Right now area fishing is in the transitional stage that arrives each fall when the water cools a few degrees.
Winter flounder have shown up early and in good numbers. Specks are now in open water in West Volusia County. Reds and spotted sea trout will be feeding all day long. We are still waiting for that first good shrimp run of 2013, but so far there has been little to talk about. Speaking of shrimp, I am hoping the water quality in Mosquito Lagoon won't interfere with the shrimp dipping season that I know so many of you depend on. Reports from Oak Hill and Edgewater so far have been positive.
On the negative side, I had a disturbing phone call from John who lives in Hacienda Del Rio along the Indian River in Edgewater. While cleaning two red drum, he found white flat worms embedded in their flesh. It is unusual to find parasites in reds. John says the worms were about the size of a pencil eraser. If you encounter such a thing, I would advise not eating them, but my old Cajun buddies always said that worms in fish was just added protein.
Each year in late summer, I find small black worms in the flounder I catch. I eat the fish, but remove the small black specks first. Once in a while you will find worms in sea trout. The worst episode I had with that was back in the '80s when I brought home two nice three pounders from Turtle Mound. Both were infested with worms that resembled maggots. I dug a hole and buried them both. Whenever black drum get over 15 pounds they can also have worms.
I guess my main worry is that John's two fish were somehow affected by the poor water quality down that way.
Some years back I began catching drum and reds in Strickland Creek that had lesions on the outside of their bodies. That didn't last long, but right after that the fishing in Strickland went to hell.
For many, many years that stream had been one of the finest fishing holes I had ever encountered. There was no such thing as going there and coming home without at least one big red, a snook and usually lots of drum, sheep's head and snapper. After those lesions showed up, the fishing became poor and it remains that way. I have no evidence but I blame the Ormond Beach wastewater treatment plant for all of the so-called "treated" water they release there. The Daytona Beach plant at Bethune Point is worse.
You know we are all responsible for how we leave the planet and the individual fisherman is just as much to blame as the cities. Luckily we still have pretty good fishing in both the fresh and salt water, but how long can it last?
Any time I think about how far the fishing has fallen in my 45 years here, I shudder. When I first arrived, you could catch a fish anyplace you dropped a shrimp. These days to be consistent you must have a good bit of talent.
What does the future hold? Unless something is done, 45 years from now there may not be a fish left in Volusia County. The trouble is it is hard to find anyone who says they don't care. Everyone cares, but no one does anything. I've watched it go on for all of those years. The people in charge speak of improving water quality all the while supporting the polluters. I don't like the term lip service, but that sums it up. Until we get serious the fishing will continue to decline. Any lasting improvement has to begin with each and every one of us. Please do your part and help keep our waters clean.
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.