Bart Swab is owner and guide at Action Kayak Adventures in St. Augustine, Florida. A native of South Florida, Swab thought he would have to give up snook fishing when he moved north. Until he heard about a population of the aggressive and acrobatic fish only an an hour away. “Now, I drive to Daytona Beach when I want to go kayak fishing for snook,” he says.
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Growing up in South Florida, I fell in love with snook fishing. When I moved to northeast Florida, I figured I would have to give up my favorite fish—big snook don’t live north of Sebastian Inlet. But a local guide told me he goes kayak fishing for snook in Daytona Beach. Even if northern snook aren’t as big as their southern relatives, the ferocious bite and acrobatic fight make them a blast on light tackle.
Kayak Fishing Daytona Beach
The backwater estuaries around Daytona mix the strong sulfur smell of the saltmarsh with salty air blowing in from the Atlantic. The combination attracts an abundance of birds such as wood storks, roseate spoonbills, whistling ducks and countless shore birds, an indication of the health of the marsh. On some trips, I see more deer and feral hogs than people.
One of my favorite memories is a day I went snook fishing with my father. During late summer, the Atlantic storm season is at a climax with hurricanes firing in from the Atlantic and Gulf. The change in pressure and unsettled weather turns up the snook bite.
My dad and I hit it perfectly. The wind was still strong and bands of rain were coming through, but the snook bite was on fire.
Daytona Snook Catch Some Air
We started in Ormond Beach, just south of Daytona, at a small launch off Alt. A1A. For bait, we had mullet and mud minnows, but we caught most of the fish by slow rolling a Z-Man against the current. Our bites came by casting parallel to the bank in a narrow creek, but some of the biggest fish were holding in the center of the creek.
The wind was still strong and bands of rain were coming through,
but the snook bite was on fire.
That’s where my dad hooked a solid snook. To tell the truth: Dad always keeps his drag too tight and snook have a fast, strong run. The fish made one bolt and then jumped into the air, breaking the line and gaining its freedom. We’re still talking about the big snook’s aerial breakoff.
Despite losing our only keeper, Dad and I landed over 20 snook in one evening. On this day with my dad, we really hit it perfectly. On the way back to the launch, we watched an eight-point buck walk into the marsh.
Daytona Beach Kayak Fishing Tips
Slow rolling a soft plastic jig along marsh banks. Topwater walk-the-dog lures. Live minnows or cut mullet.
A good all-around combo is the Florida Fishing 2500 spinning reel, 10-pound test Cortland braid and 30-pound fluorocarbon leader. This set up is easy to use and light enough to make fighting little snook more fun.
Using the Jackson Kayak Coosa FD I can pedal to cover distance, then switch to paddle in the shallows.
Where to Launch
There are plenty of places to drop a kayak from the side of the road and sneak back into the grasslands. I often fish the scenic loop road north out of Ormond Beach. It’s a nice drive and there are great places to launch a kayak.
Where to Stay in Daytona
Large hotels along the beach are affordable. Finding an Airbnb near the best launch sites would be ideal, or stay at the campground in Tomoka State Park.
Where to Eat in Daytona
Hull Seafood and Market serves seafood straight from the water to your plate. Order whatever is in season.
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Other Daytona Attractions
Daytona hosts several motorcycle events, including Bike Week and Octoberfest. The Daytona 500 NASCAR race is in February.
This article was first published in Kayak Anger Issue 44. Subscribe to Kayak Anger and get the magazine delivered to your front door. Download the Kayak Angler Magazine+ app to seamlessly glide between the digital archives, the latest articles and videos or browse the digital archives for your desktop here.
Easy access to great fishing makes Daytona one of the most popular fishing destinations. | Feature photo: Bart Swab