Just back from a trip to my hometown of New Iberia, La., where I attended my high school reunion.
Good fun talking fishing with the fellows I fished with as a kid. The Cajuns almost brought tears to my eyes when they told me their limit for spotted sea trout is 25 per day and red fish is five. Compare that to our meager one red and four trout and you know we are being skunked. The sad part is the Louisiana folks have enough fish to allow those numbers.
Had a chance to meet Troy Landry from the Swamp People show on The History Channel. Yep, he's the one with the thick accent who yells SHOOT 'EM! Nice guy. Good to see a lifelong fisherman getting paid well for doing what he has always done. In the bayou Troy is a big celebrity these days. When he showed up at the Gumbo Cook-Off so many people turned out to see him you would think Elvis was in town.
I took my 16-foot Carolina Skiff down to Turtle Mound a few days ago. The boat ramps there are just past the park entrance on County Road A1A, south of New Smyrna Beach. Arriving at dawn I couldn't resist fishing the deep trough that runs north along the highway. Once upon a time that spot would have ranked with the best trout fishing holes in the world. Beginning in the '70s I would make the long drive down from Ormond Beach and arrive an hour before first light. By 8 a.m., I would have four to six gator trout. There was almost never an exception. I did that in the winter for 12 years. That goldmine has been gone for years, but old memories fade hard.
On this day I had a few hits from small trout before landing a nice 18-inch fish on a blue Zara Spook. Moving north I fished around the eastern end of the Government Cut where I saw several nice red drum pushing water but had no takers. Working my way up into Cedar Creek I found a school of undersized trout. They were really hungry and hit my chartreuse shrimp tail jig on practically every cast. I entertained myself there for most of an hour and a half catching and releasing around 20 I suppose. They were still hitting when I left but the reason for my trip was big reds.
Moving west I went back to the Spook and immediately caught a ladyfish I kept for bait. Nothing attracts big reds like a hunk of fresh ladyfish. I baited a second line and tossed the cut bait just off an oyster bar while I threw the top water plug about. It wasn't long until something had the ladyfish and my circle hook did its work. The fight started out strong but pretty soon my quarry started swimming to the boat. Catfish! It was a big sail cat but the fight was pretty good so I didn't mind. A little further along I did get a 20-inch redfish on the Zara Spook.
I was pleased to see the algae bloom is mostly gone and the Mosquito Lagoon water is returning to health. As I headed back to the ramp I was happy with my one trout and one red. Not a Louisiana catch, but OK.
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.