As I think about my upcoming move to another city, I am reminded of all the previous moves I have made over the years. Each one was different and each presented itself with new fishing problems and opportunities. Even moving from one end of a state to another can really test your fishing skills. Take Florida, as an example.
Florida ranges from almost tropical to subtropical on the south end to a temperate zone on the north end of the state. This necessarily means that the fishing methods and species will differ. South Florida is home to the only living coral reef areas in the continental United States. The Gulfstream runs within 3 miles of Miami and the upper Keys. So the fish will be reef fish and migrating blue water species, and the time to fish the migrating fish will be predominantly in the winter months.
North Florida, on the other hand, is from 60 to 80 miles from the Gulfstream. Only overnight boats or very fast boats make the trip to the "stream" with any regularity, and then not in the winter. Inshore fishing means estuary tidal creeks, marshes, and oyster bars. The turtle grass flats and cuts of Florida Bay simply do not exist. And many of the fish in South Florida are not found 360 miles to the north.
My first move out of South Florida was to Jacksonville. I dreaded the loss of fishing I was envisioning as we prepared for the move. How was I ever going to make it to the Gulfstream again? What was I to do with no grass flats? It was out of that fear that I sold my boat ( yes, you read right), and decided to get big time into the freshwater scene. After all, Florida is known for it's bass fishery.
I bought a bass boat - not just any bass boat - but the biggest, "badest", fastest bass boat I could find. And I began to concentrate on freshwater fishing exclusively. I actually got pretty good at it, won a number of tournaments, was President of my Bass Club, and Angler of the Year for three straight years. I had visions of shaking Ray Scott's hand on a weigh-in platform. But something was missing. Something was just not complete.
I took a friend up one day on an offer to fish the Intracoastal Waterway out of St. Augustine. My vision of that kind of fishing up until then was a long straight ditch and lots of barge traffic. I could not have been more wrong!
He took me in a Jon boat to places I never thought a boat could get. And we caught fish! I mean we really caught fish - redfish, trout, flounder, and several black drum. And these were fish I could take home and eat!
When I look back, I remember thinking to myself, "What ever possessed me to think that there was no salt water fishery in North Florida?" Needless to say, not long after that, the bass boat found a new owner as I began learning to fish again in this new home!
As I write this, I am preparing to move again, this time back again to North Florida. But I now know what not to expect.
So, as I write this, I want to give any of you who recently moved or who are preparing to move some simple advice. Fishing is fishing anywhere you go. The tackle is the same, the tides still come in and go out, and fish can still be caught. Its just a matter of learning where the fish are and what the fish are eating.
Go to the local tackle shops. Spend a day there. After the early morning rush, business in most shops slows, and the owners are more than willing to share fishing information. After all, they want your business!
If you can afford it, one of the best things to do is to hire a guide for a day, or even two or three. It is amazing what one day with a guide will teach you about fishing a given area if you simply ask questions and listen.
And last but not least, read. Read any and every publication you can about fishing in your new home. Make it a learning experience!
And if you are fortunate enough to move back to an area, like I am, you will have no problem adjusting. Fishing is what you make it. If you choose not to fish, as I did, you will be missing out on a learning experience!
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