November 28th, 2005

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
This is where our readers tell their stories . . .

Gator Bait or How to Buy a Boat
By Michael Childs, Kissimmee, Florida

I have been fly fishing since my Grandfather taught me at the ripe old age of eight. Most of all the fly-fishing I have done has been relaxing and enjoyable. However, fishing in Florida has it's moments. Some years ago, my brother and I decided to do some salt water fishing at Sebastian Inlet on South Central Florida's east coast. We agreed I would pick him up at his home around three AM.

Well, I arrived on time and as usual, my brother wasn't up yet. He felt he needed a shower and breakfast. I was in the mood for fishing. He lived on East Lake Toho (Tohopekaliga) in Kissimmee, Florida. I decided to take an hour and do some fishing while he primped. You know how embarrassing it can be when you are fishing for blue fish and your hair is messy. I never go anywhere without my fly rod. I went to the end of the street, put on my down jumpsuit and a set of chest waders. The water temperature felt like they were in the mid 60's. There was a full moon so I hit the cow trails (when the Army Corp of Engineers draws down the lake, there are cow trails through the bull-rush and other indigenous vegetation.)

It was late fall and the weather was starting to get cold. Now, only a local cracker or a lost wino would wade in darkness in this lake. But again, I was in the mood to fish and I wasn't lost. As I moved slowly along the trails and at about waste high water I could see small openings and would cast my flies there. As I stated the water was cold so standing very still you could build up some heat.

In late fall alligators look for old dead tree branches and debris to build mounds for hibernation. As the debris decomposes it creates heat. I guess all alligators don't follow all the rules of hibernation. I felt the waders on my right leg become very tight. With a blink of an eye I was pulled under. Nothing like the rush of your waders filling with 60 or so degree water. I started kicking with both feet. I don't know who was more afraid and surprised, me or the gator. Well I didn't want to hang around and ask him. In fact the thought never crossed my mind. All I remember was trying to run toward the street light and screaming like a girl.

When I got to the street light, which took me about a nanosecond, I ran into another man fishing from the bank. He found the sight of me trying to run with a set of waders full of water and screaming to be funny. Ok, so it was funny. I told him what happened and he said, "you must be a local, only a local or a drunk would be out that far in the dark in this lake."

We measured the teeth marks on the waders (10 inches) and figured it must have been around 8 to 10 feet long. Like that made me feel better. I bought a boat within two weeks of my run-in with the Gator. So, what was my lesson learned?

If you really want a boat and your wife is dead against it. Get it any way. Your wife will hate you for about two weeks but when it's done, you still got a boat. ~ MC

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