marsHen's WunderBlog

north florida - wild florida - the big bend..

By: marsHen, 3:57 AM GMT on May 30, 2014

three days of trawling offshore in suwannee sound, steinhatchee, and apalachee bay off econfina. these were the first trawls of a new sampling year at big bend. we haven't trawled in either econfina or steinhatchee since last november, 2013. we found some changes.
catches in suwannee sound off the suwannee delta were low - some baitfish, a few flounder, some stingrays of several species, and a bunch of starfish. did bring in a living lightning whelk, busycon spp., that measured 339mm, 16" long. it's top side had a lot of small barnacles growing on it. it went overboard again.
water temperatures hovered between mid-upper 70's. water was dark. saw my last loon - a beautiful bird with a dark head and a speckled chest - and 3 small ducks flying off .
also spotted 3 roseate spoonbills on the mud flats by #4 bridge while driving home.
most of the trawls to the southeast of econfina river were a bust. several miles offshore and in water 2-2.5 M deep the bottom had been invaded by small mussels that were attached to the exposed roots of dormant turtle grass and manatee grass. along with snarls of wiry brown algae, that was the dominant substrate with very few snails, crabs, or fish. some sets we got no fish at all. we took samples of the mussels and algae. the water was very dark and salinity was in the mid-range. wind was brisk in the morning with a moderate chop. the intense rains we've experienced have sent pulses of fresh water and tannin out into the bay, which could account for the substrate alteration. northwest of the river there was some seagrass, much less mussel by-catch, and we pulled in some fish - mostly pinfish and pigfish with a few young of the year black sea bass and no scallops at all.
offshore steinhatchee river the water was similiar - dark, mid to upper 70's,
netted no mussels but sea urchins instead. we did catch more fish and even got 3 small scallops. the catch consisted of pinfish, pig fish, some sea bass, a few seahorses, and a bunch of founder. much more encouraging than the econfina trawls.. hot and sunny that day. glad for a sea breeze, a light chop.

Updated: 4:03 AM GMT on May 30, 2014

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north florida - wild florida - rocky hammock

By: marsHen, 2:21 AM GMT on May 26, 2014

14:30, 97f, dry. thunder to the NW. clouds building. gave lamb his bottle. guardian very uneasy, prowling yard and searching through horse barn.
14:50, lightning storm overrides farm. hail plays staccato on the tin roofs. rain begins slowly, temperature dropping. some wind. guardian has disappeared. cat takes shelter in inner hall. I turn all electronic devices off. thunder and lightning continuous.
16:10, 71f, clearing in west. sun breaks through, rain stops. lawn littered with marble-size hail. big puddles throughout yard. got 2.8" rain. everything dripping. nasturtiums, zinnias, basil tattered from hail. tomatos saved by cabbage palm they were growing near. rooster crowing! what a storm!!
called friends in CK and rosewood, and the farmer I buy hay from. they all had some wind, a few clouds, cooler temperatures, and some sprinkles but nothing like we had at the farm..

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north florida - wild florida - suwannee river delta

By: marsHen, 1:26 AM GMT on May 13, 2014

20:30, 77f, partly cloudy. waxing almost full moon in the east. mars dimmed by the bright moonlight but jupiter and the twins shining brightly in the western sky. a mist forming. yearling and adult deer browsing by sheep barn. pup wants to chase them.. guardian does but only to the boundary fence.
sampled the fish populations between moccasin and barnett creeks with the 600 ft. haul seine and the bait seine. today, low tide was like high tide due to flooding on the river. catches were fairly low with the bait seine. catches consisted of 4 different types of "anchovies", or silversides, and YOY menhaden, plus a few spot, finger mullet, and pinfish.
catch of the day was a 5 ft. sturgeon, caught between dan-may and barnett with the first set of the 600. a large, strong fish that resented being measured and resisted being thrown overboard; it disappeared once we got it back in the water. the 2nd pull brought in 11 lovely redfish, 1 sheepshead, and 4 juvenile black drum and several black crappie, a freshwater fish that we have been netting off the salt marsh for the past few months. the last set with the big seine was on an incoming tide over an oyster bar with breaking waves and netted pinfish, silver perch, spot, mullet, and 1 ladyfish. the net snagged on the oyster bar and waves broke over my head as I freed the net. did not want to use the boat as this seine is the old seine and didn't need the stress which would have ripped it. just finished mending it, too.
a lovely day, partly to mostly cloudy. wind, 12-15 knts. a hefty chopwith whitecaps and waves rolling onshore. air temps, upper 70's to low 80's. water temps, upper 70's. refreshing. water clarity very low due to tannin from the river. saw no alligators. saw few birds other than great egrets. the sawgrass is beginning to bloom.
coming back to the boat ramp, the tide was so high that the boat trailer began to float just as we were driving the boat on it. the bunker smashed into the bow, peeling back the fiberglass down to the marine plywood, effectively ending tomorrow's sampling since our other workboat is in the shop with engine problems..
the best laid plans ...
this journal was begun almost 3 years ago to plot, daily, a base-line study for the suwannee river delta and the piney woods that border it, with respect to weather, tides, and wildlife.
while daily entries will be discontinued, I will continue to report fishing effort, wildlife sightings, and weather events.

