Tag Archives: dirty canals are beautiful

Accidental Triploid Encounters

As it swims closer along the bank it becomes apparent we are dealing with something of more substantial immensity than the chunky black bass standing sentinel over the drain pipe.

desperately seeking lawn clippings

It makes the heart skip a beat and the eyes move toward the bass bug tied to your tippet and the assorted others in your wallet, and you realize there’s a problem.

It swims lazily by and pokes at things and it could be 20 pounds. The ficus aren’t blooming and the man told you to tie up a green san juan worm because if someone’s trimming grass nearby it becomes a chum situation. Or match the hatch, if you choose to look at it that way. But you didn’t.

Then it swims away and you’re reduced to the pathetic recollection of movie quotes.

“He’s gone and we couldn’t do nothing about it.” *

Then it’s back to the bass and the realization that some things aren’t going to happen for you.



FLORIDA: The Ditch Slam

The Tri-Rail

The whole thing started with the least of expectations. I had a rod and some time to kill due to a delayed appointment. I made some casts. I caught nothing. I drove to the appointment. Delayed again, for another hour.

I google mapped. I found nearby water. I tried a new fly.

The Mayan Cichlid

On my first cast I caught a mayan cichlid. Sweet.

Then I saw a dark swirling shape hanging out near a submerged drain pipe. I made a cast.

The Largemouth Bass

A largemouth bass with a middling amount of heft liked my offering. OK, cool.

I released the bass. Then I saw two bulbous fish cruising the shoreline at a fast clip. I made a lead cast. One charged like a mofo.

The Oscar

It took off with the force of a Tri-Rail and I had to run down the bank for 20 feet or so until it settled. Actually took me to the reel. My uncertified genero-grip registered the openly hostile oscar at around two-pounds.

What an ornery little cuss.

This became interesting. The fly I had tied on looked similar to a juvie peacock, proving the cardinal law of fish: Everything eats everything. Could I make some sort of slam out of this?

My cell phone rang. I had to meet my appointment in 15 minutes. I was five minutes away.

Would a peacock bass hit a fly that looked kind of like a littler peacock?

The Peacock Bass

Death don’t have no mercy.

FLORIDA: Horse Country Rambling

“The pie and cake is mine to take,” –Don Edwards, Saddle Tramp

There is irony in the fact that some of my best opportunities to catch native wild freshwater fish exist in manmade drainage canals designed in part to turn what is naturally a swamp into solid ground.

A berm about a half mile away cordons off the real wild, the swamp water flowing southerly over limestone bedrock. But the wild creeps into the sanitized despite the best efforts of developers and trappers.

Alligators show up uninvited in golf course ponds and largemouth bass make their way into every reasonably oxygenated patch of freshwater. Out in horse country, miles away from the coast, the bass are the game. In the small canals inaccessible by bass boat or canoe they are unabashed. A long walk, with vigilance for gators, cottonmouths, and fire ants, gets rewarded.

I am a Florida expat; I haven’t lived there in 17 years but I still love much about it. But that doesn’t make me an apologist.

If You Knew It Was Your Last For A While

The fall didn’t end on such a hot note. The decent weather sandwiched between Noreasters left little windows of fishability. If you weren’t in a position to capitalize on those slots on the quick then, well, that was just too bad for you. Too bad for me for way too damn certain. [Exclamation point.]

I’m off to Florida next week and I’m not so sure what I’m going to find. Some bad shit went down, man. I haven’t heard much about my ditches on the inside, but butterfly peacocks die when the water temps fall below 60 degrees. Usually not a problem in South Florida but this year…The only way to know for sure is to keep casting.

FLORIDA: Tarpon Foot Work

Canal tarpon caught by Marshall DeMott.

The thing about Florida is, the accessible water to fly fish by foot can be staggering if you know where to find it, especially if you know which back waters serve as juvenile detention centers for the progeny of silver kings.

Marshall DeMott, a fly fishing guide based in Naples (and a regular at Flies and Fins), sent word of his hard work turned good fortune on a recent outing.

Most of you know that a good day on the canal is maybe two hookups….this was exceptional and we think the extremely cold weather shut down the hunger drive and when it warmed up, the Tarpon raided the lunch box.”

Well played.

FLORIDA: Bass and a New Weird Species

The bass can't resist the popper.
The bass can't resist the popper.

Going to high school reunions is a phenomenon we all must endure at some point, and so it was with my 20th down in Florida. I guess we had a hell of a class back in the day, as everyone who came back turned out to be pretty solid.

The fly ride.
The fly ride.

I stayed at my buddy Z’s house out in horse country. When you live in horse country you can have cool wheels like a John Deere Gator that your friends can take to explore the resident fly water. Z also has a center console that he took offshore dolphin fishing on Friday morning. I didn’t get there until Friday evening. I had three phone calls from the boat by the time I landed. Which means they were catching fish. Fishing friends don’t call unless to mock you for their success in your absence. Thankfully I got to experience some of their seven boated 10-15 pound mahi on the grill.

A badass oscar that mauled my popper.
A badass oscar that mauled a popper.

Bass fishing became my consolation prize. And because of it I added a new weird Florida invasive to my curriculum vitae. I’ve seen oscars act the badass bully in fish tanks and in the wilds of a Florida ditch it played the part. Rocked the popper and fought disproportionately hard for its size. Good times.