Posted Thursday, January 2, 2014
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A lot of people think that you have to have a boat to fish, especially to fish for Snook. This is just not true. I have spent the last 5 to 6 years fishing for Snook on shore. I have also fished for them in a boat, but I have found out that I am more successful when fishing for Snook from shore.
The trick is to know where they will be; I have found over the years to look in the places that other people just go right by. In the summer months, for instance, when the water temperature is in the 80’s, you will find a lot of Snook cruising the beaches. I have watched people fishing from the beaches in hopes of catching a big Snook, but they fail to realize that the Snook are right in front of them. They are so focused on casting their bait as far out as they can, and the Snook are only feet off the beach. I also have seen where someone is fishing on one side of a sandbar and the fish are just sitting on the other side. The truth is, these people did not do their homework. They heard somewhere that they can catch Snook off the beach so they went and got some fishing gear and some bait and think that’s all there is to it. If you have tried to fish for Snook, you know that there is a bit more to it than that. Not to say that you won’t catch one, just not on a regular basis.
In this article I hope to open your eyes some, to look a little differently at the waters around you. You may find that you have been passing up some really great fishing spots.
I’d like to show you that you can save a lot of money by fishing on shore. No more money spent on fuel, wasted time trying to find a boat launch that still has parking, or getting back tired after a long day on the water and still having to rinse the boat down and clean it.
Looking for spots
When I drive down the road I am always looking for a spot to fish. If I am driving down the beach, I’ll look for vacant lots and dead end roads that have access to the water. I will look for parks that are on the water. Sometimes I’ll find a place, and while I am fishing there, I’ll see another good spot across the water.
Snook love structure. Bridges are a great place to fish for Snook. Try to get down on the shore of a bridge, so that you can cast underneath it. Don’t just cast under it either. Often, Snook will be moving along the shore there also. If you can get around docks, for instance in canals, you will usually find Snook.
Another place that I often search for Snook is around causeways. There are mangroves along many of Florida’s causeways and in between them is access to the water. These are great places to fish. Often you will find shallow water there, and guess what! Snook like shallow water. If there is a channel there also, well that’s a plus. If there are mangrove islands and/or oyster beds there also, that’s another plus - There is your structure.
In the wintertime move inland; again look for parks on the water, like on main rivers that dump into the gulf or ocean. Snook cannot tolerate cold water. If the temperature drops down into the low 60’s they can die, so they tend to move where they know the warmer water will be. Power plants are a great place to fish; OK, since 9/11 we cannot even get close to power plants anymore, but if you look around you can find places that are close to warm water runoffs. In the winter you will find both Snook and tarpon in warm water runoffs. There is a place near me called the manatee park. This is where many manatees come for the winter and yes, it has a warm water runoff. Now you cannot fish in the manatee zone, but they do have a fishing pier where you can fish and cast into the runoff just outside the park. This is also a great kayaking spot.
There are also locks on many rivers; these are also great fishing spots in the winter.
Another good thing to look for is running water. Snook like to sit and wait in a good current and let the food come to them. I have noticed that on small bridges, people just drive by thinking that there is not much water there, so there must not be any fish. But I have learned that if mullet are there, then Snook have no problem being there either. Remember Mullet are a primary part of their food base.
The key to all of this is to open your eyes and look at the environment. You may find a property that you know would be a great fishing spot. Try to find out who owns the property, and then call them for permission. You may even offer to help keep the lot or property clean for them, which is a small price to pay for a great fishing spot.
I have many spots I fish and tend to not stay at any one of them for very long. For one reason, I use lures and cover a lot of area in a short time. Another reason is that I don’t want people to see me catching fish. They’re my spots. Every spot that I like to fish is a little different than the next; this gives me a wide variety to choose from, and depending on the weather I can usually find fish.
My best day so far is over 40 Snook in one day. Actually, I stopped counting at 40. All of them were caught on shore. I catch at least 2 or 3 good-sized Snook every time I go out, but those are on bad days!
So to recap, there are a few things that Snook prefer. Look for areas with structure (bridges, mangrove islands, oyster beds, docks, & locks), a current (even in shallow water), and schools of mullet. These will be great fishing spots. Don’t limit yourself to the places that have a sign saying ‘fishing allowed.’
The trick is to keep your eyes peeled for the right signs – They’re out there. Just remember to respect the signs that say ‘no trespassing’.
The farther you can cast, the more coverage you will have when fishing on shore, so your setup needs to be focused on being able to make long casts. I personally use a 6 ½ - 7’ rod (Shimano Compre), with medium-heavy to heavy action. Always use a good spinning reel (I use the Shimano Symetre 4000FJ), with 15 to 20 pound Power Pro line and 30 lbs fluorocarbon leader tied directly to the braided line. You do not want your leader to be over 2 feet long because it will drag the front of your plug down. Shorten the leader until your plug remains buoyant when retrieving it.
Whether your preference is lures or bait, you have many options to choose from that work well when fishing for Snook.
If you’re going to fish with live bait, pinfish, greenbacks, finger mullet and large shrimp are Snook favorites. I have even had success on the beach using chunks of ladyfish. Keep in mind that Snook have great eyesight and the littlest thing will spook them, so try not to use floats or weights.
Personally, I like to use lures, especially top water plugs like Hedden Super Spooks. These lures make a lot of noise, and seem to make the Snook want to destroy it. Another good choice is the DOA shrimp, but color will be a factor. The current water temperature and types of bottom where you are fishing will determine the color that the shrimp should be.
I recently started using a new lure from Strike King called the 3X ZTOO. It is a soft bait that has salt imbedded into it. I tried this bait on a cold morning when the Snook were stacked up, but not touching anything that I threw at them. I tossed one of these out, not expecting much, but to my surprise I pulled 5 Snook out of this one hole in less than 30 minutes. Then the tide stopped and the Snook moved on, but it made a poor fishing day turn out to be good.
Always try to use a lip grip when you catch Snook. The less you have to touch them (or any larger fish for that matter) the better their odds are for survival. When they are not in season, pinch the barbs on your hooks. You may lose a fish now and then, but the damage you cause them will be greatly decreased by doing this. This will help ensure that the big ones are out there for years to come, healthy and hungry!
I hope that this article helps open your eyes to new fishing opportunities. There are a lot of fantastic untouched fishing areas that are only accessible by land. So get out and go fishing, and don’t forget to teach our next generation this great sportfishing.
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