By Capt. Ralph Allen
There are a bunch of fishing options available to Southwest Florida anglers. This region’s coastal waters are home to such a great mix of fish — snook, redfish, tarpon, grouper, sharks, kingfish and a bunch of others — that anglers travel great distances to experience the thrill of chasing them on Charlotte Harbor and the adjacent Gulf of Mexico. Because the saltwater fishing is so good, freshwater fishing in our region tends to receive less attention, though there is a well-known Florida bass fishery focused on the large lakes in the center of the state. Less well-known is the fact that there is an amazing freshwater fishery in local waters which is pursued by comparatively few anglers.
Florida’s flat terrain and lengthy rainy season combine to create a plethora of freshwater ponds, swamps and creeks. Human activities result in the creation of many more when miles of freshwater canals and drainage ditches are dug, when hundreds of golf course and subdivision ponds are created, and when thousands of roadside and parking lot retention ponds are mandated. When a pond or ditch fills with fresh water, it isn’t long before aquatic plants and insects take up residence. Through mysterious methods that humans have not yet deciphered, within months or at most a very few years there will be fish living there too. Eventually even the smallest and least impressive of these dabs of water can hold fish that are big enough to interest anglers.
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