Snook Fishing on Fire
I know updates have been a little slower than I hoped, but the fishing business has been extremely busy. It makes it difficult to take a lot of time to sit down and complete a good fishing report in a timely manner. I can't stand doing a one paragraph update, as it just seems like a waste of time for the website; however, I do provide brief updates on our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/captainjohntarr). I use the Facebook page to provide short reports, photos on a more frequent basis, and to brief on upcoming news. If you haven't already, I urge you to hop over, hit the like button, and give it a follow. It also allows more two-way communication if there is something you want to know or see. If you aren't on Facebook, but have MeWe, another social platform, I put a lot of the same information up on the Saltwater Fly Fishing page that I run on there. Again, send an application in (it's three questions to make sure spammers don't get in), and follow along. Okay, enough with that stuff, on to fishing.
July was an extremely busy month for me, which is a blessing. The weather has been hot, but it has been bearable with some nice breezes coming along. I honestly haven't had many fly fishing trips, but I've had a ton of conventional gear trips involving experienced anglers and brand new anglers. It seems that once Covid restrictions were lifted in the majority of states, people wanted to come to Florida and enjoy what we have to offer. Whether the anglers were experienced or not, they all experienced the same fishing activity: hot snook action!
Snook fishing has been my go to for the month of July. They have been fairly reliable, and the majority of my customers have enjoyed the fight these fish provide. Unfortunately, most were unprepared for the ability snook have to take your best angling abilities and completely destroy them. While we have been very successful at catching the smaller fish, up to about 24 inches in length, we've had very limited success in landing the bigger fish. In fact, with the exception of one fish landed over 30 inches, all of the others have shown that the anglers were no match for them. I'm not trying to put the anglers down. In fact, many of them did everything they could and still lost the battle. This isn't a hit on them, but goes to prove that snook are the best at schooling anglers and using their "backstreet brawler" fighting style to school the angler. This is one of the main reason snook will always be my favorite fish to target. Sure, tarpon are big and powerful, but snook are big, powerful and dirty fighters.
What do I mean by a dirty fighter? I'll give an example from this past Tuesday, when I had a good friend and his grandson out. We had caught a fair number of fish, but with the big bright moon the night before, the snook had eluded our offers. About midday, I pulled up to a spot where I knew some big snook liked to lay under a boat. We put a few casts in the area and mangrove snapper eagerly took our initial offers. This isn't unusual, as snapper are fierce eaters and move much faster to take bait than many other fish. Then, after we caught a couple of snapper, our bait drifted into the the area and the snapper didn't come out. This typically means that something bigger is now in the area and interested. After a few moments, the line went tight. My angler, a 12-year-old, came tight and set the hook. Instantly the reel started screaming and line started burning across the surface. The fish came out from under the boat and I estimated it to be about a 40 inch snook. Her fins were bright yellow, the lateral line was thick, and the fish never missed a beat. She ran about 30 yards of line out and headed for a dock piling. My angler was giving it everything he had and I was coaching him on keeping the fish out of the dock. The snook realized she wouldn't make the piling she was racing toward, so without warning, she turned about 150 degrees and ran to an opposite dock. The slack she created couldn't be retrieved fast enough and she made it to the other structure, wrapped around two pilings, and broke us off. 40 pound fluorocarbon broke like a piece of thread due to barnacles, speed, and power. This is the typical fighting technique of snook. They know every inch of structure around their domain and they know how to reach it. Not only does it take skill to win, but it also takes a little luck.
Rick and Vera, two of my regular clients, managed to have a little of that luck with their big snook. It ate, wrapped around two poles and then ran under a fallen dock. Rick, who probably has the most experience of all of my anglers in dealing with snook, knew what to do and we landed her. It wasn't an easy task and I'm not sure there are many anglers out there that would've done it right. I was also a little lucky, as I had to take the boat into an area full of debris from a falling down dock and it was jut big enough for my boat to fit. Everything worked out for a caught fish, a quick photo, and a release; yep, all of that for a fish we couldn't keep. The smiles are always worth the effort though!
Snook activity will continue to be hot and heavy for the remainder of summer and into the fall. In fact, as the bigger fish return from spawning, which is taking place right now, it will get even better. I promise you this, you will not find a fish that is better at testing your fighting skills and luck all at the same time.
Tarpon also here and their numbers are increasing on a weekly basis. We've had limited success getting them to the boat, but we have decent success getting them to eat. Again, these fish will test everything from your skill to your gear. The nice part is, I have them in every size range you could want, from 5 pounders to 100 pounders and bigger. I prefer the smaller fish, as they don't beat you up and they are a ton of fun. But, for those clients that have dreams of a triple digit fish, we can chase them. It takes patience and the understanding that everything has to come together perfectly for the bigger fish to be fooled. But, it is awe inspiring to witness a 100 plus pound fish jumping through the air, head shaking, gills rattling, and sun glistening off their sides. Like big snook, there is no finesse fishing big tarpon. It takes powerful equipment and the angler needs to be ready to apply maximum pressure and to take some jolts. Again, this is why I prefer the smaller ones. They provide as much visual excitement as the big ones, but they can be taken on much lighter gear and they just don't kick your butt the way big ones do. Little guys like the one below, provide a fun fight, jump more than the
bigger fish, but they are just as pretty for a photo. Understand one important part though: the small ones can be just as finicky or even more so than their bigger relatives. The fish in this photo didn't hesitate to engulf a Feather Changer Fly, although several prior fish had rejected everything we cast at them. Patience, it's all about patience.
For those that just want to spend some relaxing time on the water, now is also the perfect time for a night time ecotour. Bioluminescence is in full swing and should continue through the summer. The best viewing time starts about an hour after sunset and continues through the night, until about an hour before sunrise. This phenomenon, created by plankton giving off a electrical discharge when disturbed, is one of the most magical and beautiful sights you will ever see. The photos below do not do justice to what it actually looks like to the human eye. Cameras just cannot pick up the glow, the color, are even the activity that takes place. You really owe it to yourself to experience this at least once.
As always, I hope this report gets you a little excited to come visit and enjoy some time in the wonderful, natural side of Florida. While things are busy, I still have some openings throughout the year and would love to get you out to enjoy some great fishing or a relaxing ecotour. I appreciate your time, and there is even more new stuff on some of the other web pages, including the following: a little behind the scenes video on the video page and a rod review on the new TFO Mangrove Coast fly rod in the forum page. Check them out!
Have a question or want to book a trip? Just click here!
Tight lines and screaming drags!
-Captain John Tarr