On the last Tuesday of September, I left the house at 8 a.m. to kill a bit of time with a fishing rod.
I seldom begin a fishing trip that late, but a little wading seemed to be a good idea at the time.
End of summer can sometimes yield some of the largest flounders of the season for those who take the time to search for them. When I arrived at my favorite flounder spot on the eastern shores of Tomoka State Park, I discovered there would be no wading. The wettest August and September in recent memory had resulted in the Halifax being near flood stage with the water over the shore and into the woods. This would be more like swimming than wading.
Back in the truck, I headed south and stopped at the Granada Bridge in Ormond Beach. Fishing the west side my jig did manage a few light hits, and, finally, one small blue fish came up onto the boards.
I moved on to the Main Street Bridge where a couple fellows were already fishing. One had a black drum and the other a sheepshead, so they were well on the way to a nice fish dinner. I was there looking for sea trout, but none took the lure.
Next, I pulled into the parking lot of the big courthouse annex on Orange Avenue. Since the new bridge had been completed I had been wanting to check out the fishing possibilities there. For years the old bridge had been one of my favorite stops, but I knew that had all changed. Now there is a big "L" shaped wooden pier under the west end of the new bridge. Nice, but I didn't think there would be any fish around for at least two years.
The only one fishing there when I arrived was Jeremiah, who fishes that area as much as anyone. He and I compared jigs, and when I asked if he had been catching I was surprised to learn that, indeed, he had been doing pretty well there. Jeremiah told me that the construction had certainly disrupted the catch, but the fish had not left; only relocated.
Now, there was trout but not where I once caught them. Fishing with a paddle tail bait, he had been landing good numbers and had even been catching snook either early or late around the bridge. He mentioned that the sheepshead’s bite was still good if you can locate them, and the black drum were still around. As for me, I did not catch anything there, but with all the good information Jeremiah gave me I can now put Orange Avenue back on my list of hot spots.
Of course, after a few years the barnacles will grow, the bottom will recover from the damage caused by the construction, and the fishing will be reliable once more. At any rate, I'm happy they did consider the fishermen when they built the new bridge. It's a nice pier.
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.