Hope Is Such A Bait, It Covers Any Hook–Oliver Goldsmith
One of the most odious words in the lexicon of anglers is “SKUNKED!” It means you fished all day and didn’t catch, let alone release, anything. I have had several of those near-death experiences this past few weeks as the torrent of freshwater from the Everglades–due to rains of near-biblical proportions in January–have pushed my saltwater quarry out of the backcountry and into the Gulf. And even there they have been tough to find. While snook will tolerate freshwater somewhat, redfish, sea trout, jacks, tarpon, and others don’t fancy the taste.
This past Friday was a perfect example. We have had sunny, dry weather for over a week. I thought by chance the freshwater flows might be subsiding, and the snook and reds would be heading for the warmer water in the backcountry. Hope springing eternal, I put in on my favorite Halfway Creek in the Big Cypress Preserve at 6:30 a.m. and was greeted by a family of manatees rolling and feeding at first light, a couple of young ones boldly swimming right under the kayak as I held my breath they wouldn’t flip me.
“Most people cannot see beyond the Tamiami Trail to the heart of this vast region. Many look but few see. Few see the harmony of nature’s creation; few understand the relation of terrain to animals, of animals to plant life, of plant life to water, and of water’s importance to the survival of man, beast, and plants.”– From an historical study of the Big Cypress Swamp
One of the real joys of living in Everglades City is being able to explore hidden wild creeks that flow slowly out of the Everglades, under the Tamiami Trail, then through the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge or the Big Cypress Preserve into the Gulf. The Big Cypress Preserve covers almost 600,000 acres. It is still home to the Seminole Indians who sought refuge here and were the only tribe never to surrender or be subdued. One of my favorite haunts in the preserve is called Halfway Creek, a twisty turny creek deep in the preserve. It gets its name because its mouth is located halfway between Everglades City and Chokoloskee Island. Even on weekends it is rare to see anyone here although less than an hour from the teeming masses in Miami.