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Now browsing: Hometown News > Fishing > Dan Smith

Dan Smith
This Week | Archive

Commemorating the great sport of Florida fly fishing
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Posted: 2014 May 09 - 08:54

You know after last week's mostly negative column, I am happy to have something more positive to report.

The day after I sent that column along to my editor Cecil Brumley, I was out on a beautiful spring morning to try my luck around Tomoka Basin. As always I was on the water early. So early I was there before the no-see-ums had begun looking for breakfast. Fishing near a submerged reef that had once been a thriving oyster bar, but was now just a shallow spot filled with mud and silt, I began throwing around my red and white MirrOlure.

That top water plug called a "floating twitchbait" by the company is an engineering marvel in that it can be used either as a floater or diver depending on how you fish it. The miracle is it can accomplish this without use of any sort of plastic lip. For around 40 years now, it has been my lure of choice on a calm morning like the one I found myself fishing on this day.

On the fifth cast, a small fish took it with a loud "slurp." As I landed the scrappy, 15-inch spotted sea trout, I smiled at its voracity. The trout must have had an identity crisis for it fought like a snook. I attributed that to the water temperature that was still in the low 70s.

By the way, the water quality in the upper Halifax is excellent. On this morning it appeared almost sea green and it would not have been a stretch to call it blue. As the sun came full up, I saw the tide was high and only just beginning to recede. When the water is up like that, I know the red drum will move in close to shore to search for the crabs that hide in the grass, so I made a cast to the bank. I didn't even have to twitch the plug before a nice fish had swallowed it.

After the initial long run, a steady fight erupted and soon I could tell my red was actually another trout. This one would be a very fat, 18-inch fish. As I usually do when the sun gets overhead and the wind puts a chop on the water, I switched to my jig.

This time I baited with the Grandslam Lite Beer shrimp tail I have become very fond of. Before the morning was over, I would add another 15-inch trout to my string and have a lot of fun with a 17-inch redfish before turning that one back. The trip was not great, but far better than my last one when I was skunked. Things are looking up!

Some more positive news came from my friend Suzanne Heddy.

On April 23, the Florida House Of Representatives passed resolution no. HR9101 certifying that her uncle, Capt. Bill Smith, had caught the very first bonefish in the state by way of a fly. In the summer of 1939, Capt. Smith, fishing out of Islamorada in the Keys, used a fly of his own making to land an eight-pound bone. His reel was a Shakespeare and the rod was a nine and a half foot Orvis. The legislative resolution marked the 75th anniversary of the catch and commended Capt. Smith (no relation) for creating a new sport and helping to make the Florida Keys the world's capital of fishing that it has become. Congratulations to Mrs. Heddy and her family, who have been involved in fishing for decades. Their Honest John's Fish Camp down at Sebastian Inlet is now on the state's historic register. Suzanne's Aunt Barbara holds several line class records for sea trout.

Locally we have other connections to another famous fly fisherman. Joyce Ebbets, a former Ormond Beach city commissioner, is the widow of adventurer Charles Ebbets, who among other things was a noted fly fisherman. Charlie fished with baseball legend Ted Williams and Stu Apt among other fly fishing greats. There is a movie in the works chronicling his life as an action photographer. I was asked to be a consultant for that project and have the script, but unfortunately it has been stalled by money problems. Mr. Ebbets' son, Chobee, is a noted Daytona Beach attorney.

Dan Smith has fished the waters of Volusia County for more than 40 years. Email questions and comments to fishwdan@att.net. His book, "I Swear the Snook Drowned," is available for $10.95 at (386) 441-7793.

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