After work, we went down to Beach Road, a piece of sand covered riverbank that abuts to The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in Central Florida. The Red Drum, a favorite fish that fights like a bull and is good eating, were beginning their annual run through this bit of water, and we wanted to be sure we were there to get the first ones of the run. The Mullet Run was underway, another sure sign the Red’s would be there for easy pickings. The Indian River Lagoon is famous for Reds, and we only have this opportunity for a limited amount of time each year. The shore packs up pretty fast, so time is of the essence to get a spot. The mullet were near shore, and a couple tosses of the cast net brought Johnny back in loaded with bait. We were ready to fish.
The weather had been rainy. For two weeks. It seemed like the sun had moved to another place on the planet. The mosquitoes were worse than normal because of all the rain, and the no-see-um’s were relentless. A break in the rain offered glass waters, and it seemed like things were finally going to turn around as far as the weather was concerned. Finally. We threw a couple of rods out with 3.0 circle hooks, and 1/2 oz. lead weights that our friends Larry and Damon make. The 20 lb braid we rig the rods with ensure we won’t have a problem bringing the fish in. After the rods were secured in the rod holders, we relaxed. And waited. There was a group of guys fishing about 100 yards to the east. Larry and Damon had opted not to come down, so it was just Johnny and me.
All of a sudden, the wind stopped. The clouds had been low all day, and Johnny noticed it first. A funnel cloud was forming. Right where we were. I starting listening for “The train” everyone talks about when a tornado rolls through, but the wind was at a standstill. And it kept forming. Not lightening fast, but quick and steady. Still no wind and no “train.” We were right next to the truck, and I figured if things got bad, we could get in. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. It was quiet. Not a breath of wind. But it got cooler. Like ten degrees. All at once. The guys to the east were wading to cast their rods, and watched from the water. They were all yelling for the other ones to look, but they stayed out there.It was in front of them. Right there………………… It kept getting longer and longer, and the end of it was like a point, trying to reach the water. Then, just as quick as it started, it dissolved. Like when wind blows the clouds around. And it was gone.
It was as though nothing happened. There was no indication that anything spectacular had just happened. The low dark clouds were the only clue that the weather was different .Bizare. I coudn’t believe that minutes ago, it was right there. Right THERE!!!
Just as my nerves settled down, it happened again. AGAIN. There, not far from where it formed earlier, it was trying again. It was different though. This time there were two. TWO. Right next to each other, and both trying to improve their position and focus.
It only lasted a couple of minutes, and never was able to form. The wind blew them right back into the cloud, and that was the end of the funnels. I’m glad we got to witness it, but I’m good now. I don’t need to see it again.