The High Bridge area has been a popular fishing spot for all of the 40-plus years I have been plying the waters of Volusia County. It draws anglers from Flagler and Palm Coast as well as points south. The bridge itself has long been known as a great snook and trout hole.
From time to time the bite there turns on and it becomes so crowded it is difficult to find a place to cast. Many times I have gone there to launch my boat only to see all of the people fishing from the bridge in the dark of the morning and know that something is going on.
Even with all of the snook and sea trout action there the High Bridge area is still much better known for the superior red fishing that exists on the huge nearby mud flats. On an average day boat after boat will launch to hunt finger mullet and then go deep into the flats to the west.
From the second creek south of the bridge you must pass the famous crossroads that is called the "Toilet Bowl." That is a most unusual place where seven streams converge. There you will find a deep hole that is only about 40 feet square. The tide there moves swiftly since that is one of the few places that drains hundreds of acres of shallow lakes.
Almost always, there is a big eddy right at the crossroads and that eddy traps lots of flotsam. Most of it is natural materials like reeds and branches, but there is usually a few beer cans and plastic bottles swirling in the mix. That is the reason for the toilet bowl name. It is almost always a big swirling mess of trapped junk that appears headed down the sewer, but somehow never does.
Not long ago, I took my Polar up to that area to look for redfish. Those of you who read these lines regularly know that catching more reds was my new year's fishing resolution. One thing is for certain when I come to the toilet bowl, I have to stop and throw a line in. Down through the years I have caught some amazing trout and snook there. I don't expect to catch many big red drum in it, but I have often caught some of the smaller keepers.
On this day, I pulled up and tied off to a tree and began to cast my Mirro Lure. In a place that sees so much boat traffic you need to be early before the morning redfish rush begins. Sometimes being an insomniac pays off. All alone on the water as the sun came up on a cold morning, I soon switched to my jig. Right away, I began picking up small trout in the 13- and 14-inch range, and within a few minutes, I had a nice 17-inch fish.
The trout were schooled up in the 20-feet deep water, and they were hungry. As I tried to avoid the swirling junk on top, my chartreuse jig was getting a workout on the bottom. The small ones continued to bite and then I landed a 16- inch keeper.
As it usually happens, the trout soon tired of the chartreuse and the lack of hits told me to switch to the Peppermint Crunch. Both shrimp tails are the product of the new Edgewater company, Grandslam Baits. Now I was back in business and the trout were nailing my offerings once more. Pretty soon a boat came roaring through to head for the red fish flats, but saw me landing another 17-inch fish and, of course, that boat stopped and began to fish.
You may know that I am not a fan of cell phones or any other type of communication while I am fishing. The boater that stopped began calling his buddies and soon I was surrounded.
This is very close quarters for four boats, but that is how it went. As it turned out, I had the only bait that would work and with few exceptions I was the only one catching anything, and it didn't stop until I had landed 16 sea trout. Don't you love when that happens?
Anyway, I finally did share a few lures and told the other guys to get down to Granada Bait and Tackle to pick up a supply of the Dan Smith Special Edition jig tails. Even if it is a toilet bowl, you can't just throw anything in there.
Dan Smith has fished the waters of Volusia County for more than 40 years. Email questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. His book, "I Swear the Snook Drowned," is available for $10.95 at (386) 441-7793.