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Looking for snook? Now’s the time to try your luck

By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON - | May 7, 2021

Capt. George Tunison

Hit the beaches for an early morning snook fight. On foot or by boat, now’s the time, as these fish are in the mood for love and food, and will spend the summer in the surf, in and around the passes, even offshore, before heading inland again this fall.

Try to plan your trip when the tide is moving and know the action doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. Try the night patrol for a real trophy class fish.

Fishing early day or night, be prepared by wearing or taking with you long sleeved shirts, long pants and other assorted coverings. Have a good supply of your favorite insect repellent, or else.

Lure selection is pretty basic. A pocketful of white bucktails and soft plastic paddle tails in the 1/4 to 1/2 ounce jig head size will get the day job done. Take a few DOA Shrimp and a chrome flavored MirrOdine as back-up. For night patrol and some downright scary strikes from monster fish, throw a big topwater plug down the beach and hold on

The water’s clear, so dropping down a leader size from your traditional inshore 40-pound test to 30, or even 20, will put more fish on the hook when the sun’s up.

Cloudy days make it harder to sight fish so move along slowly, watch for movement and remember any type of cover is a potential snook magnet.

Fly anglers will do well with standard Clouser and Seaducer patterns. I like Puglisi Back Country Killers and their other great baitfish imitators. Here again, white is my color choice — tie in a little flash and you’ve got a winner.

Good fly lines aren’t cheap so after a day in the brine, maintain yours by cleaning it in a big bucket with mild, soapy, fresh water. Rinse thoroughly and hang in large coils to dry. When it’s clean and dry, apply a fly line dressing to keep it in good shape, high floating and slick.

When using big live baits for tarpon this year, try bridling the bait to greatly increase your solid hook ups. Bridling means passing a rubber band or light wire through the baitfish’s head or nostrils, near the mouth, insert the hook through both loops, then twist, locking it in, in front of the fish’s lips, fully exposed. Check out You Tube for further instruction.

Keeping that circle hook outside usually ups your big live bait catch-and-release tarpon and trophy sized snook score, and also allows you to fish a lighter leader (within reason) for more bites in clear water.

Another big plus is your bait-fish swims stronger, lasts longer and acts far more naturally without being impaled on a large hook.

However you take your tarpon this year please respect the resource. General tips would include using adequate tackle to bring the fish to the boat in a timely manner as to not exhaust it or have it become a shark snack. As the waters continue to warm, this becomes more critical. Use circle hooks. Always have proper release tools onboard. Keep the fish in the water while reviving it by holding the jaw and moving the boat forward till it kicks away strongly.

Be aware that during this release process, Jaws may be lurking near-by and come in for a bite. Be extra cautious during night time releases.

If your tarpon comes under attack during the fight do what you can to intervene and save your fish. Hit the free spool and let the tarpon try and get away from that shark or even cut the line.

If you want a little shark payback, now’s the time as we have plenty to go around. We have back-breaking sharks in the 4 digit weight class that require fighting chairs and/or serious stand-up harnesses along with a strong back and stamina.

Light tackle flats sharks are definitely the most fun.


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