The entire Florida Keys were locked! That is like 100 miles of islands, and they were off limits to anyone who did not have documentation of legal residence in those islands. Florida State Parks and National Parks were also shuttered. In southeastern Florida, where Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and Palm Beach make up the largest percentage of population in the state, most of the waters were off limits. Boat ramps were locked. Beaches were closed. Anglers were depressed.
Over on the SW coast, fishing and boating were still allowed, so vast numbers of east coasters were willing to make the one hour drive to get their lines wet. That resulted in mayhem at the boat ramps and congestion on the water. Not my cup of tea.
Recently, some of the restrictions have been lifted. The waters of Everglades National Park are once again open, with many restrictions still in place, but that is great news.
So, what happens? A friggin tropical storms begins to brew in the Gulf of Mexico and slowly meanders across the state, coming to full fruition right off the east coast of South Florida. It becomes a full-fledged storm worthy of a name, so it gets an A name,“Arthur” or "Arturo" for the first one of the season. The thing is, the “season” does not officially begin until June 1. Apparently, someone forgot to tell the storms though, since they have been forming earlier for the last few years. So I guess we need to reprint the calendars.
There is a monsoonal downpour happening outside my windows as I type this.
So, last Sunday, much like a drunkard in a bar at closing time, I was willing to accept whatever was available. It turned out to be a few hours on a freshwater lake near where one of my friends live. We launched in separate canoes and threw flies at the local assortment of small freshwater species, many of which are nonnative.
I fished a 4wt with a sink tip line and I was happy to unhook a handful of Bluegills and one nice Peacock Bass. Without much time for preparation I inadvertently brought a selection of saltwater flies, so the hooks simply were too big for all but the unluckiest of the Bluegills.
As an experiment, I fished from my high-end solo canoe that weighs less than 25 pounds has a beam of about the same number of inches. It is a beautiful craft, light and nimble, but almost completely senseless for fishing. This was the first time I ever tried to fish out of it, and to my surprise, paddling and casting from my knees was not as bad as I had anticipated. I can see me adapting and where it may happen again, in similar conditions.
And it was those conditions that were the biggest surprise The winds were dead calm, and after all the rain, the humidity was near 100%. When the fog burned off a cloudless sky revealed a relentless sun and the temperature rose close to 90F.
To say I was unprepared for the heat would be an understatement. It is summer again, and with that realization I will now have to switch to heat survival mode. I know it well, but after the comfort of winter and a long layoff of late, I sort of forgot where I live. It was a good wake up call.
After a cold beer back at my friend’s garage, all was well with the world again. Or, at least a well as it could be.