Dang it, the flounder so far have been a real disappointment. I had one good day and that has been it.
As a follow up to my recent column about bluefish, readers Phyllis and Ed DaSilva of Ormond Beach sent along a photo of a 32-inch bluefish they caught in Strickland Creek. Now that is a big blue for these parts, but the surprising part of that story is where it was caught.
As one who has fished that creek hard for more than 40 years, I can remember catching only one or two bluefish there and they were both small.
A 32-inch bluefish that far from the ocean is a rare catch indeed. I have had a couple big catches myself lately. Before dawn, on the dock at the end of my street, I hooked a manatee. The line broke pretty quickly since I was using 10-pound test on a 1,000-pound animal.
A few days later, I was wading at Tomoka State Park and I hooked another big manatee right in Gary's Inlet. This time the sea cow began to swim parallel to the bank and did give me a line stretch. Now hold on before you begin to write that letter of protest, I hooked both by accident. Believe me I had no intention of trying to catch a manatee with my little trout rod.
Funny thing about that is in all my years fishing locally I can only remember hooking one other. Now I hook two in one week. Strange.
My little jig hook would only represent a mosquito bite to that big old blubbery manatee and I'm sure the critters were not seriously hurt.
On a recent morning, I had a nice trip to Tomoka Basin in my kayak. After about a two-mile paddle, I began to toss my chartreuse jig at a submerged oyster bar I have fished for many years. After three or four casts, my jig took off at a right angle on splashdown. Right away I knew that I was connected to a big, powerful red drum. As my drag screamed for relief, the bull red made lap after lap around the Green Peanut but little by little I began to gain ground.
When I saw the almost quarter-size spot on its tail, I began to worry that it might be oversized but once I had the grippers on it my red turned out to be a perfect keeper. Pinching the tail as far as I could it came to exactly 27 inches and weighed 8 pounds. After that catch, I moved off to look for trout and in one of my favorite trout holes I landed a 22-inch redfish. Not complaining, you understand. Luckily it was very lightly hooked and when I released it, I knew it would live.
Still hoping for sea trout, I continued to pitch my Grandslam chartreuse shrimp tail mounted on a one-quarter ounce white jig head.
My next hook up was a 20- inch red. I have to tell you so far in 2013, my redfish production has been going great guns. Everywhere I go I catch them, even over on the West Coast. After releasing that one, I began the long paddle toward home base and stopped at the engine block. All of the old timers who fish up my way know the engine block is a great trout hole. That place gained its name when a sailboat washed up on an oyster bar and stayed there until nature had completely reclaimed it. Now all that is left is the six cylinder engine block. I switched to the light beer shrimp tail and, just as advertised, the trout began to hit. After turning back a couple of small ones, I hit three keepers in rapid succession. The largest was a fat 17 inches.
Suffering from the lazies, I had the boat full of fish (a 27 inch red and three trout) that should have been on a stringer, when the 17-incher suddenly came to life and hopped over the side. Not a far leap in the Peanut. Oh well, the trout had worked hard for its freedom. Red fishing is really good all around right now, so get out and get yours and be sure to take a kid along.
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.