Unfortunately one of the most popular fishing spots in Volusia County bears the unsavory moniker of “The Toilet bowl.”
It has been that for all of the 40-plus years I have fished there. The T-Bowl is a place where five streams converge creating a strong eddy that sometimes traps surface debris. The name has nothing to do with the water quality.
It sits at the gateway of some of the best red drum fishing in this area, but many anglers are compelled to stop and throw a bait into the deep water whirlpool. The T Bowl sits less than a half mile south of High Bridge and a couple hundred yards west of the Halifax River. The entrance is guarded by a small island.
On a cloudy spring morning, I paddled The Green Peanut to the Toilet Bowl, looking for spotted sea trout. With the water warming, I knew it would be tough fishing. The tide also was not in my favor since it was slowing just a couple hours before full high tide. In the back water I prefer an outgoing flow, but a strong current in either direction is a must.
Sure enough, fishing the end of the tide produced nothing. Just as the water began going out, things did pick up some. I began to get soft hits on my plastic shrimp tail jig, but only hits, no takers. After a bit, a light rain began to fall and I soon landed four small trout, two of which were 15-inch keepers. No great shakes but a definite improvement.
That morning there had been several people fishing from outboards and kayaks, but when the rain picked up, most ran for cover. That left just one hardy soul in a camo john boat and me. He and I spoke about how slow the fishing was and just then a heavy rumble of thunder sounded. I told him that once about 10 years back I had been fishing with no luck until a thunderstorm came through, turning the big trout on. The fellow said he would like to stay to test that theory, but when lightning cracked in the distance, he fired up his engine to pull away.
Before he was out of sight, a big 21-inch sea trout gobbled up the chartreuse jig to give me a run for my money. On the very next cast, I hooked one that had to be in the neighborhood of 18 inches, but the line popped. My fault, I should have checked the mono for abrasions after landing the big fish. As soon as I had a fresh bait tied on, l had another big trout hit right at the boat.
I knew I didn’t have enough line out, so after setting the hook, I took a chance and opened the bail to let the fish swim a bit. Now I had it about 25 feet out, a much safer distance to play what turned out to be a 19-inch trout. Now I had a nice limit and thoughts of hush puppies and fried filets began to fill my mind.
On the way home I pondered what had happened. What had turned the fish on? Was it the turning tide or the weather? I have to believe the thunderstorm was the catalyst. The darkened sky and the low bass rumble combined with the rain must have done the trick. Now don’t be foolish and try to stay out in lightning, but don’t be too quick to avoid a little rain either. A good squall just might help you get a meal out of The Toilet Bowl.
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.