Where the flats meet the forest, sits the wild outpost of the back country. It remains untouched by the plague of progress. Its magnificent beauty is amplified within the deepest reaches. The wildest fish live in seclusion, inhabiting secret coves and hidden creeks.
Mangroves spill over the edges of misshapen islands. Oyster bars well-up from the depths of coves, blossoming at the surface. Herons and egrets work slowly, keeping long hours. Pelicans work furiously in short windows and then they rest. Ibis eagerly dig through shoreline substrate for goodies.
Under the surface, mullet rule the back country by majority. They are everywhere. Dozens of snooklets curiously crowd around a single mangrove branch despite miles of other options. Wise old snook stay tethered to the corner of their favorite island. Grass beds and oyster bars are subjected to rigorous daily inspections by redfish and seatrout.
The back country is rugged perfection in motion. It is God’s country. When night arrives, calm settles over the back country. Winds relent and birds take to their roosts. Schools of bait settle safely behind islands, thankful for a reprieve from constant danger. Sly snook lay motionless near the bottom. The back country rests until morning.
The night’s peaceful reign is ended by a dim glow emerging from the east. Rays of light begin to beam from the horizon. They spread west through darkness, nudging the back country out of slumber. Silhouettes of mangrove islands materialize out of darkness. Stars in the night sky are erased by the new day.
Swirls and boils begin to mar the water’s surface. A surging wake sends baitfish spraying into the air. Muffled cracks, disguised as phantom gun shots, are in fact mullet crashing down in a distant cove. Squawks from grumpy herons announce the sunrise. Light floods into the back country – colors emerge.
Nervous brown pelicans, still in their roost, chatter about the last place they found bait and fret over the dreaded arrival of ‘those pesky white pelicans’. A group of ibis streak across the sky. Their wings whisper as they pass. The egrets and herons take their places in the shallows and a wise old snook prepares to pillage a school of mullet. The back country is awake once more.