I found a tranquil spot in the Everglades where the oscar fish were hitting on nearly every cast. Oscars aren’t too big, but pound for pound they are great fighters, and a few in a pan makes a filling and tasty meal. There was a dock jutting out into a pond that was filled with numerous alligators, some of the biggest I’ve seen in these parts. Because I was catching so many fish, the gators really started to swarm and were trying to steal the fish off my line. They were getting pretty worked up to the point they were fighting each other over the fish. I stayed there all day fishing and filming, goofing around, and chatting with the occasional passerby. It was a thrilling day to spend so much intimate time with the gators. I witnessed a lot of intense action from these powerful, intelligent beasts, and I took home three good fish for my good Friday meal.
One neat encounter I wasn’t able to film involved a hungry heron. He kept coming around also attracted by all the fish I was catching. I knew he wanted a fish but I didn’t know how to give it to him. He didn’t trust me enough to take it out of my hand, and didn’t quite have the big crop of a pelican to catch it in. Finally I noticed he was behind me on the dry land, and I figured maybe he wanted me to toss one on the ground. I chucked one his way. Startled at first, he jumped a few feet back, but once he saw the fish flopping on the ground he pounced with no hesitation. He took quick steps forward, swayed his head while taking aim, and then boom, with a merciless and decisive thrust of his pointed beak he pierced the meaty fish all the way through with about 3 inches of his beak sticking out the other side. Then he walked off into the woods to further deal with his pride. After watching some of my videos people have commented how pretty and graceful the birds are while how ugly and scary the gators are. All day long I watched gator after gator snap at fish with fierce and deadly intent, but seeing the heron deal such a swift and deadly blow as well, I realized the two animals aren’t really that different in their intent, despite the stark contrast of their appearances. Later in the day, I too dealt three, swift, death blows to the fish I was taking home. I found a sharp edged brick and smashed their brains so that they wouldn’t suffer any more and suffocate. Killing to eat is part of Nature. Nearly all mammals do it. Pretty birds and polite humans are not above this primal instinct.
Lastly I just wanted to say, I wasn’t feeding the gators directly, but for the fish they were able to steal off my line. Nor did I have any intention to harass the gators. I really love and respect them and I enjoy coexisting with them. I felt like we just spent the afternoon fishing together and playing a game. We got our fill and had our thrills.