You can't ask for a better end to the year than a shameless lifelisting fishing trip to Florida. After months of planning with my friends Ken and Michael, December finally arrived! Ruoxi and I packed up her Honda Civic and made the two day drive from Illinois to the Fort Lauderdale area to kick start the adventure at a fishing pier in the Atlantic Ocean. The warm weather was great, but we weren't expecting the wind to be quite so strong. We could hear the hum of the wind on our rods as we walked down the pier to an open spot, chopped up some squid, and tied Sabiki rigs onto our lines. We dropped our baits to the bottom with pyramid sinkers at the end of our Sabikis and right away caught fish. It's a species fisherman's dream come true when each one is a new lifer!
Spottail Pinfish (Diplodus holbrookii) - new hook & line species #153
Smooth Trunkfish (Rhinesomus triqueter) - new hook & line species #154
Porkfish (Anisotremus virginicus)
We saw a dozen or so needlefish move into our area near the surface, so I pulled my Sabiki up so the top hook was visible to them. They attacked aggressively. Good hook sets were tough, but after a few tries I pulled in this houndfish, which has jaws that strongly resemble longnose gar from back home.
Houndfish (Tylosurus crocodilus) - new hook & line species #155
Blue Runner (Caranx crysos) - new hook & line species #156
Lane Snapper (Lutjanus synagris)
Before long the sun disappeared over the horizon. The pier lights made it convenient to continue fishing, and like flipping a switch the bite changed over to juvenile grunts. We probably caught two dozen of each of these species. I could see them getting pretty annoying as bait thieves, but we tolerated them since they were new fish to us.
Bluestriped Grunt (Haemulon sciurus) - new hook & line species #157
French Grunt (Haemulon flavolineatum) - new hook & line species #158
Sailor's Choice (Haemulon parra)
Tomtate Grunt (Haemulon aurolineatum) - new hook & line species #159
Smallmouth Grunt (Haemulon chrysargyreum) - new hook & line species #160
We were getting tired from our long day, but I hadn't used the shrimp we purchased along with the squid, so I tied up a Carolina rig (I think the locals call them fish finder rigs) with a circle hook and whole shrimp. After a few snags on the corals or rocks on the bottom, I got a good bite from this black margate, which reminded me of the freshwater drum we have in the midwest.
Black Margate (Anisotremus surinamensis) - new hook & line species #161