Photo by Al Cole
"Most fishermen swiftly learn that it's a pretty good rule never to show a favorite spot to any fisherman you wouldn't trust with your wife." John Voelker
Well, it's that time of year again, Snook season starts on September 1. If you've never caught a Snook, you are in for a real treat. You can expect a great fight that includes spectacular jumps as well as hard and fast runs. We've had an easy time all summer, during their spawning season, catching these great game fish along the surf. Now that it's time we can actually keep them, you won't find one anywhere. But here are some places that you might look for them and tactics that could help you land one.
If you are fishing the surf for Snook look for them to be close to shore. Because of this, light spinning gear is generally the gear of choice. Early morning, shortly after sun-up, seems to be the best time to find them. Most anglers are free-lining using greenback minnows or pinfish. Avoid steel leaders, lead weights, and swivels because they tend to scare Snook. Give your minnow plenty of line so he has room to roam out there. Other live bait that works are live shrimp and small crabs. If you are not on the surf, you can find these fish hiding under docks and boats or under bridges. For you fly fisherman, try large streamers or poppers. Those of you that want to use artificial bait can try surface plugs, spoons, swimming plugs, and plastic jigs. Anglers who regularly fish off of piers and bridges might want to use heavier line and bait casting gear. If the Snook swims around a piling or a rock, you'll need some stronger gear to get them out.
I'd be remiss in not mentioning just how good the meat of the Snook is. The fillets are very white, flakey, and mild. The taste is out of this world. This is one fish that is so good that you do not need to add anything to enhance or hide its flavor.
While the Snook averages around 3 to 15 pounds, but larger fish weighing 20 to 30 pounds are not uncommon. The world record stands at 53 pounds, 10 ounces. Florida has a slot limit on Snook. The minimum length is 28 inches with a maximum length of 33 inches. Your daily bag limit is one. Please remember that a Snook permit is required in addition to your saltwater license. Cost of Snook stamp is $2.50 for a Florida resident.
In other fishing news, Sheephead are getting abundant around docks and bridges. Live fiddler crabs, barnacles, live shrimp, and shucked clams seem to be the baits most widely used. The area is also teeming with Mangrove snappers. Most are being caught on live shrimp. Offshore has been seeing large Cobia, Grouper, as well as Snappers being caught. There are still reports of the occasional Tarpon being reeled in.
The Bait House has a new addition to its staff. Fisher Pfaelzer weighing in at 8 pounds and 9 ounces (whoa, he's a keeper) was born on August 30 to parents and Bait House owners, Justin and Amy Pfaelzer. Family is all doing well. Congratulations!
Remember to stop by the Bait House for all of your bait and tackle needs or to just share a fishing story with us. We have dock access for your boat. I can be emailed at Jim2988@msn.com and as always, Good Luck Out There! Jim can be found daily at the Bait House - Clearwater Municipal Marina- 727-446-813
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