I had disgraced myself by casting a spoon into the rigging of one of these aquatic spacecraft and Jeff had gotten a little panic stricken as a result. He'd snuck aboard, freed the lure then swiftly bundled me into his truck and shot off home before we were spotted, and he was recognised. Once home, panting deeply, street-cred barely intact, he switched on the US regulation monster-sized TV set and surfed till he hit what he was looking for. "Okay. American fishing program. Enjoy". Then he did a quick exit to seek out some beers from the fridge in the kitchen.

On screen, two gangly, awkward looking young chaps in Formula-One racing overalls were chatting to a slick presenter. They were swinging their helmets, looking all around and being as inarticulate as only teenagers can be; their speech full of "y'know" and "like". Y'know what I mean? Like, y'know. I wonder how much hot air is wasted every day in the USA? But, like, really. Y'know what I'm saying? (No, I don't actually, for half the time anyway).This dialogue was overlaid with shots of speedboats bouncing across the water at 100mph so I guess it wasn't Formula One, it was speedboat racing. Anyway there I was, half-watching this rubbish, waiting for the fishing programme to start when it hits me… This IS the fishing show! The guys with the helmets are also holding lure-rods and What!! I started to pay closer attention to what they are saying The winner in his badge-covered bright blue racing overalls had caught a 2lb bass which put him in the lead, and as the winner, he was being presented with a cheque of $55,000 ! What! My bottom jaw hit the carpet.

Jeff comes back, pops my jaw back into place, hands me a beer and explains that this is how fishing is now being marketed in the States. Mega-money prizes to the winner. The performance judged equally between the "angler's" boat-handling skills and the weight of fish he catches, or some such nonsense. Oh my dear - Dick Walker would turn in his grave. This has nothing to do with angling as he knew it. But, as always, there is more to this than meets the eye. Jeff explains that this 'new' fishing is attracting kids into the sport who would otherwise not be there. That behind the razzmatazz there are serious skills needed to win. That last year's winner took his boat into an area of the lake that was blocked off by fallen logs to reach feeding fish. Other participants had ignored that area but this guy actually sunk his boat, pushed it under the logs, re-floated the boat, caught all the fish and won the match. Or race. Or whatever it is. It certainly is not angling. At least, not as we know it. It is however, the way the American bass fishing 'industry' is heading.

Bass are, to many anglers here, the be-all and end-all of the American freshwater fishing scene - apart from fly-fishing for trout and salmon of course. In the northern United States you will find the anglers out hunting both large and small-mouth bass, in these warmer waters of Florida it's normally just the large-mouth variety that are the quarry. They are blacker in appearance than the small-mouthed ones up north, and can grow to double the size. And guess what? Yes. They have larger mouths.

Bass can be remarkably easy to catch. They'll take worms, livebaits, crayfish, artificial lures and just about anything that you care to throw at them - hardly any skill is needed at all. Or so I always believed. Which is why, when Jeff took me out bassing in his boat, he was eleven fish up on me before I even knew what a bass-bite was. Yes. Eleven. These fish can be savage takers when they hit a lure but, as I found out, just waiting for one to smash the rod around can turn into a very long wait indeed. I soon realised that I was missing one take after another, though that knowledge in itself was not enough to convert takes into fish. I had to suffer - and I can be a slow learner, believe me. I think we ended the session with Jeff taking about 24 fish and I had 6 or 8. Not very equal results, so I will admit that I revised my initial preconceptions about bass. Mutter mutter. Oh, all right! I said, something about, 'superior angling skills will result in more fish caught'.

Delicate bites were the order of the day. With all our sub-surface fishing the bites had to be 'sensed' as much as seen or felt. Fishing on the surface was the reverse. The water would explode as we dragged a floating lizard across the top - hard to miss those bites. Even Maggi took a fish off the surface and she really wasn't trying at all. She spent the whole trip looking out for alligators and was seriously concerned when our outboard started playing up. You can see alligators everywhere when fishing in southern Florida. Which is good, because I always feel that it's when you can't see them is when there is likely to be a problem. Like, treading on one for instance!