Updated: 2:28 AM GMT on May 13, 2014

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north florida - wild florida - deer island

By: marsHen, 3:10 AM GMT on May 10, 2014

22:00, 76f. waxing gibbous moon high in the east. partly cloudy with a mist. guardian barking down the lane. yearling deer in back yard.
sampled the fish populations between deer and rattlesnake key. catches were low. water was extremely high most of the day. tide turned at 13:00 but stayed high. water temperature, 25C, 77f. about the same offshore. we are no longer wearing waders. waters very dark - like day-old coffee. all from the suwannee flooding. salinities are lower than usual. a moderate chop, with spray. not many birds all the bars were flooded. even the spartina was flooded.
bait seine, in 5 sets mostly in back creeks, pulled in 3 types of "anchovies," some young-of-the-year menhaden, 1 very large blunt-nose stingray, and a few young pinfish and spot. numbers were low. the large 600 ft. haul seine did not do any better - some mullet, some stingrays (large and smaller,) a few hardhead catfish, a nice atlantic croaker, a gulf flounder, a 2 ft long gar, 2 small redfish which got their fin clipped for genetics, and a small trout that disappeared when we got the catch in the boat.. plus a few spot and pinfish. 3 sets, not big catches..
a partly sunny, windy, pleasant day in the upper 70's, lower 80's. another day on the water. another day in paradise..

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north florida - wild florida - suwannee sound

By: marsHen, 3:17 AM GMT on May 08, 2014

23:00 DST, 73f, partly cloudy, waxing half moon up near the zenith. jupiter and the twins showing.
the fish are coming back into the cedar keys and the suwannee river delta.
strong high tides in the morning, low neap tides in the afternoon. water temperature around 72f, 22C. visibility low, dark due to the tannin from the flooding suwannee river.
monday, 5/5, catches were moderate around corrigan's reef. pull of the day with the 600 ft. haul seine on cedar point, netted 53 sting rays, 37 of them were the large Dasyatis say, the rest were the smaller D. sabina. the bag of the seine was too heavy to lift into the net well so we hauled the catch up on the beach just at the water's edge and worked it up there - identifying, sexing, measuring, recording data, and releasing the rays back into the water. all of us, biologists and rays, survived. the rays left several spines, ~3" long, in the bag of the seine. the tide was going out so the boat had to be manhandled off a shoal while the net was loaded back into the boat from the beach. we shuffled our feet while working amongst all those released rays.
tuesday, 5/6, near west pass. the big haul seine pulled in redfish in 2 sets. the first set netted over 50 young redfish, bronze from the suwannee tannin and speckled with many spots. the 2nd pull netted about the same number of redfish but a mixed bag of adults and youngsters. the biologists worked in a fury to get all the fish measured and overboard with no casualites.
the mackerel have disappeared. the ducks and loons have flown off north. but the white pelicans are still around, although large flocks gather and wheel above the mainland so I suspect most will be leaving soon.
morning temperatures are in the low to mid 70's. afternoon temps are mid to high 80's. lots of cumulus clouds forming now. summer is approaching.

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About marsHen

marine biologist around the Suwannee River delta. Raise Cracker sheep on an old Cracker farm ~ 12 mi. (as the crow flies) from the Gulf.