Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A week at the beach

It’s crazy how fast time away seems to go, and crazier still how fast it seems like you never left once you get back. 

This year Liz and I split up our time in Florida over two trips so our normal May trip was cut back to just last week.  We took off in the evening on Thursday night and by lunchtime on Friday we had our toes in the sand.  Shortly after arrival I decided to go for a quick run on the beach to stretch out the legs.  It was hot so the run lasted all of a mile out and a mile back.  I saw Liz was already at the pool so I dropped by to grab the key and sat down next to her, ‘just for a minute’ though since I had no sunscreen on yet.  An hour later I woke up…yeah, that was a bad call.  Without looking I knew pants, not shorts, were going to be the clothing for the week.

On Saturday morning we got up and drove another few hours south to meet up with Capt John Meskauskas from Stuart Fly Fishing and The Flying Fish Paddle Sports to pick up five paddle boards and paddles to add to the fleet Liz is putting together.  It was great to finally get to meet him and put a name with a Facebook face.  Looking forward to catching back up with him to chase around some fish in October.  We would have stuck around longer but had to get back to NSB for the wedding of our good friends Mike and Daniella.  The wedding and reception were feet apart on the beach and in their yard, and it was a awesome night full of laughs.  The after party moved over to Flagler Tavern which, as luck would have it, was right next to where we stay so a simple late night walk on the beach back to the condo.

Sunday we woke up with the sun, as is the norm for us, and were anxious to get the boards out as it looked like the best day of the weeks.  We got all of the gear loaded up and headed south to the Canaveral Seashore.  Twenty minutes from the door we were paddling south.  Once we hit the flats that I thought might produce I hopped off, tied off the boards to me and proceeded to blind fish for speckled trout and redfish.  While I was fishing Liz soaked up some sun and did some yoga on one of the new boards.  It passed her approval and I caught fish so the day was a win!  We left after a few hours smiling and headed back to town as it was time for me to get out of the sun and head to Peanuts for some quiz game and Yueng.  For those not in the know, if you have ever seen TVs at a bar with quiz questions and people answering for points on little blue remote boxes…that is the Buzztime quiz game and the Peanuts crew is the number one in the country at it.  Always a good time when I head up there and usually keeps me from turning too crispy.  After a bit Liz came to get me and off to dinner we went.  That is pretty much how any day without a guide trip usually goes; short run, paddle/fish, lunch/pool, Peanuts, dinner, sleep and repeat.

On Monday I had a trip set to hit the water.  I normally go out with my good friend Capt Mike Mann of Fat Fish Guide Service but it was his wedding on Saturday that we went to and he had a honeymoon to see about, so I was on my own this trip.  I touched base with Capt Justin Price of Right In Sight Charters back at the start of the year to make sure I would be able to get out.  We met up early and headed to the water.  I started off with the fly, and was blind casting a small popper in some small back flats.  I truly mean blind casting as the sun was not totally up yet and there was a thick covering of clouds so the visibility below was at zero.  It did not take long before the first ‘almost-action’ of the day.  As I was retrieving the popper the telltale wake of a large redfish appeared right behind it and was tracking.  It all seemed to happen in slow motion as the fish came on, tracked, moved in and the fly disappeared…except maybe that it didn’t.  I thought I had seen the take and set the fly to nothing…pulling the fly away from the now spooked fish.  Exciting start to the day but strike one was definitely on me.  The sun was struggling to burn through the clouds so after a while of no more action I agreed to throw a DOA paddletail for a while and it did not take long to get on the board.   Got in to some nice reds and trout, including my largest speckled trout to date…and it was the smaller of the two I had been sight casting to!   Solidly on the board and with manageable wind we went back to the fly and proceeded to have shots to at least another half dozen Reds who promptly ignored multiple well placed fly offerings.  They really can be uppity in the goon.  All in all it was a great time on the water with Justin.

