Disney Loves a Trier

This post isn’t for the fly fishing purist so if anything less than total flyfishing offends, drive right on by.

Our US road trip continues and we are currently heading down the Florida Pan-handle having left Savannah in Georgia, stopped over in St Augustine, FL then carried on to our current residence in Miami, FL. On the way we dropped in on a long time virtual friend who is now a very real friend to myself and my wife. She lives in the Orlando area and to be frank, we have had a couple of holidays there when our son was young and as a destination in and of itself it wasn’t somewhere we were going for the “destination”. But we did want to run by our friend and say hello for a day at least, as we passed through in a day that was arguably too short and too much fun, like the rapidly boiling up and disappearing storms that have accompanied our visit south of Georgia. We have run into a rare “tropical depression” which has brought with it some flash- downpours.

In a happy coincidence, our friend has “contacts” in the Disney resort and I was offered the chance to have a few hours fishing for the residents of Bay Lake, that is in the Fort Wilderness area of Disney World. While it was heavily discounted as a result of my friend, it still wasn’t cheap but it was fun and a great opportunity to catch something a wee bit different.

Blue Heron

This wee Blue Heron was kept well fed picking off any casualties in the live bait.

I had a boat all to myself with local guide Kevin, and we headed out on the lake as soon as I arrived and it was clear there was a careful eye being kept on the clouds boiling up in the distance. We headed to some marginal lily pads and Kevin threw a line out using a short Bass Rod baited with “Shiners” these are live bait fish, not something I am totally enamoured in using but it has to be said quite a few escape alive and the Blue Heron’s seem to finish off any casualties not taken by the fish. The instant it hit the water he was into a fish and it was handed to me to do the necessary winding in. For my part, I was actually threading up my 9foot 6# travel fly rod with the intention of having a go with the fly. This seemed to be met with curiosity both by Kevin and some of the other Lake guides in the vicinity who I was told later were having a look from a distance to see how it would do. While I had a rod and line I didn’t have any suitable nylon with me and used a 6 or 7-foot length of Kevin’s heavy nylon for live baiting. For my “bait” I had brought a small selection of flies I had actually bought for fishing with the fly in the sea. Some Clouser minnows and poppers.

First decent size Bass

My first decent Largemouth

Kevin, a former Pro Baseball player (pitcher) and former competitive Bass Angler,  reckoned a wet fly might have done the job ( though added one fish taken on a fly would be a considerable achievement he thought) and even a dry but unfortunately it never occurred to me that these might be effective and so I left them in the car- doh. I tied on a hairwing with a bit flash to it and while Kevin hooked into a second Bass that I reeled in, I made ready to cast out. It was a wee bit of a pig to cast to be honest. The fly was a bit heavy/ungainly for the setup but also the floating line seemed to stick a bit in the rod guides I am thinking due to the humidity, it went sort of warm and sticky feeling unless kept wet, and it didn’t stay wet for long in the heat.

My first cast plopped in near the lilypads maybe 3 rod lengths out from the boat and immediately it attracted a fish that boiled and swirled at the fly but didn’t take. But I made me think I was on to a winner. It wasn’t to be though and about 20 minutes of fruitless casting into the pads and changing to a heavier clouser minnow that got down deeper where the fish appeared to be based on Kev’s success with the shiners, yielded a fat nothing.

When in Rome, they say, do as the Roman’s do. I picked up the fixed spool set up with a circle hook and a shiner on and soon was into a Largemouth Bass of about a pound and a half I could call my own.

I think we had around 6-7 here before Kev decided to move the boat over to another area near a dock structure. It struck me how similar ( if a lot larger) these fish were to our Scottish Perch. No bands or red marks but otherwise very similar with similar hangouts round shelter and structure.

Casting near the dock was tricky but watching Kevin’s method I was soon skipping the bait along the surface and getting deep under the pier. I had a few pulls but they were very tentative it has to be said and barely discernable, but eventually did hook into a larger bass of about 3 lb just as the patrol boats appeared to get everyone off the lake as the storm was coming.

We just made it to the boat dock as the rain started on and a colossal downpour with lightning and over 3″ of rain commenced. Fishing was over for the day and a small hatfull of fish of which I could claim 3 or 4 as totally my own was the result and another species added to the list of fish caught. Good fun while it lasted and it added to what turned out a very fun day before the drive to Miami.