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Fishing: Snook season is open — know what to do and what not to do

By CAPT. GEORGE TUNISON - Fishing | Sep 7, 2023

Capt. George Tunison

This thing tastes soapy! I thought snook was supposed to taste good?

Snook does taste good but most folks recommend that you remove all skin before cooking or the fish will have an unpleasant taste.

With snook now open for harvest, make sure your dinner guest is between 28 to 33 inches and only one is allowed per day. Remember to fish for and to keep a snook for dinner, you’ll need a recreational saltwater license and a snook stamp.

Even with just one per angler per day the harvest numbers will be big considering the number of anglers on the water. The upside is that these days more and more anglers understand the value of catch and release and proper handling. If you’re lucky enough to catch a big female snook this year, it’s always best to keep her in the water, get a length measurement, then revive and proudly release keeping those big genes in the pool.

Although the Boga Grip and other capture and weigh tools are certainly handy, they also can be very hard on fish destined for release. Most anglers now know to hold fish horizontally with a hand supporting the body and internal organs. Hanging can cause jaw problems as well as internal organ damage. The bigger the fish the more important this becomes. We all have old photos of our fish hanging vertically from scales, wrapped in dry towels or other fish abusing tactics but now we, well not everyone, have evolved.

Tarpon here, tarpon there, tarpon along the coast, in the harbor and river, tarpon in the back country shallows and the juveniles behind my house, that apparently only eat maybe once every few years, still making me crazy. Boca Grande has been and still seems to be the most reliable overall spot to try your luck and there’s still time to try a night bridge beast battle at The Sanibel Causeway or Caloosahatchee River bridges.

Just saw a recent clip of a Cape Cod beach angler bottom fishing for sharks with a chunk of bluefish and later catching and releasing a sizeable tarpon. Most think of tarpon as a tropical or warm water creature only but the article pointed out that tarpon have been captured as far north as Nova Scotia. That’s a long, long swim from Key West!

Take an 8 to 8.5-foot medium action rod, put on a quality reel with 15-pound braid, add a high quality but tiny SPRO swivel, tie on a 24 to 36-inch fluorocarbon leader, and now add the spoon of your choice. You now have the deadliest redfish hunting tool on the flats capable of making ultra-long searching casts covering 20% more water in a day than your partner’s shorter outfit. After the spoon, my second choice for long distance prospecting would be a heavier top-water plug like a Zara Spook.

Other than natural baits, the spoon may be redfish enemy #1, but retrieved too quickly, it spins making fish point and laugh. A steady slow to medium retrieve makes the spoon wobble and flash, calling fish in. Spinning spoons don’t catch fish but will definitely twist up your line causing big problems.

When you can’t see redfish tailing or schooling, making the water nervous as they move through the shallows eating anything that moves, then covering lots of water with long, searching casts is the deal. Use your shorter spin, bait cast or your fly outfit when up closer mangrove or dock target prospecting, or when presenting to tailing fish.

This year change it up and throw something different. My favorite top-water redfish plug is the old Arborgast bass and musky classic, the Jitterbug. Seems like every redfish state but Florida fishes redfish with bass-style spinnerbaits. Try a Strike King Redfish Magic spinnerbait this year or pull one from your bass box. Redfish hit spinnerbaits hard, very hard. Big fun!

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