Brook Silverside of Silver Creek

Brook Silverside - Labidesthes sicculus

Brook Silverside – Labidesthes sicculus

I grabbed a few minutes this afternoon to fish the close “swimming hole” down on Silver Creek.  I wanted to try the Marukyu tanago bait I recently purchased.  This is a pink/red gel in a tube and is used extensively in Japan by Tanago fishermen.  I’m looking for other micro-fishing bait alternatives that will travel well.  I have no doubt the tube will travel well, but I sure could not get the small blob of gel to stay on my hook well.  I quickly resorted to a small piece of Berkley Gulp Earthworm.  I have been using this bait with some success when I do not have real earthworms.  Real earthworms perform the best though.

This pool is known to hold a variety of sunfish, Largemouth Bass, Yellow Bulheads and Weed Shiners.  On my first cast with the Gulp earthworm I caught a scrappy little bluegill that made the 7x tippet line on the Soyokaze 20SR sing.  Even with his small size, he sported a striking orange chest. Mind you now, this piece of bait is significantly smaller than a match head and the hook is a micro tanago hook.  Luckily I hooked him in the lip, so hook removal was non eventful.

Silver Creek Bluegill

Silver Creek Bluegill

With the quick action of the Bluegill, I thought I was in for a fast paced afternoon.  It was not meant to be….  Nothing.  Usually, the Weed Shiners eventually find me and keep me busy, but they were no where to be seen.  This water is not clear, has a black bottom and the surface is almost entirely obscured by canopy.  Sight fishing is not an option, but I usually fish without a bobber/float while micro-fishing here.  I use a single #6 (.1 g) split shot about an inch and a half above the hook, and flip it out, letting it slowly sink.  This normally is where I’ll get the activity, but not today.

The swimming hole in Silver Creek

The swimming hole in Silver Creek

It seemed like an eternity, so I decided to change up my presentation a bit.  After letting the bait sink, I began twitching it, much as I do my soft bait jig while fishing for Speckled Trout.   On my second cast with this technique, I had a “strike”….fish on!  I must have aggravated the 3 inch Brook Silverside (Labidesthes sicculus), as he inhaled the bait.  His face showed hints of red which the males get when in breeding condition.  This is the first Brook Silverside I’ve caught in Baldwin County and was quite surprised to find him in Silver Creek.  Other Brook Silversides I’ve caught have generally been sight fished while they are on the surface. Even on the surface, action to the bait seemed to be key to success. After a brief photo session, he was returned to the creek.

Silver Creek Checkup

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It has been several months since I made the effort to fish the neighborhood creek.  After rototilling the garden this afternoon, I went down to Silver Creek with my 6’6″ Soyokaze  20SR rigged with a 6 foot piece of 7X tippet, a quarter of a BB split shot and micro hook.  I cut a tip of a red wiggler, probably about the size of half a match head, and pierced it with the Tanago hook.  I’ve found that leaving the hook tip exposed greatly increases hook ups.  A piece of worm lasts a long time while microfishing, and if I start missing “hook sets”….to use big fish terminology!….I most often find that the bait has moved on  the hook, covering the hook point.  A quick adjustment of the bait has me back in effective business.

My goal this evening was to see how the local Weed Shiners (Notropis texanus) were doing.  They are the only microfish I’ve caught in this stretch of water and are usually present and cooperative.  This evening was no exception.  I also wanted to see how my new (Christmas) camera would handle the photo tank.  The new camera is a Nikon CoolPix, which is much smaller than my trusty Canon PowerShot Pro 1, but as of yet, unproven in its ability to clearly and accurately document my “on the water” adventures.

It seems that the Nikon needs a solid background upon which to focus, thus the white towel in the background.   I have less control over the pictures, but I think the CoolPix’s small size and convenience will win a spot in the travel bag.  The Canon takes pictures that are clearer and with more detail.  It will still be used in situations where small size and portability are not critical.

The above picture of the Weed Shiner shows its typical coloration from the dark local waters.  All the rays of the dorsal and caudal fin have pigmentation and the last 3 rays of the anal fin are usually prominently pigmented.  The dark lateral band extends around the face with pigmentation on both the upper and lower jaws.

I was quite surprised when this beautiful Bluegill sucked in the tiny bait.  The tussle with the light Soyokaze was delightful, with the fine line singing as it raced through the water.  The tiny Tanago hook, hooked in his upper lip held long enough for me to land him for a photo shoot.  Quite a handsome guy!

