Happy Birthday, Dad!

Yesterday, April 13, was my Dad’s birthday so it seems like a good time to recognize the fact that not only mother’s dish out advice. In my case, my Dad’s advice doesn’t come so much through his words as his actions. Here’s some of the things I’ve learned from my Dad:

Even though his wallet or cell phone contains pictures of fish instead of his wife, children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren; his family is number one. He’s there to celebrate good times or protect in hard times, just don’t expect to get your picture in one of his books if you don’t catch a fish.

Caught 4/11/13.  11lbs. 8 oz.
Caught 4/11/13.
11lbs. 8 oz.

Make time for fun. Hard work is only worthwhile if there’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labors. Go on vacations. Visit theme parks. Play games…all kinds of games. Go fishing. Tell jokes. Laugh.

Invest in a good grill and make sure you learn how to use it (or marry someone who can). Food from the grill is an essential ingredient in family fun.

Happy Birthday, Dad and thanks for the lessons on family, fun, food, and fish.


Thanks, John! Writer’s Block Solved!

As I sat on the porch trying to write something to post today, John came to my rescue. After only about 30 minutes of fishing, he returned to the house and called me to meet him downstairs. I noticed that he was holding his hands in front of him so I wasn’t sure what to expect. A fishing lure dangling from his right thumb greeted me when I stepped outside.


He preceded to tell me that he needed me to wrap a piece of fishing line around the hook and then quickly yank on it to dislodge the hook. Me…the one who passes out when someone merely mentions they know someone who was hooked…the one who lies on the floor of the kitchen when her daughter splits open her forehead so she doesn’t pass out…the one who breaks into a cold sweat at the mention of blood. I’m proud to say I did not pass out. I did not run to the bathroom. I did not lie down. I also did not pull out the hook.

Sure, loop fishing line around the hook and jerk it out!
Sure, loop fishing line around the hook and jerk it out!

After several attempts to get the line at the right angle, John decided that it would be wise to first remove the lure from the hook embedded in his thumb. This would reduce the possibility of a being hooked a second time while in the process of removing the hook. My job…take the pocketknife and open the ring on the lure so it could be removed from the portion lodged in John’s thumb. Surprise…success! Now we were back to the looping line around the hook.

At this point I started looking up addresses to the nearest walk in clinic so someone else could remove the hook. John Googled “how to remove a fish hook from your finger” and the number one method was indeed wrapping a piece of line around the hook and then firmly jerking to remove it. With renewed confidence, John took the matter into his own hands (or should I say hand) looping the line, pulling tight, and then rapidly jerking to remove the hook…no problem!

My only responsibility: open the band-aid and apply to his thumb.

John put the lure back together so he could go back out in the boat. His plan: catch fish and eat them for dinner as a payback for the injury to his thumb.

What a great husband! Willing to shed a little blood to unlock my writer’s block!

2 Down; 11 To Go: Operation Big Bass

When we developed our list of 13 in 13, I included “catch a big bass” to the list. John asked my definition of a big bass and when I said an eight pounder, he suggested that I might want to reconsider since a bass of that size would be considered a lifetime catch by most fishermen. Since I don’t claim to be a fisherman, I took his advice and modified my definition to “at least six pounds”. (However, if you refer to the original 13 in 13 post I said – catch a big bass of at least six pounds, but hopefully closer to eight.)

Three weeks ago in my first attempt at this challenge, I caught what I thought at the time was a pretty big bass only to be told that it was “only” 2 1/2 pounds. I needed to catch something almost three times the size of my current record. This may be more difficult than I anticipated.

Spent much of the day watching the bobber
Spent much of the day watching the bobber

Yesterday we took the day off to make a second attempt at catching a big bass. We couldn’t have picked a more perfect day. The 45 degree temperature and cloudless sky guaranteed a great day on the water with or without fulfilling the big bass requirement. We returned to the Withlacoochee River and Lake Rousseau since Dad reported that he and his guests caught several big ones throughout the week.

After about three hours, we started planning the next attempt since not only had I not caught a big one neither had John. And, in fact, we hadn’t landed a single bass. In an effort to help me meet my goal, John sacrificed catches. He handed me his rod on three occasions so I could set the hook and reel in the catch…no success…I lost all three. I finally announced that I thought I should change my goal from catching a big bass to being in the boat when a big bass was caught.

Then it happened. I actually saw the bass hit my line only a few feet from the boat. John talked me through the process…let it take some line…now reel in slowly to take out the slack…jerk hard to set the hook and start reeling. I guess I followed directions pretty well. I maneuvered the bass around a stump and reeled it up to the boat so John could scoop it in the net and lift it into the boat.

Time to collect the data…24 inches and 8 pounds! I’m pleased to announce I caught a BIG bass! Yes, I even caught the once in a lifetime version.

Mission accomplished - 8lb., 24in. bass caught on 2/15/13.
Mission accomplished – 8lb., 24in. bass caught on 2/15/13.


Not only was John there to support my efforts by guiding me to the best spots on the lake and talking me through the process of bringing in the fish once I felt the hit, but he was also there to document the event with a quality picture. Thanks, John! In addition, thanks Dad for your scouting reports and the trip with Max to the far ends of the county to locate the shiners needed for this adventure.

