From time to time I try to highlight some of the great places I’ve had the privilege of visiting during my fishing career. They’re all in the United States. One of those places is the Kissimmee River in south-central Florida. It’s about as close to paradise as a man can get.
I’ve been down here fishing for a few days and I’ll tell you without a moment’s hesitation that it’s one of the most interesting places I’ve ever seen. The river itself flows for about 134 miles and has almost 30 lakes associated with it. The river changes as it flows and the lakes are all a little different. There’s one constant, however. That’s extraordinary beauty.
It goes without saying that it’s a great bass factory. All you have to do is look at the weights from tournaments on it to see that. But, it’s much more. It’s a place where even the most hardcore cynic can find peace and beauty as well as nature at its finest.
The other day I traveled quite a ways down this waterway. Eagles cruised and hunted over me while alligators swam around me. For a moment I saw a bobcat. The darn thing was so big it looked like a panther. Birds were everywhere. I don’t know what kind they were but I can tell you they were brightly colored and looked like something you’d see in Africa, not America.
There were even a few deer around. The thing that made that experience unique — remember I come from the land of giant whitetails so I don’t think seeing a deer is anything special — is that they ran along the bank keeping pace with my boat. I’ve seen thousands of deer in my lifetime but I’ve never seen anything like that. I’d give anything if I had a video of it because I know that some of you aren’t going to believe my story. All I can say is that’s it’s true.
Visit the Kissimmee River if you can. It’s not expensive. There are plenty of reasonably priced places to stay. Most of them allow cooking on the premises so you can save a few bucks that way, too. Don’t think of it as a fishing trip. It’s more of a life experience. Everyone will come away with a sense of awe at what we have right here at home.
And I’d suggest you do it sooner rather than later. Our population isn’t getting any smaller. None of us know how long anything will last. Our environment is fragile. I’m a bird in the hand kind of guy.
If you think I’m getting a little carried away you should know that I have my reasons. Back when I was a young man the Kissimmee River was my first “going away” fishing trip. It was during spring break. While my buddies were at the beach chasing pretty girls I was in the swamp chasing pretty fish. I didn’t regret it then. I don’t regret it now. It was worth it.