Opportunity knocks

Life throws curveballs, challenges, and difficult times. It is your choice to see it as a challenge or an opportunity. A short notice work trip to Orlando presented the opportunity to research and look for the fish that could be chased and the places they would lead me to. 


The flight always presents a challenge for a fisherman. How do you pack for a trip that you don’t know what you may need for fishing from shore. How do I stay below my weight and still bring all your gear? I chose to pack lighter than I wanted due to limited space. I was able to pack more than I needed with two trays of gear two combos and two fixed line rods. Gear for Micros, Exotics, and natives proved to be a little of everything attitude when packing. I had a plan to pick up a few things from a local store and get bait.


It was a horrible start to the trip with turbulence and a full plane. Over an hour of bouncing around hitting the wall of the plane in the worst conditions I have ever experienced. Nauseated I could not wait to land but once we did some of our luggage was missing. After nearly an hour the airport found someone had taken one of our bags thinking it was his. Not even close but we were happy to get it back. Th rental car went about as well as the flight but at least we were on the way to the hotel and then to the conference. 


Day two I was able to fish but had to get all the gear packed and organized. I figured organizing would make it better once fishing. I scouted some nearby ponds and lakes in the morning but chose not to fish close to the hotel. With the help of a fishing buddy we talked about some locations and local knowledge of what fish were known to be present. Place, Blue Talapia, Redbreast Sunfish, and White catfish were on my hit list. The river was perfect containing tilapia, place and redbreast. I chose to fish with my car close by with the temps in the upper 90’s by fishing in a local park. The water was low and I immediately spotted a huge white ghost (Blue Talapia)swimming near by. After a frustrating hour I realized that the fish was not interested in eating. Reading up on the species page I realized why. I was a week too late and they already spawned. The fishing was painfully slow and I was loosing some hope. Just a couple sunfish and small bass were caught. Dehydrated and disappointed in fishing I moved places after a quick stop at the 7Eleven.




Heading down to the dam I was greeted with Vermiculated Sailfin catfish right by the shore. Finally I was feeling like I had a shot. Twenty minutes later with 3 missed bites and many failed attempts i made some observations. They really reminded of the dreaded carp sucker. They were wary of line when they sucked in my bait and would immediately leave. I tried to set the hook but could not connect.



So I decided to try throwing a jig for bass or really anything. Stood up on a concrete wall near the dam. I was throwing a small green jig and one of the suspended fish took a swipe/turned into my jig and followed it as it drifted downstream. One more cast drifting just a little closer to the fish I got another positive reaction and it connected. Setting the hook I was sure it was a vermiculated Sailfin Catfish. I could barely believe that the jig had been completely sucked into it’s mouth. I asked a couple different people walking by to take some photos for me. It appeared that several of the fish were sucking algae off the dam and others were just downstream.






There was an alligator that saw I had a fish and really wanted to have some lunch and scared away the fish close by. I passed some time by catching several mosquito fish. 




I was then joined by a friend Mike that moved down to Florida a few years ago. We fished a bit longer below the dam but produced nothing. We moved upstream hoping to see some redbreast sunfish and bass. Being a pretty heavily fished area the fishing was slow even with live bait under a float. Casting a small jig I got hammered and I thought it was a small bass until it got closed broke the surface. A beautiful redbreast sunfish had been landed. right around 9 inches long it was a great size for any sunfish species for me. 



Mike was also looking for a redbreast and soon downsized his bait and a short time later he hooked into a fish but not what he was hoping for.




We called it a day



Day 3 I took some time early in the morning and hit a shopping center for some pond fishing and a nearby lake. Nothing memorable but nice way to pass the hour I had to fish. Later that night was a large party where we watched Jim Belushi perform. It was a great time only a couple people back from the stage. He came out and danced with people in the audience.




Day 4 was the day! The day for an adventure into the wildlife area near the St Johns river. I was excited to go but the ponds near Mike’s house were too good of a chance for white catfish to pass up. Things were not looking too good. The wind was making sighting the fish difficult and the water was murky. At another pond, Mike connected with a bass and I absolutely love the photo that we captured.



Off to St Johns River was exciting as ever for me. The walk was long but entertaining. Right away we saw an Osceola Turkey and a couple bulls little ways down. Now normally I would not be too nervous but these cows did not appear to like company so we crossed the fence to stay on the other side. Walking in tall grass in snake country is not my cup of tea especially in shorts and sandals but little did I know I would get bit later on by something.



