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.

02202013 Tamiami Canal 220 800

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

02202013 Tamiami Canal 022 800

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……

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Micro Madness

One of the sites I frequent is called Non Traditional Fishing.  The forum on this site has about 100 members interested in many different facets of fishing.  One increasingly popular interest discussed there is fishing for fish that do not grow to over 16 ounces, or a pound.  The term Micro Fish has been coined to reference them. These fish are traditionally overlooked when the topic of fishing arises….and then usually only as bait!  The pursuit of these Micro Fish has a growing following, though still small (minute!) in comparison.  Though the numbers who fish for them are small, the number of fish species that fit the Micro definition are great.  Some are easy to catch but very many are difficult to locate and they often have very specific habitats and unique feeding behaviors.  One of the big challenges when catching them is actually identifying them…..because “all minnows look alike!”  Often one must resort to counting fin rays or lateral line scales and many times it requires researching geographic range information to eliminate what you thought were potential candidates for identification.  Obviously, digital cameras with good Macro capabilities are a must!  I recently built a small photo tank to assist in getting clear pictures for identification.

To satisfy the competitive nature of many of these Micro-fishermen and bring more recognition to the sport, Aaron, who originated the Non Traditional Fishing site, organized a three month competition called Micro Madness.  During the months of May, June and July, the registered competitors scramble to catch as many different species of Micro-fish as they can….all for bragging rights!

I made a quick trip this morning to a spot on Negro Creek, which is part of the Blackwater River drainage, to try and find the Blackbanded Darter that I have caught there before.  They were nowhere to be found, but I did manage to find some hungry Eastern Mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) – male below and female above.  These Mosquitofish must have been doing their job quite well as I didn’t have too much trouble with mosquitoes, but those biting Yellow Flies drove me nuts!