While we were over on the east coast of Florida one day, we decided to head south from the Edgewater area and try to find the next closest boat ramp. Down that way the ramps go into the western part of the Mosquito Lagoon. From there, make your way (in your boat) across to the Haulover Canal which passes through to the east side of the Lagoon.
We drove east for a few miles from Rt. 1 on a dirt road and finally came across the small boat ramp. It has room to put in one boat at a time and the boat loads into a narrow channel that feeds out into the open water.
Looking south, the Kennedy Space Center vehicle assembly building is barely visible.
I found some crown conch shells and thick clam shells, but the most interesting item I found floating among the weeds in the shallows was this horseshoe crab. It was not alive.
Once we have a flats boat we plan to spend some time fishing in this area. For now, we have to stay close to the Edgewater ramp where we put the little boat in, as it doesn’t travel very fast, or handle waves well!
Went out on the little boat yesterday and three of us tried our best to catch a keeper. If we wanted to eat a meal of catfish, we could easily have done so. I caught a couple of large cats when we stopped one of the backwater canals for a swim and then fished from the water. We had more room than when we all tried to cast a line from the Gheenoe.
Other than the catfish, I did get a small snook. He was a silver shimmering beauty! It’s snook season right now, and my older son was hoping to reel one in. All he got was a few catfish himself. My younger son got a small redfish, and we certainly saw more than a few “tailing redfish” along the shore. Yes, I am beginning to learn fisherman talk. When redfish are eating they circle and show their tail. The ones we watched each seemed to be alone, but they can swim in big groups with their tails above the water, and that’s what the fishermen look for. The ones we watched would swim in a circle and make a large ripple in the calm water. These fish are really beautiful and they are delicious to eat. But size is important when you catch one you want to keep.
Because the little “Yea Mon” (what my son named his boat) has a shallow draft, we can get into the backwater channels where most other boats can’t go. We always find shallow water to swim around in and sand islands when the tide is low.
And we have the place all to ourselves! The water was flowing, and we could drift along in the very warm water. Yes, it’s brown, but it usually is in this area.
Other than fishing and enjoying the sunny Florida weather, I also did some shell hunting. Because the tide was just coming in, there were a number of sandy beach areas exposed. I found a large shark’s eye shell with a piece missing. Also picked up a crown conch and pear whelk. Picked them up and then had to put them back down. Every shell was inhabited by a hermit crab.
I really would have liked to keep those shells as they are all favorites of mine. In fact I don’t think I have ever found a pear whelk. I really wanted that one for my seashell collection! The place to go and get great shells is the Gulf Coast. A vacation may be in order – one day.
I took photos with my iPhone, but because of the extremely sunny conditions, it was difficult. Also, I worry about dropping the darn thing. I really need a waterproof case. Shuffling along the uneven sandy bottom of the canal is tricky. I could step into a hole at any time and drop my phone! My nice camera is still packed away, waiting for me to move into a permanent home.
Once we have our newer, bigger boat, it will be so much easier to grab the phone and get video and photos while the boys fish. Not to mention that fishing will be much more fun! So it’s all a waiting game, which is par for the course in my life. But we still had a very nice day out on the water.
Three of us in one tiny boat isn’t ideal, but it gets us out on the water. We go boating in the Florida backwater where my son Nick tries his best to catch a nice Redfish. My younger son caught some catfish (picture) and I didn’t fish this particular day. I took the photos, because my goal was to find some awesome seashells. Since I’ve moved back to Florida, it’s been mostly work and not much play. Summer in the sunshine state is for tourists, in my opinion. The rest of the year, when the weather is not as stifling, is for locals to enjoy. But that’s not true either. I live in a state where it’s tourist city year round. Another reason I like to escape on the boat during the week. We avoid the coast and waterways on weekends.
Below: Yes, that’s our little Gheenoe, and it does hold three people! It can’t move very fast when it’s loaded down, but it’s fun to go out and explore. We have to keep an eye on those building cumulus clouds. Storms can build and move in fast. It’s not fun to try to outrun a Florida thunderstorm!
