Hmm! Should I to go straight in, I thought, or pull my boat along the curb in front?
I mean, who besides me would be coming here at this hour? Undecided, I just
pulled up to Getta's Red & White Deli & Market and got out.
I looked inside. The lights were all out except for some neon trim above the coke
machine and a light inside the freezer. I wondered if Getta was inside but hadn't
turned on the lights yet. Nope, she wasn't there. I was feeling hungry just looking
at all the food on those shelves. I should have eaten breakfast, but was too excited
about today's trip that I skipped it. The weather forecast was favorable with light winds
in the morning and bright sunny day. Gretta's door was locked, as was the lock on
the ice machine. I was real early. I usually get there a little after six, which gives me
plenty of time to get to Kelly's and launch at River Breeze.
Park Avenue and Riverside Drive were dark and quiet. A few cars and trucks passed by.
Some guy towing a trailer with a flat tire made a loud flapping noise on the pavement, he
seemed to be in a trance. There was a huge white cabin boat on a trailer across the street.
The shadows from a streetlight bounced off its torn flag and flashed small reflections on the
store windows. Otherwise everything seemed silent and sleepy.
An old man crossed the street and came over to where I stood, walked passed me, put
a quarter in the machine and took out the morning's paper. We exchanged nodes and he
left without saying a word. I thought I should have said something like, "Good Morning,"
I was standing outside next to my boat patiently waiting for Getta to arrive. She makes
the best sub sandwiches in town; been making them for more than 15 years. Two years
ago she had to raise her prices and apologized to everyone for it, still doing it. Where
can you get a 12" sub for $2.50? My friend has a sandwich named after him here. He
has probably bought more than a thousand from her, we just ask for a 'Kent Special.'
The thought of that sandwich was making me hungry again.
Getta arrived about five after six. Surprised to see me, she said, "Looks like it's going
to be a good day for fishing."
"Yes, it does."
She let me in, turned on the lights, and
asked me to unlock the icebox and bring her back the key and lock. I could see her
turn on the meat-cutting machine, reach into the deli counter and get a package of meat,
lettuce and tomato. I could already taste that sandwich. Meanwhile, I got the icebox
opened and returned the key and lock. Getta had the sandwiches ready, so I paid her
and left, taking a bag of ice and the sandwiches to put in the cooler on the boat. It
was time to get moving.
Two motor-cross racing guys were meeting me for some fishing fun. I enjoy meeting
the racing people around Daytona and Smyrna. They have unique stories about
growing up around tracks and racing for their living. A lot of them love to fly fish,
so naturally we exchange stories about fishing adventures. Jay Springer is ranked
9th on the Motor-Cross circuit. He and his buddy Kirk are avid fisherman and fish
on their days off. They are both from Michigan and have told me about huge Brown
Trout and Salmon they catch up there.
When touring they always hire a guide to take them to remote fishing places. Today
was no different for them. They had seen TNN's Suzuki Great Outdoors and American
Expedition, and read about our big inshore game fish. Mosquito Lagoon had them very
excited. They were eager to catch some redfish, trout, or any other fish, but mostly this
was a way for them to relax and enjoy the scenery and boating experience.
The boat loaded, everyone on board, we pushed off from the ramp at seven, heading south.
The sun was just starting to rise and from our vantage point the lagoon was just coming into
view. Above that the Canaveral Seashore and was making a spectacular entry. You could
see the islands on the east towards Bisset Bay and the sea wall on the west near Ed Tindell's
house. This is a large white house that had its roof blown off during Hurricane Irene last year.
The house is really exposed because it sits right out by the ICW. But it makes a good
landmark when visibility is poor in the north lagoon.
We passed Markers 17, 19 and 21. Brian Clancy waved from his poling platform as
we motored by. He was fishing a fly angler inside the Clinkers. He is a staunch believer
in catch and release practices and a terrific guide as well. Moving farther south we could
just make out the tower at Kennedy Space Center. Jay and Kirk thought this was really
great and took pictures even though the center was just a box outline on the horizon,
some 20 miles away.
Starting my turn at Marker 24, I headed east to the north end of Tiger Shoals. This is a
huge flat about 3 miles across. The best fishing is near an old plane wreck, the wheels
still point skyward at low tide. There is a trench that runs parallel to a bar running southeast
by northwest, when the wind is light this is a good place to find a school of reds.
I shut down just northeast of the shoals and got everyone rigged and ready for casting.
