Bass in Florida are like Led Zeppelin on the radio: Always on somewhere.
I’ve said that before* (in one of my infrequent posts on Buster Wants to Fish.) But I am saying it again because the words and the actions behind them are repeatable.
Sometimes I wonder if it seems like a broken record with me, and maybe it does, but we all need sporting traditions.
One of my main riffs goes like this: Fly down, rent car, criss-cross the State on back roads and wait for the rain to break. Drive past a body of water, look for access, cast.
The coasts and the Keys are incongruous with the interior, the land of Marjory Stoneman Douglas and Marjory Kinnan Rawlings. All the way up to Shingle Creek (documented by a green highway sign on S.R. 528 as the Headwaters of the Everglades) the fresh water that flows South through Okeechobee and the big swamp is dyked, funneled, redirected, canal-ized and otherwise manipulated so that the River of Grass and Florida Bay do not get their full eventual dose.
The roads cut through cattle ranches and orange groves and migrant farms and small town main streets that maintain an Eisenhower ambience despite the scarcity of Buick Roadmasters.
The water is a distraction. It’s always sitting just off the main road or down obscure side streets, where it would remain undiscovered if not for the invasiveness of Google Maps. Whether it should rightfully be swampland or something other than a containment born of front-end loaders is past the point of consideration.
It could contain bass, and is impossible to pass by.
Rolling Stone writes to Gov. Cuomo about the idea of fracking in New York. As a citizen of New York I say, What he said. And, What she said. (She being the Delaware Riverkeeper, in this article linked in the RS post.) And what Josh Fox said in Gasland and says again in the embedded Vimeo clip.
I’m a bass man. What can I say?
A descriptor, and a point in favor of the smallmouth bass.
We like them like we liked putting M-80s in things in middle school.
These are the known facts. The stream holds trout and fishermen sometimes fish for them and sometimes they bite.
Trout do things here
There is much conjecture about every other circumstance.
The trout have not been here since the beginning of time; the stream wasn’t even here until the Wisconsin Glacial Episode. In the next epoch the rocks and till will be worn into fine powder or trapped and redistributed in retreat.
The path to the edge of the bank was muddy from the recent rain and when I stepped onto the rocks in the stream bed mud swirled around my boots. There are other things I could have been doing but freedom of choice extends only so far into the continuum–80 years with luck and genetic fortitude.
I chose a wooly bugger. I liked the way the rod felt as the line loaded on the back cast, and I liked the way the line came tight in my hand.
Perch eat their own. They chase flies designed to look like small perch and flies designed to look like big perch. Flies intended, obviously, to catch fish that eat perch.
No perch is safe, even amongst its own kind.
They don’t fight worth a damn on rods heavier than a 2-weight but for a species lacking any and all moral distinction they taste exceptional fried in beer batter.
Hank iii wrote about being tattooed and branded. The smallmouth bass has its own kind of markings. If the aggressive take didn’t tell you, or immediate rise to the surface with a succession of jumps followed by the rod doubling over on a thrash to the bottom, the look on its face after landing should clue you in.
It’s saying, you and me are never going to be friends.
The water temperature held fast at 44 degrees but the air temperature dropped precipitously below that. The wind brought snow flurries into the occasion. Spending 12 formative years in Florida tends to diminish appreciation for that sort of clime.
photo from Matt Smythe
Matt Smythe is a Western New Yorker with steelhead tendencies and one day to get it done. Cold could not be an impediment.
Things got worse before they got better but by that time the only trace left of Matt was a half-empty bottle of Maker’s Mark.
My brother with a piker
It got better Matt.
I’m a fan of the split level fishing photo, where half the shot is underwater and half is above, like this. Or this.
But when I stick my waterproof point and shoot (with the 73 second shutter delay) in there, they come out like this:
There’s a reason some people get paid for what they do.