The only day the rest of the week that did not fit the formula (short run, paddle/fish, lunch/pool, Peanuts, dinner) was Thursday when we headed across the state for the final two boards for Liz.   The weather was forecasted to be really bad so being in the car wasn’t such a bad thing.  Couldn’t tell how bad it looked when we took off since it was 4:30 in the morning and dark but the lack of visible stars told the story well enough.  The original plan had been to head over to Madeira Beach and paddle the bay for a few hours before coming back.  They have different water there than what we normally see and it’s loaded with manatees and dolphins.  The wind was too much to be out safely though and the clouds were threatening so we basically picked up the boards and were back in NSB by lunchtime.  We tried to get out for a walk on the beach and get the bikes out but there were some nasty storms and rain that just wouldn’t go away.  I took a break in the rain as an opportunity to head to Peanuts while keeping mostly dry.  Sitting there I got the flash on my phone that we were in a tornado warning so poked my head out and it was really creepy…we could watch the eye wall rotating but thankfully never come down.  We were not spared the water though…it came down so hard I could not see across the street.  The weather was bad but it was the best run of quiz game for the week with three consecutive national number one bar scores and all three had me top ten personal scoring!

 For those in the Columbus area, all those paddleboards will be available for use with Liz through Superior Training and Fitness.  Now that all the boards are in place and the weather is getting nicer there should be many updates to the SUPTF webpage with opportunities to get out along with tips, tricks, and exercise playlists!  You can also follow the SUPTF Facebook page to find out when and where to get out for a paddle, or get some core work in with some yoga on the boards.
 One final bright note, I left the pants in the closet on the last day in Florida as I was able to get away with 100spf on the legs and a bathing suit.   Yearly reminder to self for next time…there is no short time in the sun so always lotion up!

-mike schmidt 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Urban Jungle...a weekend in NYC

The crazy travel schedule this year took me to the urban jungle of New York City last weekend.  This was a quick weekend trip out with the wife to hang out with a couple friends, so I travelled without a single piece of fishing or tying gear for the first time in as long as I can remember…it felt odd.   I did though take the camera along and spent basically all weekend walking around the city taking in the sites and just soaking it as much as I could.  Home base for the weekend was up in West Harlem just a block from Morningside Park so spent the first night  staying close and hitting a few local spots.  I had catfish and eggnog waffles for dinner and cannot put in to words how amazing it was.  
Saturday morning the girls were off for a day of yoga workshops so Wes and I left just after first light and started walking.  By the end of the day we had been nearly ten miles on foot; hit St Johns Cathedral, Columbia’s campus, Absolute Bagel, Tom’s Restaurant from Seinfeld, in to Central Park and around the Jackie O Reservoir, the Guggenheim, Washington Square Park and it’s small scale Arch D’Triomph, then down to Midtown to hit McSorley’s Bar (est. 1854) and then another great spot for the hockey game.   In the evening we headed down to the theatre district to catch up with the girls for dinner and saw the craziness that is Times Square all lit up.

Sunday morning I was a little groggy but managed to run a four mile race in Central Park with somewhere north of 10,000 of my closest friends (finishing at around a 9/mile pace).  After brunch at the Smith at Lincoln Center we headed over to the World Trade Center, and then walked down Broadway and across the Brooklyn Bridge.  From a waterside park in the Bronx we got some great shots of Manhattan and then grabbed a cab back to get packed up for our evening flight.  Cabbed it over to LaGuardia and then by 11:30 the whirlwind trip was over and we were home.  Whew.

While I could never live in the city without drastic changes to my habits I can see why so many love it.  There are definitely endless opportunities for weekend entertainment there though and I will be back sooner than later.  I am working through all the shots that I took as I get time and will eventually get a few more shots posted.  I will try not to geek out on the architecture too much!  Thanks for putting up with a non-fishing or tying post.  At the end of next week I make the yearly trip south to Florida and hope to have some good stories to relay from that trip when I get back.
-mike schmidt