The most common complaint I get about this fishing column has nothing to do with content but everything to do with my timing. Quite a few of you have let me know that my fishing trips that begin before dawn leave you out in the cold.
It is true I am a hopeless morning person. I blame my early ways on being a contractor and, of course, on being a fisherman. All summer the fish are much more active in the early morning hours, but once the water cools they may feed all day. If you are one of those who prefer to sleep in, now is your time.
Through the cooler months I may strike out at any time of day with good success. With that in mind, I launched my 17-foot Polar at High Bridge around 8 a.m. (Give me a break that's late for me.) My first stop was at one of my old favorite trout holes. Each year the trout move in on the first water temperature drop.
If you were wondering why I would be fishing trout in November it is because the state has now opened the season all year. We are still held to four in Volusia County but up in Flagler you may take six.
Another reason I was there was to see how the new Grandslam Baits would perform with trout and reds. Up until then I had used them with great success for flounder. After anchoring up, I flipped the chartreuse shrimp tail (now called Dan Smith Special Edition) into the tide to let it drift back to me. Before I could take up the slack I had two nice hits without a hookup. That seemed promising. Sure enough on the next cast I had a scrappy 14-inch trout. After releasing it, in quick succession I caught six more before I caught a 16-inch keeper - pretty good fun.
Soon, as they will do, the trout tired of seeing the chartreuse so I switched to the Grandslam Peppermint Crunch. That started the bite all over again. By the time I left, I had landed 12 sea trout that were all about 14 inches. They will be keepers by springtime.
After a long boat ride I eased into one of my favorite red drum holes. Now I was back to the chartreuse jig, but this time I would tip the hook with small pieces of fresh shrimp. The reds in the High Bridge area see a lot of baits and the shrimp adds a little incentive for them to hit harder. Once I had drifted into casting range I dropped my lure into the spot and a fish had it before it sank to the bottom. After a spirited fight, I boated a fat little 17-inch red that I released. Oh, I probably could have pinched its tail and stretched it to make it the legal 18 inches but what the heck. I had caught it on the very first cast. Surely there would be more.
Sure enough on the second cast I was hooked up again. This one seemed to be about the same size but I never saw it before the hook pulled free. Anyway, the reds were there. On my first five casts I had either hooked or missed five reds. All were 16 to 17 inches. Later when I moved away I did hook a keeper on the Peppermint Crunch. That fish turned out to be a real over- achiever since I believed that I was playing a 25-inch red only to land one of 21 inches.
Heading back to the ramp, I reflected on a good day - lots of action and a couple of keepers. I was also happy to see the two new Grandslam Baits that bear my name were working like a charm. Oh yeah, for you late sleepers you might like to hear that the reds hit around 11a.m.
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.