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Walking and Flying Fish
By Jonie Maschek
Nov 27, 2008 - 5:28:34 PM

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I’m sure there is a plan and purpose for everything in ­nature. I see the ugly, the small, the large, the beautiful, and the very strange. Each plant, fish, and bird has a role to fulfill, with each having an ­effect on something, that sooner or later will affect you and me.
Sponges are found in water and are called animals; this to me is odd, but true. They are called animals because they must capture their own food.
Fish never stop growing and you can tell how old the fish is by counting the number of rings on its scales.
So many kinds of fish and animals make the sea their home. Some can move 30 to 60 miles per hour; others live in the muddy bottom and seldom move; with all types of fish preferring salt water while others live in the fresh water streams; some never stop swimming, others seldom move. They are of all shapes and sizes, from the tiny to the huge, and appear in all colors and designs. It is a ­wonder of nature.
Where are the Spoil Islands? In Hillsborough Bay where dredged material removed from the shipping channels is stored, is a nesting area for birds, posted with no trespassing signs. Hillsborough Bay includes McKay Bay, Bullfrog Creek, Pendola Point and Gadsden Point.
What are puffer fish? We do know that they inflate their bodies with water, and become too big for another fish to swallow. To my knowledge they are not good to eat.
An octopus is like a jet plane? He takes water into his body, ­closes the spot where it entered and then shoots it out of a tube which ­pushes him forward. This is the way a jet plane flies.
Eating in Tampa this weekend, I had tiny baby octopus, cute, but chewy.
Fish walk? ‘Tis true. I have never seen a walking catfish, but I’m told they exist right here in our hometown. The Chamber of Commerce doesn’t have him on their list of ‘tourist attractions,’ but I think this would be a great one.
They can breathe both under ­water or out of water and often take a stroll down the sandy banks of the waterfront. They are really an unwelcome resident as they are a menace to Florida’s ecology as they are devouring and crowding out native fish. But others don’t ­regard them as a menace, but a wonder of nature, so if you hear of a fish walking the person telling the “Fish Tale,” really saw one.
Did you know that a flounder can change colors? A flounder is a flat fish and its top side can change to match their surroundings. If on sand they turn a light tan; if on gravel, they look like the gravel; and can turn a dark color to blend with sea walls.
Another one of nature’s wonders. If a fish can walk, can it fly? There are flying fish found most often in the open ocean. I can name four. California Flyingfish, Atlantic, Tropical Two-wing, and Margined. There are 50 species.
They actually are propelled by their tail on the surface of the water and when taking off from a crest of a wave, they soar in the air as far as an eighth of a mile.
The largest is the Whale Shark -- no fish or a whale is larger. Many of the tales about sharks are not true. This shark is harmless to mankind. He always feeds on small fish, and would not kill a large fish. He will not defend himself and just swims away.
I am seeing some cold weather with a new front coming our way, but the fish are still hungry. Catch your snook real soon as they will be out of season on Dec. 15. Speckled trout are out of season, but you can catch legal silver trout.
Those throwing cast nets are getting mullet in the Little Manatee and the canals. Crevalle jacks are soaring in schools in the rivers. Cobia haven’t left yet; some have been boated in the Little Manatee and the Alafia.
Redfish are back in the swim. Tarpon haven’t gone south, but are still playing around our ship channels. Grouper are traveling into our waterways. Some happy anglers had a grouper dinner this week.
Sheepshead are eating everyone’s shrimp, except those who count three and jerk after they feel the nudge of their bait. Black drum are on the run, and schooling on the rivers around private docks.
Fresh water fishing has been at its best. Florida has many lakes and freshwater streams. In this area we have the upper parts of both the Manatee and Alafia Rivers that yield the bet largemouth bass and freshwater catfish.
Don’t wander up stream in the freshwater and fish, without a freshwater license. Blue gill are a good freshwater pan fish and some anglers love to catch them.
I have caught snook this time of the year in the fresh waters of the Little Manatee, up by the Hwy. 75 bridge. Snook do not like the ­cooler water and if it drops below 60 degrees, they are gone.
Fishing is great in all of our waterways, and this time of year, you can catch a fish of any kind, by just dropping a line. I have seen more traffic on the waterways this week, as the price of gas has gone down, and, too, we have many of our northern anglers here now.
Our parks have been filled with those fishing and camping. Happy Thanksgiving to each of you from ‘Fish Tales.’
-- Aleta Jonie Maschek is a ­member of Florida Outdoor Press­.

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