Just back from a quick two-day trip to Sebastian Inlet.
If you haven't been there, what are you waiting for? One of the premier fishing stops in the state, it is a place that has called me since 1968. That year I made my first trip as an adult to the state and drove most of the way to south Florida on the Atlantic coast highway, A1A. As I topped the bridge that day I saw surf fishermen lined elbow to elbow and all were catching. Back then I didn't know much about blue fish, but I could tell they were having fun. I vowed to return when I had more time to fish.
In the '70s my fishing buddies and I would go to Sebastian and tent camp on a spoil island. At various times we caught sharks, mackerel and blues. Once I found the beach crowded with fishermen just as I had 10 years earlier, but this time the fish were pompano. The waves were filled with the tasty critters. I ran to my truck and retrieved my surf-fishing outfit and had a bucketful in an hour. The fat pomp were hitting most anything, but I caught them on a small silver spoon.
Of course, Sebastian Inlet is most famous for snook. Sometime in the 1990s Jack Thomas and I found the beach full of surf casters and this time they were pulling giant snook from the waves. This is a fisherman's paradise for sure.
On this trip I had my favorite girls along. Wife Lana, daughter Shayla and granddaughter Delayna accompanied the old man in the motorhome. Now I have to tell you the girls were more interested in playing in the pretty water than fishing, but naturally I was able to do a bit of casting. I caught a couple undersized reds and the granddaughter found a pair of living nine-legged starfish. I think she won that one. Later I caught more undersized reds, but daughter Shayla was able to swim with a five-foot wide manta ray. I definitely lost that one.
The girls were swimming in four feet of crystal clear backwater while I waded off in a dark lagoon. Soon they began to shout to me. It seems a group of four manatees had decided to join them. Heck, I can't compete with that, I thought, so I stowed my rod to join the fun. The big sea cows were definitely seeking company and kept coming within a couple feet of us. We were all pretty excited for it was a nice encounter in clear water.
I did notice my granddaughter, Delayna, was not as happy as the rest of us. When her mom asked her why, she reminded us we were not supposed to molest the manatees. It took an 11-year-old to tell us that maybe this was not a good idea. Actually, we never touched the animals on purpose and if anything it was closer to them molesting us.
As we stood there, they would slide their rough hides along our legs. Delayna is an expert outdoorswoman in the making and was not happy until the four manatees left for deeper water. Good girl, Delayna.
In the whole on this trip I didn't fish much, but just as I was leaving I saw a sickening sight. Boats were gathering in the middle of the inlet. At first only three or four, but before I could turn around there were 10. All were catching huge tarpon. That was a sickening sight because I was not able to join them. My boat was on the trailer and the camper was packed. We were pulling out.
I still had to stop and watch the action for a while. All I can tell you is WOW! I know how it works at that inlet. By the time I would have unloaded my boat and made it into the inlet, the fun probably would have been over. Dang it!
This summer get yourself down to Sebastian Inlet (18 miles south of Melbourne.) You don't need to be a fisherman to have fun there. Just ask my girls.
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.