Blue Parrotfish (Scarus coeruleus) - new hook & line species #195
With the morning sun beating down on us, Ruoxi and I decided to head back to the base of the bridge to fish in the shade (and look like hobos). There were plenty of sergeant majors and damselfish near the concrete wall, but the juvenile grunts and snappers were always the first to bite.
Bluestriped Grunt (Haemulon sciurus)
A school of filefish and parrotfish moved in near the wall, and after catching several of the parrotfish, I caught my first planehead filefish! They certainly have an unusual shape. Another species, the scrawled filefish, had been tormenting me the past two days out in the middle of the bridge. The planehead isn't quite as neat, but any filefish is better than no filefish.
Planehead Filefish (Stephanolepis hispidus) - new hook & line species #196
Ruoxi and I felt we had spent enough time on the bridge, so we packed up the car and headed east towards Islamorada. On the way we stopped at a sandy beach with shallow water and vegetation. The sea grass was teeming with small shrimp and crabs. I got a net out of the car (this was the first and only time it was used on the trip) and found a variety of micros, such as sheepshead minnows, longnose killifish, gobies, and a pipefish that I think is a shortfin pipefish. Microfishing can take a lot more time than you might think, so I skipped the rod and reel so we could be on our way. I am curious though if anyone will ever catch a pipefish on hook & line.
Once in Islamorada, we stopped at Bass Pro to pick up a few things, and when we walked out on the docks in the marina behind the parking lot we noticed thousands and thousands of tiny fish near the surface. I rigged up one of my rods with a Tanago hook and quickly caught one of the fish. As I was pulling it out of the water, two guys on the next dock over yelled over at us, "No fishing!!!". I had my lifer in hand, so I smiled, apologized, and hurried off to photograph my catch. At first I thought it must be some sort of anchovy, but it didn't fit any of the descriptions in my fish book. After flipping through the pages for a while, I found a fish that matched perfectly, the hardhead silverside. It's definitely the coolest micro of the trip!
Hardhead Silverside (Atherinomorus stipes) - new hook & line species #197
After our excitement at the Bass Pro, we met up with Michael and Ken for some dinner and souvenir shopping. Sometimes you have to take a break from fishing!