Lake Berry 1958
Lake Berry 1958
In some ways it must have looked similar thousands of years ago, this unspoiled aquatic paradise.The depths teamed with ravenous large mouth bass and the shores were alive with wildlife and foliage of every description.
Nestled serenely in Winter Park, Florida.,this ancient dark pool was majestic,mysterious and alluring.To first glide across its mirrored surface in 1958 was a real adventure.There were no houses on its shore and no boat ramp. WE had to ease our boat down an embankment to gain access.The treasures in her depths were abundant and the visual treats along her jungled banks were a sight to see.
In the shadows of early morning or when the tide of darkness swept in, Lake Berry would take on a forboding look.The imagination of a 13 year old boy could conjur up visions of some ancient creature rising from its pitch black waters to devour some hapless fisherman plying its pristine shore.
In reality, large reptillian creatures with mouths full of teeth would slide off her banks and glide like silent subs benneath our fragile craft. Huge Cypress trees stood like weathered sentinels and the flora was alive with strange and wonderful birds of every color. One strange winged creature could be seen high in the Cypress. They had long necks that looked like snakes and would extend their wings, drying them in the sun,or in an instant fold them close to their body becoming sleek and compact and then dive to the water below toward an unknowing victim--the impact upon the water made a slight hiss sound and tiny ripples quickly disbursed, life and death playing out on the watery stage.Some birds walked the thin algae on the waters surface as if they were dancing on a wooden floor.
Old fallen trees rose from the murky abyss like skeletons of the past, weathered and gray, like trophys of defiance refusing to decay.
I learned to paddle our old flat bottomed boat and to quietly cut the surface with my paddle, a silent surgeon leaving only small whirlpools in our wake.
You could cast your line and the bait would barely settle below the surface before being devoured by a hungry bass. The drags on the closed faced reels would whine as the fish would make their furious charge often culminating in a rocket leap skyward, their heads shaking from side to side in an angry frantic attempt to break free.THe light weight rods would bend double and sometimes the line would break, it's separation like a rifles shot splitting the air.Ocassionally my dad would take out his fly-rod and launch an artifical bug 40 feet back toward a small pocket of water in the brush, the fly landing gently as a real bug might. He would twitch the rod tip slightly giving life to the bait and suddenly the water boiled and exploded and the fight was on!
Lake Berry by day was an inspiring liquid delight but it was the night when the giant large mouth fed,those huge moss backed monsters of the deep that hold honoured places in fishing lore, those storied old lunkers knew every crag and stump--they were 10 14 pounds of fighting fury in the summer of 58.
Many fish were caught some were lost but it didn't take long to realize that this bounty would not last foreever so we began to release them to fight another day.
We fished Lake Berry up untill the early 60's and I remember seeing the dark long winged U2 surveillance aircraft fly over the lake, back from some secret mission. Central Florida and the world were changing at a rapid pace. Jungled pristine shores have been replaced by manicured yards occupied by wood and masonry and glass, on the lakes of my childhood. Fertilizers and chemicals mix with the waters, once deep aquatic holes rise toward the sky on ladders of silt and population and progress premature the aging process.
The ten pounders of my memories are much harder to find,and the pristine Lake Berrys of the world may only be read about--I'm glad I have mine to remember. Eric