It really sucks to be long winded writer and nearly have your novella finished before accidentally hitting the back button and losing all that information that would have changed your lives forever. As I should have known better I will never go without typing in Word then copying back into AF. I’ll do my best to keep it at a minimum but as your most know I am a writer/artist at heart (who also thinks he is funny) so I have to lay it all out there for you. I hope it helps someone along the way.
I was born and raised in Daytona, fishing from the Tomoka Basin to the Lagoon on any whim I could find to fish, riding alligators to my hot spots in the Shiloh Marsh area and sharks and hefty bluefish around Ponce Inlet.
In those days that pretty little sidewalk did not exist and my legs still bear the heavily scarred shins from walking rocks as slick as snotty marbles from the beach, all the way to the last rock in the inlet. I have seen shards (big ones, including hammerheads come right up in the tiny tidal pools chasing every fish you can imagine. Fought with coons, cats and for those of you familiar, fed a redfish or two to ‘ole number 56, the escaped bottlenose from Marineland years back who would pitifully convince you that he could starve until you fed him your cooler of fish and he moved on to the next one. In those days spear fishing rules changed like the wind and a good drift on the inside of the North Jetty would limit the number of fish caught by how big your mesh bag was and how good you were with a Hawaiian Sling. (Remember folks, I am not making excuses but I was a child of 10 or 12 and in those days a cooler full of redfish barely large enough to run the filet knife through was not unacceptable and only with age and wisdom have I corrected the errors of my ways. Depending on how hard the tide screamed and it could haul ***, I’d either drift with just a weight belt or sometimes wear a tank. Because of those diving days I learned every hole, nook and cranny of the inlet and by watching I learned why they would or would not bite, what they would bit when and if they would not bit how to pop-em with that sling. I remember on day when the band on my sling had weekend to the point that I had to pull it far, far back as I drew down on what was then the legal Jewfish. As I released, 2 out of 3 spears ran up the inside of my arm, through the vein that as children we knew as the “suicide vein” and out of the palm of my hand. Blood filled the water and the screaming tide kept my hefty size from climbing up onto the rocks so I swam hard against the outgoing tide. I had seen plenty of sharks, all the time but I’ll never remember the hammerhead that followed my gushing blood that day, not a bonnethead but a good sized hammerhead that at the time had to be 20 feet but sober thinking now recalls maybe 5 feet. I popped him in the nose with the opposite end of the spear ‘til I could make it to shore and get some gauze from a buddy.
In those days the snook, mostly outsized lined the rocks like cordwood. Finicky as hell, I’d mark there hangouts and sometimes catch them but most times they could not be coaxed. Lead poisoning played hell on them though and many a fish-fry found it’s way to the table. I loved drifting her out when it was pouring rain. The number of fisherman would fall off quickly “cause they melt ya know,” the water would dirty up a bit letting me get a bit closer for the shot and “the man” was rarely seen.
I still drift or scuba once in a while with the outgoing and the snook still line up, I’d just rather catch ‘em fair now that I have grown up but they are there. Good numbers of you know of the deep hole on the inside of the north pile of rocks that always holds big reds and huge black drum. I ain’t askaird to help you find it, it is marked clearly by healthy piles of white bird crap dripping from the rocks. I guarantee you if you drift the rocks til you find higher concentrations of the feces and fish those areas your catch will increase. Thank about it folks. Fish on the bottom because baitfish are near the surface which means birds are near the surface for their daily bread which means they land to eat and that foul smell of port-o-let along with the look of the pitchers mound covered with white drips from blowing his nose by covering just one nostril and releasing the goo into the wind, that means the birds have been sitting there ‘cause there fat bellies are too full to fly.
I have traveled the Caribbean exclusively and fell in love with a delicacy that would have made me throw up as a child. Those purple sea urchins line the bottoms along the rocks. If you cut them in half they look just like an egg yolk inside and taste like fine sushi. Just dare to eat the one and most of you will be hooked. Those huge boulders created great gaps, crevices and places a boy should not run his arm up into (a man neither on that account) but a little stupidity mixed with some know how and some hunger on a good day will yield the brave ones legal lobster, some you’d be proud to harvest from Turtle Mound or 26-fathoms. A bit deeper in the same holes holds one more treat, thick gloves a necessity unless you need less fingers will have you tussling with muscle-bound stone crabs, not little fellows either but some impressive ones. Just remember, when the pinching, vice-like squeeze of the crab suddenly turns into the feel of a handful of cactus, or prickly pear, best let go and move on to the next hole, piss that ‘ole eel off bad enough and letting go may be your idea and not his whatsoever.
There is not a spot in the inlet, on the north and or south jetty that does not hold fish at one time of year or another. If the north jetty has let up more than likely the south jetty is holding fish and although they both hold the same species there is not doubt that each has it’s own little microcosm with there own little subtle differences, i.e.; in my experiences the north jetty holds the biggest redfish when the run is on, but at the same time days may go by with no sign of flounder tiny or terrifically sized but just kneel down on the north jetty for a bit and watch the silhouettes of the southside boys as they too kneel down, fairly often takin’ in the scope of slack in a bit and leaning back on the larger doormat sized flounder that tend to find themselves holding ground on the south jetty.
There are fish there my friends, patience and experience pays off in big ways. When you learn how to lay your anchor just so that your stern lays tight just inside the whirlpool that rises and falls like clockwork on the tip on the north side, there is no telling what you will find, just hold on. Tarpon daisy chain through your anchor rope, huge reds and snook inhale your baits and lay there long enough to convince you that you have hooked planet earth before you lay back into her, mangos, (one of my favorites) lay in wait for MY shrimp, threaded through the tail and not behind the horn as normal, pissing the teenage boy off as I set the hook one more time into another nice fish sandwich as his bored girlfriend informs him of her intentions and asks for permission to come aboard. And last but not least, be it pompano or permit, during my yearly Christmas day tournament it can be an all day thing anchored up there untangling the criss-crossed lines of your buddy’s boat next door.
I know it was long winded, I needed some brushing up for an upcoming article so I am sorry you had to suffer through if you did not find enjoyment in it but for those who truly need to know if there is fish there, I was only joking. Just keep them boys from dredging up my bottom way to often so all that sand washes deep inside my creeks and backwaters and change it all over again.
Peace to you all.
Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.