Florida Sea Grant Extension in Collier County

Welcome to the Collier County Sea Grant Extension Blog

This blog is an opportunity for me to share with you my extension outreach efforts and useful information to make you a more informed coastal citizen. If you have any questions about what you see, feel free to contact me at fluech@ufl.edu.

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Friday, July 29, 2011

Day 5 Collier County Fishing Camp: Final Day!

Today I wrapped up my final fishing camp of the summer. It has been a busy week, but the students ended on a high note catching lots a fish in the lakes around Freedom Park. Students started the day with an impromptu lesson on sharks from Barry. He brought in some shark jaws and a sting ray barb for the students to look at and touch. As with most of my camps we ended the week with the students having to rig their rod and reel from scratch. For doing this, we tell them they can keep the fishing poles, which is always a great moment. It never gets old seeing the look on their faces when they realize they get to keep it. The fishing gear is donated by Fish Florida, an non-profit in Florida dedicated to promoting youth sport fishing. They have always been a big supporter of my programs, and I can't thank them enough! (just to let you know the purchase of the Fish Florida license plate they sponsor helps to support youth fishing programs such as this camp.)
Besides rigging their own fishing poles, Barry and I also told the group they were essentially on their own while fishing meaning we expected them to tie their own knots, untangle their tangles, and release their own fish. I'm happy to report the students did an excellent job!  Most were very self sufficient while fishing, which is a major goal of the camp. Although I could tell they were frustrated at times while trying to re-tie a knot or undo a tangle, they were able to work through these minor setbacks. The fishing was hot today. The  students caught lots of fish including largemouth bass, blue tilapia, bluegill, redeared sunfish, and Mayan cichlid. After fishing for two and half solid hours, we came inside to relax. We discussed the importance of securing loose fishing line and the impacts discarded line can have on wildlife. We watched a short video on the Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Program and then had them create their own mini fishing line recycling bins from used tennis ball cans. We ended the camp with multiple rounds of fish identification bingo where they had the opportunity to win dehooking tools, fish posters and ID books, and lots of tackle. Enjoy the pictures!

Barry explains about the importance of sharks to the marine ecosystem

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working on rigging their fishing poles

A nice 4.5 pound bass

A happy camper with his tilapia

Making mini-fishing line recycle bins

Fish ID Bingo

Freedom Park

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Day 4 Collier County Fishing Camp: Charter Trip

Today my fishing camp and I took a charter trip with Cruise Naples out of Tin City to try our luck fishing from a boat. We fished a little at the Santa Lucia Reef out of Gordan Pass for awhile, but it became a little too choppy, and we headed inshore. We fished the rest of the morning around Naples Bay. Granted most of the the kids caught fish, but I don't think any records were broken. I am happy to say that after this trip all of the students have caught at least one fish now, which is always a big relief when doing these camps. Our catch included pinfish, scaled sardine, pigfish, sheepshead, mangrove snapper, and jack crevalle. One student hooked up with a goliath grouper and he did such an awesome job fighting it for a good fifteen minutes, but ultimately the grouper won the battle and escaped. Another student did go home with a legal mangrove snapper, so its good to know at least one student will be having fresh fish for dinner. Enjoy the pictures.
checking out a bald eagle on the way out of Gordan Pass

First catch of the camp (and dinner for this young angler)

fighting a goliath grouper (originally he had a pinfish on, but as he was reeling it up, we saw the goliath go after it.)

Fishing inside of Gordan Pass

We were pursued by dolphins most of the time while inside the Pass

The first Jack caught at camp

A nice little sheepshead

One of several mangrove snappers caught today

Just under the size limit, but still a good catch

This mangrove snapper like many of the others were caught in the last 45 minutes of fishing


The first "oyster" fish of the day!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Day 3 Collier County Fishing Camp: Tigertail Lagoon

Today my fishing camp  was suppose to go to Barefoot Beach in the northern part of the County, but because of a recent algal bloom, and resulting fish kill in the area, we decided to head south and fish at Tigertail Lagoon on Marco Island. I think we made the right choice; the fish were biting! My students caught snook, red drum, sheepshead, mangrove snapper, pinfish, and one very large needlefish! The kids did a great job, and I was proud to see them demonstrating proper handling and release practices. We did have one student go home with a legal mangrove snapper. Overall I'm pleased with the group's progress. There are still a few students struggling to master the skill/art of grabbing shrimp out of the bait bucket, but they're getting there. Once the shrimp ran out we pulled a seine net to catch extra bait. Unfortunately I brought my smaller net, and we did catch bait, was mostly on the smaller side. I think the kids still had a great time. Once back at Freedom Park, we watched another FWC video called the Science of Fishing. It does a great job explaining the how fish are adapted to living in an aquatic environment and  factors anglers should consider when trying to target certain species such as feeding behaviors, time of day, tides etc. Enjoy the pictures!

The art of baiting one's own hook!

Nice Snook

The first red drum ever caught during one of my camps

Carefully releasing a red drum

Even Barry got in on the action today!

First fish!!

A nice little sheepshead

Bringing in another red drum

A nice sized needlefish!

A proud angler!

Another snook landed

Seine netting for bait

Our catches were a bit on the small side today!

I think he's proud of the bait they caught

Barry gives a demonstration on how to clean a fish.