Tarpon fishing is in full swing now in many locations, but it's also the time to hit the beaches and the river for snook fishing.
Beach snook come in all sizes from small males to jumbo females. This is an early-and-late-in-the-day fishery so be on the beach before sun-up to get your best shot either by boat or on foot.
If on foot, wade out and cast parallel to the beach as most of these fish will be right in the surf zone and you will see many scraping their bellies on the sand. If you are high up on the beach the snook will see you in the ultra clear water and not bite or leave the area.
Capt. George Tunison
Get in the water and keep a low profile. If in a boat, stay back and make long casts to the beach and cast parallel as much as possible.
Larger females tend to hang a little deeper on the first dropoff. Any structure, such as rocks, wing dams, groins, or downed trees will tend to concentrate these fish.
Don't forget to get in the passes and fish the rocks and docks of Captiva and Redfish Pass. Try drifting with live pinfish and whitebaits. I usually fish the outgoing tide for snook in the passes, but they will bite on most moving water.
When drift fishing from a boat around the passes, say Redfish Pass for example, if you have not done it stay back and observe other boats getting in line to drift around the rocks with the tide. Once you pick up on what's going on, jump in.
Traditionally, a small white bucktail always has been a beach favorite along with white and other natural colored flies. I like to cast right up on the sand and hop it back into the surf and hopefully into the waiting mouth of a snook. Using fluorocarbon leaders in this clear water will give you an advantage.
Fly fisherman are doing very well with white Clousers and Seaducers, cast along the beach and into the surf. This is a great place to try fly fishing. If you suspect the fish are in a little deeper water a sink tip line can be an asset.
Don't ever rule out topwater plugs or minnow style plugs on the beach side as well as the sound side of the passes. I've had some incredible mornings fishing Yo-Zuri's, X-Rap's, and MirrOlure plugs along the edges of the passes. If you are lucky enough to be there when the fish are stacked in these areas it's not uncommon to hook 20 or more snook on these plugs.
One plug trip last June resulted in 26 fish on a Yo-Zuri plug. Every time a hooked snook got reeled to the boat there would be two to four other fish swimming right with it. It was quite a sight.
For my hardcore trophy snook-only clients/addicts, I take them night fishing in the passes as well as the river. My personal best of nearly 50 inches came on a topwater MirrOlure in the Caloosahatchee River on a stifling hot July night.
Live ladyfish freelined are a killer bait for a trophy specimen around bridges and docks where 100-pound test leaders are the norm.
Don't overlook the hundreds of "snook light" docks in our canal systems. When fishing docks at night basically you are a guest. Act accordingly - nothing like bouncing plugs off docks and the family's cruiser gel coat to make quick enemies.
Always release these spawning fish carefully to preserve this fishery. Any fish held up for a picture should be supported under the belly and not be allowed to hang straight up and down, which causes internal organ damage.
Handling fish with dry hands and or a big beach "towel of death" also is a no-no.
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.