A bald eagle - quite a bonus!
A bald eagle – quite a bonus!

As a bonus, we noticed a bald eagle in the top of a snag as we headed back to the boat ramp so I not only caught a big bass, I photographed a bald eagle in flight. Another once in a lifetime event for many birders!

A beautiful day on Lake Rousseau
A beautiful day on Lake Rousseau

What a wonderful way to start a long weekend!



Big Bass – 1st attempt

One of my 13 for 13 goals is to catch a big bass – at least 6 pounds…hopefully closer to 8 pounds. Since this is “the perfect time”, we decided to go to the Withlacoochee for my first attempt to catch this bass. Viola! In less than an hour…

Danielle with 6lb. bass
Danielle with 6lb. bass

Sarah’s friend, Danielle, caught a six pound bass. In fact, she caught two six pounders. I did not catch a big bass.

My not-so-big bass!
My not-so-big bass!

I caught a two pound bass. Not bad, but I’ll be doing some more fishing this year.

It was still a pretty good day…beautiful, warm, Florida weather.

Had to commandeer the boat from the heron.
Had to commandeer the boat from the heron.

We watched a heron feeding its young in a nest just a few hundred yards from the dock.


Heron feeding its young.
Heron feeding its young.

And before heading back in, we saw the moonrise. No big bass…but a wonderful day. Looking forward to the 2nd attempt!

Moonrise over the Withlacoochee
Moonrise over the Withlacoochee

13 in 13

Sunrise on Flagler Beach - a good way to start the day.
Sunrise on Flagler Beach – a good way to start the day.

Instead of taking off  a couple of weeks this summer to go on a vacation, we’ve decided to enjoy short adventures throughout the year. To insure we don’t let the year slip away without actually getting away and making time for fun, we made a list we’re calling “13 in 13”. We’ve identified 13 things we want to do to make 2013 special.

Our list includes attending a Rays baseball game, and drinking milkshakes at Mark Light Stadium during the FSU v Miami baseball series. But baseball isn’t the only thing on the list. I want to catch a “big bass” this year so my picture can be added to the fishing file, and I want to see sea turtles hatch. We checked off watching a sea turtle lay its eggs a few years ago so now it’s time to observe the hatchlings.

For years we’ve said we’ll catch the sunrise over the Atlantic followed by the sunset over the Gulf on the same day. That’s on the list for 2013 as well. We’re also planning a couple of camping weekends in Florida parks and one in Bryson City, NC. It’s been two years since we’ve visited western North Carolina where we first met so it’s time for a long weekend.

Biking, kayaking, and boating trips at new destinations in the state made the list. And we’re planning special celebrations for the Fourth of July and Christmas.

It wasn’t easy squeezing 13 adventures in to a calendar already packed with responsibilities for work, an August family weekend, a wedding, and holidays; but we did it. I’m looking forward to “13 in 13”!

Sunset at Cedar Key - the perfect finale.
Sunset at Cedar Key – the perfect finale.

Let’s go fishing!

It looks like your dad’s new boat is a keeper. He initiated it on Lake Rousseau on Friday and caught two large bass. One weighed in at over six pounds and the other over eight. He’s caught fish on both of his first two attempts in the boat so he’s pleased. On our way back from the lake he asked if I’d like him to take me out so I can catch a big bass in 2013, and I’ve accepted the challenge. I need to be included in the next edition of the Shutterfly fishing book since I’m sure Grandpa expects another to document the family’s newest fish tales.

John with 8 lb. bass caught on 12/28/12 on Lake Rousseau.
John with 8 1/4 lb. bass caught on 12/28/12 on Lake Rousseau.

I’m sure you’re invited as well. If you’re up for the challenge, it won’t take much coaxing for him to find time when he can take you out to catch a big one. Just give a call and say “Let’s go fishing!”


Faver Dykes State Park – the real Florida!

We spent the past couple days camping at Faver Dykes State Park, and I wanted to share with you since I think it’s a place you’ll enjoy. While this park is only a couple of miles from exit 298 off I-95, it seems like you’re far away from civilization. The park borders Pellicer Creek, and it is a quiet, relaxing place.
The park includes a small campground with about thirty large, wooded sites with plenty of room for our tent, boat, and Suburban. Three nature trails wind through the park, a popular birding site. A boat ramp located in the park allows small boats and canoes access to the river. In fact, they even rent canoes and kayaks for a bargain rate of $5.00 an hour.
The only wildlife we observed were a few deer, but they also claim to have wild turkey, otters, woodpeckers, and bald eagles. Although we didn’t have luck fishing this time, it looks like it should be a terrific place for trout and redfish so I’m sure we’ll try again. Don’t forget to check the date on your fishing license if you decide to cast a line.
Faver Dykes is a great inexpensive place to get away for a day or an overnight camping trip. Park admission is only $5.00 and camping only $19.80 but it’s essential that you take cash since both may be self serve – no debit cards and no change. You can pitch two tents and have two cars on a site so if you camp with friends it’s less than ten dollars a couple.
Hope you check it out.