by Chasten Whitfield
My journey took me to Blue Cyprus Lake on the East Coast of Florida to do some TV filming to help educate the public on this huge river and how important it is to protect our waterways. Blue Cyprus Lake is at the head of St. John’s river and runs all the way upstate to Jacksonville. From the West Coast of FL, my day began early in the morning around 3a.m. and after about 3 hours of driving, I found myself on a dirt road observing peaceful cow pastures until I came upon a small bait shop right in front of Blue Cyprus Lake – the views were amazing! The Waterman TV crew were waiting and after loading our boat it was time to launch from the boat ramp and head to our first destination. There were big Cyprus trees in the water and with so much grass around it made for a calm and relaxing cruise. We started with some soft plastic lures on the bottom while the water temperature is still cooler and the fish are shallower. As the day heats up, the fish will push out into deeper water as the shallow water heats up. We were missing a lot of fish using soft plastics, so Capt. Benny called Capt. Roy, the owner of the bait shop, who met us with his airboat. Now armed with live shad for bait, we all headed to some of his favorite spots. These spots were the type of spots that looked like they did not have any fish, but you wouldn’t have any idea there are fish there unless you have fished there before – nothing like local knowledge! With Capt. Roy’s airboat, we could get to many more locations. Once stopped, we used a 2/0 hook with 20lb leader and a live shad on the end of it. Within a few minutes, I felt my bait freaking out swimming on the top of the water as we could see the bass chasing after it. My bobber went down under and I felt my line tighten up, it was time to set the hook. It felt like a cinder block fell on my line that fish hit it so hard. While fighting the fish, my jaw dropped when the fish came out of the water and all I could see was its mouth – I had never seen a mouth that big on a bass! All I needed to do now was reel nice and slow and not fight against him. We were parked close to a little island and Capt. Roy jumped off the boat and grabbed my fish. After measuring this guy in at just over 6 pounds – this was my personal best! The point of filming this event is to bring awareness and continue to educate the public on the water quality issues the State of Florida has been experiencing and its effects on the environment. My hope is this will help me continue to be the voice of my generation for the Captains for Clean Water and doing my part to protect our environment.