This final leg of the trip starts just north of the Keys and ends back at home in Canada. We started off back at the ditch where we caught the Mozambique Tilapia in part one. Having already fished the spot, I wasn't expecting much but ended up catching a 2 new species! A Black Acara and an awesome Jaguar Guapote! Now Casey wasn't the only one to land one ;)
After the ditch spot, we split up with Gerry and slowly made our way north. It was a very action-packed day, we hit 7 spots and fished from 6AM to 10PM. I never managed to catch my much-wanted Peacock Bass, but did manage a good number of new exotics including: Redhead Cichlid, Eastern Happy Cichlid, Great Snakehead, and Salvini Cichlid.
I also finally caught a Dollar Sunfish as well as a few other natives that came out to play. Most of our targets were exotic aquarium releases, but it was nice to see that there were still some natives left in the state lol. Pictured below are the Dollar Sunfish, Seminole Killifish, Crested Goby, and Coastal Shiner.
The last planned spot for the day was in the everglades for Brown Hoplos. Unfortunately, they were nowhere to be found because the Walking Catfish seemed to have pushed them out. The spot was still worth the drive because I did catch my lifer Yellow Bullhead (finally!).
Disappointed at having been unable to land my lifer Brown Hoplo, we decided to make a last ditch effort 2 hours away at a spot Gerry had found. Little did we know, the park closed at 10PM, and we only arrived at 9:23. By the time we found the spot, it was already 9:40 and we wanted to be back in the car at 9:45 in order to have time to leave before the automatic gate closed. And so, I had 5 minutes to catch the fish... Five minutes later, 0 bites and I gave up and started picking up my rods :( To my surprise, a small Hoplo was on the end of one of the lines!!
The Hoplo marked the end of a pretty intense day, we only made it to Ken's friend's house at 2AM the next morning. We decided to sleep in until 8:00 before heading to Orlando. There, I caught my first lifers of 2019! A quiet suburban park yielded both a Convict Cichlid and a Variable Platy, more aquarium releases.
The next spot was only 10 minutes away and was essentially a puddle on the side of the road. There were supposedly some American Flagfish there but all we could see were thousands of Mosquitofish. After weeding through what felt like hundreds, I finally pulled up something different! A Golden Topminnow, another unexpected lifer :) After enough searching, we found the Flagfish and each managed to catch one as well.
Those were my final lifers of the trip, and what an epic trip it was! I caught total of 51 new species, which also made for over 100 in 2018. Combined, our group caught over 80 different fish species, pretty impressive for under 10 days of fishing. I'll leave you with our group picture; from left to right: Ken, me, Tim, Casey, and Gerry.