Before launching my Polar skiff under the big Dunlawton bridge, I stopped at Donald’s Bait and Tackle to buy a package of dead shrimp just in case my jig was not working.
Within seconds I was at Pelican Island and casting in the channel just off the east side of that aviary. Over the years I have landed reds, trout, ladyfish and jacks in that bit of deep water. In fact, that is where Al Houser caught the giant barracuda that measured more than six feet long.
On this morning, I immediately had a strong hit, but on the retrieve I found only half of my chartreuse jig. Bluefish! That caused me to take up a rod baited with a red and white MirrOlure Twitchbait and on the next cast I caught a big, 15-inch bluefish. The fight was a good one for blues are strong and fast.
Moving south, I stopped to fish the mouth of a creek on the west side of the river. The tide was going out and, inside the creek, I could see the telltale movement of red drum. Sticking with the plug, it took a few casts, but soon a 21-inch red took the bait and tried to head west. After a considerable battle trying to keep the fish out of the oyster beds, the red came to the net.
There was more fish there, but just then a big yacht laid down a heavy wake and I was forced to leave.
A half mile south, I turned west on Miller Creek and began to drift a shrimp as I looked for black drum. That stream has provided me with some great drum catches down through the years. It took a while, but finally a small 12-inch drum ate the shrimp so I anchored to work the school. No school. I had always used the same technique there, but now the big schools have been fished out.
From that creek, I moved southwest toward the Rose Bay bridge on U. S. 1. There I got into puppy reds with the shrimp. I couldn’t get them to hit a lure, but they were eating the dead shrimp like M&M’s. The reds were all from the same hatch and only about 14 inches long, but it was pretty good fun and I lingered there for about an hour. All throw backs, but red drum are fun to catch no matter the size. When those guys grow up, they will provide lots of excitement and good eats for area fishermen.
Going east, I crossed the Halifax into the oysters at Wilbur-by-the-Sea. A great looking place to fish. I went with the MirrOlure and fished it on the surface in order to avoid hang ups in all the reefs. A big splash and I was on with a hard charging jack. It was a nice one at about four pounds and I stopped to admire it before the release. Long pectoral fins and that big forked tail with shades of olive and gold make them a most attractive fish.
As I worked back toward the big bridge nothing much was happening until an over-achieving mangrove snapper took my plug. The nine-inch fish had hit a four-inch lure. Scrappy battlers those mangos.
Next, I motored over to the Deck Down Under for a little lunch. Whenever I am in that area I love to stop at my favorite eatery. I ordered at the counter and carried my Yuengling beer out to the warm deck.
After a short wait, the waitress brought my fish sandwich that contained enough flounder for three sandwiches. If you go to Deck Down Under on the south side of the Port Orange bridge, order the fish sandwich basket. That comes with fries, slaw and yummy hushpuppies. A great meal and a great trip to the Southern Halifax.
Dan Smith has fished the waters of Volusia County for more than 40 years. Email questions and comments to email@example.com. His book, “I Swear the Snook Drowned,” is available for purchase for $10.95 at (386) 441-7793.