Although snook are closed due to last year's super freeze where an estimated 400,000 died, they can still be caught and carefully released.
When trout and redfishing it's tough to have to consider snook as a by-catch, but, hey, somebody's got to do it. Last winter I was in a backwater canal littered with dead trophies thinking, "Well that's it for a couple of years," but we thankfully keep catching them.
Please remember to handle these and all fish with care and always try for a water release with any large fish. Snook were really hit hard, give them every chance.
Capt. George Tunison
That being said, here are some snook basics:
Snook will hit live and dead baits, lures and flies. As far as bait, shrimp and live or dead fish work great. For a trophy, fish a live 15-inch ladyfish around a bridge or dock at night with heavy line. This is serious down-and-dirty fishing and you must muscle the fish away from the structure or you will be broken off instantly.
I use 80-pound braid main line with a swivel connected to 100-pound fluorocarbon to the hook. Extreme? Not really. Once you've hooked a 35-pound snook in fast current around structure, get back to me.
A jumbo, hand-picked shrimp impaled on a hook swept along by the tide into or very near structure, is bound to get attention. Free-line it or hang it under a cork and let the current work for you.
Lures and flies work great and topwater lures are snook favorites. Most swimming plugs like the new X-Rap series by Rapala always are a winner as well as the various Mir-O-lure models. Actually, most of your bass plugs will work, just add some beefier split rings and go up a size or two in saltwater hooks and they are ready for duty.
Never count out the gold spoon and the plastic shrimp, such as the old standby, the D.O.A.
Tip: If you like throwing plugs get a freshwater, gold flavor, Rebel Minnow, convert it for salt duty as described and start casting. Works equally well on redfish and trout.
As it heats up many nice snook are caught by simply walking the beach and casting into the surf. Walking out into the water and casting parallel to the beach, not way out into the Gulf, is the ticket as the snook patrol the very edges of the surf zone.
Also, if you are in the water you are less likely to be seen than high up on the beach. A good lure choice is a plain white bucktail jig using a fluorocarbon leader as it's usually gin-clear water and the fish can sometimes be line shy. If casting from a boat, cast all the way up on the beach and hop the jig back into the water. Usually it will get hit within the first 5-10 feet of the retrieve.
Walking along the surf and casting is a very relaxing and pleasant experience. Fly fisherman can get a great shot at a good snook as well.
Now that this week's crazy weather has passed, it's back to fishing. It can be tough going just after a front has passed and we are left with bluebird skies and northwest winds.
On a charter today the truth will be told. Charter or not, unfavorable conditions or not, I'd still be fishing. I guess I'm truly gut hooked.
As things settle look for great trout fishing on lures and shrimp. Your trophy trout will be caught on a big topwater plug fished at dawn. Don't be surprised when a big red or snook crushes your plug.
Redfishing has been very good for months and getting better. We have been catching some bruisers mostly on live shrimp freelined or fished on the bottom.
Dates available, lets go fishing!
Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-282-9434 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Flying Fins Sportfishing.