Just back from my annual pilgrimage to one of Florida’s most remote inlets.
This is a tradition I began back in the 1970s and, through the years, have always had fun there. I first went there as a single guy and then a married one and later a father of two and now a grandfather of a boy and girl. As you can see I have made it a generational thing.
For an outdoorsman, it is always a great place to visit. The inlet lies about 15 miles south of Melbourne on State Road A1A and, as time passed, I have watched it go from a mostly unknown spot to one of the state’s most popular destinations. Back when I first visited, there was no state park and few amenities. Now there is a first class campground, complete with stores and nice bathrooms.
One thing that has always been there is fish. At Sebastian Inlet if you chose to wet a line, you will catch fish. This year was no exception. While my wife, Lana, daughter, Shayla, son, Landan, and grandkids, Oliver and Delayna played in the clear water, I went after dinner. The inlet is one of Florida’s most famous snook fishing holes, but I usually target the red drum when I go there because in the middle of summer snook are out of season.
By the way in a recent column I misspoke. The daily limit for snook is one per person and not two. (Slow down Dan!) This time I did tie into a nice one to release and had a great time doing it.
Under the small fishing pier in the park lives some of the fattest mangrove snapper you will ever see. Some years back I discovered those fish are single minded in their dining habits. They will only hit mojarra minnows. Once I had some netted, I knew I was in for some fun and good eats and pretty quickly had five good ones, averaging about a pound and a half.
With those on ice I took my 17-foot Polar just outside the inlet and turned south. The Atlantic was so smooth I was able to get in pretty close to shore where I found pompano hitting on shrimp. Once I had four, I knew dinner was secured and went back inside to swim with my family.
Folks, pompano on a grill is one of the very best things Florida has to offer and this summer more of you should be at the beach catching them. The best part is that at this time of year your bait is right under your feet. The sand fleas at the water’s edge are the perfect bait for pompano. Do yourself a favor and give that a try. You might take along the kids for digging sand fleas is a great time for youngsters.
The next morning I went wading for reds in the lagoon just east of the boat ramps. That is something I love to do and have been at it for a long time. I usually catch red fish there, but seldom a large one. Just being in that beautiful setting and wading the clear water is really enough for me, but when I made a long cast something sturdy took my jig and set off for Vero Beach to the south. The fish was big, but still an over-achiever nearly spooling my reel. After 15 minutes or so, I landed a pretty 30-inch red drum. In that clear water the fish had little color and was mostly silver. I paused to appreciate it before releasing it to fight another day. Good fun!
On the ride home, I had to smile. Sebastian Inlet had shown me a great time once more. God willing, I will surely return next year.
Dan Smith has fished the waters of Volusia County for more than 40 years. Email questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. His book, “I Swear the Snook Drowned,” is available for purchase for $10.95 at (386) 441-7793.