January 4--January 11, 2006
Florida Trip

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I got to Ft. Myers Wednesday afternoon and we went to the Yatch Club for B's 93rd birthday party.  Early Thursday morning a heavy fog and chilly weather covered Mann Farm.

Sunrise over the Caloosahatchie River Thursday morning from the Mann Farm dock.
I caught two nice bass from Frank's pond. Little knowing that was to be almost the entire trip's catch.
Mr. Kitty Kitty was a big help with the fishing.  He showed an intelligent and avid interest in the proceedings.

Beautiful plant by the back door.
These neighbors were under the awning near the front door of the guest house.  Jerry and I were cursing Frank for not knocking them down when he explained that they were dead.  Poisoned and still.
Robert took us to Okeechobee in his boat and we were eager to get through the canal and on to the lake.

This Anhinga was drying his wings.

We fished hard, determined to wait until the evening rise, if it ever came.  It was a little cool and the water was not clear with lots of floating debris.  Evidently a problem of several years for which no one has come up with a solution.  The water in the river was the same, unlike former trips when one could see the bottom at 5 feet.

Robert holds the only fish of the day, caught by yours truly on a top water lure (Tiny Torpedo) during the late afternoon.
At some point Robert noticed that we weren't going very fast.  When he pulled up the trolling motor he found out why.
Roland Martin and his camera crew were fishing near us and having about the same luck.  Frank reminded him of a trip a group of legislators had made with him over 20 years ago where Roland had caught the only fish in the group--"three over 9 pounds."  "One was 11 pounds," Roland corrected.

We didn't give up until it was almost too dark to see.  We tried hard.  We must have made a thousand casts or more.

The return down the canal was still, dark, and cold.  But good!
Friday night at the intermission of the concert by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Pat, Frank, and I left early to go to the hunting camp. 

The year had set records for rain and, although the water had gone down a foot or so, the trails were extremely muddy still.
Everybody spent a lot of time backed up to the lighter pine fire.

Early Saturday morning we saw TJ and Teddy in the cook house.

We had enough 4-wheel drive vehicles to start a swamp rally.
We visited the old camp later in the day.  The plaque to George Mann and his original hunting partners is still there.
During one of our drives I got this photo a a Caracara eating something near the pond at camp.  A vulture, but a handsome one.

One of a pair of Sand Hill Cranes.
This little guy just kept on rooting when we went by.  I saw three medium size pigs, black, white, and red, with a litter of piglets, but forgot to shoot their photo until it was too late.  We also saw several deer over the two days, but no turkeys.

Two dogs weren't enough to keep warm Saturday morning.  It was 37 degrees when we rolled out.  Hi, Linn's daughter.
Chris and Ian did a great job on the breakfast which we ate around 10:30.  After getting up at 5:30 and waiting frozen in the turkey stands for 3 hours or more, it was extremely appreciated.

Sunday morning the frost was on the ground.

This decoy was the only turkey seen in the two days I hunted.

This tractor is biting at the mound at the pond.  Ian, Pat, and Teddy spent a good deal of time smoothing and filling in ruts.

Ian's new puppy, a Chesapeake Retriever, finds a nap spot.

Jerry showed up at camp on Saturday.  TJ and he spent the afternoon fishing the pond near camp. Between them, they caught 18 catfish.  Jerry cleaned them and we ended up eating them Monday night, since we caught nothing on salt water either.  All in all, Jerry and TJ were the big producers this trip.
One of the black buzzards that make camp home.  They know that when game is cleaned the residue is put out for them.

Sunday afternoon TJ drove us around the lease.
Frank has been reading Robinson Crusoe at the camp and was kind enough to read aloud to Jerry and me Saturday night.  Talk about your wild time in the woods!
Pat had posed a more interesting friend beside the trail to give new hunters a thrill.  She was quite immune to the cold and we were not a little jealous of Pat's exclusive relationship.
Monday Jerry took us trout and red fishing on the salt water.  Frank goes into full cover mode as we speed to another non productive area.  We tried very hard for a long time.

Back at the dock I got this shot of a pelican who had better luck than we did.

Monday we fished the river, Jerry, Frank, Robert, and I.  Again we tried and again we failed.  I did get some photos of interest.

I'm sure this Blue Heron caught more than we did.

These beautiful blossoms were everywhere.

I believe this is the common egret, with the golden slippers.
I believe this is the great egret.  After Jerry left on Tuesday  Frank and I did some work around the place and fished a little.  Wednesday we fooled around some more, repairing this and that, and picked a box of delicious oranges for me to take back.  They are delicious and Sherry was highly pleased.


Not much catching or killing, but a lot of fishing and hunting, so the trip was really a great break and a satisfying one.  Not many can boast such generous and interesting friends.  I'm blessed and content.

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