If you have read about all of the great fishing lately, don't believe it. The good news is it should pick up as soon as the water temp dips a few degrees.
I can now declare my summer flounder season over. I ended up with 72 this summer. That may sound like a lot, but that is over a 24-week period and averages out to only three a week. Some of those were turned back and more were given away to those pour folks who don't fish.
It has come to my attention that some of you may be confused by the opening of the short red snapper season in the Atlantic. That has nothing to do with our inshore redfish that are also known as red drum. The only snapper we get inshore are of the mangrove variety. It's not impossible to catch a red snapper in the inshore but darn near it. Anyway, when I refer to reds please know that I am only talking about red drum.
Small snook are around the Tomoka State Park and I have heard the same about Spruce Creek. I caught an 18 incher on my jig and saw another take a silver spoon. Trout have faded a bit after a strong summer. The water in the Halifax is showing some discoloration from all of the rain but so far I think we are all right. From my experience it takes a bit more tannic acid than is now showing to discourage the fish.
Actually, there is tons of bait in the Basin area and that always bodes well. Things down in the Mosquito Lagoon are still unsettled. Despite what you may have heard, the algae bloom is still going strong there and now includes a good-sized fish kill. Scientists from the state are working on it. I am hearing that the bait is missing there and that may be the reason why the Halifax is so full of mullet and the like.
As we move into fall watch the weather systems to lead you to good fishing. Any time you are able to get out on the leading edge of a front you will do well. I put that theory to work when Hurricane Isaac passed but had little luck. I went out looking for black drum and only landed one undersized red. Still, down through the years I have usually done well fishing a front.
Actually for drum I would take it a step further and say that you can catch them when the barometer has bottomed out. With deep-water drum it is a light issue. They feed best at twilight or dawn and when it is cloudy will eat all day. Years ago when the dead-end canal in Tomoka State Park was drum heaven you had to wait until the setting sun cast a shadow onto the water. You could sit there all day and soak a shrimp without a bite but as soon as the trees cast their shadow - hang on.
As the water cools the fish will react by trying to take on a layer of fat for the coming winter. If you are able to find them, most species will then eat. Best will be redfish and trout.
Out on the beach you had best be packing away some sand fleas, because it won't be long before they disappear. The fish know that, too, and will be hitting. Watch for the fall mullet run to also bring the big reds to the beach.
Fishing right now is not the best but good things are in store. If you are like me you will go anyway. After about four days I become land sick from a lack of motion.
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.