Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Fish Kill Update

I have received several emails asking about the fish kill in Tampa Bay and I found these pictures in the newspaper yesterday. In one retirement community they removed over 8 tons of dead fish… Where I live they also removed a bunch, since I don’t keep up with the goings on around here, I missed the opportunity to participate. Although, when out fishing with a buddy of mine the other day, we picked up two large trash bags full and could have done that many times over, we just collected the ones near the boat ramp.

Sadly many of the fish were snook, but happily the majority were tilapia and salt water catfish and some mullet.


Monday, January 25, 2010

2010 Yes Bay Guide Staff!

Our Guide staff for 2010 is all set. We had a ton of applicants and were lucky to stay focused and hire only guides with full time guide experience.

Our complete staff from last year is returning with the exception of one - Capt Sean Hagen (Shamrock) will not be returning. You might recall he and his girlfriend Ashton (Our wonderful bartender) went to town one weekend last season and got married. They were engaged before they arrived in Alaska. Well the honeymoon must have worked, because Ashton is due to have a baby in a month or so, which means Sean will be changing diapers instead of fishing in Alaska. Congratulations Sean and Ashton!

Slice returns for his 17th year and Slammer returns for his 11th year, Kicker and I return for our 4th years, Axeman returns for his 3rd year, Batman returns for his 2nd year and we have 5 new guides for 2010.

Capt John Luman - John hails from Oregon and has a ton of Pacific NW fishing experience as well as several years of Alaska fishing, so we are glad to have him. That is a nice King Salmon he has there, we expect many more in 2010!

Capt Guy Hickman will be the youngster of the bunch and hails from the Florida area. Guy runs a guide service out of Vero Beach on the east coast of Florida. For those of you who are not familiar with Florida fish - Guy is in the water with what is known as a Goliath Grouper, formerly called a Jewfish, until someone decided it was not politically correct and changed the name. They are a protected species and must be released. They have been known to weigh up to 700 pounds.

Capt Phil Chieco is another Florida guide and fishes from the east coast of Florida as well. Phil has a real nice dolphin fish (No relation to the Dolphin mammal), very good eating. It is also know as Mahi Mahi on the west coast and in Hawaii.

We have one other new guide - Capt Greg Wickline, no picture yet as he is very busy working running a supply boat between Miami and Haiti to help with the Earthquake relief effort. He can be commended for his service and getting involved. He promises to send a picture when he returns back to home in a week or so.

I will be sure to post it here.

I look forward to fishing with these guys for the 2010 season and beyond. Yes Bay Lodge is proud of the fact that we are always able to secure top quality fishing guides and 2010 promises more of the same.

Capt Jim Lucas

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Cold Weather Damage

It is hard to believe how much damage our cold winter has caused, the fish kill seems to get bigger and bigger everyday. Mostly because the water is warming up and now the dead fish are beginning to float and it is much more obvious the amount of fish that have died. The good news is, the fishing still remains pretty good, the trout and redfish were not affected too much. Seems that the only real sport fish that has been seriously affected is the Snook. A fish we all value and had just made a huge come back from the red tide from several years ago. So hopefully the season closure will help them again regain a strong footing in Tampa Bay.

Agriculture also took a huge hit with the strawberry season cut short, the orange groves have suffered and the vegetable farms got almost entirely wiped out. Another little know industry is the tropical fish farms, they were devastated. Most will be out of business as they had no way to keep their breeding ponds warm and lost their entire crop. So if you have an aquarium, plan on spending more for some of those little tropical fish!

I took my walk yesterday morning at Sunken Gardens, just to see how much damage there and it was depressing. This place is normally very lush and green and the sun barely shines through the canopy of the jungle. Sadly, they will have much planting to do and trimming before the spring wedding season as there are many weddings performed there. I was happy to see the resident flamingos were still in their glory and took a few pictures.

Then it was off to Sawgrass Park for my real walk along the boardwalk for my exercise. It was very dead there as well, but managed to see a nice squirrel and a baby gator, so it made the trip worthwhile...

