Monday, August 8, 2016

Snook are plentiful and easy to catch -- if you know the secrets

Snook are plentiful in the surf along barrier islands in southwest Florida from May through August.

The more I fish, the more I realize that there is nothing certain about the sport.

Just because you do well on a certain species at a certain spot one year doesn't mean the same will hold true the next.
D.T. Variations are top flies for sight-fishing snook.

If things can change, they usually will.

This applies to beach snook fishing.

That's my specialty. I've been doing it for the past 35 years and I've seen things change in less than 24 hours.

First, let me tell you that I will not share spots with you. Most of you have eyes, legs, feet and brains. That's enough to allow you to put in the time to find your own spots.

I found mine the good old-fashioned way: hard work and determination.

All  you need is the desire to success and the willingness to put in the time.

Mick Coulas shows off a beach snook.
This season has been among the best. The snook have been plentiful in the surf and usually more than willing to cooperate. My best day so far was a 29-snook day on Aug. 1. I had a 23-fish outing in July.

I've had several days in double digits.

I've also head days when I've found plenty of snook, but getting them to hit was another matter.

I am fortunate in that I've been able to guide quite a few people to their first beach snook. Most are surprised at the complexity of the sport. I have seen them make every mistake possible. I have also witnessed them improve and become quit adept at seeing snook in the surf.

The first skill to be mastered is seeing the fish. And this is quite difficult for many folks. I'm not sure why, but I do know that it's true.

I believe that those who have trouble seeing the fish do not own a quality pair of polarized sunglasses. I can't understand why anglers enjoy sight-fishing are handicapping themselves in this manner. Makes no sense.

A quality pair of polarized sunglasses helps you see the fish. If you can see fish, you have a good shot at catching them. If you can't see them, the odds are against you.

Steve Kost fights a snook a fly rod.
Recently, I gave a talk on beach snook fishing at the Mangrove Coast Fly Fishers in Sarasota. As usual, I gave my spiel about sunglasses.

Immediately, I saw a hand go up.

"Do you think my (cheap) sunglasses will work?" one guy asked.

Before answering, I asked, "Why not invest in a better pair?"

He responded, "Too expensive."

I paused, then asked, "How much did you pay for your fly rod?"

He got the point.

It makes no sense to pay $300-$700 for a fly rod, then "cheap out" on the sunglasses -- especially if you want to sight-fish.

A good pair of polarized sunglasses drastically reduces glare on the water's surface, allowing you to see what's below.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Once you can see below the surface, you have to interpret what you're seeing. If you start looking for snook with tails, scales, fins, eyes and a mouth, you probably won't see very many.

What you're looking for is a shape. A color. Movement.

Snook have an uncanny ability to blend into their surroundings.

It takes practice. But once you get the hang of it, it's pretty easy.

Another common mistake is to look for snook too far away from the dry sand. You can find snook lying of the bottom in the trough. However, the snook you want are cruising parallel to the beach just a foot or so out from the dry sand. These fish are in what I like to call the feeding zone. They're actively looking for food: sand fleas, scale sardines, glass minnows.

Those fish you see lying on the bottom have already eaten and aren't actively seeking food. They'll take a fly every once in a while, but not often.

Another mistake I see often is casting diagonally or parallel. When you see a snook swimming toward you, simply cast straight out (perpendicularly) from the beach. Time your retrieve so that the fly and snook meet at the same place at the same time.

It's that simple.

Rarely will a snook swim out of its way to take a fly. Your offering has to be within 18 to 24 inches of the snook.

The reason I prefer a white fly is that I can see it in the water. I can track it easily and know where it is in relationship to the fish. If I can't see it, then how would I know the snook is tracking it or even remotely interested in it?

Okay, let's say you make a good cast and the snook starts to follow your fly. What do you do?

That's easy. You trigger or provoke a strike by speeding up your retrieve. You make the snook think the "bait" is trying to get away. I do this by increasing my striping speed. Or i might even do so with the rod tip.

If a snook follows don't give up until you run out of water. I've had many snook take the fly at the very last second.

As far as rods go, I use a TFO BVK 5 weight and matching reel. I prefer a clear, intermediate sinktip line. However, on the BVK I have a floating line.

Floating lines can be a nuisance because you'll often find the fly line inside your rod tip. You can remedy that by shortening your leader or moving back on the beach.

With a sinktip line, I use a 6-foot leader. With a floating line I use a 7 1/2-foot leader. I add a short length of 20-pound fluorocarbon for a shock leader.

While I won't divulge my favorite locations, I will tell you I avoid beaches that have undergone re-nourishment.  The companies that re-nourish beaches often use offshore sand or inland sand for the procedure. It's not compatible with the natural sand and usually won't hold sand fleas, a common food for snook.

In addition, new sand stirs up quite easily and can make it tough to see.

What's the attraction of beach snook fishing? No 1, it's a great sight-fishing adventure. With a little imagination, you can picture yourself on a remote tropical beach, casting to bonefish.

While snook are our main target, we have also encountered redfish, spotted seatrout, jack crevalle, ladyfish, flounder, tripletail, mangrove snapper, barracuda, tarpon and cobia in the surf.

You just never know what you might see.

Typically, I don't get out on the beach much earlier than 7:30 a.m. You can't see much because the sun isn't up high enough to light up the water. Your peak fishing time is 10 a.m. to about 1 p.m.

There are times when you can fish all day is good conditions. But most of the time, you're done by 1 the sea breeze kicks in and roughens the surf.

Essential gear for beach snook fishing includes cap or hat, sunscreen, clippers, pliers, leader material, fly box and flies and plenty of water. I usually walk 3-4 miles and drink a couple of liters of water.

Snook will stay out into the sure through August and into September. They'll start heading back into the bays as the water cools.

The action so far has been great. I hope it remains so for a few more weeks.

No comments:

Post a Comment