On our second day in Florida we transitioned to freshwater exotics in the Miami area. I let Ruoxi get some extra sleep and went to the first park by myself. At this point we still had not met up with Ken and Michael. They didn't need the species at this location, so they got started elsewhere. I fished the boat ramp dock and rocks by the shore of the canal that passed through the park and added the first tilapia and cichlid to my lifelist.
Spotted Tilapia (Tilapia mariae) - juvenile - new hook & line species #162
Yellow Belly Cichlid (Cichlasoma salvini) - new hook & line species #163
Ken had Michael were fishing their go-to cobra snakehead spot, and once I was finished at the first park I joined up with them. Ken had caught a snakehead here the year before, but Michael still needed one. Michael and I worked the shoreline of the canal with weedless frog lures and each got a swirl and half-hearted strike, but neither of us hooked up. We cut this location short so we could meet up with another species angler and Miami native, Martini. I picked up Ruoxi from the motel, and the four of us joined up with Martini. He was very generous to spend his day with us and take us around to some of his good cichlid spots in Miami. We weren't able to catch blacktail cichlids at the first spot, but the next location was very good to us. Here I got three new tilapia and cichlid species!
Mayan Cichlid (Cichlasoma urophthalmum) - new hook & line species #164
Zebra Tilapia (Tilapia buttikoferi) - new hook & line species #165
Butterfly Peacock Bass (Cichla ocellaris) - new hook & line species #166
Spotted Tilapia (Tilapia mariae) - adult
Our last Miami fishing spot was a college campus with a brackish water canal flowing through it. We saw more blacktail cichlids but could not get them to take interest in our baits. Ken and Michael focused on some big mojarras in the middle of the canal, and I poked around the rocks by shore and caught dozens of crested gobies. The males were completely black, and the females were mottled brown with blue dots on their cheeks. It never gets old catching gobies, even though they're probably the easiest type of fish to catch. As it was getting dark I decided I should make an attempt at the mojarras as well, but my shrimp sitting on the bottom of the canal got picked up by a nice grey snapper instead. Thanks for taking us to these spots Martini! I hope we can return the favor by showing you some of our good fishing in the midwest. Those gar records are calling your name!
Crested Goby (Lophogobius cyprinoides) - new hook & line species #167
Grey Snapper (Lutjanus griseus) - new hook & line species #168
We should have been done fishing at this point, but we continued south into the keys, met up with our friend Miciah who was also in Florida, ate dinner, bought more bait, and did some late night fishing from one of the pedestrian bridges that runs parallel to Highway 1. The current was strong from the outgoing tide, the wind was howling, and the bite was slow. The only consolation was one new lifer for me, a porkfish. Miciah was envious, but a few minutes later he got his lifer as well. Ken and Michael fished hard for sharks but did not see any action this night. It was a rough night sleeping in the car for just a few hours.
Porkfish (Anisotremus virginicus) - juvenile - new hook & line species #169
French Grunt (Haemulon flavolineatum)