Big Snook are Hot
Report Date: September 1, 2003
It is hard to imagine, but we have not gone daytime fishing in weeks. For over 20 years we fished 7:30 to 4 every day and some evenings. Now during the hot summer months we are fishing more at night than during the day. This is mostly due to the return of the swordfish. The fact that the tarpon and snook have been very willing to eat our baits helps a lot as well. The only down side has been more wind than we normally see in the summer months.
This week started with a swordfish trip. It had been a calm day, but as we headed offshore at 7 PM the wind was on the rise. We were fishing 4 baits, one of which would be on our anglers own rod. Due to the fact that his rod had no depth markers on the line I chose to put it down last. I lowered his line down 150 feet and secured a marker on his line. I then noticed some loose wraps of line on his reel, so I let it down another 150 feet while clearing these loose wraps. Being early in the evening, I left his bait down over 300 feet. I applied just enough drag to hold the bait from taking line. I turn to walk away and line slipped from the reel, causing the clicker to sound. I increased the drag to a tighter setting and the rod bent over with a fish on! We caught a swordfish in the first 15 minutes of fishing. This poor swordfish was in big trouble as his lower jaw split from tip to gills. It was obvious it would not survive. We kept him for the grill and put the lines back out as the wind rose. Even with the big sea anchor out we were sliding rapidly inshore and having to hold on as we moved about. At 11 we decided to call it an early night.
Our next trip was planned to target tarpon. Thee first spot produced a 12 pound snook and a couple barracudas. The next spot, numerous tarpon were rolling all over the surface. We caught 1 about 40 pounds and had a couple other strikes before this spot cooled off as it usually does as night approaches. Most tarpon spots get better as night falls, but not this spot. We moved to the inlet and caught a 20 pound tarpon before time to go home.
The next night was to target snook and was our best night of the year for size of fish. We caught a 25 and a 8 pound double header in the first spot. When the tide changed we changed spots and hit nirvana. We were hooking snook every cast. They were 15 to 25 pounds. We caught 3 or 4 and lost several before this school wised up and quit feeding. We caught a couple more snook in the 6 to 8 pound range as well as a 12 pound jack before going home.
The next night was scheduled as a swordfish trip. With 20 knot winds I suggested a snook trip would be our only option. Away we went. Hitting the same spots as the night before produced next to nothing. We got a 7 pound snook and a couple barracuda. We finally caught another couple 5 to 7 pound snook and a 3 pound mangrove snapper. As darkness fell I decided to try one more very rough spot. It was so rough, that the Coast Guard got a report that we were floundering and in trouble. They dispatched a boat, but I heard the radio call and reported to them that we were just catching fish. As they returned to their other duties, we caught a 15 pound cubera snapper, a rare incidental catch, and a pair of 20 pound snook before going home. All these snook were caught in August and were released in good condition due to using circle hooks. Most were over the 34 inch maximum size limit and would have to be released during the open season. Again showing the value of using circle hooks with no offset so that every fish is lip hooked and will survive to keep the snook population healthy. I remember when snook populations were down to the point that it was no fun to fish for them. Please limit your catch and treat your release fish in a survivable way to help keep the population at these pleasant population levels.
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