The boat launch parking lot behind Edgewater Town Hall was completely crowded when I arrived at 5:30 am on July 9th.
No surprise since it was the opening day of the three-day red snapper season. Captain Rick Kayholm arrived just in time and we launched into the dark with maybe 50 other ships.
Our boat was Rick’s 28 footer pushed by two big 225 horsepower Yamaha. At Ponce Inlet we were riding five abreast and everyone was impatient. On board, other than Rick and I, were First Lieutenant Glen, Fisherman Noel and Captain Frank.
We all knew we had come a long way to the snapper ground and that morning the sea was pretty harsh. We were all tossed about on the ride and delighted when Rick slowed down to start fishing.
We first took light rods baited with squid to try baitfish. Just in time, the croakers, grunts, and other various downstairs began to rise. Once we had enough baitfish we all dropped our lines 80 feet into the depths of the Atlantic Ocean.
It wasn’t long before Frank moved on to something big and we all stopped to watch. When Glen put the net under his big 15 pound snapper, we knew it was the start of a great day.
It turned out that the first fish of the day would be our best. The action slowed down and we were amazed to observe the number of boats sharing the space at 15 miles. Rick continued to walk around, looking at the sonar screen the entire time.
Noel was disappointed to find that his first big catch of the day was a shark and a little later so was I. Captain Frank started to pick up a little snapper and so did I. After noon the ocean finally calmed down and the best fishing began. I mean fish, not catch.
Glen paused on a big snapper then Noel and the same thing happened to me.
I was fishing with Captain Rick’s brand new electric reel and had fun trying to figure out how it worked. My first experience with something like this. I had my snapper on the electric and just below the surface when the leader gave in.
Now we have started to guess. All experienced anglers, but we didn’t manage to get one of those big prizes on the boat much to Rick’s chagrin. “I put you in fish, but I can’t catch them for you,” he laughed.
He was right. We had a lot of chances but mostly we failed. I managed to handle a cute three to four pound black margate snapper and possibly the biggest fish any of us have ever seen. At the end of the day we all had some snapper to take home and had to agree that the day had been successful. The rainstorm at the ramp didn’t chill our spirits at all.
To get there on time, I left home at 4.30am and didn’t get home until 7pm. A long day for an old man, but one I wouldn’t have missed.
If you want to have fun, whether it’s offshore, coastal or freshwater, you can’t do better than Captain Rick. Call Grand Slam Fishing Charters at (517) 812-8459 to book your trip. That day, the five of us made a memory of a lifetime. You can also.
Dan Smith has been fishing in the waters of Volusia County for over 40 years. Email your questions and comments to [email protected] His book, “I Swear the Drowned Snook”, is available for purchase for $ 10.95 at (386) 441-7793.