The dreaded bull


The scenery was almost fake to me.



Arriving at the river was exciting. We saw bass busting the surface and tilapia in the shallows over nesting areas. I bottom rigged a crawler while Mike cast for bass. Fish and move was the name of the game. By this time we had logged almost 3 miles of walking. We saw all sorts of fish. No new fish for me to catch but I was excited to add to my photo collection or Coppernose, Redear, and Redbreast came to visit me. Mike collected a few more fish including Bass, Redear, and Coppernose but no redbreast. The photos really speak for themselves and was breathtaking for me. 




Coppernose Bluegill





Even a small channel cat was stopping by to say hi.



Mike with his many bass he caught





A Snake decided to scare away the fish. You can see my line and bait in the water.


The Sailfins were taunting me all day. I ended up snagging a couple because they were so thick in areas. They had territories and the same fish would return to the exact spot making them somewhat predictable but frustrating. Next time I will have the softest braid I can get.


I believe this is an osprey that graced us with diving into the water right by us.


On the way back to the hotel I stopped to take a photo of an old bait shop.


Back at the hotel, I realized how bad my legs were. I burned them and possibly got a spider bite that swelled my leg for the next 4 days.


Happy to be on my way home I snapped a photo on our late night flight leaving Orlando.


It is always about the adventure and the memories along the way. Being a work trip I was more than happy to land a couple new species and meet up with a friend I have not seen in over 5 years. Take advantage of the time you can and enjoy whatever the catch may be.

Species List:


Casey Shanaberger's picture

Nice fish, I've always wanted to take a trip down to Florida 

"I swear if you catch another drum"

SomewhereDownstream's picture

There are some epic fish in there. The patterns on the catfish are awesome, and that redbreast is also a real monster. I've only ever caught one or two that size and I have been fishing for them for years, although they probably get bigger in Florida than they do here in PA. Gorgeous coppernose, too.


Hengelaar's picture

Dude, you caught a space alien!

That's crazy.

Sweet that you got some cool action in, on a non-fishing trip.

That river looks really cool. Like no place I've ever fished. And the colors on those sunnies are nuts!

Fishn sure is neat

Eric Kol's picture

that coppernose is outstanding, and of course the pleco. looks like the true gold on ths trip was the amount of intel and experience gained, which ought to be great for when I get doen there and need to pick your brain!

Carpy Diem!

Eli's picture

Good show! Really digging that lit up coppernose bluegill.




Graceclaw's picture

Lots of cool stuff, but I especially like the shot of the Osprey. Excellent picture.

Matt Miller's picture

Great report as usual. That sailfin catfish is an incredible looking fish. I have been reading a bit about fishing for them and it seems more anglers catch them on lures than bait. I've seen reports of them being caught on jigs, trout magnets and woolly bugger flies. Very cool catch.

FP4LifesDad's picture

Thanks for sharing man, great report and photos!  The catfish is crazy, what a cool looking fish and your coppernose has to be the prettiest sunfish I've ever seen, amazing.

Outdoors4life's picture


I thin the sources are important in if they took the bait or not. I did hook others and "catch" them. But they were near their mouth not in the mouth. I was throwing a jig in some deeper water and got a "bite" I had snagged one in it's head. The one  I posted the picture of me holding was in the mouth sucked up a bit. The way their skin is it is hard to snag them anywhere but their head.  I had 1/6 ounce jig with a green plastic so it was pretty light.

The sailfin was cool but I really think I was fortunate to find one that wanted to eat. I fished to probably 30 or 40 of them while I was down there. Talking with Moose I think it was one of those right place right time. There were fish that were actively eating. The gator shut down all fishing for me after I caught the one in the photo. In other areas I saw them they were not eating at all. Some were very skittish and others I could walk by and not bother them.

The Coppernose were cool. I had caught many but never got a good photo of one. The Redbreast was one of my most sought after targets. I really wanted one and I caught many. I have another osprey pic I will post up as well. 

It was a great time and I hope others will take advantage of a time when they can sneak out even if only a couple hours. 

It is all perspective!

