I was fishing out of my 17-foot Polar just east of Tomoka State Park on a perfect morning. The day would be blistering hot, but the dawn was cool and comfortable.
I had just begun when my trusty chartreuse jig was gobbled by a nice 26-inch red. The fish hit right along the shoreline, but immediately streaked into deeper water.
Sometimes you know you have a solid hookup, allowing you to just relax and enjoy the stout battle. When the fat red drum finally tired, I brought it aboard with my fish grippers and boxed it. With dinner on ice early, I could now poke around looking for flounder.
The tide was going out and I let the boat drift south without the use of the trolling motor. When I neared Gary's Inlet I could see a man in an orange kayak was fishing just inside the canal. I could also see something was feeding hard about 100 yards east of the cut.
As I drifted in, I could see predators were really going at a school of tiny minnows. I switched to an off white paddle tail the fellows from Grandslam Baits had given me and right away landed a fat little mangrove snapper. That caused me to smile because the only other time I had thrown the lure I had also caught a snapper. This
must be my mango bait, I thought. The snapper was about three-quarters of a pound and just right for the frying pan, so I kept it.
My next cast attracted a decent trout but after giving me a look it was gone. Now I had drifted past the bite so I started the outboard and made a wide turn so as not to spook the fish. On the second drift through, I caught two more snappers, both identical to the first.
Once more, pretty quickly, I was too far south. This time I would anchor, but before I did I called out to the fellow in the kayak and invited him to join me for the mango bite. He declined so I suppose snapper was not his target. Anytime I am having luck and I see another angler who needs a break I will usually share. It seems the right thing to do.
Now anchored up, I flipped the paddle tail and caught a keeper trout. Fish were still devouring the tiny minnows on the surface. By the time the bite ended, I had five snapper (a limit), and one trout to go with my big red. A good day and it was only 9 a.m.
Remember, when you catch one snapper there are bound to be more. They
seldom travel alone. It was a little unusual to find them in open water, but the baitfish had drawn them out of their cover. At this
time of year the mangos are fat and ready for the table. Shrimp is always your best bait, but when they are in a feeding mode nothing is safe from those sharp teeth.
I headed home before the sun got too hot. I had fish to 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.