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Things that make you leave the water

I was watching an online news story the other day that showed a fellow in Florida who was fishing from shore until he got chased off the water by a fairly large alligator.

What was interesting to me was that the fellow had the presence of mind to take a dim, shaky video of an alligator hot on his heels.

After watching this, it occurred to me that this would have never happened here – our social media people use better lighting and image stabilization. Plus, if steelhead fishing is any indication, it would take more than an alligator to move a Canadian angler off a good spot.

The alligator story was one I could relate to, however, because a few years back I was sent on a work trip to a plantation in Florida where we were given the opportunity to shoot newly introduced rifles. That plantation also had the distinction of being the place where the Florida state record bass was taken – at that time this was a fish of almost 16 pounds.

I couldn’t understand how a bass could grow that big in the plantation’s relatively small lakes – but after two days I realized it was because they must have paid protection money to the alligators.

There were lots of alligators.

In fact, our trip coincided with unseasonably high water levels and there were so many alligators taking advantage of this that guests were strongly advised to use complimentary golf carts to ride between the buildings in the complex. I never did that because I have always preferred death by alligator to anything golf-related.

So, for the few days I was there, I learned to walk very briskly while being totally aware of my surroundings. I also learned to leap 12 feet straight up whenever a bullfrog shook the tall grass. During walks like these, especially in the dark, you have to re-evaluate the way you think about things – such as rides in golf carts, for instance. Another thought that occurred to me was that the bass had time to grow because only an idiot would spend time in a bass boat whose deck was mere inches above a lake filled with alligators. 

And, since the guides were booked, I was no idiot.

One night we drove jeeps around the plantation and carried powerful flashlights so we could shine the beam on the swamps and waters and count the sets of alligator eyes. It was enough to make me inquire about room service. But what struck me most is how quickly the alligators swam towards us whenever we stepped out of the vehicles to shine the waters. They would cross the lake in no time and you could almost hear them thinking, “Well, what do you know, not even a bass boat this time!”

Here in Ontario, we are lucky that there are not predatory aquatic animals like alligators to make fishing even more interesting than it already is.

This is obviously not a popular sentiment among some golf cart salespeople. But I think it is something that most of us who hang around the water ought to be thankful for.

There is something unnatural about having to worry about catching an alligator. And something even more unnatural about the thought of them catching you.

As for a 12-foot leap straight up? Well under the right circumstances, that’s only natural.

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