Once more it is time for that most sublime angling experience -- wade fishing.
Each year I impatiently wait for the time when the water warms and I can comfortably go tromping around the inshore.
For me nothing is more soothing to the soul. Recently I was out early to get my feet wet at Tomoka State Park. Reaching the water's edge just before daybreak, I stopped to admire the sepia blush of bronze that proceeds sunup. Out over the peninsula to the east the orange fireball was hidden behind thick clouds and could only cast a dim highlight across the marsh grass. Once my flip-flop shod feet were submerged I felt my toes wiggle in an involuntary glee of their own. If you are a lover of nature, there is no better way to become one with Mother Earth than to go wading
Away from the boat channel, the water is surprisingly clean and it is easy to see all of the marine creatures poking about in the clear water. Curious at first, the tiny crab, shrimp and fish often come over to taste your ankles. Once satisfied, they go on their way looking for breakfast. The larger stingray and crab move out of your way, but are not frightened. Somehow they realize you are not there to harm them.
My rod and reel of choice is very light for I know from the beginning I will fish maybe a mile and a half. You don't want to carry anything too heavy that far. Besides catching a fish on light tackle is a fisherman's ultimate joy. If you are a fan of the fly rod or perhaps would like to try it, wading is your best bet.
Fly fishing, by its design, requires a lot of room behind you in order for the line to unfurl. When wading you can get that room as soon as you leave the shore by casting parallel to the bank. Catching a fish, even a small one, by fly is an unforgettable experience. Up north, folks must don chest waders to have that thrill, but not here. Locally we have suitable water temperatures to allow wading at least eight months of the year.
During that time, I wear only shorts and flippies with T-shirt optional. Back when I was younger, I spent many a winter morning in rubber chest waders hunting the big trout down at Turtle Mound just south of New Smyrna Beach. There is still great wade fishing in that area. A little west in the Indian River wade the islands along the east side. There you will find a hard bottom and lots of fish. You will need a canoe or kayak to reach them just as you would to fish the islands of downtown New Smyrna Beach.
Ponce Inlet has great wading and don't forget Disappearing Island. North on U.S. 1, you should try Sleepy Hollow Park just south of Port Orange. There you will find miles of excellent wading. From Dunlawton Avenue north to Granada Boulevard, the west end of the bridges provide great bottom for wading. North of Ormond Beach, the spoil islands are some of my own favorite targets.
Often I will paddle my Green Peanut over to the islands and spend the morning walking through the warm waters as I circle first one island and then the other.
If you look, you will find lots of places to fish. I would suggest you wear old sneakers to begin. In all of my 40 years of wading I have never suffered any real injuries, but flip-flops may not be the best way to start.
So there you have it. Wade fishing is a great sport with no impact on the environment. Leave the shore, get your pinkies wet and get some exercise and I assure you fishing bliss will be yours.
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.