Florida’s Freak-Show Fishing Slam

If you’re a believer in urban legends, you may have already heard the one about how Hurricane Andrew’s widespread destruction in southern Florida in 1992 resulted in the invasion of Burmese pythons, iguanas, and a rogue’s gallery of other voracious reptiles and fish.

Whether that’s fact, fiction, or something in between, what is undeniable is that a population of non-native fish species boomed, and has morphed from incidentally caught oddities into targeted trophies—at least among a slightly offbeat crowd.

Although peacock bass were intentionally stocked by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, it’s unclear if the snakeheads, clown knifefish, and Mayan cichlids were merely flushed down someone’s toilet and flourished in Florida’s tropical waters, or if they arrived on the crest of hurricane-altered ocean currents, but they’re darn challenging—and a blast—to catch.  Click on the following paragraph to access the full story.

The promise of scoring on a Florida Freak Show Slam is precisely why Sean Reilly and I hopped a flight from New Jersey to meet up with New York transplant “Crazy Alberto” Knie. I couldn’t get away from other work duties for long, and Knie was the only guy I could think of with enough stamina to hit the canal systems for 32 hours straight. Knie, as it turns out, had been dialing in the outcast lineup of fish for years.

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