Just back from our annual pilgrimage to beautiful Sebastian Inlet just south of Melbourne.

My first look at that popular waterway happened in 1968 when I drove south over the bridge to see a long line of fishermen on the beach. It turned out they were all there for the bluefish run. I wasn’t able to fish just then, but I always kept it in mind and in the mid-'70s began going there once or twice each year.

I cannot count (or remember) all the fish I have taken there over the years, but these days our trips have evolved to Lana and I mostly playing in the clear waters with our grandchildren. The kids love it and always marvel at all the sea creatures they can encounter. Oh sure, I always manage to wet a hook, but these days fishing is mostly a sidelight.

This year our seafood dinners came from Capt. Hiram’s Sandbar over on the mainland. If you go, that is a place not to be missed. So very tropical with great river views and a sand floor beneath your feet. Live music plays every day with great food and icy drinks. Good fun!

On the third day of our trip the family started the morning collecting starfish and hermit crabs, but I stayed back. It was opening day of the lobster mini-season and now the state park was filled with around 40 boat trailers. The divers had arrived early and taken off to try to land their limit of the tasty crustaceans.

I noticed a group of around six game wardens were patiently waiting for the first boats to return so they could check their catch. Now understand, Florida wants you to catch lobsters during the two-day season, but heaven help you if you do anything illegal.

During all my years of lobstering in the Keys I was accosted by all manner of law enforcement officers, but I could see that something here was different. There were two K-9 units present.

Sure enough, when the first boat came in, the officers went to the dock, ordered the three young men off the boat and took a dog on board. The chocolate, liver nosed hound went right to work and boy, did he know what to do! The divers marveled as the dog went right to the three places on the boat where they had stored their catch. A lobster sniffing dog – amazing!

Luckily the fellows where legal and did not get any fines. The next boat was boarded by a pretty golden retriever that was just as talented as the first dog. Believe me, if you were trying to smuggle illegal lobsters by hiding them on your boat, you would have been busted.

This method was new to me, but perhaps not to the fishermen for no one got a ticket. The lobsters I saw were all nice-sized and nowhere near the three-inch minimum carapace to be legal. One diver said he had found a couple bugs in the eight- to nine-pound range, but couldn’t take them because they were egg-bearing females and, therefore, illegal.

Another thing that sort of puzzled me was I noticed a couple of the FWC officers were obviously wearing bullet proof vests under their uniform shirts. I don’t consider fishermen to be that violent, but I suppose their inspections could uncover illegal drugs at times. To me the vests were probably due to the outright assault on our law enforcement officers that plagues the country these days. A very sad commentary.

Our trip to Sebastian Inlet was as much fun as ever and we are already making plans to return next summer. If you are looking for a fun place to play in the water, take the short drive down to Sebastian Inlet.

Dan Smith has fished the waters of Volusia County for more than 40 years. Email questions and comments to fishwdan@att.net. His book, “I Swear the Snook Drowned,” is available for purchase for $10.95 at (386) 441-7793.

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