If you are addicted to fishing, you have a few go-to places that are sheltered from the wind.
We can all find something to do around the house when the wind has been blowing for a few days, but when it blows steady for a week, we must seek shelter in order to wet a line. That happened to me recently when the end of summer brought on a blow that seemed to have no end.
The upper Tomoka River is fairly sheltered, as is the western end of Spruce Creek. There is a dead-end tidal creek in Tomoka State Park that can provide a calm place to fish, but on this day my choice turned out to be Strickland Creek at Sanchez Park in Ormond Beach. That is a stream I have fished for more than 40 years.
For the first 20 of those years, it was as productive as any place I have ever soaked a bait. Back then red and black drum were stacked in there and nice mangrove snappers were plentiful. In later years, it had become progressively more and more difficult to find descent fish.
On this morning I launched my kayak at the natural ramp in Sanchez Park and began to paddle north. Strickland Creek runs along John's Island for about four miles before emptying into the Tomoka River. It is a deep, but narrow stream that is lined with tall trees on both banks.
As most of you know I am a dedicated artificial bait angler, but in Strickland I always use dead shrimp and a small hook. To get a bit more casting distance, I added one lead split shot. The water was fairly clear, but stained dark brown from the tannic acid.
For the first half mile nothing happened, but then I tossed the shrimp near a submerged stump and hooked a feisty little mango to release. Soon I was at a downed tree that had produced drum limits for many years. Nothing biting.
Just before I began to leave, I saw my line move off very slowly and when I set the hook, I was on with a nice three-pound black drum. Good fun! Long ago catching that one would have guaranteed me a cooler full, but on this day that was it. I moved on.
In Strickland Creek, the better fishing has always been along the east bank where all the stumps are. Of course, when you fish around stumps, you are bound to lose a few hooks and I did.
About half way down the creek I came to a wide spot and saw something feeding on the surface. When my shrimp splashed down, something had it immediately. It was a nice 16-inch spotted sea trout keeper. This was sort of an unusual catch in Strickland, especially on a dead shrimp.
The remainder of the morning produced only one under-sized red fish, but I was happy. I had a drum and a trout and managed to fish on a very windy day. That trip would sustain me until the wind finally laid.
These days fishing Strickland is mostly a thing of nostalgia. As I paddle the creek, each turn or downed tree reminds me of great catches of the past. The creek is now like an old friend. To be sure it is one of the nicest paddles any kayaker can make. Do yourself a favor and spend a few hours there whether you fish or not.
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.