Fishing in the High Bridge area from my trusty little kayak is one of my favorite things to do.
I try to get there at least once a week and am usually able to find something entertaining.
On a nice morning recently, I arrived there to find the incoming tide had just about stopped. In order to fish sea trout with a jig, you must have current. There was none. As I whiled away the time waiting for the tide to turn, I saw a bush moving on the shore just downstream. I drifted near as quietly as possible and found a large manatee munching a Brazilian pepper plant. As Troy Landry of Swamp People might say it was a tree shaker.
The big guy didn't seem to mind my presence so I moved in, stopping only about 10 to 12 feet away. The big sea cow was well over 1,000 pounds and really going at the bush. With each bite, the big, rubbery snout would expand to more than four times its normal size in order to take in all the leaves possible. I was close enough to see the look in its eye that reflected obvious pleasure.
I knew it was mating season and there was several manatees in the area that day. I figured the big male was probably stacking carbs for the upcoming activities.
Once the tide began to move, I started fishing in earnest and pretty quickly had a fat keeper trout that was a definite over achiever. The pretty fish jumped three times on the way to the net. After that I had a long spell without a hit. That lasted so long it sent me to my tackle bag to begin switching jig tails.
Finally a dark brown root beer colored shrimp tail paid off and I felt a subtle bite. I knew right away I was on with a flounder. Those fish will either take the bait and just lay quietly or begin to swim off slowly. When I pulled back hard, the flounder realized it was hooked and the fight was on. It was only a 16-inch fish, but a keeper and a future flounder sandwich.
Once more I fished for an hour without another hit. A slow day. After going so long without a bite, any angler will tend to lose interest and when I finally had a hard hit, I almost had the rod ripped from my hand.
At first I was thinking snook, but when my foe began that telltale head bob, I knew I was on with a jack. The fight was a good one with a couple long runs and then settling in to a pulling contest with the jack hiding under the boat. When it came up, it was a two-pounder and I decided to keep it. Normally I would release it, but lately I had been thinking about smoked fish dip and jacks make a good one.
If you do not have a smoker, put your fish on a grill with just a few charcoal briquets and add wet pieces of oak to create the smoke. Filet the jack and leave the skin and scales on. Cook the fish slowly skin side down. Place about two tablespoons of smoked jack in a tub of pre-softened cream cheese and squeeze in half a small lemon. Whip or blend till smooth and serve with crackers, cold beer and hot sauce. So good!
That was all I managed on this day, but I suppose a sea trout, flounder and jack must be some sort of rinky-dink inshore grandslam.
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.