“Tailing” Snook?

20150601_0474 North Island webSaw something new today. I was fishing the sandbar about two hours into the ebb. The snook action had been fairly good on the bar, but I decided to turn and look inland. About 200 hundred feet away, along the edge of the grass bed, I spotted  a redfish tail waving to me. Great news!

After cutting off the streamer, I dug out a small Crazy Charlie from my pack, and tied it on. Then I waded over quietly. Fortunately for me, the fish remained in place, allowing me to get a good casting angle. As I prepared to cast I notice additional “tails” feeding in the same spot.

Tailing Snook?

Tailing Snook?

My first cast was short, but the second cast landed on the button. Bang! A fish took immediately, and torn off, causing the other fish to rip out of there. I figured I had a nice red, but I was wrong. It turned out to be a 27 inch snook!

Later I told my friend Dave about my “tailing” snook. He informed me that snook sometimes hover near “tailing” reds, hoping to grab anything the reds stir up. Dave calls them “hitchhiker” snook.  Made sense. I’m sure I saw a redfish tail, but what I had not seen was the snook hitching a ride!

 

 

 

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Snook Behavior

Snook, snook,snook, snook, and more snook. Yes, the bite goes on. Double figures days are no problem. Granted, these aren’t big fish, but on light fly gear they are one ripping blast. I’m using a my Scott STS 906/3 with a floating line, a 10 foot leader tapered to 20 pounds (snook cut through 15  in a hurry),  and a 3″, size 1#,  white Lefty’s Deceiver. Farnsworth sliders work well too.

Snook on a Fly

Snook on a Fly

I’ve been fishing this bite for well over a week, and its allowed me to learn a little about snook behavior.

At low tide, these snook hang to the deeper edges, along the outside of the sandbar. These fish are largely untouchable, except perhaps on live bait. So casting a fly to them is mostly a waste of time. Still I give it a try on occasion.

As the tide starts to rise, the snook  slowly slide up on the sandbar. Typically they cruise over the sand in small groups, traveling in random directions. These cruisers are fairly shy. They may track a fly for a short distance, but more likely they will totally ignore it. A few even zoom away from the fly as if it were poison. The only exception I’ve seen is a fly that lands right on a snook’s head. In a few rare cases that sparks an explosive surface strike.

Around the second hour of the flood, a small bit of current forms, flowing over the bar toward the grass beds that hug the inside edge. Now thing are about to change drastically. The snook follow this current over to the grass. Once there they begin to chow with a vengance, whacking any fly that comes their way.

The bottom line seems to be this: Snook are moody. When conditions aren’t in their favor snook can be wary, cautious, or even down right shy. It can be frustrating, believe me. Like many predators, however, snook are very sensitive to a moving tide. When the water flows, snook hear the dinner bell, and put on the feedbag big time.In half an hour’s time they can go from dormant to full-on aggressive.

Consequently, keeping a close eye on the tide chart is essential. And I’ve noticed that the days with stronger tides produce stronger bites. It also pays to follow the lanes of current as they change in size and location during the tide.

 

 

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Dave does it Again!

Well you’ve hear me speak of Dave before. He is one hell-of-an angler. When I came in last time, I saw Dave preparing to launch his boat. It was around four in the afternoon.We talked about the snook bite for awhile and Dave said he was going to hunt for a big one. I wished him luck and dragged my kayak out.

Dave Beal gets a big Snook

Dave Beal gets a big Snook

A couple hours later I got message from Dave. You guessed it. Dave does it again! Here he is with a 34 inch snook on a fly. Nice going Dave.

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Snook on a Fly

Snook on a fly? Well, the snook bite is still red hot. Last time out, I landed 14 of them. Terrific action. For the most part they aren’t huge, on average ranging from 22-26 inches. But on a six-weight fly rod they are a blast. And I can see bigger snook skirting the outer perimeter of the sandbar.

Snook on the sandbar

Snook on the Sandbar

At one point, I hooked a snook close to deep water. The fish ran erratically. A large wake suddenly appeared, pushing a wall of water. Up on the bar came a five foot bull shark, chasing my fish.  While releasing the drag, I leaped back on the Adios in a hurry. The commotion spooked the shark. It reversed and headed off. Close call.

 

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The Snook Bite Continues

Wow. The snook bite continues. It’s wild out there. Schools of them cross the bar on a rising tide, practically milling around your feet.  You can look into the water and see upwards of twenty at time. Amazing. They are not huge, but they are aggressive, slamming streamers and sliders. I landed ten in short order.

