Fish Love

Sometimes Dan Smith just gets a little too excited about fish he catches. Rick Kayholm of Wham Bam Charters really shouldn't encourage him.

I met Capt. Brad Kayholm in New Smyrna Beach at the Outrigger boat ramp right at 5:30 a.m.

Now that may sound insignificant, but I had to leave my home in Ormond-by-the-Sea at 4:45 a.m. That requires a dedication that only a few anglers will understand.

As I pulled up in the dark, sure enough Brad and his dad, Rick, were sitting in the already launched boat. I was pleased to see Rick along for I knew he had been battling serious health problems. Big Daddy Kayholm said his only sacrifice would be to not fish on this trip. He was along for the company and spectacle that usually happens when we three get together.

A couple miles down the Indian River and we slowed so Capt. Brad could view his new Hummingbird Helex fish finder. The thing looks like a 16-inch color TV, and soon Brad saw what he was looking for. No anchoring on this modern vessel. The big remote control trolling motor would automatically hold us in one place despite the rapidly moving tide.

We baited with four-inch live croakers and I scored first. A hard hit made me believe I had a red drum, but it turned out to be a huge sail catfish. As it was released, we couldn’t help but admire the long fins of the big fish. It probably went about 7 pounds with a head as big as a large grapefruit.

It was right at dawn when I hooked up with a large red. This fight would be monumental. Four long runs with me only able to hang on and hope the reel’s drag would not seize up before the monster began doing that telltale head shake.

And what a head it was! Brad put the net under the big red drum, but only the head would fit. Now understand, Capt. Brad is a full-sized guy, but for just a second I was not sure he would be strong enough to get the thing into the boat.

You may recall a couple years back, Brad and his Wham Bam Charters put me on my all-time largest red fish at 44 inches in length. This one was 47 inches long and, although we didn’t weigh it, we all agreed it had to go about 35 pounds. After posing with the big fish, I kissed it and set it free.

After that we each caught more very large sail cats and then I was on with a red larger than the first. The fight just lasted too long (for me) and the hook finally pulled free. Could it have been a 50-incher? I’ll never know, but it felt like it.

My next hookup was with a stingray that was at least 30 inches wide. That big flattie went to the bottom and just stayed there. It became a test of wills and equipment, but I won. Just then I’m thinking “is everything oversized in this place?”

Folks, I have often told you about young Brad Kayholm and his Wham Bam Charters. As we all know, fishing is unpredictable, but Capt. Brad is as consistent as any angler I have ever fished with. To get in on this kind of fun, give him a call at (386) 314-8553 and get on his waiting list. The next time he gets on such a fishing bonanza he will give you a call to join him. I have been fishing for red drum for more than 60 years and he has put me on my best ones twice in recent years. Amazing! Call Capt. Brad for the trip of a lifetime.

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

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