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Holiday Adventure 2010

Hi Everyone! Welcome Back!!!

I just got back in town and I’m finally getting a chance to write about our Holiday Adventure. It started off a bit cold on Monday morning, air temperature in the mid 30′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 all loved that! I knew we were not going to be doing any snorkeling this week as the water temp. was in the upper 50’s but this gave us an opportunity to have 2 full fishing days instead of one, a chance to do some island exploration, check out the sandbars for starfish, scope out manatees in the shallows and around the FPL plant and motor up the intra-coastal in search of Fun and Adventure and anything else we could find!

Holiday Group Photo

When I arrived at the dock Monday morning I was greeted by a great group of Adventurers all bundled up to stay warm and ready to go have some FUN!!! And I could tell we were going to have it!!! With 4 full days of boating, fishing, island exploration and unbelievable manatee encounters, etc., how could you not? Our first stop was a visit over by the Florida Power Plant to check out the manatees huddling by the warm water discharge. It wasn’t hard to find where they all were!!! We saw nothing but backs, tails, flippers and faces of hundreds of manatees with almost no water in between! If you ever wanted to see a manatee up close and personal, then today was your day! It was an absolute bonanza of manatees everywhere we looked! From top to bottom, Manatees, Manatees, Manatees!!! Did we ever love that!!!

The kids see a manatee

We spent a good bit of time enjoying and watching the manatees frolic around, then decided to head over to Peanut Island to take an island hike and get out of the wind. Just as we were passing by the Rock Garden we spotted a young manatee swimming towards us. I turned off the engines, raised them up out of the water and drifted in the shallows. That manatee took a beeline right towards us and proceeded to lie right next to the boat just a few inches away. We could have leaned over the side and kissed it right on the nose it was that close! And let me tell you did we ever want too!!!, but we didn’t. But we sure thought about it!!! I’d take my little underwater camera and hold just under the surface and that cute, curious manatee would come right up and look right in the lens! It was just great!!!

Curious manatee encounter

After a while it sauntered off and we took a quick hike around Peanut Island to warm up a bit. From here the kids wanted to go for a quick fast boat ride so we decided to head up to Little Munyon Island and do some exploring. Were we ever glad when we got there! With the wind in our faces at 20 knots and air temperature in the low 30’s it was down right frigid! But did we ever have Fun all the same!!! The kids were laughing the whole way with the tears from the cold running down there faces!!! It didn’t take us long to hop out and go for another island hike to warm up. We hiked thru the sea oats along the back side of the island, looking for treasures and watching as rainbows of light danced off the leaves in front of us.

Chasing rainbows

We spent the remainder of the afternoon combing the beach and searching the tide line for any treasures that might have washed up with wind and the waves. We found some nice shells and plenty of crabs and sea urchins. On the way back to the boat we found a nice big molt or shedded carapace to a horshoe crab, and we all took turns checking it out! They are always a great find and the kids seem to love it! I know Emma sure thought that it was cool!!!

Emma finds a horshoe crab

On the morning of the next day we went by the Big Sandbar to search the shallow water and the exposed sandbar for starfish and anything else we could find. As soon as we parked the boat I could see one big Cushion Starfish right out in the open sitting high and dry on the bar. We hopped out and ran over to take a closer look. It was the first one we found and everybody loved it! We all had fun taking pictures with the starfish then Luca put it back into deeper water to let it go. It was a nice find!!!

Luca with a cushion starfish

For the next few minutes we all ran around the bar looking for blue crabs and mantis shrimp, shells and hermit crabs. We were in a hurry to search every square inch then get on to fishing since this was one of our fishing days!!! I could tell the kids wanted to stay longer having Fun searching, but they wanted to fish just as badly!!! They kept saying, “should we stay or should we go now?” and I thought that was Funny! On the way back to the boat Katie found another big cushion starfish and brought it over for us to see. Of course we had to take a few photos of that one too then hopped in the boat to start our fishing day. We just couldn’t wait a minute longer!!! We were ready to go Catch Some Fish!!!

Katie's big starfish

And catch some fish we DID!!! When we arrived at the first fishing spot everybody was ready with rods in hand! On the count of three all the lines went out. It seemed the second they hit the bottom the fish were biting! Exactly how I remembered it and just the way I love it!! How we all loved it!!! It wasn’t long before everybody was catching fish and reeling them in by the dozens! Samantha was the first one to catch a fish and from that moment on it was non-stop! Nice job Samantha!

Samantha catches the first one

After about an hour of catching tomtates, squirrelfish, sailors choice and striped grunts we decided to move to another one of my secret spots to see if we could catch something different. I was hoping the fishing here would be as good as the previous spot. I didn’t have to wait long for my answer!!! We baited the hooks and everyone dropped down at the same time. And just like before, the minute the bait hit bottom, the fish were on! I could tell this group of Adventurers were having FUN now!! It was one fish right after another, over and over and over!!! We had our rods full of fish and they were just loving it! So was I!!!