The day I took these photos it was terribly hot, over 100 degrees, but there was a breeze. Even the water was hot. I half expected that if we caught a fish it would be partially cooked already! The tide was out which made maneuvering the shallow channels a bit tricky, but my son fishes this area frequently and was pretty good at not hitting the sand bars.
Finally we stopped at Three Sisters, which is a set of three islands, one of which has a long sand bar on the northern side when the tide is low or out.
I found this giant Atlantic cockle shell (it’s name is “Giant”, it’s not really all that big) while walking in the hot shallow water on Three Sisters. Both sides of this bivalve were connected and it was upside down and filled with mud. Since then, I have found a few more of these beauties, in exactly the same state – upside down in shallow water. In my experience, shells that are attached eventually dry out and come apart, but it’s fun to find joined bivalves.
I also found my prized big horse conch on Three Sisters.
While out on the boat the other day, I came across a large, empty horse conch just lying in the sand at low tide. It was a super hot day, and most shells were under water and inhabited by hermit crabs. I was thrilled to discover a big shell that was a keeper!
But it wasn’t pretty. Interesting, for sure, but not pretty. Barnacles encrusted most of the top (spire area) and most of the 10-inch long seashell was covered in black “skin” called periostracum. That info came from my seashell book, “Florida’s Living Beaches”.
I’ve never had such a messed up shell to clean, so I searched for a way to remove the coating and maybe see the shell colors underneath. I began by using my son’s toothbrush and scrubbing at the coating. (He’ll never know – haha, just kidding. Of course I bought him a new one).
At the best shell blog (besides my own, hee-hee) I found that Pam at I Love Shelling had written a nice article (see the link below) about cleaning her horse conchs. She has a lot of shells. She lives on Sanibel Island, where finding awesome shells is a daily thing. I don’t have that luxury, but we both love collecting seashells and I often refer to her experience to share. We both live in Florida, but she is on the Gulf coast and I am on the Atlantic / east coast where nice big seashells are a rare find.
As of today, the photo below is what my horse conch looks like. The barnacles have been chipped away and some of the periostracum has been removed. After I soaked the shell overnight, the barnacles could be chipped off with a butter knife – it’s all I had. I find that letting the shell dry out makes the brown stuff flaky so I can brush it off. But this process is going to take a while.
I may have to invest in some dental tools to scrape mine down. It may not end up very colorful, but I’d love to see what’s under there. If I don’t find any good color, I will leave it outside in the hot Florida sun to bleach white. It will still be a unique shell to add to my collection.
FYI: The animal who lives in, and makes this shell is bright orange! A ten-inch shell seems pretty big to me, but the horse conch can grow to be almost twice as large!
Also, I found a tiny broken horse conch lodged inside one of the crown conchs I collected and you can see pictures of that in my next post.
The Dolphin View seaside restaurant in New Smyrna used to be the Sea Harvest. I was out house-hunting and stopped to get some lunch to-go. I stood in line outside to order, and it was HOT. With only one group of customers in front of me, I still waited a while to order. It was Saturday, and well before lunch time, so there were few patrons. As I stood there sweating, at least I could watch the weekend parade of boats head by. Most were going north (to Disappearing Island?) up towards Ponce Inlet.
Even with big fans going out on the deck, it was too hot to wait for the food outdoors. I still had a nice view of the Intracoastal Waterway inside where it was cool. As we watched the boats of all sizes go by, this one (below) caught my eye with the dog standing on the front, happy as can be.
Taking the food all the way home was probably a mistake, as the oysters were soggy by the time I ate. The meal came with one hushpuppy, fries (many) and coleslaw – those were the two sides I chose. The single little hush puppy was included. Whoopee! I was unimpressed by the $20.00 meal.
When the place was the Sea Harvest they were known for their huge and delicious grouper sandwiches. I don’t think the Dolphin View even offers grouper. I chose the fried oysters because I honestly didn’t seen anything else that interested me. And the oysters were not all that flavorful. I would not get them again. I guess I am more of a clam lover.
Maybe when the weather cools off, and if we live closer, we can go eat on the deck sometime. I love to eat by the water. I hate to be too hard on a place after eating there just once.