At 8 a.m. I launched the Green Peanut at the boat ramp in Gamble Rogers State Park on A1A just south of Flagler Beach.
It was a nice morning with a welcome cool breeze blowing. As I crossed the ICW waterway, I could see the tide was going out and heading north toward Matanzas Inlet. After paddling straight west, I headed the kayak into the myriad of canals and oyster bars that dot that estuary. Despite the recent rains the water quality looked good and tasted salty.
I had baited my seven-foot medium action rod with a red and white MirrOlure twitchbait. The reel was a number 25 Lews spooled with 10-pound mono and no leader.
I know the area west of Gamble Rogers to be a good red drum area, but on this morning I was looking for spotted sea trout. In Flagler County an angler can legally keep five trout instead of the paltry two allowed in Volusia County.
Right away I could see bait fish moving with the current. A good sign to be sure. Pretty quickly I had a hard hit and the plug shot away in the mouth of something very strong. For just a bit I believed it to be a red, but once the head bob began I knew I was on with a jack. After a stout battle I released the three-pound fish without taking it from the water. With a slap of its tail it left unharmed.
Farther along I saw the wake of a good-sized red in front of me. The fish was over a hundred feet away and heading west. As quietly as I could, I followed trying to get within casting range. That never happened. After about a half mile, the red turned north and disappeared behind a mangrove island.
That left me in a deeper canal and I switched to my chartreuse shrimp tail jig on a 1/8 oz. white lead head. After a couple light hits, I was on with a decent fish that turned out to be a trout of just over 15 inches. I wrapped the fish in a cloth to keep. In the exact same spot I had another sea trout identical to the first, but that was it for the trout.
Going back to the MirrOlure, I began working around the islands and bars. After a half hour or so, I made a cast to a point and immediately saw the wake of a fish streak toward my bait. I knew it was a red and, when the fish ran 15 feet in a split second, I knew the fight was on.
Once the big fish rolled up on my plug, it took off. Now my job was to keep it out of the sharp oysters where it could easily break my line. Luckily the red chose to do battle in the deeper water and, once it was clear of the oysters, I could relax to enjoy the fight. The strong fish had my drag singing a tune until it finally laid up beside the boat. Only one hook was in its lip, but that was enough. The red was a good one at 23 inches and, with the two trout, gave me a nice catch for the morning.
If you get the chance, give Gamble Rogers a try.
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.