Milling about the Waters of Johnston Key

Milling about the Waters of Johnston Key

Excursions around Johnston Key were all about exploring the flat, shallow waters around the mangrove islets by dinghy. We spent a couple of days just slowly motoring or poling around the shallows and watching the plethora of inshore fish, small barracuda, small nurse sharks, and large sting rays swimming by. The waters really were filled with life around here.

We also saw tons of wading birds stalking the flats. This area is part of the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge. As an avid “bird watcher” I was surprised to learn that there is a white morph of the Great Blue Heron that is different than the other large white bird that looks similar called the Great Egret. I’d probably seen both in the past and identified them all as Great Egrets.

If you aren’t a bird watcher….I probably just lost you there to boredom! Sorry for the geek-out.

One day we packed up the dinghy for an all day excursion and headed a couple miles over to Tarpon Belly Key. There is actually another possible anchorage at this location, but we were enjoying Johnston and decided to just go by dinghy since it wasn’t very far. The ride over was great, and we landed on the coral beach at Tarpon Belly.

The cool thing about Tarpon Belly Key is that there are ruins of an old shrimp farm from the 1960s on this mangrove island in the middle of nowhere. Two large canals were dug straight through the islands, and you can still climb over the large concrete structures that remain around the canals. There are also hard ground trails through the trees all around the island and lots of piles of hard coral remaining from when the trenches were dug. Pretty cool place. I found a neat article here.

Anyways, we enjoyed hiking around the area and enjoyed a nice lunch while there as well.

Later that week, I started to grow tired of just looking at nature and decided it was time to kill and ingest some of it as well. Lindy and I jumped in the dinghy with our fishing gear and headed off into the flats.

If you’ve been following along on our adventures through the blog and Youtube channel, then you know I pretty much stink at fishing. But, in this setting, how could I possibly not catch some fish? Lindy helped me pick out a spot, I tied on a lure, and put out a long cast into the flats.

BAM! Half a reel, and I had what felt like a big fish on the line within seconds of my first cast! OMG! I couldn’t believe it! After a good fight, I finally netted a good sized crevalle jack. We were stoked!

Another thing you may know about Lindy and I, is that we are adventurous eaters that will pretty much eat anything. Most people don’t eat jacks, but I was determined to have fish for dinner. So, we put him in the bucket just in case I didn’t catch anything better later. I also think the whole “trash fish” thing is just fishermen talk passed down through generations, and the last person that said the whole “trash fish” opinion to have actually eaten the fish was alive in the 1800s.

Well, it turns out that after 2 more jacks and about 5 barracuda (I quit counting after a while), that first jack was the biggest and best fish I caught. So, back to Holiday we went.

What a day! By far my most successful day fishing. I used DOA shrimp lures and also some Gulp lures that Lindy’s Aunt Edna recommended. Thanks Aunt Edna!

We had a blast and even saw a rather large shark come after one of the barracudas right up next to the dinghy before seeing us and taking off!

Oh, and as far as that “trash fish” jack…you all keep throwing them back in. More for me. Lindy made a delicious dinner out of ours. I’d keep and cook a jack any day. After all, if you don’t want your “fish” to taste like “fish,” then do you really like eating fish? 🙂


  • Bill Bracken

    February 27, 2017 at 10:57 am Reply

    The answer to your last questions is NOPE! I only like eating fish that don’t taste like fish 🙂 Glad you lived to tell about eating Jack!

    • zdunc

      February 27, 2017 at 3:16 pm Reply


  • Christie Shenefield

    February 27, 2017 at 5:36 pm Reply

    Love reading your posts!

    • zdunc

      February 27, 2017 at 8:28 pm Reply


  • Shauna Bergwall

    February 27, 2017 at 6:10 pm Reply

    You have the Bergwall family laughing tonight!

    • zdunc

      February 27, 2017 at 8:28 pm Reply


  • Jason Bergwall

    February 27, 2017 at 6:16 pm Reply

    Love it!

    • zdunc

      February 27, 2017 at 8:28 pm Reply


  • Edna Kincheloe

    February 27, 2017 at 10:21 pm Reply

    The people at Keaton throw back the Jacks too but me and William really like them. Google them on your phone or computer. Nice articles and advice on how to cook them.

    • zdunc

      February 28, 2017 at 8:07 am Reply

      Cool! Will do.

  • Sherri Rakestraw

    March 8, 2017 at 3:23 pm Reply

    I like catching Jack’s. They put up a good fight. Stuart would have you fishing with live pin fish. He says you’ll never go fishing and not catch fish. Every time I’ve been with him he’s caught a lot. He uses a cast net to get his pin fish and you will get a variety of fish but he fishes for snook, grouper, trout, reds and people catch tarpen too. There are some videos on catching pin fish without a cast net online. I think in one of your earlier videos you caught a pin fish while fishing.

    • zdunc

      March 9, 2017 at 6:57 am Reply

      You are right on the live bait for sure. I do need a cast net. Tough with artificial!

  • Margaret Goodman

    March 14, 2017 at 4:34 pm Reply

    Well, first of all, hubba hubba Lindy! This is such a cool experience for y’all and I appreciate you letting me snoop all long! This experience will definitely change your prospective on life and such things! Keep on keepin on! or keep on sailin on! 🙂

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