Homecoming fish

Captain Tom with a Red
that didn't fit the frame.

Captain Tom with a Red
that didn’t fit the frame.

It was dark as Captain Tom backed his boat into the waters. The ramp at Haulover canal had changed over the years. Sporting new docks and paved parking, it barely looked the same. This was a homecoming for this crusty angler.

A blue heron and a manatee watched us idle by. A cool breeze picked up as the sun crested the horizon. Blinking away tears as we reached the Indian River side, I realized how much I missed these flats. This is my favorite place on the planet.

We would “lazy” fish this morning, choosing to pitch crabs to some likely spots. Tom set the Rip Tide I-Pilot, to “Spot Lock”. This feature is like anchoring without the mess. The motor keeps you within a foot or so of the GPS position. We quickly chucked the baits and began to catch up. Tom

Another Red
poses for the Go Pro

Another Red
poses for the Go Pro

is guiding more since he sold his Coastal Angler Magazine franchise. More time on the water is a good thing, especially as writer. He is also donating more time to Anglers for Conservation.

We were interrupted as the drag of a Daiwa spinning reel began to sing. The first run was surprisingly short. “Great…a dang sail cat,” I thought aloud as it began its second run. The red easily peeled off 75-yards of line. Three more runs and 10-minutes later, the fish was posing for photos.

The skies began to clear and the bite slowed. We decided to try the Mosquito Lagoon side of the canal. I could not help but admire the quality of his Maverick boat as we idled. Tom described the recent overhaul of his craft. The excellent workmanship showed from stem to stern. A Maverick, with a little love, can be the last boat you will need.

Fishing began again at a sandbar. There is something fishy about 18-inches of water falling off to 24-inches. On the flats, the subtle differences matter. Drags began to scream again. A long battle, photos, remove the Daiichi Circle Hook, and release, is a routine of love.

Photo courtesy of 
Tom Van Horn

Photo courtesy of
Tom Van Horn

A couple of redfish will turn your arms into “noodles”. How do you finish a morning like this? Lunch at Dixie Crossroads is a great idea. Succulent rock shrimp broiled to perfection, coleslaw, and cheese grits are “Wheaties” of tired anglers.

You can find Captain Tom Van Horn at his website. You can also catch him conducting seminars at Mosquito Creek Outfitters in Apopka, Florida.

Begin your Titusville adventure by clicking this link.

Blessings, -TJ

About TJ Stallings

45-year tackle industry veteran Marketing and Crazy Ideas at TTI-Blakemore Fishing Group (Home of Road Runner Lures and six hook brands including Tru-Turn, Daiichi, XPoint, Team Catfish, Mr. Crappie and StandOUT Hooks.) Home of Gun Protect. The opinions expressed in this blog are those of TJ Stallings and not necessarily those of TTI-Blakemore.
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7 Responses to Homecoming fish

  1. Ron says:

    What a great outing for your “homecoming”

  2. Indian Riverside flats you say? Your favorite place on the planet? You have me intrigued now, for this Shangri-La !

    • TJ Stallings says:

      Let’s make it happen dude. I just need the excuse to go. What would you think of a chauffeur that can “grunt” gators?

      • Well, I was just hoping for a couple pictures! Life is way too busy for me at the moment, as I barely know what day it is. All you need is an excuse, but I have a couple other needs – time and money!

        I’d love to tho, but I’ll have to take a rain check right now.

        I like chauffeurs, but I’m not so sure about the gator part. You southern folk make me nervous sometimes!

  3. NickKills says:

    Beautiful Reds.I need to get out on the water soon.

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