Recently I made the drive to DeLand to spend a little time with Mike and Kathleen Arthur, who run The Fisher-Man tackle shop.
This business is a bit hard to find, but well worth the effort. In the DeLand Airport business complex at 813 Flightline Blvd. No. 6, you will know when you are close when you see the big PT boat that is being restored nearby. I arrived on Saturday for the 10 a.m. opening. The Fisher-Man has no natural bait, so a dawn opening is not imperative. As soon as Mike opened the door the place quickly filled.
Although the store is well stocked with rods, reels and lures, it was quickly apparent the buying, selling and trading of tackle is where the Arthur's have found their niche. One fellow brought in a bucket of reels in varying state of disrepair and left with a few of the new Lews bait caster reels. According to Mike, the Lews reels are the hot item at the store. The Fisher-Man has both fresh and saltwater tackle and the prices seemed very reasonable. Major brands like DOA, Heddon, Gamble and Yamamoto are there, but so are some of the more obscure makes. The shelves also sport a complete line of speckled perch jigs along with rods and reels to suit the novice or the old pro. Mike and his son also do a brisk business repairing rods and reels in the rear of the store.
As I said, the most interesting thing about the place is the chance for anglers to trade in some of the old tackle that we all keep for no known purpose. Mike says bring in anything that you have from your old anchor to a 4/0 Penn Senator and they will deal. Theirs is mostly an afternoon business, opening at noon on weekdays. You would be wise to call before showing up at (386) 624-6920.
While I was in West Volusia, I decided to stop by Tedder's Fish Camp in DeLeon Springs.
On a slow winters day, I found L.H. Deason holding down the fort as he has for the past 40 years. Although I had not been there in some time, I have traded with L. H. for the past 35 years or so. It was nice to see him and, after we talked about the fishing, we spent some time complaining about the state of the modern world we live in.
Tedder's Fish Camp has always been the kind of place where you can climb up on your soapbox and find a willing ear. It is certainly a no-frills type of place with bare board walls that are filled with dusty old mounts of prodigious largemouth bass and fat speckled perch. As I sat there, it occurred to me the word "rustic" may have been invented just to describe a place like Tedder's. This is old time Florida, sitting beneath huge moss draped oaks on the banks of the slow moving run that is formed by Ponce DeLeon Springs. As we talked, L.H. was interrupted a couple times to sell worms and minnows to local fishermen. This is not a place readily available to tourists. Not visible from any highway, someone has to tell you about it. If you go to the entrance of the Ponce DeLeon State Park and turn west instead of entering the park, you will be on the right road. Over the years, I have made that drive over a hundred times. Once back in the 1980's, I guided my cousin to a largemouth that weighed over 10 pounds. As I write this, I am looking at that fish where it occupies a place of honor in my Florida room. My family has happily dined on thousands of specks and shell crackers that I trolled up from Lake Woodruff. The lake has suffered some from the invasive hydrilla in recent years, but you can bet there is still plenty of speckled perch there. For those of you locked in to salt water fishing, give the spring run and the lake a try. You won't be sorry. To find out what is hitting, give L. H. a call at (386) 985-2989.
I hope you all made it out to the Plaza in Daytona Beach for the antique tackle show. That was an amazing display of lures with more than 300 tables filled. If you missed it, pencil in the date for next year. Every angler will find something of interest there. Till next time -- let's get fishing!
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.