Thursday, June 11, 2009

Snook on the beach

This Saturday morning before the sun comes up, my buddy Scott and i will be plying the beach for the always popular snook on the beach.

What is beach snookin'?

Every year late spring/early summer, at the beaches near the passes with adjacent structure, snook like to hang around and feed in the swash channel, inches from the shore line. Early morning hours during a moving tide make this one one the best times of the year to catch this elusive anyone who has cast repeatedly to a large snook with lockjaw can attest, these fish only seem to bite when they're on the feed and will ignore or blow out with your offering if not in the mood. They'll be literally inches from the waters edge, so make sure to keep your distance. And remember, a stripping basket will help to keep sand out of your reel so use it!

Good polarized sunglasses are a must as sight fishing these log shaped torpedoes is paramount to a good day fishing. Smaller schoolie sized males should be in higher numbers than the big females, but larger fish can be had. The hard part will be making an accurate presentation to the larger fish and having the fish see it and get to it before the smaller male counterpart snatches it away.

It's not uncommon for folks wielding the long stick to use a 6 or 7 weight but i wouldn't show up with anything less than an 8 weight due to the fact that tarpon, jacks and seatrout can be a common occurrence on the beach at this time of year and it might be an unpleasant experience for you to be outgunned and possibly break some of your gear due to a powerful fish that you weren't expecting.....gear can be expensive these days and i certainly think it would be a drag to have a tarpon introduce you to your backing and have to respool. Large snook can have a bad attitude when hooked as well and won't hesitate to head toward any structure in an attempt to break you off. This is one reason you might need a little bit more leader. Typically, on a flat, i'll use a 9 foot section of 25 lb leader but for beach snook, i like to use a 5 foot section of 25 lb and a 4 foot section of 30 lb for a bite tippet. Sharp gill plates can make quick work of a light leader so make sure that you include the bite tippet. i personally don't like 4 section leaders and contrary to popular belief, the leader rolls out and lays down for me just fine. Sinking lines aren't necessary but a sink tip may be ok due to problems you may have with the rolling surf.

Fly selection can be simple but don't be afraid to try new things. Threadfin Shad and Glass Minnows can be present in large numbers so be sure to have some of these patterns in your fly box but most of the time, majora, finger mullet and pinfish will be the main target prey. An all white Deceiver in 1/0 is the ticket as is a small # 4 EP baitfish pattern once again, all white. Don't be afraid to toss a schminnow or one of your bonefish flies if the fish aren't paying attention to your offering. As the king of refusals, i can safely say a snook that sees you fly will "lean" towards it and if not interested, either turn away or bolt. Sometimes they do nothing.

Best times to go for a linesider on the beach would be right before first light since snook are mostly nocturnal feeders and on a moving tide since they prefer moving water. The bite can be hot towards evening too but on the West Coast of Florida, the setting sun can take away the sight fishing opportunities....

Have fun! Snook are like big pissed off largemouth bass but they are protected at this time of year so make sure you do your best to revive them and release them safely.

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