Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Big snook were the name of the game in January

Snook season is still close following the freeze of 2010, but there doesn't appear to be any shortage of these fish for Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing clients and friends.

Dave Robinson's 42-inch snook.
We've been concentrating on fishing tidal rivers since mid-December and have been rewarded with snook up to 44 inches, including many of more than 30. In addition, we've been catching and releasing redfish, largemouth bass, gar and tarpon.

Dave Cyr of Nokomis joined me for the first outing of 2013 and encountered a good number of fish. 
However, he had some problems setting the hook and staying connected. When he finally got the hang of it, Dave landed several snook to 27 inches and a gar. He jumped a tarpon, but the hook pulled on a jump.

Vinny Caruso of Bradenton caught his largest snook, a 36-incher in early January. On that trip, we landed 10 snook and three tarpon.

Dave Robinson of Sarasota had the trip of a lifetime, catching his personal-best snook, a 42-incher. We totaled 12 snook, three reds, six gar and an 8-pound tarpon.

The following day, I fished my myself and caught my best snook ever -- a 44-incher. I also released a pair of juvenile tarpon.

Pete Walocko of Sarasota fished the river on an off-day. We landed gar, ladyfish, black drum and seatrout. We normally don't encountered the latter two species.

Neil Hart and Rich Wain of Great Britain had a good day on the river. We combined for five snook to 28 inches and several gar to about 15 pounds.

On a solo outing, I managed eight snook to 38 inches and a pair of tiny tarpon.

Dave Cyr of Nokomis and his son-in-law Joe Rioff fished with me and had a fine day. In fact, Joe landed four snook to 30 inches and a gar. Dave caught his first redfish.

My river strategy is a little different from most. I fish ledges in deep water where the snook like to hang out. The lure that works best for me is a MirrOlure Lil John on a 1/16-jighead, I like the "golden bream" color, but have caught fish on a variety of different shades.

The trick is to cast out and allow the jig to sink the bottom. I prefer to work it back in a series of short and slow hops. It's imperative to pay close attention because most of the hits aren't what you might expect.

Sometimes you feel a distinctive "thump." At other times, it will be a light tap or a simple twitch.

The key is to set the hook if you think you had a hit.

For this type of fishing, I use medium-action spinning rods, Shimano reels, 10-pound PowerPro braided line and 30-pound fluorocarbon shock leader.

It's also important to work the lure all the way back to the kayak. In fact, Dave Robinson's 42-inch snook hit almost directly under his kayak.

"I was almost vertical jigging," he said.

Of course, you will be snagged from time to time. I can usually free the jig in those situations.

The rivers are beautiful and are what Florida looked like hundreds of years ago. On most trips, we encounter a variety of birds, including great blue herons, white herons, night herons, kingfishers and ospreys. We also see alligators, wild hogs and deer occasionally.

What works best for me when snook fishing is an outgoing tide. However, I usually can catch fish as long as the tide is moving.

I anticipate good action over the next few weeks.

Since most of the rivers are at least 25 miles away, I do not do half-day trips. I only offer 6- and 8-hour outings.

If you've never caught a snook or you're searching for a big one, you might want to consider a river trip.

Steve Gibson
Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing
(941) 284-3406

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