I have finished hiring all the guides for the 2010 season at Yes Bay Lodge, we will have a great crew again, with all but one guide from last year returning. Sean (Shamrock) Hagen will be changing diapers while we are fishing, he and Ashton are expecting a baby soon and she refused to give him a hall pass to come back to Alaska. We are planning on a full crew for 2010 as bookings are very strong, so if you have yet to make your reservations you better get to phoning Kris. There are some great show specials right now, so make you plans and join me and crew at Yes Bay in 2010!

Capt Jim

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Tampa Bay Fish Kill

The picture above is from the newspaper.

Here is a nice trout I caught.

I went out fishing yesterday and it was a very slow day. Water temperature is still way low and the fish are not chewing. The water temperature in the bay and along the beaches went down into the low 40’s which has caused a pretty major fish kill in Tampa Bay and in fact in most areas of the state of Florida. So much so that the Fish and Game has decided to extend the block on keeping any Snook this year. There are literally thousands of dead snook floating around the Bay and with the season scheduled to begin on the first of February, they decided to keep it closed for at least the rest of this year and they may extend it for another year after some final research on the total kill.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Alaska 2009

Here are some pictures that I took on my trip to and from Alaska this year!


Capt Jim

Christmas Gifts

I decided to do something different for the girls in my life this year and all summer I collected Otoliths (Ear Bones) from the yellow eye snapper which were caught on my boat. Sometimes I passed them on to my guests and sometimes they made it into my collection for the summer, with the plan to have some jewelry made for my sister, my niece and my grand niece.

So now that Christmas is over and the secret is out, I can show you how they turned out!

The Otolith or earbone is particularly large in most bottom fish or reef fish as opposed to swimming species such as the salmon or tuna. They have long been collected as good luck charms and were very popular as jewelry among Native Americans.

I had a local jeweler who makes custom jewelry order in the ear ring stock, then drill a small hole and mount them on the ear ring stock. They are quite striking and certainly unique.

All packaged up in a nice jewelry box they are very nice and made a very unique gift and something that very few people will have or for even know what they are.

All of the ear rings I made this year were from Otoliths from the yellow eye snapper. These are also called Red Snapper in Alaska, very similar to a grouper from Florida although bright orange in color. They are also a VERY tasty meal and a prized catch in Alaska! The largest caught on my boat this year weighed over 11 pounds and there were a couple a little bigger brought in by other boats.

In many cultures these are called "Lucky Stones'., on one side an angled groove forms an "L" or "J" and are said to represent "Love & Joy". They have been found at ancient Indian archaeological sites and were used in commerce and worn for decoration and worn as good luck charms to prevent sickness. Ancients considered them valuable in treating certain diseases.

According to history, Otoliths were known as far back as at least to the time of Aristotle. For centuries Lucky Stones have been used as protective Amulets to ward off evil, made into jewelry and traded into far away lands.

Scientists value the Otolith, because they contain growth rings and can very accurately determine the age of a fish and it's growing cycle.


Capt Jim

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy New Years!

Gulf Sunset!

My Good Friends:
Johnny K Marshall (Tramp) and Sandy Strickland (Lady)
Ready for a true Southern Dinner: Fried Chicken, Black eyed peas, rice and gravy, dressing, and of course some collard greens.

Very Cheap entertainment!

The ever watchful Hound Dog at rest!

Florida Wild Pig!

My New Years weekend was an absolute blast! Took off from St Pete Friday afternoon and drove for about 2 1/2 hours North to Crystal River to finally visit some old Yes Bay Lodge friends from the 2007 season. Sandy (Lady) and Johnny K (Tramp). Johhny went back to work as an engineer and has been working for the past 16 months at the Crystal River Nuclear plant, in charge of the rebuild of one of the steam generators. That job is almost complete and he is not sure where he will be heading next, so I figured I better get up there to see them since it had been since end of season 2007 since I had laid eyes on them

Not a bad drive up, got there mid-afternoon and as soon as I arrived, Johhny K was out starting the boat and off we went for a short boat ride and fishing adventure. Cold as hell out, but we still managed to catch a couple trash fish, something he is very good at!

