CHANNEL-BASS FISHING IN FLORIDA a Poem
CHANNEL-BASS FISHING IN FLORIDA
" Sdanops oscellata—called red drum on the Virginia coast; spotted bass, or spot, in South Carolina; red bass or channel bass in Georgia and Florida; redfish in New Orleans."—S. C. Clarke, in "Fishing off the East Atlantic Coast."
FAIR semic-tropic land, where gentle breezes blow
And flowers perennial in wild gardens grow;
In tins bleak northern realm I dreamful muse
Of the rose colors that thy skies suffuse.
Fain would forget that here the frosty air
Inclement sweeps o'er hills and meadows bare;
Here spear-point icicles depend from wall,
Frost pictures dim the casements of the hall;
The river mute in pulseless slumber sleeps,
A ghastly pallor o'er its surface creeps.
The crystal waterfall, that erewhile tost
Its volum'd sheet, is now enchain'd with frost;
A filmy veil is drawn across the sky,
Thick down the air the gem-like snowflakes fly;
The fields, the uplands stretch a frozen waste,
And all the summer landscape is effac'd.
But bright, O Florida, the waning year
Smiles o'er thy waters and thy cloud-lands clear;
The fowler comes thy swarming flocks to thin,
The angler comes the luring spoon to spin,
To take by sandy beach or marshy grass
The tarpum, grouper, or the channel bass.
The noble bass, with scales intensely dyed,
At bay and inlet drift in with the tide;
A roving fish, deep channels it explores,
Mudflats and oyster-beds and shelly shores;
Where slimy wreck lies buried in the deeps
It finds its chosen haunt, its harvest reaps;
A fish omnivorous, it seeks its prey
Wherever mollusks hide or mullets play;
A fish voracious, it is brave in bite,
Persistent, strong, 'tis valorous in fight;
As gamy fish the red bass has no peer,
No rival champion in-the currents clear.
Warm-weather fish, in summer's sunny time
They swarm the shores of genial southern clime;
There, off the sand-flat, anchor'd in his boat
The angler sees them fearless round him float;
Tliey circle near in heedless leap and play,
And fall to trolling-liue an easy prey.
But when the north winds smite Floridian coast,
By beach, by island vanishes their host;
In the deep holes, dark recesses of tide,
Sulking in castle, they delight to hide.
In soft May season, when the seas are warm,
Around the sandy beach they love to swarm;
The angler then thro' crested surf may press
And cast his mullet bait with sure success,—
Cast it in sloughs, inside the surf that flow,
And gain a prize with every vigorous throw.
McLellan, Isaac. Poems of the Rod and Gun. New York: Henry Thorpe, 1886.
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