Monday, July 4, 2016

Sight-fishing for snook in the surf is the name of the game

Todd Dary of Sarasota battles a typical beach snook on fly rod.
We're experiencing some of the best sight-fishing you can find. Snook are spread out in the surf from Anna Maria Island to Naples and are hitting a variety of flies.

We've hit local beaches on several occasions and have done well. This is one of our favorite activities.
Todd Dary shows off a snook.

"Beach snook" season usually begins in May and runs through August. I believe the peak months are July and August. So, the best is yet to come.

We've been concentrating on Casey Key. We've had a number of trips in that area.

John Weimer of Sarasota joined me for several outings. We've had slow to fair trips. The best was a six-fishing trip, with snook to 24 inches. On one trip, John caught a decent snook on his first cast, then later added another fish.

I've done well on a couple of solo outings. On one trip, I caught and released eight snook to 27 inches. On another, I managed 23 snook to 28 inches. I hooked 30 snook during the latter session.

John Lacy and Kurt Godshall of Kentucky were down on vacation and spent a day fly fishing the surf. They combined to hook 14 snook and landed six. The best fish went 23 inches.

Todd Dary of Sarasota had a fair day. He hooked 10 snook and landed six. The biggest fish went about 23 inches.

I spent one day early in the month walking along Manasota Key. I caught one snook and one trout. 

Dr/ Jesse Ehrlick of Sarasota fights a snook.
This is an area that usually is pretty good. I'm hoping the action gets better and plan to spend time there during the next couple of months.

For beach snook fishing, we use 6- to 8-weight fly rods, floating or intermediate sinktip lines, 20-pound fluorocarbon leaders. If you choose to use a lighter leader, it's a good idea to add a short length of 20-pound fluorocarbon shock tippet.

The key to success is being able to see the fish and recognize them as such. This can be tricky for beginners. But once you see a few fish, it becomes much easier.

It's important to cast the fly in front of the fish. So, it's your job to determine in what direction the snook is swimming or in what direction it is lying.

I've caught as many as 41 snook in a morning. I've had a few trips during which I caught none. But that doesn't happen often.

Brian Boehm and I fished Casey Key late in the month and had a snookless day. Fish were plentiful, but rather spooky. I had four fish follow the fly, but that's as close as I got to hooking up.

My best day in terms of quality fish took place during August 2010. I caught 15 snook  of which eight were 28 inches or larger. My largest snook went 40 inches and 21 pounds. I also landed three redfish of more than 30 inches and jumped three monster tarpon.

Interestingly enough, I returned to the same spot the next morning and caught only two small snook. I didn't see any redfish or tarpon.

Go figure!

Dr. Jesse Ehrlick of Sarasota joined me for his first beach snook outing and did well. He hooked six snook and landed three.

I explored some new territory along the north portion of Longboat Key. I caught six snook out of the eight I hooked the first morning. The largest fish went 25 inches. The next day, I fished the northern tip along Longboat Pass. I got to cast and many snook up to 20 pounds. I didn't hook any, but the prospects are interesting.

John Weimer and I did travel to Naples to fish a small freshwater lake. We caught 10 monster Mayan cichlid and seven bluegill. Several of the bluegill pushed 11 inches. We also hooked what we thought might be a tarpon for a few seconds. The lake has a good population of peacock bass, largemouth bass, bluegill, shellcracker, Mayan cichlid, tarpon and snook. It's usually pretty good during the hotter months.

I haven't fished Sarasota Bay in a while, but the best bet usually is snook and tarpon at night around lighted docks.

During the day, spotted seatrout, ladyfish, jack crevalle and bluefish are cooperating over deeper grass on the east and west sides of the bay.

Redfish, snook and spotted seatrout action should be fair on the flats.

JULY FORECAST: I looked for improving sight-fishing for snook in the surf. There are quite a few large snook spread out along the beach. In addition, night fishing for snook and small tarpon should be good around lighted docks. Spotted seatrout, jack crevalle, ladyfish and bluefish  should be plentiful over deep grass. Shark action is heating up in southern Tampa Bay.
If you've never caught a snook, now is the time. In addition to getting a shot at some quality snook, you'll also get to fish is some of the most beautiful water you'll ever see.
No matter what your choice, please give me a call at 941-284-3406 to book a trip.

Steve Gibson
Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing