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Proper gear for early morning shore fishing

By GEORGE TUNISON - | Jul 30, 2020

The early bird catches the fish, but, dress for a bug fight if you plan on doing the dawn beach walk in search of that leg-long surf snook. Lightweight long pants and a long sleeved shirt are early a.m. beachwear basics along with your favorite bug repellant, otherwise you probably won’t last long.

A long rod with a quality spinning reel loaded with 15-pound braid attached to a 30 to 40-pound test 3-feet-long fluorocarbon leader is a good starting point for tackle and will allow you to make long searching casts down the surf zone. Make your casts parallel to the beach rather than far out into the Gulf as the fish are patrolling the shoreline.

Increase your odds in the clear water by not using any hardware. Attach your leader to your main line with a back to back Uni or other dependable knot.

Your shirt pocket tackle box should contain a couple white bucktail or soft plastic jigs in 1/4 to 3/8 oz. sizes, toss in a DOA shrimp in clear natural or glow color, hang your favorite top-water plug on your hat and you’re set for lures.

A couple bottles of water and your release tool completes the outfit.

Any structure large or small is a beach snook magnet. A small downed tree or a few scattered rocks can sometimes host a single jumbo female or a school of smaller males. Toss your top-water plug and work it around the tree branches for an explosive strike.

Most anglers typically associate summertime foot snook beach adventures with the early morning. Beat the heat and the crowds and try a night trip. Cast a big, noisy topwater down the beach 10 feet or so off the sand while standing ankle deep in the surf. A straight “walk the dog” retrieve is standard fare but to really get a snook interested, try a quicker, more erratic jumping, fleeing type of retrieve. If you’ve spent any time on the water you’ve seen whole schools of bait jumping for their lives at high speed trying to escape the teeth chasing them from below.

Although snook are born male with a percentage changing sex as they mature, any really large summer snook you catch will be a summer breeding female, so handle with care. For a quick picture, hold the fish horizontally, supporting it with two hands rather than using a vertical jaw hold. The larger the fish the more important supporting it is to ensure a healthy release.

No matter what gamefish you release, keeping it in the water during the release is always the best plan.

Currently the IGFA recognizes 10 different species of snook. The current IGFA All Tackle World Record for common snook is 53 lbs. 10 oz. caught in 1978 in Costa Rica.

A longtime client that loves shallow flats sharking using the fly rod put on a demonstration this week on how not to fight a big powerful predator with the long rod, especially with one costing over $900, plus tax!

After chumming with frozen chum and broadcasting the area with pieces of cut fish using a bait bat, it wasn’t long before we had some interested customers right behind the boat attracted to the free picnic. The doctor’s perfect cast put the big orange and flashy Mylar fly right in the sharks face and was instantly eaten. Feeling the steel, it took off and was quickly into the reel’s backing.

As I was starting the motor to follow “Jaws,” panic set in as he raised the rod towards the sky. Before I could say anything the rod exploded allowing the shark to spit the barbless hook.

Fly rods and Rowland Martin bass-style, sky high rod hooksets and fights, are a no-no with fly rods and heavy fish.

Hold the rod just above, parallel to the water and use the heavier butt section to power lift.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-282-9434 or captgeorget3@aol.com.