Fishing Lines: Paying the price for descent into Disney hell

THE AVERAGE American redneck fisherman, I have discovered, is even more dim than his British counterpart. A sweeping statement maybe, but two shining examples this week have convinced me that when it comes to downright stupidity the Yanks have us totally out-gunned.

Yes, I know that I swore never again to venture into the hell-on-earth that is Florida's Disney Belt. The state's central area is largely unspoilt and hides some undiscovered gems; the Keys, though suffering overdevelopment, still retain much charm, while the West Coast can be delightful. But Orlando? It makes Southend seem like Aspen. Dante couldn't have done better.

A few years ago, I made a foolish promise to my daughter Fleur. "Win a scholarship and you can have whatever you want," I said, never dreaming that I would be called to account. The little monster has a good brain, but a better memory. And so it came to pass that she bounced home from school and said: "I want to go round all the Florida theme parks." Bless her.

From dawn to late at night I have trudged round the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, MGM Studios, Busch Gardens, Typhoon Lagoon, Universal Studios and a few more whose names temporarily escape me. This has meant standing in queues, in temperatures as high as 90 degrees, for up to two hours. Such delights have been broken up only by eating some of the planet's most tasteless food - though this does not seem to deter the fattest people I have ever seen. They look like giant fishing floats (and wear clothes to match).

Jet lag has meant I have not been able to sleep properly at night. But that, at least, enabled me to discover one late-night oddball story that many Florida fish are dying from some obscure disease. It happens all the time, but my ears pricked up when I heard that these fish included tilapia.

What the hell is an African fish doing in Florida waters, I wondered? I did some phoning round. It turned out that tilapia is just one foreign species that is spreading through local waterways in Lake Okeechobee, a vast expanse of water so big it even shows up on world maps. Other tropical species show up from time to time.

There are conflicting views about how they got there. The common view is that the prime suspects are demented anglers wanting to add variety to their fishing. One redneck, who would have been a prime candidate for such criminal acts if he had possessed an IQ above room temperature, thought it was great for angling - never mind the danger to native species. Tilapia are now so common that you can even eat them in local restaurants.

For a short while, it seemed there might be something to lift my gloom. That was when I discovered that it is possible to go fishing within the Disney complex. For a while it was tempting. It would, after all, give me a break from theme park punishment. I was even willing to pay the fairly outrageous price of $137 (pounds 85) for two hours just to fish on my birthday. (To put it into context, the best bass guide I have met, Reno Ally, charged $200 for a five-hour session.) Yet amazingly all Disney's guides were fully booked.

Then I started thinking. Why should the fishing be any different from the rest of Disney? Was there not the distinct possibility that the boat would be shaped like a cute swan, beaver or something equally daft? Would the guide be some garishly dressed loon muttering platitudes like "great fish!" and obviously not meaning a word of it? Would my quarry be basketball-shaped bass, fattened on burgers and chips? If I caught something, would the Little Mermaid appear beside the boat and burst into "Under the Sea"?

Such ramblings will probably get me banned from Disney territory for life - with any luck. To preserve my sanity, I phoned Reno. He juggled a few customers, and is now taking me fishing on my birthday. It's a bit of a drive, but there won't be a blue genie or singing teapot in sight.

News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
News
James Argent from Towie is missing, police say
newsTV star had been reported missing
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
News
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 5 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Year 5 Primary Teaching positionRands...

C# Algo-Developer (BDD/TDD, ASP.NET, JavaScript, RX)

£45000 - £69999 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Algo-Develo...

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, Apache Mahout, Python,R,AI)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

£50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone