We’ve lived in Florida for almost five years now and have never had an experience like this Saturday morning April 24th, 2010. I certainly hope this doesn’t turn you off from ever wanting to come fish in this state because you must realize this is a very unique occurrence that just doesn’t happen but once in a person’s life.
We certainly didn’t have to travel far because our decision to fish in the Four Mile Cove Ecological Park, some two miles from our house, was one that we’d made many times. The water here was what we call brackish, a mix of salt and fresh water. One good thing was it had a lot of different kinds of fish so you never knew what you’d catch, and I’ve caught and released plenty over the years fishing here.
After loading up our tandem kayak onto the rack I built, we headed toward the park. It took a whopping 15 minutes to get there!
Karen and I launched our kayak at a dock we could easily get to. Right away I baited up my bobber with a nice fat worm and tossed it near some bushes right near the dock. Nothing interesting there so we decided to move to the 2nd canal where we’d fished many times before.
The wind was light and at our backs so paddling was an easy task. We reached Dimple canal within a few minutes and turned into it with a light wind from our starboard side. A few minutes later Karen dropped anchor and I again baited up and tossed my bobber near a private dock.
Right away, the bobber was moving but didn’t go under. I knew it was a very small fish so I just waited a bit before reeling in. The worm was gone and no fish!
After several tries near the dock, I couldn’t hook up so I cast to our left near a large overhanging bush. It was one of those places I’d fished before and knew that if the bobber wasn’t within a few feet of the bush then the fish probably wouldn’t come out to get the worm.
It wasn’t long before we started hearing a strange noise that at first we couldn’t identify. I made several casts around the area we were anchored in only to get plenty of small bites.
That low grunting noise was still going on and sounded like a short guttural sound. I just happened to look toward that overhanging bush again only to see a very small set of eyes and the tip of a nose only to identify a very small alligator.
Immediately I told Karen so she would see it too. I cast my bobber toward its direction to some 15’ or so away and it actually started swimming to within a few feet of my bobber before stopping.
I asked Karen to get the camera ready in case it was going to show itself more. You must understand that these are wild animals and mean nobody any harm so they are more afraid of you than you could imagine.
Slowly I reeled the bobber toward the kayak and the small gator actually turned and started swimming a few feet behind it. It came about 10’ from our kayak before it would submerge and swim back toward the large bush that it had come from.
Wanting a picture of the gator I made several more casts toward the bush and again it would come out and slowly swim behind the retrieving bobber, and again it would submerge and swim back toward the bush where it was originally from.
Finally, it was about the third cast and retrieve that we got a picture of that little gator. And again it submerged and swam back toward the safety of its bush home. This may seem a little nuts to you, but alligators are more afraid of humans than you could imagine, so they aren’t going to attack you if you’re in a boat of any kind.
I hooked up another worm and cast into a corner between the gator’s bush and another dock. Again, the gator came out to check out the bobber, only this time the bobber went under and I set the hook into a fish. I only got a few turns on my reel before feeling like a car was attached.
The gator was only a few feet from my bobber and it lunged forward and latched onto the fish I had just hooked up. My reel was making that loud clicking sound it makes when line is being pulled off at a high rate of speed. The gator immediately turned toward the bush it came from and headed for safety. A few minutes later I could feel my leader break as the bobber got hung up in the overhanging limbs. This wasn’t done on purpose or to provoke the gator, it just decided that an easy meal was better than no meal this particular morning.
We paddled over to the bush, retrieved the bobber, which was still attached to the main line, then preceded to paddle to another canal where there were no gators waiting for a free meal.
I just couldn’t contain the excitement of actually hooking into a small gator that was only after the fish I had on my line. I certainly wouldn’t have fed the gator but it had decided a FREE meal was better than not eating for the day.
We decided to fish elsewhere and leave this little guy alone so we paddled to another canal and fished a few more minutes before heading back to where we had launched originally.
I’ve hooked into fish before where a larger fish actually bit into my catch before releasing it a few minutes but nothing like this had ever happened. Personally I fish a lot since we do live in Florida, but this is one fishing story I’ll never forget. Most of the time I release the majority of fish I catch, but sometimes I actually keep a few for a fish dinner.
If you’re more into Crappie fishing then I will recommend you get this book called: “The instant Crappie catching tricks”.