Have you as a fisherman ever been skunked by the weather man? I'll bet you have. That happened to me a couple weeks ago when I went fishing based on the weather report.
I was up early as usual, downed a couple cups of Joe and then checked the weather. The forecast was for exceptionally warm temps in the high 70s and almost no wind. I had other things to do, but that great forecast caused me to drop everything and tie my kayak to the top of my old Ford SUV. I had been trying to get down to the Mosquito Lagoon for some time and this seemed like the perfect morning.
I made most of the long drive down to New Smyrna beachside in total darkness and when I arrived at the little park just north of JB's Fish Camp, dawn was just breaking. As I prepared to launch, I was a bit surprised at how chilly it was and the wind was from the north at about 15 miles per. As I paddled the Green Peanut west, the waves whipped over the bow and I had a wet butt right away. Not exactly the way the weatherman said, but I figured it might calm down with full sunup.
Not exactly. The sky was gray and as I looked for sea trout the north wind felt as though it was blowing over ice and instead of calming it began to pick up. At a couple of my old favorite trout spots I didn't get a bite. Finally I moved into a channel where Capt. Leo Hiles and I had scored on trout some years back. Sure enough my chartreuse shrimp tail jig began drawing hits but no hookups. When I switched to the gold/clear Grandslam Bait Lite Beer tail I began to land small trout. Of the six I caught in rapid succession only one was a keeper.
After a while I switched to the Hot Apple Cider pink tail and the fish started biting them right in half. More undersized trout came in and I was almost beginning to forget the awful weather. After a bit, another nice keeper completely swallowed my jig. That one would only be retrieved on the cleaning table. By the time the bite subsided, I had caught 16 trout and missed at least 10 more. Good action and lots of fun. That channel is south of the Government Cut and east of The Blue Hole.
After the trout, I paddled south in search of redfish in a lagoon that had paid off for me in the past. Two or three years ago Capt. Leo and I had fun watching a 26-inch red drum charge off of the shore to take my jig. If you ever wondered how far a fish will travel to get to a lure that time we could see it cover about 15 feet. On this nasty day, all I managed to do there was get more cold water on my behind.
By then it was 11 a.m. and about 55 degrees with a wind chill somewhere in the low 40s. Enough is enough, so I made my way back to the truck. Once I was rolling and the heater was blowing, I had time to reflect on my trip. Aside from the trout, the best thing had been the water quality. That was my first trip to The Lagoon in some time and I was surprised to see how clean the water had become. It had improved dramatically since my last trip there.
Also, when I arrived, I caught the end of the incoming tide and spent the morning on a strong outgoing run, but saw no floating sea grass at all. On the way down I had wondered if I would be able to fish for all of the dead sea grass. That turned out to be no problem at all.
You know for months now scientists from all over the country have converged on The Lagoon to try and solve the problem of pollution. So far, I haven't heard any viable answers. I am now thinking that it is just a natural cycle and nature will fix it, too. Time will tell. Right now fishing there is great and you should all give it a try. Take a tip from me, however, and don't trust the weatherman.
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.