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Micro-Fishing the Tamiami Canal

My business travel this week found me with meetings on both the east and the west sides of southern Florida.  This seemed the perfect opportunity for some micro-fishing, so I packed accordingly! ( this means my two Soyokaze rods and a small plastic box containing 7X tippet material, small “Tanago” hooks, small split shot and a small jar of Berkley Gulp “earthworms”.)  After my meeting in Fort Myers on the west side, I drove east on US-41 along the Tamiami Canal.  I was anxious to get in some long anticipated fishing.

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My first stop was near the eastern border of Collier-Seminole State Park.  I quickly caught a small bluegill, the smallest Dollar Sunfish I’ve ever caught and a Brook Silverside.

Bluegill

Bluegill

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Dollar Sunfish

Brook Silverside

Brook Silverside

The rest of the trip consisted of numerous stops and a quick sampling of the resident population.  By far, the most numerous species caught was the African Jewel Cichlid.  They were very wide spread and caught at most stops.  Many were very dark, almost black with light blue spots, while others were lighter colored with the same light blue spots and three dark blotches along the side, the first on the gill plate,sometimes encircled with orange, the second about mid body and the third at the base of the caudal fin.  I don’t know if these differences are sexual, dominance or age related.

African Jewel Cichlid - Hemichromis bimaculatus

African Jewel Cichlid – Hemichromis bimaculatus

African Jewel Cichlid

African Jewel Cichlid

African Jewel Cichlid

African Jewel Cichlid

The surprise of the day was the one stop where all I caught were Crested Gobies – my first 2013 Lifelister!  I didn’t think the Tamiami Canal is even a little brackish, although this location did have extensive Mangroves growing on the opposite shore and I did see an Atlantic Needlefish, which I almost hooked!

Habitat of the Crested Goby in the Tamiami Canal, FL

Habitat of the Crested Goby in the Tamiami Canal, FL

The Crested Gobies were thick in this spot.    I thought they looked pretty handsome with the lighter green spots on their faces.

Crested Goby - Lophogogius cyprinoides

Crested Goby – Lophogogius cyprinoides

Crested Goby

Crested Goby

Crested Goby

Crested Goby

....a smaller Crested Goby

….a smaller Crested Goby

Along the way I caught a single small Spotted Sunfish and took one picture of the ever present Eastern Mosquitofish.

Spotted Sunfish

Spotted Sunfish

Eastern Mosquitofish

Eastern Mosquitofish

Here are pictures of a couple fish I did not attempt to tempt with the gear I had.

Florida Gar

Florida Gar

Florida Gar

Florida Gar

I was all re-charged and re-juvinated for my meetings in Coral Springs and Bocca Raton……

Multi-State Sunfish

While driving through the countryside of Michigan last week, I stopped at a bridge crossing the Shiawassee River near Byron, Michigan to give my Soyokaze 31SR a try.  The water here ran clear and I managed to get access in an area with tall grass edges and floating aquatic vegetation.  I could see small fish and with the 10 foot pole, easily reached them with my 7X Tippet line.  By sight fishing I could see the take and set the hook appropriately.  I caught several small sunfish before I had to get back on the road.   The 31SR did give me the reach advantage for this situation, but it’s backbone renders it less sensitive in the hand than the 6 foot 6 inch 20SR.   Here are a couple of the baby fish from the Shiawassee.

Pumpkinseed

Pumpkinseed Sunfish - Lepomis gibbosus

Bluegill

Bluegill Sunfish - Lepomis macrochirus

Green Sunfish

Green Sunfish - Lepomis cyanellus

A couple months ago I bought a boat from my wife’s uncle’s estate and have been struggling getting it to run right.  It had been setting inside for about 15 years without being run.  I just got it back from the shop yesterday so wanted to run it a bit to insure all was finally well.  I took it out on Fish River this morning before the thunderstorms built too much.  It ran great, so I stopped and fished the river’s edges for some sunfish.  I caught a couple Bluegill and a Spotted Sunfish.  Here is a nice shot of the Spotted Sunfish in the water.

Spotten Sunfish - Lepomis punctatus

Juvenile Bluegill

This is one of the first Bluegills I caught here in Lower Alabama while trying out some down-scaled equipment in October.  I was sight fishing with a size 20 hook and artificial bait.  Its home waters are the Styx River, a small, flowing stream with a sandy bottom and it is part of the Perdido River Complex.  I have yet to spend quality time in pursuit of the different micros it holds.  The habitat is much different from the slow moving stained waters of the upper tributaries of the Fish River and Blackwater River I’ve explored.