Growing up with Florida Hurricanes
One of the best things about being a kid and growing up here on the Central East Coast of Florida was Hurricanes. Wait a minute what did I say? Hurricanes could be a best thing?!?! Yes I did! I couldn’t wait for them! We would get hurricane days much like snow days up North but what it really meant was everywhere that we were normally not allowed to fish was now fair game. Their wouldn’t be anyone to tell us we couldn’t because they now had more important things to worry about than some dumb kids trying to catch a fish. Space Center, closed areas of the wild life refuge, power plants, marinas, military bases, golf courses, parks, private community ponds were now all fair game. Sometimes we would go to these restricted areas by car then walk in, sometimes by bicycle and sometimes by boat.
It was always humorous to only ever see my rag tag group of friends vehicles at the public boat ramps on hurricane days.
I’m sure we were called idiots by anyone that passed by and they were correct to say so. Wind and sideways rain would beat on us as we would make way to our destination. The combination of being scared but knowing the awesomeness of the fishing we were about to partake in was exhilarating. The level of dangerous adventure these hurricanes provided was intoxicating and I’m sure as a adult that irresponsible adventure will never be obtained again. Most of the time we targeted giant red drum and we would play games and bring the biggest heaviest rods we owned to see who could catch them the quickest or we would fish with small crappie fishing set ups to see if we could land them.
Memories of these trips flood my brain and it makes it difficult to pick a single adventure to tell about. I am going to go with a storm fishing adventure with one of my best buds Carl Smith. Storm was coming the next morning so we decided to ride our bikes to do a late night fishing adventure at the power plant. We would always fish a small outtake pipe that would shoot out shrimp and crabs that would get caught up in the intake side. We would get free bait and have a blast catching 4 to 10lb sail cats on light tackle. Sail cats and hard heads were about all we would catch here during the warmer months because the discharge water that would cool the power plant would make the water way too hot for any other species but we would have a blast every time we could sneak into that spot.
We had fun catching sail cats for awhile but as the night went on and the wind started whipping harder we got a little braver. We decided to cross the peninsula and fish the cat walk of the intake side. This was like fishing the scene of Star Wars where Vader and Luke fight on the cat walk. It is pitch black, wind is cranking and you have minimum lighting from the power plant. The back drop is industrial with steam bellowing from smoke stacks, clanging of machinery combined with the sound of the wind whipping through all that steel. Me and Carl are standing on the cat walk exposed to the elements and getting caught. Carl hooks up first and lands a decent black drum and then I was hooked up with one. We proceeded to catch black drum 5 to 20 pounds at a steady pace. We frequently had to run back to the discharge pipe to load back up with bait adding more exhilaration to the night. We caught too many black drum to count, a few small reds and trout. The thrill of screaming drags, storm force winds and rain, being scared, excited & happy all at the same time. The smell the sounds all combined with the eeriness of a empty power plant makes it a fishing trip I will always remember but can never replicate.
As I write this it is 12:30 a.m. and we have hurricane Irma coming at us forecasted to hit about 48 hours from now.
If it was 25 years ago I know I would be on some insane fishing adventure with Carl or one of my other lifelong friends. However I am now a responsible adult sitting safe at home with my windows boarded up and kitchen stocked with hurricane supplies. My beautiful wife and kids by my side and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I feel that this hurricane will be very bad for a lot of people. Maybe not for us here in Brevard County but many people have already been and will continue to be affected by this storm. I will be taken back to memories of old when I hear that wind start to whip but my heart and prayers will be with all those impacted.
Going out in a hurricane is a terrible idea and we always made it home before we got the major part of the storm. I do not suggest for anyone to risk their life to fish a hurricane. This was being young and dumb. You shouldn’t be places you are not allowed to be. You should not be out in a approaching storm. However I can’t help but get a grin upon my face because I know right now there is a kid just like me fishing somewhere he shouldn’t be and he is reeling them in just as fast as he can and yes he is a idiot.
To my sons Logan & Liam. If this story ever see’s the light of day. It will not get you out of trouble if I find out you are fishing where you shouldn’t or being a fool like your dad out in dangerous weather. Do as I say not as I do!