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Old 03-10-2008, 08:01 PM   #1
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Default A little science, a lot of adventure!

Sunday (3/9) I took some fellow UWF students out to collect specimens for the Zoology lab.I'm teaching my favorite lab this week- "The Fish Lab", and I like to provide fresh fish specimens for the students to dissect. Seems to me they get moreout ofthe lesson by seeing local species and by looking at internal fish parts in their natural colors rather than looking at fishes preserved in formalin. The cast of characters besides me included Jeremy, one of my Directed Independent Study students who has experience fishing...... Theresa, one of my teaching assistants who has been an incredible help on a number of projects and who was excited to learn how to fish on this trip......... and Katie, who started out as my Zoology student last year and is now my teaching assistant and my "right hand" through the last year of my snapper research. Katie also was excitedto learn to fish! I launched the boat at Bayou Texar around 10am, and the plan was to head north to Mulat to look for trout- they're great for students to dissect- and then to the bridge for a variety. NOAA failed us again as we found more sloppy chop than I wanted to put everyone through, especially on that little 19-foot aluminum flatbottom Rhino, so I made the call to just fish the 3-mile bridge.

Here's a shot ofTheresa and Katieexcited and ready for their day on the water and their first fishing trip:



With the chop and wind on the rubble side of the bridge I decided to anchor on the calmer side, just a couple of pilings east of the channel. The bottom machine marked up clusters of fish, we had live shrimp, we had squid, we had smilin' women, we were ready for some collecting! Jeremy jigged for a bit; I taught the girls how to tie a simple leader and a palomar knot, how to bait, and how to not reel against drag. The 3-mile bridge seemed like a good backup plan, despite the neap tide that day I'd never been skunked for white trout at the bridge and I figured we could get what we needed in a reasonable amount of time. First lesson the ladies learned- don't always trust your fish finder.

We started out with squid and there were a few small nibblers that were easy to miss, and finally Katie squeals with delight- she'd set the hook and it stuck. First fish of the day went to Katie!



It may have been "just" a 6-inch croaker, but her first fish had made her smile and laugh just as much as if she'd landed a tournament winner. We could use this fish for lab, too!

Theresa wasn't too far behind as I heard her laughter from the stern and turned to see her rod bowed over......



She'd brought up this Southern Kingfish and was tickled pink to hold it up for a picture. Yeeeaaahhh!! My "gals" had caught their first fishes!!!!!!clap

There must have been a small school of kingfish passing through, because up next was this one-



Live shrimp, squid, the kingfish were eating both. The ladies landed a couple more, and Theresa showed how much she was enjoying catching fish:



Now, of course we had to give Jeremy a little guff because he hadn't put anything in the boat yet.We may have spoken a little too soon becausehe caught up to us pretty quickly!

He brought this fella out from close to the pilings and gave him a few good runs......

Helping to unhook the fish.....



And a prize slot redfish!



This one was NOT going to the Zoology lab. Good job, Jeremy!:clap We admired the fish as it was one of the prettier reds I'd seen in a while- nice golden color, iridescent blue edging the tail, and a perfect spot exactly parallel on either side of the tail. Great looking fish!

It was getting close to about 2pm and the high tide had settled in, so the bite slacked. Theresa did find one of the more interesting "species" the bay offers up:



We're biologists and hopeless science nerds so the can was examined closely. It housed a tiny stone crab and was covered inspecimens that my Zoology students should be able to identify, so the can, sans crab, became part of our collection.

With the tide slacked, bites were small and far between, though a few more croakers and a couple of pinfish made it to the boat, and one "so ugly it's cute" creature.....



The toadfish, however, was pretty cool, andKatie and Theresagot to see that amazing set of jaws before the fish was returned to the bay.

We had a few visitors to the boat, and the ladies became acquainted with the resident "lunch line".



Katie continues to try for more fish (I think both she and Theresa are hooked!!!):



A little after 3, we looked across the bridge to the rubble side and saw that the whitecaps from earlier in the day had subsided, and we decided to anchor on that side for the last hour of our trip to see if we could still score the white trout we were seeking. Sooooo.... here's where the adventure kicks up a notch.

