The Flying Kayak

Hunting, Fishing, Rambling, and Complete Outdoor Hilarity

Salt-Free Fish

As I stated in my previous post: Deer tackling 101, I’ve been doing quite a bit of fishing recently. The plantations that I work/live on have given us permission to fish the many lakes on the properties. And since much of my work is done after dark, I have plenty of daylight hours to fish.

Now I’m really not much of a freshwater fisherman. I actually didn’t even really get into it until I moved down to Gainesville for school and became land locked. Eventually, the urge to fish became too great and I began to chase bream, catfish, and bass. At first, it was honestly difficult to get excited about freshwater fishing. I mean, I can go offshore and catch practically anything…really -big- anythings. So how was I supposed to get pumped about a bluegill?

The answer came in the form of a Redington 3wt. For some reason, I absolutely love to catch bluegill (and even bass) on the little 3 wt. Fly fishing for these panfish is relatively challenging and often it’s the big “eating sized” bluegill that take the fly.

So the many ponds around the plantations have been feeling the full wrath of my fly rod. This bizarre winter we’ve had (if you can call it a winter) has the bass and bluegill bedded up -really- early and from what I’ve seen, they’re hungry. My roommates and I fish practically every chance we get and we very rarely have poor days. I managed to land my first bluegill of the year a few weeks back and was tickled pink to see that they were already biting.

I was even more excited a few casts later when I landed my biggest bluegill on the fly rod.

Unfortunately, I don’t have my kayak with me right now so I’m stuck to fishing from the bank. I decided, however, to take advantage of this and make a few bank lines to set up for catfish. I made these out of tarred nylon twine, 30lb mono, and a circle hook. And of course, I used a catfish’s natural food of choice: hotdogs. So one afternoon while my friends were out trying to catch bass, I decided to tie several bank lines to bushes, stumps, and exposed roots. After halfway watching the lines for over an hour, I just decided to forget about them and continue on with my fly fishing. Since my friends were quite a long way from me while I set up the lines, they were unaware of exactly -where- the bank lines were located. About 30 minutes later, one of my friends was working his way along the bank with his bait caster…blissfully unaware that he was standing next to one of my lines. Suddenly, the line went tight and practically yanked the old stump it was tied to into the water.

Once my friend got over the initial shock of “why has this stump come to life?”, he realized it was attached to my line and began to pull it in. I watched all of this from a few hundred yards away, and ran over to see what he pulled in.

A bowfin. A -big- bowfin. I’d never personally caught one with hook and line before, and was thankful that I’d used circle hooks. Those teeth are something I’d like to stay away from.

I decided to leave the lines out until after dark and check them later that evening after work. It was a pleasant surprise when I came by later that night to find a nice sized bullhead on the line (which I expertly forgot to take a picture of).

Some of the lakes I’ve been fishing don’t seem to have quite the bluegill population that others do. When this is the case, I’ve actually been breaking out the spinning rod and attempting to catch bass. For a while, all I could catch was little 1-2lb bass. In fact, I almost fished out my tackle box in an attempt to catch bigger bass. Finally, all that was left that hadn’t been tried were some black worms that somehow found their way into the tackle box a -long- time ago. I gave it a shot, and was pleased beyond belief.

I actually started catching bigger bass. Bigger bass than I’d ever caught before.

My friend who was fishing with me began to catch some nice bass as well.

Generally, catching your biggest fish of whatever species your targeting is enough to make the fishing trip. At least, until you begin to catch them ever bigger…

At this point during the trip, I could have stopped fishing and been more than happy. End on a good note even. But we continued to fish. And boy am I thankful for that.

A few casts later I felt what I thought was my jig getting caught on a log. It quickly came free and I suddenly felt a fish strike. I set the hook, and began to reel the fish in. It came right up to the surface and I saw it’s head. I knew it was a big fish. Most bass I catch can at least make decent attempts at jumping out of the water. This one failed miserably. Only half of its body cleared the surface of the water as it almost lazily ‘flopped’ over. I also knew it was a big fish because during all of this, my friend (who bass fishes quite a bit) is literally losing his marbles. I practically had to convince him to not jump in the water after it and let me reel it in. And for someone who doesn’t really bass fish, and has never really gotten excited about bass fishing, I was absolutely pumped to land this fish.

We didn’t have a scale, or even a tape measure, but our best guesses put the fish between 7 and 8 lbs. When held at the knee, its tail still flopped on the grass.

Getting to fish almost every day is like a dream come true. What makes it even better is that I’ve got all summer to continue fishing and hopefully have a repeat of the other day. So even though I may be land locked, and I have no chance to catch saltwater fish, catching fish like these will -definitely- hold me over until the next time I can chase some salty fish. Maybe next time I’ll get to break out the fly rod and land my biggest bass on the fly. Stay tuned!


  1. We used to call those Bowfin fish “mudfish.” When I was a kid and fishing the ponds around Suwannee, I hooked one with my cane pole. Snapped that joker in half.

  2. Great photos! Bowfin are hilarious to me, mostly because Michael tried to have one as a pet once šŸ˜›
    I can’t say I’ve ever been freshwater fishing, but I might have to give it a shot! Now that I’m back in Miami, it may not be for a while ):

  3. Awesome fish! You’re living the life.

  4. Nice bass! I’m down here in Gainesville as well and cannot seem to find any lakes open to fishing; can you point me to some lakes?

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