The maiden voyage of a boat is always a special event. The anticipation of who will catch the first fish, the biggest, or the most: how fast will it go, how shallow will it float, how well will it corner. It's an even more special event when a dad and his two sons go out and put the smack down on speckled trout and various other inshore species.
Mid-June on the Coast finds trout holding along the beaches and outer bays as well as venturing to the barrier islands. Dana Sanders, a wetland consultant with D.R. Sanders and Associates, looks for areas that provide breaks in current to load the boat with speckled trout.
"I really like targeting flats or bars near deeper water," Sanders explained. "The main factor for trout, no matter the time of year, is current. I love fishing the edges of these tidal rips that occur when the water is flowing around a point or over the tops of these flats. For me, it doesn't matter what type of structure it is as long as there is current moving through it, around it or over it.
"I am a jig fisherman. I'll fish a topwater bait early in the morning but find myself switching to a jig before most people. I fish a 1/8-ounce jig head most of the time; I like the slower fall and presentation that it offers. There are times, however, when the wind, current or water depth will make me go to a ¼ or 5/16-ounce, but as a general rule I like to use the lightest jig head I can get away with."
Dana's middle son, David, prefers a Vudu Shrimp by Egret Baits under a popping cork. David fishes the Vudu Shrimp on a spinning reel spooled with 20-pound braided line tied to a popping cork with a 20-inch fluorocarbon leader.
"The Vudu Shrimp is the most realistic shrimp imitation that I've ever seen in the water," explained the elder Sanders. "It's not the look that catches fish, it's the action of the lure. The lead head on the shrimp has a flat surface that causes the shrimp to move backwards as it falls; just like a real shrimp retreating from danger. It's on this backward fall that the trout will smash it."
Dana's youngest son, Jason, prefers live shrimp under a popping cork because he knows live bait will catch any inshore species that swims. On this particular trip Jason caught catfish, pinfish, croakers and speckled trout.
The interesting thing about Jason is that he got his wheels a little younger than most young men, but to say he is confined to a wheelchair would be out of line. He absolutely lives to be outdoors, whether it be in a box stand, a tent or a boat.
"He loves it," Dana said with a big smile, "especially if it involves being with me, which is very humbling and something that helps keep me grounded daily."
The Sanders men ended the day with a box load of fish and memories that will last a lifetime.
"We caught 40 trout," Sanders said, "many undersized, but the 15 that we kept were toads! I caught six over 22-inches on an Ultra Violet Matrix Shad, Jason caught his on live shrimp and David caught his on Vudu Shrimp under a popping cork. We also had four flounder and a redfish that was 20-inches. It was just a great time on the water with my boys."
The most memorable event of the day wasn't the maiden voyage of a new boat but the personal best, 24½-inch speckled trout that David caught.
"I had an opportunity to experience my 15-year-old, David, catch the trout of his lifetime and out-do his ole Papa," said Dana. "We had a blast."