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Snook are feeding for the winter

November 12, 2011
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

If you are a serious snookaholic looking for the big one now is the time. Suddenly, snook seem to be everywhere - under the mangroves, on oyster bars and potholes, on the open flats, and docks.

These are hungry fish looking to store some calories for the cold water period ahead.

Snook of all sizes are biting, including last week's gigantic 55-incher caught and released in the Cape's canal system. This past week I caught snook on MirrOlures, topwaters, DOA Shrimp and, yesterday, one on a live shrimp fished on the bottom for redfish.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

One outstanding snook lure is worth a special mention - the Sebile Suspending Stick Shad. This is a red-hot snook lure, especially in the mullet color.

My biggest snook this past week ate the classic MirrOlure MirrOdine in the large size. If you like to throw lures for snook you would be hard pressed to find two better lures than these. Add a large Zara Spook to these and you have snook fishing with lures covered from top to bottom.

For a true jumbo like the previously mentioned 55-incher, a 12- to 15-inch live ladyfish freelined or under a float is a killer bait. Pick a bridge or other large structure and put the ladyfish to work for you down below. Have patience and put in your time and you will connect. For a real snook trophy I prefer nighttime fishing and always use circle hooks.

A bridge or trestle is a place for 80- to 100-pound leaders hooked to 60- to 100-pound braided line. These are big fish in heavy structure and fast current.

Since snook are still protected from harvest to try to regain numbers lost during the devastating freeze that killed an estimated 350,000-400,000 it's vital to release these fish carefully.

Remember, all snook are born males then some later change sex. Any large snook will be a female. The larger the fish the more care must be used, especially when going for a photo. Proper support is vital to a good release. Grasp the jaw like a largemouth bass and slide your hand down it underside. Lift, keeping the fish horizontal and belly supported then quickly get the picture and gently get the fish back in the water.

Hanging vertically causes internal organ damage. Just because the fish swims away strongly after the release doesn't mean it will not die later from internal damage.

With all that being said about catch-and-release the hands-down best way to handle any fish for release is to simply not handle it at all.

Keep the fish in the water, remove the hooks, revive till the fish is strong and gently send it on its way. Future anglers will appreciate that.

The fall winds and lower tides have arrived with our seasonal residents. This is a shallow water area. Matlacha Pass can be a nightmare for the uninformed. If you are a new boater ...

1 - Before going out learn to read a tide chart properly and plan your trip accordingly. Learn how winds affect and alter the tides as well. The tide or water that's "supposed to be there" according to your chart, might not be there at all if a strong wind keeps it from flowing in.

2 - Get a good underwater chart and understand it. It will do you no good after you are stuck on an oyster bar with the bottom of the boat badly damaged. That same bar hit at 20-40 mph could be lethal.

3 - Sign up for a tow boat program. Cheap insurance when you run out of gas or need a tow home. Believe me, I know.

4 - Sign up for a local boating program to learn the rules of the road and marine safety.

5 - Spend a day on the water with a local guide or captain to get many years worth of local knowledge in just a few hours.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-282-9434 or, or Flying Fins Sportfishing.



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