Small bass like the two caught today in all of 20 minutes fell eagerly for the eight-inch Chompers, thus having spiked my confidence in the bag of 12-inch plastic worms reserved for our Florida trip in July. I imagine an 18-inch worm might work, but we don't really know where to go in the Everglades region near Miami. I once hooked a striped bass of eight or nine pounds on a 20-inch live eel.
My son has the scoop on trails to search for Burmese pythons, diamond-back rattlesnakes, and the like, but unless I do some real digging online and otherwise, actually find places to go without a boat for one dawn venture, we're going to go by local maps and local word. From there we head to Big Pine Key where we'll do most of the fishing.
Some day we'll go only for Florida largemouth, really seek big ones. I'm not sure we would hire a guide. We've taken charters and guide service to have excellent times, but nothing beat renting a 19-foot boat with 90 horsepower and taking it out to sea beyond the reef. I witnessed a look of fearful apprehension when I once related the story, so when I do now, I always make sure to frame it in the context of my 13 years' experience as a commercial shellfisherman, owning nine boats through that time. You have to have the sea run in your bloodstream.
Anyhow, I'd rather rent a bassboat than be taken on one.
Even if it's dinged up.
That's not saying anything against the social opportunity charter service offers, as well as opportunity to learn quite a lot. It's just my personal predilection to place doing things myself first. Hiring a guide or taking a chartered fishing cruise is relaxing and allows you the pleasure of being taken along without exercising nearly as much of your own responsibility, but it puts you in the role of student, students always outfitted by one institution or another--even autodidacts are beholden to book authors this way--which takes out the thrill of wild adventure.
I spent two weeks as an apprentice shellfisherman, quite an adventure thereafter for 13 years, working in New Jersey waters in January in wetsuits for as long as five hours at a time.
Caught the bass photographed above at Colonial Park, plenty of duckweed to try running worms over the top some other time with more time to spare. Speaking of which, did you know that the first taxes collected in the original Colonies for public American schooling were on the sale of striped bass?
Fishing is behind everything.
Driscoll Bridge over the mouth of the Raritan River where it empties into Raritan Bay, en route to shore striper fishing.