For decades now I have been fishing the deep water canal that served the old Sea Ray Boat manufacturer in Flagler Beach.
The whole of it is probably less than a quarter mile in length, but, when the water temperature really dips, nice-sized trout often gather there.
On a very chilly morning, I towed my skiff up to the ramps beneath the State Road 100 bridge in Flagler Beach. Not surprisingly I was the only trailer in the parking lot.
Once in the Halifax River and heading north, I decided to troll lures the couple miles up to the Sea Ray canal. It was too cold to comfortably drive very fast, so trolling seemed the right thing to do. At the mouth of the canal, I turned west and took in my lines having not had a hit.
I began by casting my chartreuse jig around the boat docks on the south side of the stream. Pretty quickly I landed an undersized trout of about 13 inches. I then fished the length of the stream without another hit. Coming back east I began to cast the north side. Over the years that side of the canal has not produced much but on this morning I did catch a nice 16-inch spotted sea trout.
Once I had made it back to the river, I began casting the south side once more, but this time switched to a root beer colored jig tail. At the third private dock, I landed a fat little 15-inch fish. Not a trophy, but a sure keeper. It was not yet 8 a.m. and were I fishing a few miles south in Volusia County those two fish would have been my limit, but not in Flagler County.
Fishing where a small stream enters the creek, I landed a couple undersized but was pleased to see the brown plastic jig was working just fine. A little farther west and I had a solid hookup near a big stump just off the bank. This was a nice fish and it was full of life. It took me down the stream and went under a large boat that stood at anchor. Now I was beginning to think this fish would never come home with me, but for some reason it just lost its spirit and sort of gave up. It laid on its side and I pulled it to the net. A spotted beauty at 18 inches.
Just then I began to think this cold trip to Flagler Beach was turning out OK. With three fish in the box and most of the morning still before me, I began to fish the far west end of the stream.
Before too awful long, I hooked what I knew was a small trout. The fish was probably feeling the effects of the cold water and put up a much better fight than it should have. Back and forth we went and I could see that my foe was only about 15 inches long. What a stout little bugger!
At the boat I lowered the net into the water intending to guide it in, but as I began that move the hook pulled free. The worn out little fish just sort of laid there, not moving. With the net already in the water I moved it slowly under the trout and was able to land it. I'm not sure if it was the fight or the cold but for whatever reason the fat little guy just laid there until I could netted it.
With the four fish I was happy and pulled out at only 10:30. Oh my, the truck heater did feel good.
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.