Monday, August 29, 2016

Beach snook winding down; back to kayak fishing lakes and bays

Snook are plentiful in the surf from May through August. The season is winding down.
Beach snook season is finally coming to a close, so it's back in the kayak for this fishing guide.

There are still a few snook in the surf, but the numbers are down drastically compared to a couple of weeks ago.
The author shows off a fine beach snook caught on fly.

For planning purposes, I target snook in the surf from May until about mid-August. For the most part, I sight-fish these great game fish with my fly rod.

My clients totaled more than 175 snook this past season. On days when I didn't have trips, I caught and released 154 snook from the surf to 28 inches.

This was the best beach snook season that we've had in at least five years. I'm hoping it's even better next year.

For beach snook, I recommend 6- to 8-weight fly rods, with clear, intermediate sinktip line. I don't get fancy on the leader. I use a six-foot length of fluorocarbon. My fly of choice is my Gibby's D.T. Variation, a fly that has produced more than 1,000 beach snook over the years.

Check out this video I produced on beach snook fishing:

I also did a little freshwater fishing during the month, although I must admit I didn't do all that well.

We're a couple of months from peak action. Freshwater fishing will heat up as the weather cools and the water level goes down.

Now that I'm back fishing the bays, here's what we can expect:

SARASOTA BAY -- I usually launch at Buttonwood Harbor on the west side of the bay midway up Longboat Key, I like to get out an hour or so before dawn and fish dock lights for snook, tarpon and other species. At dawn, I like to be on an adjacent flat, casting for redfish. I look for schools of mullet on the flat and concentrate my efforts there. I usually start out with a topwater plug. I also use jigs, spoons and jerk worms. Stephens Point on the east side of the bay can be a very good spot. You can work the dock lights before dawn there, then paddle out into the bay and fish for spotted seatrout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle, pompano and ladyfish over the deep grass. I like to use jigs, Mirrolure MirrOdines and D.O.A. Deadly Combinations.

TAMPA BAY -- I launch at the south rest area near the Sunshine Skyway and fish the area around Joe Bay. I like to hit the nearby flats at dawn and cast topwater plugs for redfish, snook and trout. I'll also use MirrOlure MirrOdines. At mid-morning, I paddle out to the nearby sand bars where I like to sight-fish for redfish, snook, cobia, shark and large jack crevalle. When on the sand bars, I cast MirrOlure Lil Johns on 1/16-ounce jig heads. I also fish Tampa Bay out of Bishop Harbor.

CHARLOTTE HARBOR -- My favorite place to launch is Ponce de Leon Park in Punta Gorda. If I paddle north to the mouth of the Peace River, I often encounter tarpon from 30 to 100 pounds. The shoreline structure (docks, mangroves, fallen trees) can be good for snook and reds. If I paddle south from the launch, I'll get into snook, reds and trout on the flats and along the shoreline against the mangroves and around creeks mouths.

SEPTEMBER FORECAST: Fishing around dock lights for snook, tarpon, spotted seatrout and other species is the best bet and a great way to beat the heat. You'll need to use tackle stout enough to prevent the fish from getting around pilings or back into the docks. After daylight, I like to switch to deep grass of Whale Key on the west side of Sarasota Bay and Stephens Point on the east side to cast for spotted seatrout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel and other species. Action should be good in southern Tampa Bay for redfish, trout, snook and shark.

As always, I would like to thank my sponsors: NuCanoe, Aqua-Bound, MirrOlure, D.O.A. Lures, Peak Fishing.

Steve Gibson
Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing


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