Over the last few weeks, jumbo snook sightings have been a regular occurrence throughout the day while fishing Pine Island and Matlacha Pass.
Usually I'm poling the boat and in the distance spot a jumbo loner (38 inch-plus fish) or a pod of three sunning themselves in skinny gin clear water off a mangrove point.
Often moving the boat over to a mangrove to retrieve a lure cast too far, a hidden giant will come charging out from its shady hiding spot leaving a torpedo sized wake as it flies across the flats. The angler is left shaken and thinking, "I just cast to that spot 10 times!" (Learn skip casting to get back in there not just "close")
Capt. George Tunison
Typically, casting at these trophies under the full sun of day will get little response from these wise old veterans that can name most plugs and show the battle scars from past encounters with them.
After years or a lifetime of seeing these big guys, but never hooking one, springtime is a great time to bag your first trophy snook and end your dry streak.
Snook are hungry as they transition out to the beaches for summer fun. Look at island or land points, docks and or structure near or on a point, even better. The docks at Punta Rassa are known for giving up big snook. Deeper mangrove shorelines throughout the area produce. Oyster bars are always hot in spring as well as our local miles and miles of beautiful pothole and grass bottomed flats.
Here are a few proven methods:
Mark these trophy sightings on your map in detail and return on a moving tide early a.m. or evening. Chum the area with cast net caught goodies, then hook one through the nose and toss into the mix. A fresh wiggling livie venturing back and under the branches is irascible to any predator lurking there. Trouble is you might catch lots of smaller snook, not that monster you seek.
To get more serious about catching that beast you want so badly:
Fish a 10-inch ladyfish under a float early morning/late evening and even better all night long around likely cover where you first sighted your big gal.
Cast large, slow moving top water plugs at night under a half to almost full moon in these same areas if you want your trophy on a lure.
Pick a calm night and hang a 10-inch ladyfish under a balloon and very slowly use your trolling motor to inch along a deep shoreline towing the lady 50 feet behind the boat. Stop occasionally for 30 seconds then slowly move forward again keeping dead quiet as your ladyfish tries to avoid that 40-pound sow snook that's been shadowing it for the last 10 yards. One loud footfall or lid slam, game over. Relocate. Ninja trolling!
This is an awesome method guaranteed to get your heart racing as the strikes can be scary! Hooking a nice tarpon or getting a Jaws attack is a very real possibility during a night of slow balloon trolling.
Live slow trolling can be effective over open inshore flats as well as canals this time of year.
If you don't like fussing with live bait then try night trolling a large plug (Bomber Long A) slowly and quietly along the hundreds of miles of backyard canals that everyone can easily access here in snook country.
Run two rods with one lure at 30 feet off the transom and another at 60. Experiment with larger deeper diving plugs in some of our deeper canals where true monster snook never see a lure.
If you go out at night you will have company. Socks, long pants and shirts, sun gloves, even netting will make life easier. Bug spray sells for $49.99 a can on my boat if you forget yours. Be prepared, otherwise don't go because you won't last long.