The Ritz-Carlton, Grande Lakes is no doubt a posh resort, but did you know it is surrounded by 500 acres of natural beauty and plenty of adventurous ways to soak it all in?
I’m talking alligators, otters and 120 species of birds. In other words, the perfect setting for the perfect catch. Or, so I hoped. First things first though. I met Carlos, the 38-year-old ecology and fly-fishing extraordinaire, at the golf clubhouse. (Keep in mind: This is the launching point for the fishing classes, not the front desk of the Ritz, as I had assumed.)
Next, I slathered on gobs of sunscreen and hopped into the golf cart. My adventure had begun. We started with some on-land practice for about an hour so I could learn the proper casting technique. It took me a while to get the timing right, but once we took off in the Hyde Drift Boat, there it was, the aha! moment I’d been waiting for. It all came together.
Carlos selected a BoogleBug lure — a popper hook dressed with a wad of tinsel — and within five minutes I felt a tug. I certainly didn’t expect this, and the fish (apparently a bluegill) discovered the floater was not a bug quicker than I could pull my rod up. No matter though, I was pretty thrilled with the near catch alone. Out on the water, even failure seems amusing. Next time, I’d be ready. Fifteen minutes later, another tug! Holy schnikes! Sadly, it was another fruitless retrieve. This one was a crappie. Bye bye little guy. (Note to self: If I’m gonna chitchat, better pay attention at the same time.)
We trolled around a bit. I casted the lure out. Brought it back in. Casted it out again. Sand cranes were in the distance and the tiniest bit of a breeze was wafting by. This is quintessentially Old Florida at it’s best. And it’s just one more nature-rich activity to add to my long list of hobbies.
“Man, I so want to catch something,” I muttered. “
It’s not called catching,” Carlos, the patient instructor, reminded me. “It’s called fishing.”
Apparently, I thought, this required more than a speck of patience. In the final moments of my lesson, another tug! But this one was much more powerful. I was totally caught off guard and yet again missed my chance for a look I caught a fish photo. However, I did catch a good glimpse. It was a largemouth bass that got away. Now, I know what your’e thinking: Sure, Sarah. Sure it was. Well, you’ll have to trust me on that one.
With all that said, I can clearly see how fishing fever can truly turn into a lifelong addiction. There’s something primordial about it. Fly-fishing is an ancient sport, with roots tracing back to the 2nd century, after all. Simply put; I’m hooked. (Too bad the fish weren’t!)
Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes
4012 Central Florida Parkway
Orlando, Florida 32837