On a crisp and beautiful fall day I met Bill Kudlik and Lori Campbell Baker at the Granada Boulevard boat ramps for a day of fishing.
The couple had submitted the winning bid for a trip I donated to the annual Habitat For Humanity fundraiser.
As I backed the 17-foot Polar into the water, it was discouraging to see the flood tide that had been around for more than a month was still with us. All that water made my recent fishing a bit tough, but ever the optimist I headed north where we began by throwing lures around the boat docks on the west bank of the river. When that failed to produce, I moved further north to work two of my favorite flounder holes.
As I declared in a recent column, the summer flattie season was through, but I couldn't help but give it one last try. Alas, the only action we found there was from the danged blowfish that continuously ate our soft plastics. Once we began to sweeten our jigs with bits of shrimp, Bill and I became busy helping Lori remove her catch from the hook. She pulled up a variety of bait snatchers while we were still blanked.
Now the morning was starting to get away from me and I had yet to put us on any decent fish. Over behind the spoil islands we anchored up and continued to watch Lori pull em in. A small trout finally came to the boat and then I had a solid hook up on a nice redfish. Well, it seemed solid until it pulled free. Another cast in the same spot produced another good hit and I was on with a big old black drum. That fish hit in about two feet of water and it was clear there was a school of them about. In the Tomoka Basin area it is rare to find black drum on the flats. They are mostly a deep-water catch up that way. Even more unusual, the drum had hit my chartreuse jig with no shrimp sweetener. As they will do, this big boy pulled like a four-wheel drive and took me around the boat before Bill put the net under him. A good fish in the five-pound range.
For those of you willing to search, I am sure those black drum will hang around there for a while. When big drum are on the flats they may be easy to sight fish so keep your eye peeled. Next I took my guests to one of my favorite red drum spots and there Bill and I watched Lori catch an undersized one. It was becoming pretty clear who the fisherman was on this day. All in all it was a fun trip with good weather and great company. Fishing was not as productive as it should have been but still a nice time.
On Saturday, Nov. 9, I will be at Tomoka Fest up at Tomoka State Park. There will be lots to do and my purpose there will be to teach a fishing seminar. I plan to give away several of my flounder secrets, so come on up and let's talk a little fishing. Call the park at (386) 676-4050 for the times and details.
With a new fisherman just added to my family (see the Land Lines column on page 3) I am now busy finding the proper tackle to get little Oliver James Smith started. Right now there is no hurry for he is just a bit over his arrival weight of 7 pounds 12 ounces. Yep, I have caught snook, reds and trout that have weighed more, but it's never too early to locate the right rod and reel.
Teaching my first grandson how to fish is a task I will relish. No doubt he will be a first rate angler for that skill is firmly tucked away in his DNA. My own dad was a constant fisherman and by now you all know that I am also. If my pop had devoted as much time to working as he did fishing we would have been a very wealthy family. That is a tradition I carefully honored and I can only hope Oliver James does the same. Who can work when there is so much fishing to be done?
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.