After 10 weeks living and working in Palatka I have returned home to Nashville. There were fish, and I did catch them, but overall I was disappointed with the fishing in Central Florida.
To be fair, my expectations were high. My previous trips to the Sunshine State had left me with the impression of an excellent fishery – great diversity in species and habitat coupled with a large biomass. Central Florida, in particular the stretch of the St. John’s River where I stayed was pure freshwater. Despite being advertised as great bass water it didn’t hold a candle to the bass fishing in Tennessee. The only bass-like fish I caught were two little sunfish:

I decided to change tactics. Based on advice from the locals, I began setting fixed lines baited with pieces of hotdog. I would set the lines when I got home from work and check them periodically until I finally reeled them in and went to bed.
This technique was much more successful. I caught plenty of bullheads and other small catfish, as well as a few big channel catfish:
I also hooked a variety of other creatures. By some strange accident, I managed to pull in a crab, caught in the act of stealing my bait:
I also landed two freshwater stingrays. I couldn’t identify the species, but I was very happy to get a close look at such interesting critters.
Besides fish, the river was home to a number of other animals:
Our resident alligator. This one is about 1 meter in length.
A tiny turtle!

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