The plush greenery all around. Songs from the birds in the trees. As they peer down on me as I paddle by. I nestle myself behind the protection of the land. And toss a cast out onto the water.
Florida fully surrounded by water. As it thumb lake shape jets off of the continent of North America heading southerly towards the Caribbean. Along with the surrounding waters, it’s inland is riddled with lakes, rivers, intracoastal canals and ponds.
And this is where I’ve flocked for the past week.
A week of fishing.
Lake Okeechobee, the largest lake in Florida and a massive piece to flood control and the ecosystem of the state. Canals surround this massive body of water and lock systems are the gate keepers, literally, to entering the lake.
Known for its fishing and massive amounts of wildlife. I wanted to experience this place first hand. Booking a cute “Canal Cottage” through Air B and B. The perfect place for a week of fishing.
Paddling off the dock and into the canal. It was only a few paddle strokes before my fishing pole, replaced the paddle and the fishing began.
Most of my days were spent bobbing around the canals. Finding some tight areas to tuck into and escape the north wind that joined me daily. And having a stand up paddleboard allowed me to explore places boats were unable to get to.
And the stand up paddleboard fishing did not disappoint.
They were excited, all different sizes. And with levels of fight. Some about the size of the lure I was using. Other topped the biggest of the season.
On two occasions I made my way into the locks and up onto Lake Okeechobee. And when I say up. I truly mean up.
Paddling towards the lock. A warm southern voice called out. And moments later the door lifted and I paddled into what felt like a concrete bunker. The gentlemen called out, “hold on.” And as I smirked the water rushed in. The numbers on the sign read 6′. Within a few minutes they were over 9′. Then the second door raised. There was Lake Okeechobee in all its glory.
For those of you who have paddled or been on massive lakes, understand that they resemble and ocean more than a lake. And this was the case here. Showing why it is dubbed “Florida’s Inland Sea.”
A few pre-historic friends were the welcoming crew. Who were way more afraid of me than my mind was telling me. The gators watched me, like the boaters and others that passed by. All wondering what type of contraption I was on.
Thursday evening brought me back up to the Lake. This time the fish served up a warm welcoming. It served as the perfect send off after a week of great experiences on this massive body of water.
And it will always hold a place in my memory.