Okay. This was to be a serious crack at lure-fishing for bass and I was out with an expert. So. We used Jeff's lures. This huge selection of soft floppy latex rubber designs seem to be more at home in a children's toy box (or adult's toy shop, come to that, nudge nudge) than in a fishing tackle box. Each design is kept in it's own plastic zip-loc bag and is well oiled, leaving your skin coated with a film of oil when you handle them. The industry, I was told, has at last come clean about the oiling of these lures. The oiled coating is not to make them more enticing to fish, as was originally claimed by many, it's simply so they slide through the weeds a lot easier, common sense when you realise you'll often be fishing in an underwater jungle. The hooks seem to be all out of proportion to the fish we were chasing. Some of these hooks are three or more inches long, cranked and centred. The rubber lure is mounted on them in such a way that there is absolutely no chance that the point hook can penetrate and snag up onto anything. Unless the rod is struck of course. This is achieved full-on Geoff Capes style, heaving the rod-tip up and back; again, a strike completely out of proportion to the size of the fish but the only way possible to set the hook, first through all that rubber and then into the bass's mouth. Just hope you don't get a take from a 6 ounce fish ten foot from the boat, the resulting strike can send a tiddler airborne! We had one or two like that.

That's the thing about bassing, you never know if the next take is from a 6 ouncer or a six pounder. Only a week previously, Jeff had taken an eight pounder and someone else had picked up a huge eleven pounder! And of course it's not always a bass that grabs the lure, just about everything that swims in Florida is also likely to strike at your offering. On one of my casts I had a take from a fish that seemed slightly different from a bass take. The fight was certainly different. Upon bringing the fish to the boat, Jeff declared it to be a 'mudfish' which had rolled itself a cocoon from my last couple of feet of line. Jeff wasn't too complimentary about it either, this is obviously considered to be a pest-fish. He told me that it was not uncommon for twenty-pound mudfish to seize a lure intended for bass. Well, I for one wouldn't have minded if that had happened but it didn't. And I was robbed of my chance of a photo of this 'new' species when it slithered out of our hands and back into the water as I was preparing the camera.

Jeff was using a typically American, short, bait-casting rod whilst I stuck to my 11ft Specialist and light Shimano 2500 baitrunner reel, both now getting on for 20 years old. Americans have a mistrust bordering on fear of using long fishing rods. (Which I reckon is a penis-envy thing - just say so out loud whenever you want to start a fight in a bar). They consider them less sensitive than a short rod and they may have a point. But I don't think so. I think they use short rods because that's what the salesmen sold them - for the same reason they use right-hand-wind baitcaster reels - they seem to cope quite well with them though, don't they? God knows how, it's a total nonsense as a logical choice of tackle - and for the country which we all accept has both the highest standards and "the most demanding public in the world", it's amazing to me how the US anglers have allowed the industry to dictate to them what tackle to use. (Pause for flaming emails!)

As the evening crept around Jeff suggested we start fishing with surface lures. Here, I am sure, the longer rod gave me an advantage. By keeping the rod tip high, it allowed me to keep all my line off the water even at fairly long range. Just the lure was visible to the bass, instead of the lure and an unnatural 5ft length of tight line preceding it through the water. In the hands of a bass expert, when fishing top-water lures, I'm sure a long rod would soon prove itself. In my hands it stood no chance of impressing anyone of course. Give me six months practice. (Please!)

It was a tough day afloat. We had spoken to a few other anglers who were leaving when we arrived for our afternoon session and all had either blanked or had a very poor day of it. In retrospect we seem to have had a fairly productive day, Jeff assured me this was in part due to the breeze which picked up an hour after we started fishing. I seem to remember the breeze also played a big part when fishing for small-mouth bass last year on Lake Erie, a little wind seems to turn them on. Unlike my wife, who hit me. I blamed the burritos we'd had for lunch.

There is little doubt that any angler from the UK visiting here will be able to avoid largemouth bass fishing. It really is all-pervading. And very, very good fun, as long as you keep the speedboats out of the equation. If you find yourself in Florida and you can see even a pond from your motel room, nip over there with a lure rod. You are bound to find some fun. There is, I am told, a law in Florida which enforces the stocking of bass in all waters, natural or man-made, so they can eat the insect life. Something to do with keeping the mozzie population down. Shame they don't do the same with teenagers! Y'know what I'm sayin'?