A Redfish Magic and
a handful of Down South plastics, all you need for a day on the bay.
Fish Catching Travel
Our front has cleared after 3 days of clouds and some rain. We did not get a ton of rain, but the creeks are full and there was some standing water in the ditches. So we are off to a much better start to our rainfall this year. And the sky is clear as a bell, and it will be warming fast this afternoon.
I have a few things to do today, then it will be off to the bay for some fishing in the morning. Wading is on the menu, it is just hard to decided where. Even though I got a poor report on Keller Bay last week, I think that is going to be the place. One thing I have always liked about Keller is it has both good trout territory and several redfish banks that have historically produced for me. In fact the biggest redfish to ever come over the side came in Keller Bay.
The tide will be out and maybe just starting to move when I get there, and will be coming up in some form or other most of the day. So bank selection will be extra critical. My best guess will be starting on a long main bay bank with a good drop with some grass in around 3 foot of water for the trout. It is the perfect set up for throwing corky style baits. Then it will be get the Redfish Magic out and go to thrashing on some redfish. Of course like all good fishing plans, it is subject to change. The only thing not subject to change is that I am going.
I heard from one of my regular readers who sent me this. There is a place in my heart for the giant string of catfish I caught as a child on Lake Tsala Apatka in Florida.
Fishing Moccasin Slough 1947
To get there we had to carefully walk across a scary bridge on Lake Tsala Apatka, carrying cane poles, and a bait can filled with wriggling night crawlers. Daddy carried the bucket he was sure we’d fill with fish for supper. The bridge which could support automobile traffic was not yet constructed. Momma carried Linda Lue, my youngest sister.
The walk across the bridge nearly scared the daylights out of me. Even though the surface of the lake had a thick green cover of water hyacinths covered with purple flowers, on a windy day roiling waves could reach the boards of the bridge.
After the slow, careful trek across the bridge, we’d step into a narrow path. Our feet sunk into the white sand of Central Florida. Gray Spanish Moss covered huge liveoak trees. At the edge of the slough we’d see a baby alligator or two. Copperhead moccasins always swooshed across the dark green of the Slough’s surface. We were warned about the brilliantly colored snake slithering away into the woods. It may or not have been a Coral Snake, carrying lethal poison in its bite, but we were to take no chances.
The eldest of three girls, I was charged with putting worms on hooks for my younger sisters. I was eleven years old, Nancy was seven, Linda Lue was five. The stifling heat and humidity of our home in Citrus County, just 19 miles from the Gulf, was tempered by shade from the oaks and moss. I seldom wore shoes when not at school or church, but these visits to Moccasin Slough were an exception!
In the bucket where we were to put fish we caught, Daddy always stashed bacon grease and a cast iron Skillet, with lots of farmer matches to make a fire. We ate the fish with white bread Momma had in her pockets – Daddy said he’d eaten enough old cold biscuits on the South Georgia farm where he was raised to last him a lifetime, so white bread was the order of all our meals.
I watched critters along the banks of the Slough, copperheads and ugly needle-nosed gars glide across the water, and my bobber. A high state of excitement ensued when I got a bite and the bobber started bobbing. I caught bream with what looked to me like streaks of sunlight on their sides. Once in a while a small catfish or mullet from the muddy bottoms of the Slough would attach itself to my hook.
Before dark it would be time to walk back across that creaky, scary bridge. Daddy would pour a Bucket of murky Slough water over the ashes of his fire, where he’d buried fish guts and trash. We were taught to clean up after ourselves, both on the banks of the Slough and at home.
Often in my sleep I’d see a bobber a-bobbin’, feel the mixture of fear of falling into the Slough and being bitten by a snake or devoured by an alligator along with the thrill of pulling my sunfish up onto the bank.
So much of life seems to hold that mixture, a tension between the fear of danger and the joy of adventure. I discovered – and learned to deal with it – on the banks of Moccasin Slough.
Of course this story also holds a little more meaning to me personally. This is from my most loyal reader, my mom. And to think that her dad, my grandpa, took her there fishing, and then over 20 years later took us as kids when we visited. I have since driven by the lake, and it is as beautiful as I remembered, and it still is Old Florida. As with everywhere, there is not a lot of the old left. But if you love big trees, dark water, and Spanish moss, this area of Central Florida is as close to Old Florida as you can get. Thanks for the memories Mom.
I am off to do some cleaning on the truck and then some organization of the saltwater tackle. It is amazing how disorganized tackle gets after a couple of days of fishing. I haul around enough crap that it looks like I might fear there will never be any more tackle, when in actuality I fish about 4 baits on the Gulf. Down South plastics, Strike King Refish Magic, a corky style bait, and a topwater covers most of my days on the salt. I could probably get by with 2 of each most days, but hauling around all that tackle must make me feel secure.
The tackle is organized, so is the boat. The forecast looks great, so it will be an early morning wind check and then off to the bay, Keller I hope. I intend to fish the corky style baits for a good stretch in the morning. Specifically see whether I like it better throwing it on braid with a leader, or straight mono. Hopefully I will answer that question, or maybe the fish will answer it for me. So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff. Hope you have a great weekend.
Good Luck and Tight Lines