The spec’s are biting

We had a nice Christmas season this year. Aside from the normal family festivities, we spent time with old friends; one evening with some old high school friends; a night with our old Altamonte Springs neighbors; dinner at Karlings with a couple we’ve known since Dynatronics; and an evening with a friend from Texas and two of his daughters. Add the boat parade party and we’ve done more socializing this year than any in recent memory. The other nice thing this season has been the weather. Absolutely perfect – low 80’s during the day, low 60’s at night. November was on and off cold and I thought it would continue into an even colder December. No connection. We capped it off at Tom and Tina’s New Year’s party. Over the years we’ve gotten to know several of their friends and neighbors and enjoy seeing them again and catching up. We didn’t stay for the ball dropping but had a great time and an early bed time.

Ate something new from the garden. A variety of cabbage with cone shaped heads instead of the familiar round head. Last year I found a good recipe for fried cabbage so we christened the cabbage season with fried cabbage. It was a tossup between that and cole slaw but we forgot to get the coleslaw dressing makings. What I can report is that the cone shape tastes exactly like the round shape. It does dress up the garden a bit and generates lots of comments from spectators. Last night we did the coleslaw but used Chinese cabbage from the garden for something different. Really good – a totally different taste. We’re just about to go into a veggie overload which means Nancy’s bridge and quilt friends start cashing in.

I’ve mentioned in the past that our Satsuma tree produced the finest tasting oranges ever. The tree is small and this was the first year it produced so the total crop amounted to maybe three or four dozen oranges. I had worked them down one at a time until there were only half a dozen or so left. For some reason I left the lowest hanging fruit until last – maybe because I could get the others without bending over. I went out this morning to pick one of the remaining oranges and noticed immediately that there were peels under the tree. Not pieces of peel but half or almost whole orange peels. There were still a few hanging on the tree but when I went to pick one, I saw that it was just a peel hanging by it’s stem and that it’s insides had been carefully removed – totally removed. I have to suspect that it was a raccoon who literally peeled the oranges and ate the fruit. I would never have imagined an animal taking such care and having the dexterity to eat an orange in that fashion. I’m sorry I lost the fruit but am glad I got the experience to see such a thing – once. I plan to trim the tree in a couple of months and remove all those low hanging branches.

Ok, we can all quit worrying. The speckled perch, ADA black crappie, are finally biting. As my dear friend Cliff Lewis would say – “Boy Howdy, are they biting!” Spec’s are seasonal in that they gather into schools starting in November and stay together until February. Obviously they are in the lake year round but for some reason the only time you catch them is during the winter. That’s fine because the bass have usually quit biting about the time the spec’s start. Spec’s are the best eating fish in the lake and the easiest to clean but are not strong fighters. Still, they’re tricky to land because they have a paper thin mouth and if you strike to hard or horse them in, they rip off the hook. I got my first 3 about a week ago which followed my neighbor catching one a couple of days before. Yesterday I kept a dozen in about 2 hours fishing. I troll with small rubber minnow imitations behind a spinner on one rod and a minnow imitation with no spinner on another. On several occasions I had two on at the same time which gets a bit exciting. Last season was almost a wipeout – very few fish and the ones we did catch were small. I was concerned that somehow they had died off or something and our lake would be specless. So the fact that these are exceptionally large shouldn’t be too surprising since we certainly didn’t cut into the population last season. So my strategy is to catch enough for a meal and then switch over to bass fishing. The spec’s were quite large – two make a full meal for Nancy and I. We eat them same day so I never worry about freezing them for the future. Ok, I did freeze some after yesterday’s catch but also gave away some to my neighbor, May. With the spec’s biting, the nice thing is that we can eat spec’s one day, bream another day, and bass on yet another day. Sounds good but of course with the spec’s being such excellent table fare, who needs bream or bass?

Of course I bury the carcasses in the garden.

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