Plenty of Dolphin on the Flats too

Plenty of Dolphin on the Flats too

Even though this fish are well under ten pounds, twenty pound tippets are in order. Snook tear up mono fast. Typically you have to retie after every fish. White Deceivers worked well, especially with an erratic retrieve. But so did silver sliders waking across the top. Next time I’ll try poppers.

The Snook Bite Continues

The Snook Bite Continues

Dave Bell tells me these snook spawned on the full moon, which helps explain their sudden arrival. But it also indicates that the tight snook regulations of   recent times have paid off. Lets hope, they all grow large!

 

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My Son Got a Nice Striper

Got a call from my son a couple days ago. He was fishing the lower end of the Connecticut River from the drift boat. In April and May the river fills with schoolie bass, migrating mainly from the Hudson River which lies a 100 miles to the west. They supply great early season fishing, especially on light gear.

CT River Striper IMG_20150603_web

Connecticut River Striper

By June bigger bass arrive. My son tells me he got a nice striper on a plug, a jointed lipped swimmer I believe. The fish measured about  34 inches. Wish I was there.

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Seven Snook

This morning the skies were bright and the wind light, swinging to the southeast for the first time in a week. It was a stellar June day on the Florida flats.

A Stellar June Day on the Florida Flats

I left the ramp just before 7Am, and poled the Adios southward to try some new water. Things were slow until the tide turned around 8AM. But once the  flood pushed along the edge of the sandbar, things change. Schools of spotted sea trout showed up to chow in the current, providing steady action for over an hour.

After that things went quiet. Time to move on. Poling northward, I visited a few spots, without a single bite. Eventually I got lucky. Over a grass bed, I found a bunch of snook. Man, it was fun. Love it when that happens. Using a Scott 6wt. a white deceiver, and a 20 pound tippet, I caught seven nice snook in less than 24 casts. Great day!

Snook on a 6Wt.

Snook on a 6Wt.

 

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This Spotted Sea Trout Robbed Me

Yesterday held some good fishing. In the morning, I found several snook along the mangroves. None huge, but all fun. As the tide continued to fill, I paddled the Adios out to the sandbar in hopes of doing some sight-fishing for redfish. The water was clear, and the sun bright, so conditions were excellent.

This Spotted Sea Trout Robbed Me

This Spotted Sea Trout Robbed Me

For awhile I poled the Adios along the bar, searching for activity. Eventually I found some. After staking out, I jumped off and began very slowly wading.  Suddenly a large ray glided into view, traveling from right to left, no more than fifteen feet from me. That’s when I saw them. Two large redfish! They were closely following the ray. The motion of a ray’s wings disturbs the bottom, often kicking up food. And redfish know it. So the ray becomes their lunch wagon.

Swinging the rod behind me, I did a quick roll cast dropping the fly practically on the ray’s back. Wham, I got a strike. Was this my redfish? Hell, no. Hidden between the two reds was a 20 inch spotted sea trout, who jumped out and nail the fly. Damn. This spotted sea trout robbed me.

 

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Spotted Sea Trout

Hit the water early this morning, leaving the ramp around 7 AM. The wind was light, the skies were clear, and the tide was about to flood. I slowly poled the Adios northward, covering roughly two miles of water. Conditions were perfect for tailing reds. Man, I looked and looked all the way, but none were to be found. Damn it.

Redfish are scarce of late. And it has anglers worried. There has even been talk of the need for a hatchery. My friend Dave says it may just be a temporary down-turn in the population. I hope so. I miss those reds.

Bigger Spotted Sea Trout

Bigger Spotted Sea Trout

On the way back, I fished the sandbar on a rising tide. Good light, clear water. So I could sight-fish pretty well. But not much going on. About halfway home, I stopped at a favorite spot. Climbed out of the Adios and waded along the inside of the bar. To the left of a sand hole I saw a swirl, and dropped my fly nearby.

Released Sea Trout

Released Sea Trout

The take was instant. No it wasn’t a red; it was a big spotted sea trout. Here in Charlotte Harbor big means anything over 18″. Unfortunately we don’t grow them like they do on the Atlantic side. This one was close to 24″, and I believe my largest to date. It fought fairly well on my 6-weight. This pup should have weighted near five pounds, but it was a string bead, shaped more like a pickerel. Perhaps it is a post spawn fish. Still I’m glad to have found it.

 

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Golf Cart at the Ramp

Some time ago I showed you a bicycle used to launch a kayak.  Cool right? I think so. Well I just saw another twist on the launch vehicle idea. A golf cart at the ramp. Yes sir. Yesterday, I meet a guy launching his inflatable dinghy from a golf cart. That’s a first!

Golf Cart at the Ramp

Golf Cart at the Ramp

He told me he has been doing it for fifteen years. Hey more power to him.

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