It has been rough these past few months in the lakes and canals of Florida. The bitter cold snap sent anything worth catching way down to the bottom where neither lures nor live bait could dare to reach. We persevered through the windy winter days when temperatures fell to almost 60 degrees Fahrenheit and baitfish retreated to greener pastures slightly further away from the banks they had called home for so many months. We waited patiently while the bass went about their business spawning and caring for their young, ignoring all types of flies and artificial worms, frogs, lizards and crankbaits. We whistled to kill the nervous silence as bobbers floated quietly above the surface, dry and fully visible, their virgin lines baited yet untouched. We outlasted them.
Today, exactly 4 days after the full moon, the bite was on.
Snook pounced on oversized bluegill like lions, chasing them out of corners into the open currents where much larger predators lurked. 100+ pound tarpon were tempted down the New River Canals in search of tasty treats my brothers and I were only too happy to provide. Largemouth Bass stalked wary shiners with careful precision, hitting only once the kill was inevitable. Bobbers splashed with the force of ferocious hits, our hearts pounding in our ears as reels screamed and hooks were set. Hour after hour, we continued to pull monstrous predators out of the water with utter ease, the quiet windless air echoing our war cry of, "FISH ON!"
Only once the orange glow of the setting sun reached eye level did our bait run out. Beside us lay a pile of broken hooks, twisted, tattered and fragmented. It was a somber yet happy moment when the quiet hum of the aerator was finally silenced. With tired limbs and fishy hands we quietly walked away with our gear, thanking the God who had blessed our rods this day. Behind us, all of the fish we had caught probably breathed a deep sigh of relief, thankful for the meal and the release, but not eager to see us again.