Since we came back from the Keys, we haven’t done much exploring this winter, so we decided we needed a play day yesterday. We left the campground and drove about 30 miles west to Crystal River, one of our favorite places on the Gulf Coast.
Along the way, we stopped in the little town of Inverness to take a picture of the handsome Citrus County Courthouse. Built in 1912, the building features a copper cupola topped with a belvedere and was built at a cost of $55,885. It took me a while to figure out what looked odd to me, and a bit of research confirmed that the building is uniquely situated on a square lot at a 45 degree angle.
We didn’t bring our Sea Eagle kayaks with us, but we when we got to Crystal River we drove over a couple of bridges where people were gathered watching manatee, who hang out in the area when waters turn cold out in the Gulf of Mexico.
We spent some time at Fort Island Gulf Beach, a family friendly beach with a paved parking area, restrooms, a boat ramp, and handicapped accessible dock. We like this area, with its small islands dotting the flats.
The water was very clear, and at the boat dock I spotted this strange prehistoric looking critter that seemed to be walking on the bottom, about two feet deep. Neither Terry nor I had ever seen anything like it before. Research when we got home told us it was a roughback batfish.
While we were trying to get a decent picture of it, we heard a commotion in the water on the other side of the dock and I looked just in time to see a dolphin chase of a mullet, the dolphin jumping about a third of the way out of the water, not fifteen feet away! Wow, it was like something out of a nature film as the predator lunged with open mouth and the fish dropped inside, and then it was gone. That’s a sight I’ll remember for the rest of my life! It all happened so fast that Terry didn’t have time to get a picture, but she did catch its fin as it swam away.
We spent an hour or so on the fishing pier, watching this fellow net casting for mullet. He was a nice guy, and since we’re always interested in things we see in our travels, he spent some time showing us how it’s done. He said it’s more like hunting than fishing, as he watched for fish in the water, then threw the net to allow it to fan out and sink to the bottom, trapping any fish in its path.
The bottom of the net has lead weights on it, and it’s a lot heavier than it looks. It takes work to throw the net out, and even more to pull it back up.
He caught a few fish while we watched, but said it was a slow day, and that it’s not uncommon to pull in 40 or more fish on a single cast when the fish are schooling.
There seems to be just about a million different ways to throw a cast net, but he told us that learning to throw a net is actually quite easy and that there are lots of videos on You Tube demonstrating different techniques. But he said the best way to learn is to watch somebody else for a while and then practice.
There are two kinds of mullet in Florida’s waters, the striped or black mullet, and the silver mullet. Locals say to eat the black ones and use the silver for bait.
Back at home, I posted a new Bad Nick Blog titled There Is No Excuse, wrote my daily blog, and by then it was time for bed. It was a fun day, we saw some neat things, we made some memories, we learned a thing or two, and most important, we were together. It just doesn’t get any better than that.
Thought For The Day – It’s a scientific fact that if you took all of the veins from your body and laid them end to end, you would die.