Big Red

Dan Smith is all smiles when he catches a big one. This red drum came from an area just off Ponce Inlet.

When Capt. Brad Kayholm called to say the big reds where in Ponce Inlet, he immediately had my attention.

You may remember that in the last few years Brad and his Wham Bam Charters were able to put me on trophy red drum on two separate occasions. Each time I had managed a personal best, so when Capt. Brad says big reds I know he means B-I-G.

At the Kennedy Park boat ramps in Edgewater, I joined Brad and his dad, Rick, for a nighttime fishing trip. I was especially happy to have Rick along since I know he has been battling some serious health issues as of late. The three of us have enjoyed some great trips in the past and I wanted that fun to continue.

Our impressive ride was Wham Bam’s new 21-foot Carolina Skiff. That boat is equipped with power pole, remote control trolling motor and top of the line fish finder. First we made a couple stops in the Indian River with no luck before powering up to head to Ponce.

We were using stout equipment, tipped with big 5/0 and 7/0 circle hooks baited with live blue crabs. The tide was going out, but the trolling motor held our position steady. Within minutes I was on with a big lunker that gave me quite a battle before the hook pulled free. I never saw that fish but was sure it was a bull red.

Once I had re-baited, the wait for another hookup was short and this time I landed a 45-inch red that must have weighed nearly 30 pounds. What a fish and what a fight! It was so heavy that as I lifted it, I had a difficult time summoning up a smile for the camera. My arms were still quaking as we released it to fight another day.

Next, Rick landed a twin to the one I had caught as Capt. Brad stayed busy re-baiting and releasing our fish. After some time, the nearby boats began to notice our success and drew ever closer. No matter, I would end up landing five fish all over 40 inches in length and together we put nine in the boat. The other captains could not match Brad’s expertise.

After we ran out of crab bait we went to croakers and did just as well. After that fifth one, I must admit I had just about had it and took a beer to retreat to the far end of the boat, as far from the rods as possible. Five monsters on a single trip would be a new record for me and my tired old body told me that was plenty.

Folks this was a fishing trip of a lifetime. I have been catching red drum for nearly 60 years and this was my best trip ever. With Christmas coming up, now would be a great time to book your favorite angler a trip with Wham Bam Charters. Call Capt. Brad at (386) 314-8553 and set up your own adventure.

You know each time we fish together I go home with a great memory. I can’t imagine how he will top this on our next trip but I know somehow he will. If you are like many I speak with and believe area fishing is depleted, get with Brad and find out the truth. So many fish, so little time!

Dan Smith has fished the waters of Volusia County for more than 40 years. Email questions and comments to fishwdan@att.net. His book, “I Swear the Snook Drowned,” is available for purchase for $10.95 at (386) 441-7793.

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