darby, JC, Andrew and Lauren from the Weiss School. This group was well acquainted, extremely comfortable in the water, and they could all swim like fish. All the makings for a wonderful week! I just love it like this! AdventureNicholas, who joined me a few weeks back, came along to give me a hand and help find unusual creatures to share with the group.

Group Photo

After introductions, the group of adventurers boarded my 26′ Island Runner, “Dream Chaser”, donned lifejackets and off we went. We were all excited and in a hurry to get to the Rock Garden and start the days adventure! After a few minutes getting the masks cleaned and ready we got in. In seconds everyone was pointing at different fish, searching for crabs and finding “treasures”. We saw parrotfish, sheepshead, wrasse, bermuda chub, porkfish, pinfish, snook, barracudas, snappers, lizardfish, grunts and an assortment of tropical fish all around us. The usual here! Many times we were completely surrounded by schools of menhaden so thick you could not see thru them. AdventurersDarby, JC and Lauren found all kinds of corals while AdveturersAndrew, Michael and Seth were finding tunicates, crabs and some strange types of tube worms that had long thin stringy tentacles filtering thru the sediment on the bottom. Some of these tentacles were 2 or 3 feet long and the second you touched a tip of one, the whole thing would race back into the hole and disappear in a split second. It was neat to watch them go!

While we were snorkeling a barge came in carrying a load of large rocks to place around the perimeter of the snorkeling area to increase habitat for fish and stop erosion along the south east side of the island. I never saw this here before and it was neat to watch the back hoe operator pull the barge into shallow water and begin dropping off his load. We moved further south along the snorkeling area to get out of his way and check out some new area so we did not swim in the same places I usually go. Even the life guards didn’t know he was showing up till 10 minutes before he arrived.

Future Naturalists!

AdventureNicholas found us crabs and sea urchins and caught a few fish in his hand net to show the gang. He caught a small scorpionfish in his net and brought it over to show us. I wanted everyone to see what they looked like and how well they camouflaged on the bottom. I mentioned how they could deliver a potent sting and to just let them be should you encounter one. I just wanted to make sure everyone new what to be aware of and how to recognise them in case they saw one.

A short time later AdventureNicholas returned with the smallest yellow stingray I had ever seen. It was only about 3 inches wide and cute as can be!!! It had one very tiny little barb that was hung up in the net and preventing it from swimming away. Everyone wanted a closer look so I carefully removed the barb from the ray and gently lifted her out of the net for everyone to see. Since she no longer had any barbs she was totally harmless and I could hold her without worry. This was a great opportunity for everyone to hold a ray and feel how it would suction itself to the palm of their hand as it pumped water thru its gills on the underside and out the sphericals on the top side of the head. It didn’t even try and get away and we all took turns holding it. It was a great experience for all of us and I could tell by the giant smiles all around that everybody was enjoying this encounter as much as I was. I just love it when there is nothing but smiles!!!

Seth with a Yellow Ray

From here we swam back to the boat and found some really nice fossilized worm tubes and quarts crystals along the shallows. We discovered a few jawfish burrows with the tiny jawfish peeking up at us from within their shell lined homes. These are one of my favorite fish that actually carry their fertilized eggs within their mouths until the babies hatch. When danger comes near the young swim back into their mothers mouth and hide till the danger has passed. Always wonderful and fascinating to see this take place. Just love it!

From here we loaded up and went to the sandbar and found West Indian and Florida fighting conchs laying eggs and swam in the Deep Hole looking for fish. For the first time this summer, the skies began to darken overhead and the rain storm was inevitable so we motored over to the Blue Heron Bridge and played around by the life guard stand and stayed out of the rain for the last half hour till it was time to go. We even had fun doing that! I was with a great group, and we had fun no matter what we were doing and that’s what counted. I would liked to have spent more time in the shallows around the sandbar but didn’t want to stay out in a storm. I knew there was always tomorrow, and with this group, there is no doubt in my mind, We are going to have some Fun!!! I can’t wait!!! Stay tuned…..