Monday, November 21, 2011

Time for saltwater fishing

Nov 15-20,  Vero Beach/Melbourne Beach, Florida 

Several years ago my niece Kim had told me that one of her favorite places to go in Florida was Vero Beach, so before we headed inland to Zephyrhills, the town where my mother lived and where my son, brother, aunt, two nieces and one nephew live, we thought we should check out this part of the East Coast of Florida (having decided fairly early on that we would not be going any further south on the East Coast than Daytona Beach.  So this was our chance.  We found a Good Sam/Encore Park in Vero Beach that was spacious, clean, and reasonably priced.  (The only drawback was that it was about twenty minutes from the beach itself. . . .) We were pretty surprised at the wealth in this area, especially the mansions on the beach that were mostly hidden from view by tall landscaping, but the real estate signs advertised homes starting from $ 6 million and up! The beaches here are fairly quiet, a few fishermen, surfers, and walkers and very few tourists-too early for snowbirds? The downtown area had several high end stores but the neighborhood (and wealth) seemed to shift abruptly to the have-nots once you cross the Indian River Lagoon. 
It wasn’t long before I wanted to try my hand at fishing again, Heard from my female fisherwomen in St. Augustine that the state park,San Sebastian Inlet in Melbourne Beach is one of the best fishing areas in the United States. Vic and I took a side trip to check it out and discovered it was a great place for RV camping. We booked a reservation and returned the next day. The options for fishing were to go directly on the ocean for surf fishing, a pier on the jetty (elbow to elbow people), fish right off the banks next to the park, or try the pier right at the campground on the Indian River lagoon. I opted for the latter after making a quick trip to the closest bait and tackle shop. The major fish in the area included red fish, mullet, flounder, tarpon, and snook. I decided that flounder was my target and learned that the best bait was live minnows. I bought a dozen along with the proper weights and hooks as well as an aerator for my bucket to keep my live bait alive. (Vic seemed a little surprised how motivated I was to go fishing as my morning routine has been pretty slow when there is no tangible reason to get up and get going.) About noon of my first day fishing my reel broke, and, after consulting with a few experienced fishermen, we concluded that it was toast. Vic took me back to the bait store to get a new reel. By now he could see that I was more serious about fishing than he had expected, so he encouraged me to get some better equipment (no sense putting a good reel on a shoddy rod). I left the tackle store with a Penn reel and Star fishing rod (and more live bait). The only other challenge turned out to be the no-see-ums which were covering my ankles and biting non-stop. This problem required another trip to the tackle store to get the famous Avon spray: Skin So Soft. It really does work and at least it does not have the toxicity of deet! Well, after three days of fishing I had caught only two flounder that were too small to keep, but I was totally addicted to the thrill of feeling their characteristic tug and the challenge of being patient while they took the bait.  
Southern Flounder are a beautiful fish
This inlet connects the Indian River with the Atlantic ocean,
creating a well-known thorough-fare for fish.
Method of Catching Flounder:

Flounder are a very cautious fish. They will often take bait in their mouth shallow enough not too hook for several minutes only to spit out the bait. This is because the grab the bait and turn it for swallowing later. After a hit wait patiently if possible, giving the fish plenty of time, to set the hook -- then set the hook when the flounder tries to move to a new ambush position--from  

Note: I don't remember much else about this place aside from my obsession with fishing everyday!

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