Sleepy Hollow on the northern edge of New Smyrna Beach, and just off U.S. 1, is one of my favorite places to kayak.
In fact, it was the very first place I went to try out my new Green Peanut for fishing. Quiet waters with seldom an outboard present, it makes for easy paddling.
On this great spring morning, the conditions were right for a good time. After days of wind, it had finally calmed and the tide was low but coming in. The blood-sucking insects were not yet at their full strength and as I slid the Peanut into the clear water, I smiled as I saw fish moving just across the way.
Anytime I am out early and find the water that smooth, I go to a top water lure. I tied on a kind of junior Mirro Lure the good folks at that company had sent me to try. It was still my favorite red and white, but smaller with two treble hooks instead of the usual three. Almost immediately I had a bump, but I believe it was a small fish and the hit was only half-hearted.
Moving deeper into the mangroves, I came upon a little bay that was definitely holding fish. In the dim light of morning, I could see that some pretty nice reds were pushing water in the area although I couldn't tell if they were feeding.
As I began casting to them, a fat spotted sea trout jumped out right near my kayak. The fish was in the four- to five-pound range and so close I could have swatted it with my paddle. That started me to thinking that possibly the fish pushing water were all trout, but that idea was soon dispelled.
A 20-inch red gulped the lure and shot off, but as soon as it made a turn the bait floated back to the surface.
Having spooked that place up a bit, I paddled deeper into the bush and found nothing there. It was nice and quiet, and I sat there for a while to enjoy that part of it. To the west I could hear the drone of the passing cars and to the east I could see the top of the lighthouse. Not a bad place to be, I thought.
Moving back north, I got myself into a pretty swift tidal flow as the water steadily rose. Just off the edge of the current I began to get some pecks on the Light Beer jig I was now throwing. Then I had a hard hit and a nice sized ladyfish came spiraling out of the water. Pulling hard, on the second jump it did a nice tail walk -- pretty good fun.
I landed it and released it as gently as possible and then caught two more of the silver acrobats.
You can't beat the action of a school of ladies, so I stayed until they were finished playing. By then the sun was full up and I had nothing to keep. Staying with the strong current, I located a couple bluefish that had a good time devouring my soft baits until I tired of that. A little ways farther and the tide made a nice eddy just off the point of a little island where I began to catch small trout. They all seemed to be from the same hatch and were only about 12 inches in length, but I entertained myself nicely there for a while.
As I rode the tide back to the car, I threw lures toward the shoreline and a good red drum took the Mirro Lure with the same results as the earlier one. After a short fight the plug lay dead in the water. It is always a mystery to me how a fish can avoid those sharp hooks when I can't help but prick my thumb or catch my sleeve.
Oh well, a fun morning none-the-less. If you like to kayak or canoe, look up Sleepy Hollow Park just south of the three bridges. Miles of narrow channels will take you into some pretty cool places. Although I didn't take home any fish, I will look forward to my next trip 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.