Doggone it - this fishing thing can sure be an exasperating way to spend your time. As I have said many times, the anglers who believe they have it all figured out are delusional at best.
Not long ago I was suffering through three slow weeks of fishing. Oh, I had managed to catch a few but I was not fishing at the level I expect from myself. The flounder season had begun slowly but I was picking up one here and there.
A month ago spotted sea trout had been providing me with steady fun and some good meals but were now slow. I was still managing to jig and plug up a few but mostly undersized. Before the slow three weeks, redfish had been steady but small with a large one being about 22 inches. Now I was catching zero reds - not undersized, nothing.
I had taken about all of that I could stand so I got up early and set my jaw for some serious fishing. I headed down to the three bridges where Spruce Creek meets U.S. 1. Launching my kayak in the morning darkness, I headed for a redfish hole that I had been working since the 1970s.
After paddling the Green Peanut about a mile, I eased into place and began fishing very carefully. The chartreuse jig tipped with fresh shrimp bits was my bait of choice. I cast that area for over an hour and when I was finished I had a flounder. No reds, no trout and nothing else. My sure-fire redfish hole had let me down.
As I shoved the Peanut on top of my truck I told myself that my setback was only temporary for I was heading up to Port Orange and Miller's Creek and there I know exactly where the redfish live. After a long paddle against the strong tide I tied up to a mangrove and put the jig and shrimp to work once more.
Nothing, nothing, nothing - no flounder! My, oh my! What's going on? Okay, I thought, this calls for desperate measures. Pushing the kayak ever north I eased into a big hole between two oyster bars just south of Donald's Bait and Tackle on Dunlawton. As Bullwinkle the moose said: "This time for sure!" I cast the jig so many times I was beating the water into a froth. No reds, no flounder. Unbelievable. Three can't-miss redfish holes produced three flounder. As I headed for the truck I reminded myself to thank the fishing gods for what I did catch.
Once back at home in Ormond-by-the Sea, I filleted the flat fish and smiled at the big pile of potential fish sandwiches that they yielded. By then I was either too tired or too lazy to take the fish carcasses down to the Halifax at the end of my street so I decided to wait for morning to do that. That can be a gamble for a bucket of fermenting fish bodies kept overnight can become very pungent.
Early the next morning I held my breath and headed off to the river with my stink pot. I congratulated myself on getting out of the yard before my neighbors had begun pounding on the door with the torches and pitchforks. As you know I can't go near the water without fishing so once I had dumped my fish parts into the river I began flinging the jig around. Right away a nice fat 16-inch trout hit the jig and then another and another. Next a larger one hit and finally fell back into the river as I tried to lift it onto the dock. In a half-hour I had caught three nice trout and barely missed a limit. This is at the end of my street where I never expect to catch much. I had actually topped my previous day when I had paddled for miles not to mention the gasoline it took to get down to Spruce Creek. I'll tell you, this fishing thing can sure be exasperating, doggone it.
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.