Acer Home Inspections

Mike B's picture

Yes, that coppernose is definitely world class. Sorry about the spider bite!

mike b

Corey's picture

That Coppernose is amazing; I really believe they will be split off into a seperate species someday, the differences in pattern and pigmentation are striking. Nice work.

SomewhereDownstream's picture

I caught some coppernose bluegills when I was in Florida a couple of years back. They did look ridiculously different than northern strain bluegills, but species classification gets pretty weird sometimes. For example, the blue goose looks different enough from the snow goose to be designated as its own species,  but it's still just another subspecies. Meanwhile, the bull trout is a separate species from the dolly garden, and except for size and distribution, those two are virtually indistinguishable. I think it's based more on genetics and home ranges than on looks.


Outdoors4life's picture

Mike- No worries about a spider bite. It makes a good story later on. Remember the time...... I have few good ones. 


Corey- I really hope they do split them off. They are nowhere near the same. They have white tips on fins, red tails, iridescence on the head and the striping is much wider. They also fight pretty good for their size. 

I enjoy sharing my trip. Photos and video is my passion along with fishing. Thank you to all that read it. These expedition reports really motivate others to go and chase fish. Many of us on here have researched our butts off for off the wall trips. Many times we could find nothing. Now with the database of roughfish many people are finding roughfish through their research and finding that roughfish has some amazing info on many areas. Where else are you going to find people who you can message and ask about Blue Talapia and Senora suckers? These tidbits of info will get the next mind going and they will build on what has already been shared. Just look at the carpsucker. Nowhere else will you find a group that has this much info on them. 

It is all perspective!

Acer Home Inspections

Cast_and_Blast's picture

That Coppernose is like no other Sunfish.  Very cool colors.

Hengelaar's picture

I think lots of people will be deleting/cancelling their accounts there...

Fishn sure is neat

Mike B's picture

Yep, I'm done. Any suggestions?

mike b

philaroman's picture

as I understand, PB is now charging $400/yr. for 3rd Party hosting...  most people are switching to Flickr (still free), but who knows if/when Flickr will pull the same maneuver as PB, once they get more established

P.E.T.A. sucks!!!  Plants are living things, too -- they're just easier to catch!

How do you transfer pics from PB to Flickr, and is there a charge for that, too?
philaroman's picture

copy your entire PB album to your computer (should be free):



...then, move whatever you want to whatever new service you select

P.E.T.A. sucks!!!  Plants are living things, too -- they're just easier to catch!

Thanks for your help, and for posting this link - now if I can get past Captcha...
Outdoors4life's picture

Yeah, Years of posts and such will now be pictureless.

I will figure this out at some point and switch to something else. It is going to take hours to redo all the photos on articles and trip reports. It actually makes me sick to even think about it.

It is all perspective!

Acer Home Inspections

Graceclaw's picture

I use PB, and my old expedition report still has pictures. I think it's a settings-thing. Unless my report only still has pictures for me?

Hengelaar's picture

Some folks' stuff did not get roont, some did.

Extra weird: the day Big Ben (his are still there, too!) told me about it, I checked out some stuff, and the pics in C&B's report were dicked then. But now they're there again?! How?? What??


Not cool.

Fishn sure is neat

philaroman's picture

albeit, inconveniently:

right-click PB's ugly grey FU message & select "view image" which sends you straight to the photo on PB...  major PITA, but better than nothing, if it's something where the photos are a must (e.g., old tutorial on reel repair) -- basically, open the post twice & read one instance, while viewing photos in the other

P.E.T.A. sucks!!!  Plants are living things, too -- they're just easier to catch!

andy's picture

We pay good money to allow users to upload and store images right here on roughfish.com.  I know we need to make the process a little easier - and we will soon - but for now you guys should try hosting your images here even if you only upload one at a time.  Be sure to size them to an appropriate pixel dimension before you upload them, and organize them into large folders - keep adding to the folder.  

But please, only fishing-related images!   Nobody wants to see your golf clubs.  Be sure to let us know if you experience difficulties and we will try to help.


Check out all of the User Galleries HERE - http://roughfish.com/all-batch-image-sets

Outdoors4life's picture

Thanks for the encouragement. 
I will be working on finishing all of my posts and articles. It will take some time but I will get this done without paying the ransom money. The upload is working great here on RF now and I will be using it for all my fishing photos.

RF is the best!

It is all perspective!

Acer Home Inspections