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A Path Less Traveled

If you would question any fisherman about what comes to mind when asked about South Florida, the majority would say something about Fly Fishing for Tarpon in the Florida Keys, or offshore trolling in the Sailfish Capital of the World of Stuart, and even the annual Shark Run that is broadcasted on the news media throughout the world .. The Indian River Lagoon was second to none for generations. The IRL was regarded as one of the best havens for Redfish, Trout and Snook before begin stricken with the water issues of today., but with little knowledge and a lot of patience it can still be amazing to this day.
But, there is an overlooked fishery that is very productive, where you have easy access, one which can be fun and affordable for the entire family. The Man Made Lakes, Ponds and Canal System of South Florida.
I can tell you from personal experience that the average fisherman can have memorable outings often without having to leave your home town, or sometimes even your own neighborhood. There are miles upon miles of these Freshwater / Brackish ponds, lakes, and canals that hold a wide variety of species and are home to some that would be very surprising to the casual angler. I recently fished a very nice canal with easy public access and manicured lawns and ample parking. After just a few hours of Fly Fishing it produced over a dozen fish, including a slot Snook and several Largemouth Bass in the 3 pound class.. This spot was only a few minutes from my home, and every time I’ve been there I had the entire area to myself. That’s something very rare in today’s South Florida !
The fishery can also accommodate any angler regardless of their preferred method of fishing. Whether you fish from a new modern skiff, a kayak or paddleboard, or just walking along the bank. There is Lake Ida in Del Ray Beach, this 190 acre Freshwater / Brackish Lake is one of the largest in South Florida. Lake Ida has all the modern conveniences, several well designed boat launches, and plenty of quality fishing to keep any angler occupied . The Canal System of Palm Beach County has been a very popular destination for anglers, and rightfully so. The PBC Canal System can also a be fished from boat or kayak. The elevation in many places makes bank fishing tough, but one can still find many places to sit and relax while enjoying your day afield. St. Lucie County has countless canals, lakes and filtration ponds that are easily accessible, many that are regularly maintained and provide easy access parking. There are many websites that provide information on each counties water systems, most fall under the jurisdiction of Florida Wildlife and Conservation ..
This fishery has also seen an explosion in numbers of invasive species that thrive in this environment. There are numerous species that are very sought after by many of today’s anglers. The days of having to travel to exotic places to catch the Peacock Bass, the Clown Knifefish or the Mayan Cichlid have come to an end. The majority of residents in South Florida now have these species a short drive away, with most places having access right in their backyards. Tilapia, The Oscar, Pacu, The Bullseye Snakehead, and a wide variety of Nonnative Catfish now are common when fishing these waters. I cannot and will not justify how and why these exotic species came to the waters of South Florida. But, I can say that more than likely they’re here to stay., and what their impact on the local environment has not really been studied or confirmed. I will allow judgement to be passed by those with more knowledge and information. But, I can say this. If you enjoy fishing, whether you’re a seasoned angler looking for something different or need a place to fish when mother nature makes fishing offshore or on the Lagoon impossible, or you’re just someone that wants to spend some time on the water and relax, these locations are ready and waiting. Just get out there and explore ..

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