We went to Lake Woodruff to pre-fish our next tournament and found an unexpected guest as we went through the canal from Lake Dexter. Going through the slow zone between the two lakes we were trying to come up with a plan of where to fish first and what would be the best baits. While entering Woodruff I heard a sound coming from the back of the boat near the transom. I turned to see what it was and much to my surprise it was a fifteen inch bass flopping in front of the motor. I guess I've been using too small of a bait, we should just have been using the boat and not poles and lines. We both thought that with this there must be a lot of fish in the area because they can't wait to get into the boat.
After fathoming what had just happened we decided to run across to one of the handful of canals entering the lake. Using frogs, speed worms and flukes we found a few smaller bass in the one to two pound range. Fishing the outside edges of the vegetation seemed to work the best. But then while fishing one of the mouths an old manatee sauntered by. He was very large and had many old battle scars from boat props, we could tell they were not fresh because of the colors from the many cross patterns on his back. In that same canal mouth we caught what first looked like a nice bass, based on the size of the mouth coming in at us. Only to find when we got him aboard he was extremely slim and malnourished. With further inspection the reason was evident, we named him old one eye. Somewhere along the line he probably met up with another fisherman and lost an eye in the battle. I imagine with only one eye it is very difficult to forage for food, although he had no problem with the fluke he inhaled.
This was not the first time we had something try and board our boat. The last time out we were fishing in a small canal when a water moccasin came swimming at us. I happened to be the one fishing the back of the boat, which of coarse is where the snake was heading. As he approached I decided to move more to the front. He swam under the motor near the transom, the same place that the bass ended up in. I was trying to think what am I going to do if he comes up over the transom when he swam slowly out the other side. What is it with this boat it attracts all sorts of visitors, bass, snakes and in the past some small gators looking for an easy treat.
Mike has been fishing for 50 years. The first 16 years of fishing was for trout in the streams of Massachusetts. At 22 he moved to Florida for work and took up a whole new type of fishing “saltwater”. For the next several years he learned in-shore and off-shore fishing techniques. There was also the occasional shrimping expedition. At the tender age of 40 Mike then found even another form of fishing “Bass Fishing”. Chasing this elusive predator became Mike’s latest obsession. His motto is "I'd rather be fishing".