Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Beach snook season starting out on a high note

Beach snook fishing has been good.
In three days of walking along the surf, I've caught and released 15 snook. Most have been small. The largest fish was 26 inches. I've also caught some nice spotted seatrout, blue runners, ladyfish and skipjack.
I fished about 30 minutes south of Sarasota the first two days. I fished along Casey Key the third day.
I saw more snook the first two days. I estimate that I saw 300-400 snook each of the first two days. I saw maybe 90 snook along Casey Key.
I've been fly fishing the surf for snook for the last 25 years. It's certainly one of my favorite pursuits. It's great sight-fishing and load of fun.
I estimate that I've caught nearly 5,000 snook over the years. My best day in terms of numbers was 41 snook. Last season, I averaged 19 snook per trip. I'll have to have a couple of great days to get my average up this season.
My best day ever took place last August when I caught and released 15 snook to 20 pounds. That included six snook of more than 28 inches. The largest was nearly 40 inches. I also caught and released three redfish to 32 inches and jumped three 100-pound tarpon.
Of course, I didn't come close to landing the tarpon. They simply were too much for my 6-weight TFO TiCRX fly rod. Still, it was fun.
I wasn't sure how this season would be. We had a very harsh winter and experienced a large snook kill because of cold water. Fisheries scientists estimate that 10 percent of the snook along Florida's west coast were killed.
It's too early to tell what affect the kill will have on the beach snook season. I can tell you there are good numbers of fish out there, and the population should increase daily.
My best months are still to come. I like June, July and August best.
If you want to try this yourself, you'll need a 6- to 8-weight fly rod, floating or intermediate line and a leader with a 20- to 25-pound shock tippet.
As far as flies go, I use nothing but my Gibby's D.T. Variation, a fly that has accounted for several thousand snook over the years. It was the fly of choice on that once-in-a-lifetime day last summer.
Other required equipment includes a cap or hat, sunscreen, quality pair of polarized sunglasses and water.
I like to arrive at the beach around 7:30 a.m. I usually fish until 1 p.m. Best sight-fishing is from 9:30 to noon.
When the summer wind is gentle and from the east, it's time for me to grab my fly rod and head for the beach.

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