It’s been a long time since I last celebrated New Years Eve by going out to party, but I did pull myself away from TV bowl games long enough to make a few late afternoon casts for black bass in a pond across the street from my winter home in Ft. Myers. Fl. last year at this time. There wasn’t much action in that shallow pond though a small alligator followed me along one side as it normally did. As I was making my last casts on the other side while walking out of the pond, I snubbed my foot on something. Out of curiosity, I used a small pocket flashlight to see what I had bumped into — and saw the gator staring back at me!

Why it didn’t react to my bumping into it is a mystery, but it sure looked annoyed before slipping back into the water. Since then I’ve tried to leave ponds before dark.

I get lots of walking exercise while casting surface lures on light spinning tackle. My usual lure is a 5-inch Z Man paddletail worked slowly over the surface for exciting strikes. I’ve had releases of largemouths up to a roundish 23-incher so far this winter, but most are much smaller.

Small craft warnings are up until 6 p.m. for west gusts to 25 knots. Friday’s forecast is for east winds at 10-15 knots that changes at night to southeast 10-15 with gusts to 20 and rain.

The Ocean Explorer from Belmar tried deeper waters Wednesday for blackfish, but found too many dogfish. Some keeper tog were caught in shallower waters, but not enough for a good crowd.

Nick Honachefsky has announced that his new shows for Saltwater Underground on the Sportsman Channel will start Friday at 10:30 a.m. — and then every Friday at that time plus Sundays at 4:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. through March 28.

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