The sub-tropical environment of South Florida enables many different exotic fish species to survive in the many scattered creeks, canals and lakes. Occasionally, I enjoy the adventure of finding remote areas and trekking out away from the crowded saltwater flats in favor of areas that are better known for their world class trophy largemouth bass fishing. I have heard rumors of a group of small ponds or “borrow pits” deep in the Everglades hold peacock bass, Mayan cichlids, Oscars and snakeheads that are uncommon to the United States. And when you are seeking adventure, nothing beats fishing from the dynamic kayak.
Fishing buddy and fellow Hobie Fishing Team member, Jim VanPelt, and I checked out one of these areas a short time ago. We committed ourselves to exploring these back waters hiking there on foot and found success catching largemouth bass, peacock bass and Mayan cichlids. We talked about dragging the kayaks out there, but it sounded like a daunting task with muddy, swampy ground and the long walking distance away from our vehicle.
Well, after much planning, we decided to try it. Jim and I, along with fishing buddy Joe Jones, trailered our Hobies into the swamp for what proved to be an epic adventure. Jim brought an Outback, Joe a Revo 13 and I brought my Pro Angler 12. Each brought carts hoping they would be effective in the Everglades sawgrass. After travelling as far as we could go by vehicle, we untrailered, loaded our gear and began the long trek. Now, I am not saying we had to cover miles of ground, but it was an effort dragging the kayaks along muddy trails and over the wet Everglades landscape.
Eventually, the hard work paid off and we arrived at the first lake. The water was crystal clear and a deep rock face surrounds the shore. We launched and within seconds scored the first peacock bass. We peddled our Hobies around the lake with mixed results. Joe, using a spinnerbait, and wasn’t having much luck. Jim caught a couple of peacocks on a Rapala minnow lure. I trolled an Unfair Lures Stickminno and caught largemouth bass and a big mayan cichlid. We spent most of the morning exploring the lake; eventually we ended up switching to live shiners.
It was late morning and the temperature had climbed quite high. The bite had slowed down but the switch to shiners seemed to do the trick. Immediately the fish reacted and we began to catch larger fish. Joe scored his first peacock bass ever, and then followed with a bigger one. Jim took a nap while I caught more peacocks, mayans and even a big Oscar. I had completed an exotic slam! All too soon, however, it was time to go.
We loaded up our gear and began our journey out of the swamp. The gear seemed much heavier and the distance twice as far, but eventually we reached the vehicle. On the long drive back to civilization we looked at pictures and talked about our adventure. Sometimes the planning and hard work is a gamble, and sometimes it pays off, but it’s always worth it!