So a wonderful boat ride and a beautiful sunset over the Gulf! Clear skies and very cold weather were on the horizon, but we were going to fish the next day no matter what. Johhny K just had to prove to me he knew where the fish were! He actually gave me a choice, fish, pig hunt or go deer hunting. I chose fishing.

Back at the dock we all headed into the house to warm up and it was Happy Hour! Johnny K had made up some special fish sauce which he put with some salmon before dinner which was fantastic. I will be putting this in the new Yes Bay cookbook which I am working on now!

Sandy had some chicken set out to fry and we were in for a true southern fried chicken dinner, which was wonderful! Add rice and gravy, some collard greens and blackeyed peas and it was a meal to remember! More drinks and some great conversation finished out the evening then off to bed for a good nights rest before heading out on the boat in the morning.

About 4 AM, I awoke to sounds in the kitchen and lo and behold, Johnny K was up working on some recipe he had learned in India for our breakfast. I went back to bed and let him keep experimenting.

Up around 7:30 or so to some great smells from the kitchen, fresh bacon was cooking and Johhny K was still working on getting some crepes to come out right to be filled with the India concoction. Table set and everything ready to go. Good scrambled eggs, bacon and these wonderful crepes with a potato filling that was wonderful.

We drank some coffee after breakfast and waited until the air warmed up a little before heading out for some fishing. Did manage to see some wild pigs on the beach which was fun, guess we should have gone pig hunting! About 10 hours later and after anchoring in about 49 spots and freezing our asses off, it was nearly dark again and I had a grand total of 2 fish on the line...1 ladyfish and 1 very small saltwater catfish. Sandy had manged 2 lady fish and finally at the last stop, Johnny K managed to hook a lady fish! So, Ol Johnny K had once again proved to me that he knew where the trash fish were!

I will give him the benefit of the doubt, the water temperature had fallen down to less than 55 degrees and the fish just were not biting.

Back in the house to warm up again and have some cocktails then a wonderful steak dinner. A little more wonderful conversation catching up and reliving old memories, then time for bed again.

Another early morning wakening to wonderful smells from the kitchen. This time a true southern breakfast. More bacon, some eggs and some cheese grits, cheese toast and fresh coffee and juice. Who could ask for more!

Sadly it was time for me to return home and get back to work, but it was a wonderful way to spend my New Years weekend!

Captain Jim

Friday, January 1, 2010

Behind The Scene's News!

I have received numerous requests for copies of the various pictures which are posted on the blog. For the most part, they are available by right clicking on the photo and saving it. However, these are low resolution versions and are not that good when printing.

So in an effort to remedy this problem, I have upgraded my SmugMug account to allow people to purchase prints of any of the photographs that are on the site. This includes virtually all of the 2009 Catch pictures. They are divided by the months and you can easily find the pictures you want with a little searching and just put them in your shopping cart, when you are in a gallery just click on the thumbnail picture on the left side and a larger version will show up on the right side. Then there is a drop down above the picture that says “BUY” you can either buy that picture or buy pictures from this gallery, I find it easier to just say buy this picture and then select the size you want and the quantity you want. Then return to the gallery and select any additional ones you would like.

The pictures that are uploaded are small versions and some of the larger print sizes will not be available. If you have a particular photo that you would like a larger version of, highlight the photo and hit the “INFO” and get the file name and email it to me and I will find the original picture and upload it within a couple days and will let you know by email that the large size is now available and you can go online and order it.

Feel free to poke around my SmugMug site and in addition to the “Catch” pictures, there are some wonderful pictures of the Lodge and other scenes around Alaska which are all also available for sale.

In the side bar of this page are several slide type shows, all of these will link directly to the SmugMug site or you can click this link to go directly there:

Crew – I have heard you and will be gradually adding some more of the crew photos onto SmugMug in case anyone wants prints. I have also put a few of the videos up, thanks to Kenny and Joel. Also, out of spite, I have put the much requested “Living with Ron” video from the 2007 season.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and we all look forward to a fantastic 2010! Make sure you have made your reservations for this upcoming season as the show season starts in a few days and will fill up quickly. Our bookings remain strong for this coming year!

Captain Jim