I launched my 17-foot Polar center console right at dawn at the Salty Dawg fish camp at the foot of High Bridge in Northeast Volusia County.
It was not a comfortable launch because the walkway along the concrete boat ramp is still down after several years. Hard to believe the county has ignored one of the busiest ramps for so long. Obviously their priorities are not boaters or fishermen.
As I motored south, I knew I needed to step it up for at this time of year most of the better fishing takes place either at dawn or dusk. The midday heat is not good for the anglers or the fish and both tend to slow down. That's summer fishing in Central Florida.
Throwing a white jig in the dim morning light brought a solid hit and a very nice 16-inch keeper sea trout. The outgoing tide was about to stop, so I was able to cover the entire creek on my slow drift.
Another stout hit led me to believe I had another trout, but this one was a nice 17-inch flounder. The flounder had come up off the bottom to take the jig about half way up in the five-foot water column. Some people believe the flatties only feed on the bottom, but I have caught many flounders on top water.
After that, the action slowed until a fat little 15-inch trout finished my limit.
Fishing the mouth of a cut, I had a very powerful strike and I knew it had to be a snook. The first run was a long one, causing my little Lew's reel to squeal in pain. On the second long run, I pulled back hard, expecting a jump, but instead felt the head bob of a jack. Jack or snook, it's all good for snook are currently out of season. Both represent a lot of fun. This three-pound jack was full of it and would not tire. When I finally put it in the boat, I could see it was deep hooked, so I cut the line and put it in the cooler for smoked fish dip.
You know here in the inshore we have four species that will always give an angler a great fight. Tarpon, ladyfish jack crevalle and snook are dependable battlers. Strange thing about it is the first three in that list are not usually eaten. Because they are throwbacks, they thrive and are numerous.
There was a time many years ago when the Daytona Beach area was known as the tarpon capital of the world. People flocked here to do battle with the big silver kings. They are not as numerous these days, but when you do find them, you are in store for lots of fun. If you get into tarpon, you will soon learn hooking one and landing one are very different propositions.
Some people look down on the lowly ladyfish, but it's hard to find a better foe. Some years back, the late Al Houser and I got into 'em so thick down Port Orange way, they were banging into the sides of the boat and the engine once hooked. Those long, slim warriors are prone to jump until they wear out. Great fun!
The jacks are known to feed in packs like wolves. When I get into a school of them, I begin tying on lures I seldom use. When they are in a feeding mode, they will hit anything.
What can you say about the snook? Great fighters, jumpers, and oh so tasty on the plate. For me and most anglers they are the prize. Still, when you are on the water and hook up with any one of those four – well, just be thankful. You are in for lots of action!
Dan Smith has fished the waters of Volusia County for more than 40 years. Email questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. His book, “I Swear the Snook Drowned,” is available for purchase for $10.95 at (386) 441-7793.