Of all the bridges in East Volusia County, the old one at Orange/Silver Beach avenues was my favorite.
Down through the years I had a ball fishing from that span. Of course, now, with the new high rise bridge going up, my fun is over.
On a chilly December morning, I went there to see if there were still fishing possibilities. The answer was no. I was reduced to casting in the canal behind the chamber of commerce building. I only caught one bluefish and had to consider myself lucky to do that. Long ago I could go to that low fishing platform to get a bucket full of blues anytime I felt like it.
One morning, about 10 years ago, I walked out onto the bridge in the pre-dawn to see lots of small fish hitting the surface. I was pretty sure they were bluefish, but soon learned hundreds of Spanish mackerel were there to feed on glass minnows. I could catch one on each cast. Great fun and great eats.
One of my favorite memories of Orange Avenue was once when I was leaving in the dark of morning and saw a big shark cruising over an old oyster bed. The street lights allowed me to watch until I determined it was a bull red fish and not a shark at all. It was nearly seven feet long and had to weigh 100 pounds.
All I had with me was my trout rod with 10-pound line, so I had no chance to catch it, but it was great fun to see a state record red right in downtown Daytona Beach.
Another time I was there very early and, at about 4:30 a.m., I hooked a large snook. I used all my skills and nearly a half hour to land the 12-pounder. I thought I was alone on the bridge, but another angler appeared to watch. When I put it on the sidewalk, the man admired it and then showed me a FWC badge and instructed me to release it. The snook season had ended just a few hours earlier at midnight. Ouch!
Once the bridge is completed, there will be no fishing there for at least 10 years.
Next, I headed south to the big high-rise bridge on Dunlawton Avenue in Port Orange. That span has been there long enough to become a good fishing spot. It was there that my old pal, the late Al Houser, caught a state record barracuda. Everyone has heard about the huge grouper that lives under the bridge and lots of good catches come from the boards under the west end.
Just a bit west on the same causeway, there is a little low bridge that provides anglers with lots of good fishing. Over the years I have caught reds, flounder, trout and snook there.
On this morning, I arrived in full daylight and could only manage a fair-sized jack. The fish was powerful and gave me a good run for my money before rubbing my line on a piling to escape.
At this point I have fished nine bridges and still have a few more to go. Come back next week and we will head down New Smyrna Beach way.
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.