As I am writing this, the first signs of a Halifax shrimp run are appearing. As I waded near Tomoka State Park, my movement was spooking up more shrimp than usual, and as I launched my boat at Granada Bait, owner Ike Leary told me to take along my cast net. The next day, I took a ride down to Orange Avenue, and from the bridge, I could see a few boats working the channel. By the time you read this, a shrimp run could be going full bore.
The summer of 2010 gave us the best shrimp run in many years and lasted all the way to fall. Last year, the run didn't last nearly as long but was very intense. On a few occasions, I was able to get a 5-gallon limit in just over an hour. Considering that these days I throw a smaller 8-foot net, that is pretty good catching.
The flounder season seems to be slowing up and so far has only been fair. I have caught 38 since mid-March, and that has provided many tasty meals for my family and friends, but it is not going to measure up to last season when I caught 107.
When I finish this correspondence with you, I will spend a little time inspecting my boat and trailer. I'm thinking about a trip to Florida's West Coast to snorkel for bay scallops. The season begins July 1, and I intend to be at Crystal River. (Me and half of the fishermen in Florida.) The area open is from the Hernando-Pasco County line on up to the Bay County line.
If you haven't done this, you are missing a lot of fun for the whole family. My own kids are now long grown but won't miss a scallop trip. My son is now 28 but has been snorkeling for scallops since he was 9. Back then, we made him wear water wings that kept him from diving, but he could still spot them in the clear water.
Be sure to keep your scallops iced at all times. Until you have eaten bay scallops just plucked from the sea, you have not eaten scallops, but they are very fragile and require much care.
It is not too early to begin planning your trip to the Keys for the lobster mini season. That happens the last Wednesday and Thursday of July. It is a long drive down there and lobstering is hard work, but the reward is oh so sweet.
In the meantime, let's keep an eye on the Halifax for the shrimp run. Remember, there is no anchoring in the boat channel. Whenever law enforcement finds a bonanza of 30 or 40 boats in a group, they see it as a good chance to write tickets without burning much fuel.
Summer is popping all around us and there is a tasty bounty to be reaped.
Need a fishing book as a father's day gift? Give me a call and we will try to work out a last-minute pick-up or delivery.
Dan Smith has fished the waters of Volusia County for more than 40 years. E-mail questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. His book, "I Swear the Snook Drowned," is available for $10.95 at (386) 441-7793.