Monster Florida Fling
by Steven A. Ellis, Kennesaw, GA
photos by Steven A. Ellis unless otherwise noted
NANFA members Chip Rinehart (Columbia, SC) and Dustin Smith (Newberry, SC) came up with the idea of a winter collecting trip to Florida. Originally slated for December of 2002, the idea was pushed forward to the last weekend in January of 2003 to get everyone past holiday commitments. Finally, after many weeks of emailing other fishheads in the region, studying maps, and working out the logistics, the pair struck out for FL on 1/30/03, accompanied by Dan Hagley (Columbia, SC). By the end of the adventure, 21 people from five contiguous states had joined together to kick off the 2003 collecting season very successfully. What began as a neat idea turned out to be an incredible collecting trip that lasted 5 days, provided 46 freshwater fish species, 25 or so additional brackish species, and at least 4 exotics.
Dustin adds, "I want to thank Fritz Rohde and Doug Dame for help planning and guiding along the Santa Fe River, and Allen Boatman & the Suncoast Killifish Society for all of their help and hospitality in the Tampa area. I think we are all looking forward to doing this again sometime soon."