Way Down Upon the Suwannee River

While in Atlanta, the Florida coast beckoned to me and after several good “Kingfishing” trips to Destin, my Barber directed me to a spot, the Suwannee River, where I could fish for Speckled Trout, my first fishing love. Suwannee, Florida was a five hour plus, trip from Atlanta, considering our Government’s stupid, 55 MPH, speed limit on I-85.

Having grown up on the Texas Gulf Coast, the Suwannee was much like our bay fishing, except this was fishing directly in the Gulf of Mexico. The bottom dropped off at a leisurely pace of about a foot per mile, there was abundant grass, just like our miles of grass flats in the bays and all of the trips I made there, I never had a trip “blown” by high winds.

The first time out, leaving my boat in Atlanta, we, my ex wife and I, hired the only fishing guide, recommended highly by my Barber, and met him at the only bait camp, where he had his boat, a 24 foot, semi vee bottom, Pro Line with a 150 HP, Evinrude, gassed, loaded, the bait shrimp in his live well and ready to go. I had discussed our trip with him and had decided to furnish my own tackle.

A highlight of the bait camp was the 14-pound Bass, that was their “pet”. But that is another story.

We wound our way down the Suwannee River and once we entered the Gulf, made a hard right up the coast. We made good time down the river because our guide said at this time of the year, early fall, the Manatee, Sea Cows, weren’t an obstacle.

Reaching the desired spot, the guide cut the engines, baited our lines and said “Cast out behind the boat and we’ll trail our baits, drifting along with the wind and current. It won’t be necessary to reel them in until a fish hits, and most times, they hook themselves.”

We, and the guide, looped short casts against the wind, sat back in his lawn chairs and waited, and waited, and waited and nothing happened. He remarked, “The bite won’t start for a while, so we’ll just wait for it.”

Patience is not one of my strengths, so I told the guide, “I’m going to try it like we do on the Texas coast,” and moving to the bow, looped a long cast, with the wind, in front of the boat, started working my popping cork back towards the boat, never letting my line go slack; reel, reel, gently pop the cork; reel, reel, gently pop the cork and Whamo!

The cork goes under, setting the hook, the rod bows, the fish strips line off of the Black, Ambassadeur, 5500C, reel and takes off for Cuba! Soon, the guide nets a very nice, 3 pound Spec, re baits my hook (for the last time) and out flies another cast. Reel, reel, gently pop the cork and Whamo, another solid hit! My ex moves to my side of the boat and repeats my reel, reel and gently pop the cork and proceeds to tie into a nice Speck.

The guide sits back in his lawn chair and says, “I want to watch this performance.” A performance it was! Within one hour the two of us had boated 45 nice Specs and then told the guide we had enough fish to feed the neighborhood, so we head back to the bait camp where the guide begins his bragging about how the Texas people, we were no longer a well to do couple from north Atlanta, had shown him a thing or two about catching Specs. He and I filleted the Specs in no time and iced the fillets down.

As we were leaving the guide told me, “I will call you when the conditions are right. Bring your boat down and leave it here, you don’t need me to show you how to catch fish!”