I fire up the engine and it coughs a little but turns over, Jeremy pulls the anchor, and as soon as we see anchor chain the engine dies. OK..... I crank the engine again. And again. Our battery is just fine, but the engine just does not want to idle. I put it into a fast idle, and it will stay running that way, but the engine is not peeing. Theresa and Katie are holding us against the piling, but upon discovery of the "constipated" engine, I had Jeremy drop the anchor again and we tried to unclog it with some wire leader. Doesn't work, and the wire is a little thin, so I cut up one of my Cajun Thunders and Jeremy and I try again to unclog the hole. No pee!:banghead I told the ladies- "Y'all just keep fishing for now"..... to which they happily obliged. This is where we know that yeah, it's all going to end up OKbut the process of getting to "OK" is a little stressful in the meantime. I make a few necessary phone calls,and wait for necessary phone calls to be returned. The sun was starting to go down and the chill in the wind was returning, and my float plan says I planned to be in at 5...... well, it's getting close and I have a State vessel. ThenKatie lightens the mood for us. Just when we're wondering if we're going to be there well after dark, there is a squeal from the starboard side.... "I GOT A BIG ONE!!!" Katie's rod is bowed over, she's laughing (more from nerves at the prospect of getting home than anything, I suspect), and she makes this final YANK move that I wish I'd gotten on video..... in one huge sweep ofher rod, a silvery flash launches from the water, "bungees" across the boat, and makes a return passwhich just grazes Jeremy's face, andfinally a white trout makes it to the boat. I wonder what that trout was thinking as it made its flightback and forth across the boat!!!! At last, it's what we really wanted for the lab, and the laughter at the moments that had passed between Katie's hookup and the landing of the fish were GREAT!



I get the phone calls I need, and there are a few possibilities for what happened, none of which make me want to run the boat until I get a go-ahead...... and after phone help we end up idling the boat (still not peeing) back to the launch. On the plus side, it was a gorgeous sunset!

There was one final lesson learned today. Jeremy was a great help at teaching Katie and Theresa about keeping tension on the line, casting, baiting, the stuff we "seasoned" folks take for granted sometimes......Theresa and Katiegot a more in-depth lesson in fish identification........ but maritime superstition is one thing we left out. Just before we began to idle the boat back to the launch, we get bundled up, get gear stowed, and I move Katie's bag. When I do, a particular object in the bag catches my eye.



I'd adhered to but never truly believed in the banana myth, but after the boat trouble today it became clear to me what to do. We found the humor in it and Katie was spared a dunking, but Jeremy and I had one final task before we could head to the dock. We broke the banana in half and made one last offering to Neptune for the day:



With the offending fruit overboard, our little craft got us back to the dock slowly (verrry slowly and still not peeing)but safely. I pull the boat out, we stow gear, and get it back to campus and cleaned.

Back at UWF, we sort the catch and inventory what we have for the lab:



I know there are some Zoology students here on PFF, so here's your preview of your week's lesson! We put all but the redfish on ice for the week's labs and cleaned the redfish. Jeremy gave me half of his fish (thank you-thank you!!!!:bowdown) We finally left UWF after about 11pm (about six hours beyond my original plan for being home), drowsy, beat, cold, stinky, tired, but happy for the process of being that way- glad for a pretty day on the water..... glad that we have the job that we do....... hopeful that the Zoology students will gain an appreciation of the fish life we have locally, and happy that we got to share that time together. What a great crew I was lucky enough to fish with and am lucky to work with- thanks so much Jeremy, Katie, Theresa- you guys ROCK and congrats ladies on your FIRST FISHES!!!!!clap
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Old 03-10-2008, 08:49 PM   #2
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Default RE: A little science, a lot of adventure!

As always, what a cool read. Bravo!:clap
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Old 03-10-2008, 09:17 PM   #3
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Default RE: A little science, a lot of adventure!

Another nice read :bowdown Glad ya'll made it back in O.K.
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Old 03-10-2008, 09:20 PM   #4
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Default RE: A little science, a lot of adventure!

Great pics and I love the detailed report.
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Old 03-10-2008, 10:25 PM   #5
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Default RE: A little science, a lot of adventure!

Glad to see you on here. Havent seen a post in a while. Nice report.
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Old 03-10-2008, 10:31 PM   #6
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Default RE: A little science, a lot of adventure!

Another Great read Karon, you really need to learn how write with vivid imagery. :bowdown
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Old 03-10-2008, 10:48 PM   #7
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Default RE: A little science, a lot of adventure!

i want in on your next trip
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Old 03-11-2008, 12:08 AM   #8
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Default RE: A little science, a lot of adventure!

I was wondering where you've been. I think I have read every post of yours...twice. And as always this one is another great one. You appear to put alot into everything you do. And it shows. Beauty, Brains and loves to fish. Wow......Youare the coolest chick ever. Thanks again for the report.
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Old 03-11-2008, 12:38 AM   #9
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Default RE: A little science, a lot of adventure!

A+



...nuf said -Lets go fishing cupcake! We ought to have FS article between us.



:toast

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Old 03-11-2008, 12:45 AM   #10
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Default RE: A little science, a lot of adventure!

Excellent report. Thank you. A+ indeed. :clap
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