I slid the kayak onto the roof of my old Ford Explorer before dawn and headed south. On this trip I was heading down to the Spruce Creek area, and it was going to be all about fun.
My freezer was well stocked with flounder filets and shrimp from a recent run in the Halifax, and now it was time to get my line stretched. I dropped the Green Peanut in at Sleepy Hollow Park just north of the New Smyrna Beach Airport and a little south of the Three Bridges area of Port Orange. Right away, I could see the tide was very low, but charging in with a force as it does when you are near the inlet.
With the fast tide, I didn't need to paddle much to get back into the red fish hole. On the way, I cast my red and white Mirro Lure a few times and attracted the attention of a small trout. As I twitched the plug on the surface, the game little trout hit it once, twice and then a hook-up. It was a fun start, and I was happy to release it.
Once at my destination, I found the water smooth, and I could see fish moving all over the place. Plainly, there were lots of large mullet in the area, but I also knew they were not all mullet. I began catching 16-inch reds one after the other. The small reds were so thick; I began to throw lures that I ordinarily ignore. They were ready to play with most anything I threw. Now that's fun!
After awhile that action slowed and I moved deeper into the mangroves in search of big game. Now, I was in very shallow water, but bull reds were pushing water about like submarines. It was a tight little cove, but was holding three or four of the big boys.
I made a lot of casts, but could never get the big ones to hit. I suppose they were too spooked in the tight confines. One that was not spooked was a red of around 20 inches. I saw it swimming toward my boat with its back out of the water. I sat very still and tried to drag my lure in front of it, but it was having none of it, so I just watched. The fish was totally oblivious to my presence and was slowly moving along stopping now and then to nose the bottom when it found something of interest. It was fun to see the object of my affection going about its daily business.
Overhead a large pink flamingo soared low over the swamp. In this area, our pink flamingos are actually roseate spoonbills, but this one was the real deal. I wondered if it had come all the way from South Florida or had escaped one of the theme parks. It was fun getting such a good look at it.
Once the sun was bright, I admired all of the big mangrove bushes surrounding me. Back in the '80s, those mangroves were frozen down to their roots, but are very healthy now. All were dripping with the seedpods that will float to places unknown to make more mangroves.
If you pay attention, you know they are a plant of a deep green color, but look closer and you will notice there is always a few leaves of yellow on each bush. Although the mangrove is salt tolerant, when it takes on more salt than it can handle, it sends it to selected leaves. They turn yellow, die and fall off. Just how the mangrove selects those certain leaves to sacrifice is unknown. The next time, you are out having fun ponder that mystery. My day ended with one 18-inch flounder on the stringer, and when I went to the truck, I presented it to a shore-bound angler. It was fun to see the big smile on his face.
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.