Hey you know when I first dropped anchor in Volusia County nearly 50 years ago, I dove into inshore fishing like a bulldog into a meat market garbage can.
All of my life I had been a fisherman and now I was surrounded by all this new water to explore. Quickly I discovered three great spots. In the very beginning I fished Government Cut in the northern Mosquito Lagoon. Back then each time you lowered a dead shrimp into the brine you could expect a bite and usually a fish of some kind.
Granted being a newcomer I was not discriminating and whatever came up usually wound up being dinner. In the 1970s the usual catch in the Government Cut was sheep's head, drum, grunts and what we now call rat reds. Since there was no limit on the red drum, I thought nothing of taking home a dozen 16-inch fish. As most of you know those are the best eating.
Next I moved a little north and found Miller's Creek in the Harbor Oaks section of Port Orange. That deepwater stream was also teeming with reds, but they were larger. Now I was catching fish in the 20-inch range. Also in that creek were hoards of large black drum. Once more all I had to do was bait with dead shrimp to land a 30-pound string of prime fish and in short order. My joy knew no bounds.
Moving north once more, I began to fish Strickland Creek in Ormond Beach. Now the redfish were very large. Before the slot of 18 to 27 inches became law, I ate many an oversized red from Strickland. To add to the fun, the black drum there would rival Miller's Creek. Each winter I could bring home 20 drum a trip. I raised my two kids on those fish.
In my life, I have been fortunate to fish many a fine hole. Bayou Blue and Lake Martin in Louisiana, the old dam at Osceola, Mo., Wolf River in Wisconsin, Lake Couer d'Alene, Idaho, and the Yellowstone River to name a few. The three local streams mentioned would rank with any.
That was then and this is now. These days those three spots are not nearly as productive as they once were. Still, every now and then I have to go back. Not long ago I took the Green Peanut to Miller's Creek and launched where Niver Street meets the water. I had lots of shrimp from the recent shrimp run in the Halifax River. As it turned out I would need them.
The bait snatchers went to work right away. I must have caught 20 catfish and 10 sailor's choices before I finally landed a pair of nice black drum. I might have done better if I could have managed to get the bait down to the better fish. I also caught a pair of 16-inch redfish I would have kept back in the day. This time they were released.
These three fishing holes are tired now but if you try them you will wind up with something for your trouble. Now, each time I fish them I am flooded by the memories they hold.
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.