The parking for the boat ramp behind Edgewater City Hall was completely packed when I arrived at 5:30 a.m. July 9.
Not a surprise since it was opening day of the three-day red snapper season. Capt. Rick Kayholm pulled in right on time and we launched in the darkness along with perhaps 50 other vessels.
Our boat was Rick's 28-footer pushed by two big 225 horse Yamahas. At Ponce Inlet we were driving along five abreast and everyone was amped up with anticipation. On board, aside from Rick and I, were first mate Glen, angler Noel and Capt. Frank.
We all knew we had a long ride to the snapper grounds and on that morning the sea was pretty unforgiving. We were all tossed about on the ride and pleased when Rick throttled down to begin fishing.
First we took up light rods baited with squid to try for bait fish. Right on cue the croakers, grunts and other miscellaneous bottom dwellers began to come up. Once we had enough bait fish, we all dropped our lines 80 feet into the depths of the Atlantic Ocean.
It wasn't long before Frank was on with something large and we all stopped to watch. When Glen put the net under his big 15-pound snapper, we knew this was the beginning of a great day.
As it turned out the first fish of the day would be our best. The action slowed and we could look around in amazement at the number of boats that were sharing space 15 miles out. Rick continued to motor about, watching the fish-finder screen all the while.
Noel was disappointed to find out his first big catch of the day was a shark and a little later so was I. Still, good fun for the three-foot sharks gave us a good battle. Capt. Frank began to pull up small snapper and so did I. After noon, the ocean finally calmed and the best fishing began. I do mean fishing, and not catching.
Glen broke off on a big snapper and then Noel and then the same thing happened to me.
I was fishing with Capt. Rick's brand new electric reel and having fun trying to figure out the way the thing works. My first experience with something like that. I had my snapper on the electric and just below the surface when the leader gave way.
Now we began to second guess ourselves. All experienced anglers, but we couldn't manage to get one of those big prizes into the boat much to Rick's displeasure. "I'm putting you guys on fish, but I can't catch them for you," he laughed.
He was right. We had lots of chances but mostly failed. I did manage a nice three to four pound black margate snapper and maybe the largest pin fish any of us had ever seen. At the end of the day we all had snapper to take home and had to agree it had been a successful day. The rain storm at the ramp didn't dampen our spirits at all.
To get there on time I had left home at 4:30 a.m. and didn't make it back until 7 p.m. A long day for an old man, but one I wouldn't have missed.
If you want to get in on some of this fun, be it offshore, inshore or fresh water, you can't do better than Capt. Rick. Call Grand Slam fishing charters at (517) 812-8459 to reserve your trip. On this day, the five of us made a memory of a lifetime. You can, too.
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.