The important thing to remember when fishing in the flats is to try to see the fish. False
casts are great for getting the muscles primed, but you need to be ready to cast when a
fish is spotted. So often when guys are just blind casting they don't have enough time
to retrieve and recast, spoiling an opportunity to cast to a fish. I was surprised by the
way that these two men handled their fly rods. One had a 9wt Redfly and the other
used a 10wt Redington DFR. Both large arbor reels were dressed with almost 250
yards of backing and a mono-core fly line. This is great fly line for stealth fishing
and it casts well in the wind.
I poled down to the plane wreck and then south a few hundred yards. Kirk felt a
bump and a push on a white/tan half & half. Funny thing was I didn't see the fish.
It could have been a red or more likely a trout. He had cast the fly just past a white
hole and then pulled it to the edge to sink. I bet a trout was lying off the grass and
made his move on the fly. Sometimes fly anglers are really anxious and strip too early
pulling the fly out. This could have happened since the line went slack as soon as he
picked up the rod tip.
This was a real good start to get everyone's adrenalin going and now sharpening the
senses as well. The important thing is that we were all in the 'zone.' Now the interesting
part would start. I poled us up next to the shoal flat and waited a few minutes. I wanted
to look around at the surface. I studied the ripples and how the wind was pushing the water.
I looked for any irregularities that would signal a school working beneath the water.
Over at 2 o'clock, it looked like a large v-shaped dark water spot - a school of reds.
Sometimes you just have this feeling - like a sixth sense or something. The school was
moving too fast to catch. They would probably be back, so I worked around the
south side of the shoal.
Three other boats were already getting too close in an area to just be chummy. I was
sure they were on to another school and I wanted to ease over there without getting
anyone's hair up. I told my guys to watch the boats every once in awhile. Meantime
I spotted a small pod as we worked southeast along the back of this flat. We would
eventually find ourselves down in the vicinity of the other boats, but do it in a non-invasive
We rounded the east point close to Van's Island then worked our way back to the
southwest. It was a really great day, picture perfect sky - sky blue with a few high
clouds and a light breeze. The water was really clear and Jay and Kirk were amazed
at how shallow the water was. About 300 yards from the crab traps I spotted some
copper forms in the water. I stopped poling, whispered to Jay and Kirk, "Get ready,"
relax." I could feel their excitement. Jay had a big smile showing off his
front teeth. I motioned to Kirk with two-fingers raised and pointed. He cast
and as the fly hit the water I said, "let it sink." Then to Jay almost opposite
I motioned that he should cast to 10 o'clock and he did.
They both waited and then Kirk yelled, "FISH ON."
"Keep the rod tip up, give him some line. Let him take line," I said. As Jay started
to reel-in, his line went tight. Double hook-up. Wow!
Man this was going to be really interesting. Quickly I thought which fish is pulling
harder - which spool has the stronger backing. Jay had the 10-wt so we could wait
on his fish a while. The only thing was the fish took off in different directions. There
wasn't time for messing around. I quickly tied the pole to the platform and jumped
down to the deck and bow. I engaged the trolling motor and started following Kirk's
fish. I motored as fast as we could. I don't like to push these fish into exhaustion.
Catch them, get the photo and release them quickly. The fight was on.
After thirty minutes of covering a big circle we came up to Kirk's BIG red. As I closed
in on it, I could see that it was lying on the bottom in about 3 feet of water. I had Kirk
lean over the gunnel to look at his fish. He was the deepest copper color and about 36
plus inches - I figured about twenty pounds. I leaned over to grab the line and plane
the fish to the surface. That puts less pressure on a fish. When Kirk felt the slack in
the tip, he instinctively pulled it straight up slicing my hand and breaking the tippet.
His fish was gone. I had an awful feeling.
Now I turned my attention to Jay's fish and we started moving towards it. The line was
really tight and the rod was bent over right down to the butt. This was a bigger fish than
Kirk's. I could tell that his arms were tiring. He had been holding this fish for more
than 45 minutes. As we approached this red, it made a big push off the port bow and
shook the hook. Jay was a little disappointed but this only lasted a minute. He and
Kirk were doing high-fives in the boat and shaking my hand. All smiles, they wanted
to try another area. This was one awesome experience for them.
I ran them over to George's Bank and we worked the oyster bar to the east. Kirk
hooked up a small rat red and he was thrilled when it was brought to the boat. We all
marveled at this beautiful fish and then released it in the water. Jay caught a trout and
then a 6-pound ray. They both had a great time and especially enjoyed our lagoon
area and are looking forward to doing this again next year.
Capt. Doug Sinclair has relocated from New Smyrna Beach, Florida to
Grantsboro, NC. He specializes in fly-fishing and light tackle charters.
Doug charters the Coastal Carolina area of New Bern or Oriental.
Catch him on the web at
www.flyfishacademy.net or call him at (252) 745-3500.
Doug is also a Sponsor here on FAOL.