Hillsborough River Canoe Trip
April 18, 2009
Trout Creek to Rotary Park – Appx 5 miles
After a crazy morning we put in at Trout Creek ramp at Wilderness Park near Morris Bridge and Fletcher Ave in Tampa about 10:30 am. My hopes were high that we would see lots of wildlife but the time of day could have been against us. The weather was agreeable and not too hot, so we got lucky! We only got about 100 yards down the river and we started seeing alligators and lots of birds. The first gator was very young and we almost missed the sighting completely! The river was moving very slow and even after 2 inches of rain a few days before, the river was pitifully low. In most places the water was very clear enabling us to see many species of fish, including bass, gar, pan-fish, minnows and suckerfish. The number of birds that we were able to identify and photograph was another joy. As the river widened near USF there were so many out on the flats feeding. It was there I saw my favorite catch of the day. On the shore just before USF there were 3 HUGE male turkeys. I did not see any hunting season…but here right in front of me not 20 feet away. These old boys were not a bit scared of us in the canoe at all and just milled about letting us take photos. I was also happy to get photos of the spoonbills and glossy ibis that were feeding on the river. After we passed USF we floated into more of a residential area. The river there is lined with houses and docks and boats. The sad thing is the river is so low we barely floated the canoe through places! The boats on the shore might as well have been sitting on land as they will not be able to be used until well after the rains start. After a few more gator sightings and a couple more bird our trip was over. As we pulled into Rotary Park we realized that out 2-3 hour trip took 5. There was mumbling from persons on the shore about the river being stagnant since the bypass canals built. A young boy on the dock was fishing – trying to see if he could bring in anything on his line. As we loaded the canoe on the truck we were able to get the blood flowing back to our butts and reminisce on our day. How blessed we are to be able to share beautiful days like this with like-minded friends and so many of Gods creatures. You should come along sometime….