I have been doing a good bit of community service lately -- and, no, it is not a part of my parole.
My wife Lana and I spent a nice afternoon at the "Splendor In The Glass" wine tasting at St. Demetrius Church in Daytona Beach. I was there to represent this paper and all inshore fishermen at the big charity event to support the ARC. The large, beautiful room was packed and everyone had a good time sampling the wine, beer and good food that was all donated. Capt. Nick did his usual great job of providing the island flavored background music as Arthur Byrnes manned the emcee mike. Lots of old friends and some new ones stopped by my table to talk fishing methods and tackle selection. Thanks to Gail Irvrine for inviting us to be there.
A while back I took a turn at the podium to speak to the Ormond Beach chapter of AARP. I had an attentive audience as I delved into beach racing and, of course, a bit of fishing.
On Saturday, July 27, I was at Tomoka State Park to give a fishing seminar to the many locals and visitors who showed up. I spoke about red circle hooks, lead split shot and proudly showed off my fingernail kit that includes an emery board and clippers. Of course, I use the emery to sharpen my hooks and the nail clippers to cut the tag end of monofilament line while my fingernails remain a gnarly mess as usual. I demonstrated how easy it is to tie a good palomar knot and even took up the cast net for a couple throws. All good fun. Thanks to Phil Rand and Aggie Armstrong for the invite.
Fishing has been spotty in the Mosquito Lagoon, but Capt. Leo is having success with his new Silver Butterscotch Mullet he helped develop for the Grandslam Bait Co. It is a good looking paddle tail minnow with a lot of action. According to Leo, that is about all that has been working down his way. Up here in the Tomoka Basin area, the flounder action has picked up, but it appears to be an off-season compared to the last two. I was still able to use my chartreuse jig for three nice flatties near the spoil islands. The largest was 21 inches and that is a fish I will gladly take home on any day.
Lately I have been hearing some good reports on snook north of Granada Boulevard and on up to High Bridge. I cannot tell you of any that I caught myself, but I remain ever hopeful my next trip will be the one. Ladyfish have been providing me with a little excitement around the islands in the Halifax. The shrimp run seems to be stalled up at High Bridge, but hopefully the little critters will come on down the river soon.
This is the time of year when drifting a crab or hunk of fresh fish through the inlet will yield a monster red. If you have never experienced the thrill of doing battle with an oversized red drum, this is your chance. Using stout tackle, drop either a small whole crab or half of a large one down to the bottom and crank it back up a few turns.
Just sit back and let the current take you through the inlet in whichever direction it is moving. Be careful and make sure to hold onto your rod or have it securely in a holder for the bite will be instant and heavy. As I mentioned, you may substitute a big hunk of fresh mullet. If you happen to catch a ladyfish for bait, you can't miss. Those old big reds just love a juicy hunk of stinky ladyfish. In both rivers and all creeks, the mangrove snapper will be in the keeper size range.
If you can locate a school of mangos, try and get a kid into the mix. Children and feisty mangrove snappers add up to nothing but fun. In this hot weather, it is best to go early or late and remember to take along insect repellent. You can't see the no-see-ums, but they will see you.
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.