I had enjoyed a fun morning of fishing in the great Mosquito Lagoon, having traveled from the far south all the way north to the Government Cut.
I had my 17-foot Polar deep into the mangroves fishing very skinny water when the tide really began to leave. Over the years I have made it a point to warn people about fishing the lagoon on an out going tide. I learned that lesson early on when my 14-foot wooden runabout ran aground there in 1970. Since then I have had to get out and push my stuck boat maybe a half dozen times. The Mosquito Lagoon is no place to be at low tide.
On this day I became caught up in what I was doing and made a mistake. A big mistake! When my boat ran aground on a sandbar, I knew there was no deep water for maybe a quarter mile and it was still dropping fast. I tried to use the push pole, but the boat would not move. I got out into the water and tried to push or pull, but it would not budge. I knew I was in big trouble.
It was just after noon and I knew the tide was not scheduled to start coming in until around 3 p.m. All I could do was wait. Before long, a lone kayaker came by and I used his phone to tell my wife I wouldn't be home before dark. I asked the fellow if he had found any deep water and he said he had not and had been out pulling his kayak. Not good.
After he left, I began to consider the possibilities. I moved things in the boat around to better distribute the weight and made sure my running lights were working. No telling how late I might be. I did have water on board, but no food. It was a hot day and soon I saw that my legs and arms began to glow red. With that, I put up the canvas Bimini top. I did that for shade but also hoped the wind might catch the top and blow me off the bar. Nope.
By 3 p.m. there was little indication the tide was rising, so I threw out a dead lady fish to watch the direction of the drift. Pretty quickly a blue crab grabbed the fish and seemed to be playing with it. In clear water of about six inches, the fish and crab were sitting ducks. Before long a big osprey fish hawk dove on the fish and I yelled for the crab to turn it loose least it be part of the bird's lunch. It did, but the big bird of prey made off with the crab's prize.
Eventually the water came up about three inches and I got out to push with some success. It took me over a half hour to move the boat about 50 feet, but then I was able to use the engine. While that felt good I was far from out of trouble.
There was no water anyplace and I had to resort to the push pole. Now I was making my way to the passes and cuts I knew would get me to the deep water of the Indian River, but all those were dry. I had to work my way back north to Government Cut in order to get to the river. By the time I had the boat on the trailer, it was 7 p.m. and 13 hours since I had left home.
Folks, do not take the lagoon lightly. After 50 years of fishing there, I made a mistake and, at one point, I thought I might have to spend the entire night on the boat. Please watch the tides and be careful!
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.