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> > My wild and crazy trip to Florida & back while the world went crazy in my "absence"

Jmd123 has attached these 20 pictures. The message is below.
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My co-pilot Ron is at our favorite table in the parking lot of the hotel, having a (root)beer
My co-pilot Ron is at our favorite table in the parking lot of the hotel, having a (root)beer
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Front of the Ranch House Hotel on Marathon Key: spontaneous choice, stroke of luck!
Front of the Ranch House Hotel on Marathon Key: spontaneous choice, stroke of luck!
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With apologies to Beck: got two coconuts and a seagrape tree!
With apologies to Beck: got two coconuts and a seagrape tree!
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My new favorite tree: gumbo-limbo (Bursera simaruba)
My new favorite tree: gumbo-limbo (Bursera simaruba)
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Close up of the bark...these trees can get 60 feet tall and stand up to hurricanes!
Close up of the bark...these trees can get 60 feet tall and stand up to hurricanes!
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Seagrape (Coccoloba uvifera), which has a grape-like edible fruit & very cool rounded leaves and contorted trunk
Seagrape (Coccoloba uvifera), which has a grape-like edible fruit & very cool rounded leaves and contorted trunk
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Seaside vegetation near the west end of the 7 Mile Bridge
Seaside vegetation near the west end of the 7 Mile Bridge
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Common beggar-ticks, Bidens alba - no relation to Joe Biden, far as I know...
Common beggar-ticks, Bidens alba - no relation to Joe Biden, far as I know...
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My best shot of seagrape in flower, windy as all hell for the first few days
My best shot of seagrape in flower, windy as all hell for the first few days
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The Florida Keys
The Florida Keys
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MOOOO!!! I'm a scrawled cowfish (Acanthostracion quadricornis), PUT ME BACK!!! (Too bad I don't have a 250-gallon saltwater tank!)
MOOOO!!! I'm a scrawled cowfish (Acanthostracion quadricornis), PUT ME BACK!!! (Too bad I don't have a 250-gallon saltwater tank!)
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Ron did me one better: a common trunkfish, a.k.a boxfish, buffalo trunkfish...I'll get the Latin name sooner or later
Ron did me one better: a common trunkfish, a.k.a boxfish, buffalo trunkfish...I'll get the Latin name sooner or later
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This is actually my very first fish of the trip, a little mangrove snapper off the 7 Mile Bridge caught on shrimp
This is actually my very first fish of the trip, a little mangrove snapper off the 7 Mile Bridge caught on shrimp
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Bigger mangrove snapper Ron kept
Bigger mangrove snapper Ron kept
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Pier fishing at the 7 Mile Bridge - LOTS of little mangrove snappers stealing our bait here
Pier fishing at the 7 Mile Bridge - LOTS of little mangrove snappers stealing our bait here
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WATER!
WATER!
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A private key
A private key
Jmd123March 16th, 2020, 4:37 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2461
After all the delays...all the waiting...we headed down on the morning of the 4th of March, and returned this a.m. @12:20-ish. Winging it, flying by the seat of our pants, hoping we would be able to find half-way decent accommodations within our budget...we survived, fried our pasty-pale Michigan skins (peeling profusely now!), had just enough money to get home, and spent 7 nights on Marathon Key. Some wheedling our way through cities on day 3 slowed us down from what could have been more direct routes...& I really didn't get to do any exploring on the mainland, and had a couple of days in the keys when I had to be a bum, catch up on rest, and give my fried skin a break from the (tropical) sun! However...sitting in the shade of palm trees sipping ice tea or root beer, watching gulls and pelicans coasting by, being serenaded by white-winged doves that sounded like cuckoo birds, reading a book on FL fishes trying to ID everything I saw on the party boat and/or at the pier...sure beat the hell out of being back here watching the snow melt, especially wearing shorts every day and trying to identify fish that were red, pink, orange, yellow, blue, silver...sometimes all in the same fish! We must have caught 20 spp. on the Miss Islamorada, my catch was 4 littlehead porgies, 1 white grunt, 1 gray triggerfish, and two beautiful mutton snappers that had to go back...and died anyway from the pressure. Okay, I get that they are trying to protect them, but when you watch them float away dead because they are too small too keep & you winch them up from >100 feet of ocean...I neither saved it, nor get to eat it...

Nevertheless, and in spite of various rough spots, the trip overall was as great time for me and totally a reconnaissance mission for me. Found a really nice place to stay & LOTS to go back and explore.

I even did some fly fishing! A nice something or other followed my fly on that amazingly beautiful beach and then spooked with a flash the size of a dinner plate...jack or pompano? Unfinished business...

Enjoy!

A tired but rejuvenated Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
WbranchMarch 17th, 2020, 8:29 am
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2618
Hi Jon,

It looks like you had a nice time and had good weather. Now next time you can strap a kayak to the top of your car and go explore all those backwaters and maybe jump some tarpon.

I see only bottom feeders in the pictures. Did you do any fly fishing at all and if so did you catch any sport fish like snook, pompano, ladyfish, jacks?

What was the name of the motel? How much per night? Was it clean? Daily maid service?
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Jmd123March 17th, 2020, 3:25 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2461
Hey Matt, 1st things 1st:

"What was the name of the motel?" - Ranch House Hotel on Marathon Key

"How much per night?" - 7 nights cost me $1299

"Was it clean?" - very!!!

"Daily maid service?" - yes! Family owned and run, really nice people!

Also: nicest hotel bathroom with highest shower water pressure ever, and a fully equipped kitchen to save money cooking instead of going out to eat. Beds were comfortable!

The beautiful little beach on which I fly fished is shown in Part 2 (which see). And yes, on that beach either a jack or pompano followed my fly and then spooked with a big silver flash as the fly began to enter shallow water. The fly was a saltwater Woolly bugger in brown and grizzly, and if the fish had connected I would have had one hell of a fight on my 8-weight!

I actually did take the 8-weight on the party boat with the idea that if I saw something surfacing I would take a shot at it. However, we were out in over 100 feet of water so nothing was swimming in the water column much above the bottom. In CA I had the opportunity to catch fish up shallow with a spinning rod and jigs, they were off the bottom over a kelp forest and so fish were within 20 feet of the surface. But, not here...

I'll post a pic of the hotel room so you can see how nice it was.

Jonathon

P.S. I haven't made a practice of burning myself over the years & have protected my skin fairly well. This was a case of oversight, having been away from sunlight for sooooo long I wasn't thinking about it, fish on the brain! It did give me an excuse to slow down and relax when I needed it. My new hat saved my face!!!
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...

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