Two tickets to paradise

Tracey and I are in Florida. I’m not sure how long we’re going to stay but it’s great to be here, for however long it lasts.

It seems like the older I get, the earlier I point my truck, trailer and boat south, and the longer I stay. Back in the day, the winters were colder in central Ohio than they have been the last few years but they didn’t seem that way. I always thought they were bearable. Now I’m not so sure. (Is that a sign that I’m getting old? I’m thinking maybe it is.)

We’re staying with our in-laws — my in-laws, Tracey’s family — at their place in a retirement community. As you might expect it didn’t take me long to hit the local ponds. All I did was say a quick hello to everyone before I rigged up a topwater prop bait and went to work on the local, and highly inexperienced, largemouth bass.

All you have to do is twitch that bait along and the pond bass go crazy down here. They don’t grab it or bite it. They try to destroy it, without reservation. I sometimes question what they’re doing. If my bait was alive, would there be anything left for the bass to eat, or would it be a smashed mess?

It makes you think about the theory of conditioned bass. Some guys believe they get used to certain lures, others don’t think they do. After seeing what happens in these isolated, lightly fished ponds I have to go with those who believe. I can’t think of any other reason for how they behave.

As of right now I’m on Lake Okeechobee flipping and pitching plastics into the vegetation. This place never ceases to amaze me. It’s the only tropical place in our country. The wildlife viewing is extraordinary. You can see almost any wild animal or bird you want if you take the time to do it.

I spent a few minutes this morning watching an eagle. What a bird! They are truly magnificent. I don’t know who picked them as our national bird but whoever it was knew what he or she was doing. Nothing highlights the American spirit like one of those things.

The other thing about this place is that it’s a refreshing change of pace from how I’m been fishing the last few months. It seems like it’s been forever since I’ve fished with anything other than a drop shot, not counting blade baits on Lake Erie.

I love my drop shot outfit, and I love fishing that way. It’s one of my favorite things to do. But, like all things we humans do, too much of it gets old. It’s really nice to throw topwater and to fish heavy weed cover.

If a guy spends some time down here, like I do, it’s easy to understand why it’s so popular with retirees. The weather is good all year around, assuming you like the hot summers, and the fishing is darn good almost everywhere.

Maybe someday I’ll be able to retire…

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