On a calm morning, I launched my 17-foot Polar at the Granada boat ramps in Ormond Beach.
Even though the sun was not yet up, the area was busy with shrimpers and fishermen putting in. There was even a small sailboat launching.
I was there at the request of loyal reader Martin Jackson who lives close enough to those docks to walk over. Martin had brought along his Uncle Bill Hester who was visiting from Marshall, Texas.
Once on board, we began the four-mile trek north to the Tomoka State Park area. My goal was to put the guys on some reds around the basin even, though the redfish had been very scarce for quite a while.
Like every fisherman, I remain optimistic, at least until the first cast. I stopped the fellows at the Park to work one of my favorite flounder holes and allow them to become accustomed to my light tackle.
As I motored across the big bay to get into position, I was surprised to see my engine churning up mud in places where I never usually hit bottom.
The tide was way out and still falling fast. Not a good harbinger for a great day. At my flounder hole, I didn't like having to stay so far from shore, and sure enough, we caught nothing.
Moving north to another spot, I found just a bit more water and as soon as we anchored, Bill caught a small flounder. Not much, but a beginning. Soon Bill caught a nice 17-inch one and was surprised at the stout fight the fish gave him.
After that, he hooked a few more and somehow they managed to escape.
All the while Bill is having fun, Martin and I are casting our brains out without a hit. We were all using my green jig and fishing in the same spot, but Bill definitely had the hot hand.
With the entire area now almost dry, I knew that getting to my redfish hole would be tough and probably useless.
Pressing on, I managed to put the boat atop a mud bar where we, Martin and I, spent the good part of a half hour trying to free it up.
The tide was still falling. I knew the conditions would not allow us to get where I believed the reds were so I decided I had best take what the fish gods offered. As I drove the Polar back to the second flounder hole, the water suddenly came alive.
Martin grabbed up the cast net, and with a mighty heave dropped it on about 20 nice white shrimp.
With me driving the boat and Bill making sure to capture any shrimp that were trying to escape the tray, Martin would cast anytime he saw the bugs on the surface. That worked for about a half-hour and when it was over the boys had around 5 pounds of shrimp for a nice addition to the catch.
Back at the dock, I cleaned the four flounder we ended up with, and the talk turned to just how the guys would prepare the flounder and shrimp bounty they were taking home. We had a nice morning in bad conditions, and I know that when Bill gets back to Texas, he will have a few stories to tell about the Halifax River.
For those of you who like to shrimp, don't hang our net up just yet. Seeing all of those shrimp on the flats means they are gathering up for one more run. Keep an eye on it.
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 $10.95 at (386) 441-7793.