Rods full of fish

Most of the fish we caught gave a good fight but every now and then someone would hook a nice big one they would have to work extra hard to get it in! It was just great watching all the non stop action! That is if I would have had a free second to actually watch, but the kids caught fish so fast I couldn’t keep the hooks baited no matter how quickly I moved from one rod to the next! I think I still have the sound of, “AdventureMike I need more bait” still ringing in my ears!!! I wouldn’t have it any other way! Adventure Ethan was the first to catch a nice big Ceasar’s Grunt! Way to go!

Ethan catches the first big grunt

I don’t know how many fish we caught that first day but I know it was non stop and I couldn’t keep up baiting hooks or taking fish off fast enough. It was a good thing Adventure Max was giving me a hand taking fish off everyones lines! That cut the time down in half and even then we couldn’t keep up. I think everyone caught at least 40 fish that first day and some even caught much more!!! Needless to say, We were having FUN!!! Thanks Max for your help too!!!

Max helps to take off fish

On Wednesday the air temperature was much warmer, about 60 degrees I think and we all loved that! The skies were as blue as blue could be and it was a perfect day to be out in the boat. The tide was almost dead low and the kids wanted to go back to the Big Sandbar to do some exploring. When we rounded the corner under the bridge we could see the sandbar was totally exposed and sea gulls by the hundreds were having a field day searching the bar for food. As soon as we stopped the kids jumped out and had fun chasing after them! Before long they had found 3 big Cushion Starfish, some nice star-eyed hermit crabs and a bunch of fighting conchs!

3 starfish and rabbit ears

We spent about an hour searching and exploring the shallows and found numerous Cushion Starfish that we moved back into deeper water. I was hoping to find a couple of 9 armed starfish to show everyone but we didn’t have any luck on this day. Sometimes you find them, sometimes you don’t, but it sure is FUN looking all the same. You just never know what you might come upon. I could tell AJ and Ethan had fun finding these 2 big Cushion Starfish which they held up for a quick photo op.

Ethan and AJ find starfish

From here we stopped by the Sailfish Marina to check out the big Jack crevalles and sea what the sport fish boats had been catching. Not much it appeared as there wasn’t one fish carcass anywhere by the fish cleaning table. We spent some time looking about and found a nice big jolly fake Santa Claus sitting right out in front of the gift shop that seemed perfect for us to take a group photo with. Even though there was a few dozen tourists milling about taking his picture, we didn’t mind waiting our turn! We all had a Blast!!!


We spent the last hour going back over by the FPL plant to check out some more manatees. And just like before, they were everywhere by the hundreds!!! No matter where you looked there were manatees swimming, playing and frolicking about. It was just GREAT!!!
We had another Manatee come right up beside us and raise his snout out of the water just inches from the boat as if to say hello. And let me tell you, we could have kissed that one too!!! He had one cute face and a nice fuzzy nose!!! We loved it!!!

One Cute Face

On the morning of the last day we took another quick jaunt around the Big Sandbar, found a bunch of fighting conchs, hermit crabs and a few more big Cushion Starfish. We spent a little bit of time checking out Mantis Shrimp holes, tube worms and looking for baby ear mollusks. Most of us found quite a pile of netted olive shells burrowing thru the sand,that were cool to see! Along the way, Adventure Jackie found a nice beaded starfish that was the only one to be found all week. It is always nice finding a couple different species of starfish all on the same day!

Jacky finds a nice beaded starfish

From here we ran back up the lake to another secret fishing spot to begin our second day of fishing. Just like before, the minute our lines were in the water we were catching fish. This spot is in a different location than the artificial reef and over a different type of bottom, more sand and rubble than rock, and we catch different species of fish. The most common fish we catch here are Lane Snappers and sometimes they number in the hundreds. It didn’t take Adventure Emma long to catch her first one! I could tell she just loved it!!! We all did!!! Nice Job!!!

Emma's nice Lane Snapper

For the next couple of hours we caught fish one after another. Just like before! Fish after fish after fish!!! Every now and then we would lose a nice big one that we just couldn’t get in, or that would get under a rock and break off. We were catching so many fish that everybody was helping to take them off the lines and rebait their own hooks! I don’t think they wanted to wait for me to catch up and get to them. They were just too busy having FUN and was I ever glad to have them help me! I couldn’t keep count just how many fish everyone caught, but it sure was a pile! I know Adventure AJ sure loved catching this nice big lane snapper!! He was having a Lane Snapper holiday!!! Way to go!

AJ having a Lane Snapper Holiday

Needless to say, the week flew by faster than we wanted! We were having way too much FUN we never wanted it to end! NEVER!!! Somehow it always seems to be this way, and I just LOVE IT!!! No matter what the water or air temperature was, We had a BLAST!!! From the very start until the very end! FUN FUN FUN from here to there… Somehow each and every week always seems to be this way, and I just LOVE IT!!! Wish you all could have joined us! We loved the Adventure! We lived the Adventure! It was Just GREAT!!! I think even the friendly pelecans were sorry to see us go!!!

Did you save one for me?

Lucky for me I get to do it all over again when I start my Spring Break Adventure Sessions in March and April!!! I’m taking registrations now!!! Don’t post pone, We’ll fill up quickly! Its always a BLAST!!! Its going to be GREAT!!! Hope to see you there!!!

Let’s Go Have Some Fun!!!


Fishing Near Peanut Island

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!!!!