An early morning mist on the lake hid a group of quacking ducks. A blue heron was perched like a sentinel on a nearby sandy shore.
On an island to the north was the wreck of a ship that flew a bedraggled Jolly Roger. To our left was a towering hotel that blocked the view of a castle I had spotted from the water the day before.
A massive resort modeled after the West’s great lodges with timbers four foot across and reminiscent of the Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone towered behind us. A stream flowed from underneath the lodge and over waterfalls and under bridges to end up in a massive pool near the shore. Later in the day, not 200 feet from where we stood waiting for our boat, a geyser would begin its daily routine of eruptions.
Few things were as they appeared.
The geyser was powered by a water cannon that spewed a spray upward to a computer-determined height depending on wind speed and wind direction to make sure the drift didn’t drench some unaware tourist. The gurgling stream was a series of self-contained man-made streams, the bridges hiding the connections. The pool was heated. The shipwreck had been planned as a photo spot.
The massive castle lurking behind the contemporary-styled hotel appeared to be built of stone but actually was made of fiberglass, steel and concrete. The massive timbers of our hotel were man-made.
But among the illusions and facades of Walt Disney World, the fishing was real.
The first time I visited the park in Orlando, Fla., on July 5, 1976, around 10 a.m., I saw huge bass swimming near the ferry docks. The fish, even allowing for the magnifying effect of the water, were massive, six, seven pounders or better. I made a vow to one day fish the waters of Seven Seas Lagoon.
Thirty years later, as I waited for our boat and fishing guide, I searched the water at the Wilderness Lodge pier for bass. There were no lunkers, just the ducks that had emerged from the fog to paddle toward us squawking, begging for bread crumbs that signs said shouldn’t be tossed.
We fished at the docks of the Grand Floridian, another Disney hotel, and used live minnows and hooks without barbs because this was strictly catch and release. There were no bobbers. Just hooks, lines and plenty of fish. We were instructed to watch the line and wind in the fish when the line began to move.
My wife set her rod down and tackled her daily devotional. She was more interested in her passage than bass, but she marked her place in the Good Book and wound in the biggest fish of the day.
I’ve gone bass fishing many times and caught nothing, but catching bass was downright easy this day.
As far as a rugged, outdoor, manly experience, fishing in Sea Seven Lagoon probably ranks as a one on a 1 to 10 scale.
But with the new sun reflecting off the water, a distant castle turning orange with the first light of day, the kids and my wife in the boat, and fish on the line, the experience was simply magical.