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Big snook diving for deep water

February 28, 2014
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

If I were a snook that was "not less than 28 nor more than 33 inches total length, which is measured from the most forward point of the head with the mouth closed to the farthest tip of the tail with the tail compressed or squeezed while the fish is lying on its side," I would be diving for deep water when the calendar rolls to the March 1 Gulf of Mexico season opening (closing April 30).

One snook per day with a saltwater license and the additional snook stamp.

"The FWC encourages anglers to use moderation when determining whether or not to take a snook home, even during the open season."

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

That's a personal choice, of course, and I will be firing up the charcoal for my annual mesquite garlic and lime snook snack. I keep rolling the mental film of the worst game fish kill I've ever witnessed from not too long ago, seeing tons of dead and dying mostly large adult snook choke canal after canal.

I do somehow manage to temporarily block out those bitter and bitterly cold memories, once a year, with a large teaspoon of tartar sauce. I don't judge anyone for killing a fish for the table. Stay within the laws and legal limits and it's none of my business. On the other hand I encourage a call to the FWC to report violators (888-404-3922). These officers work a big and often dangerous job protecting our resources from those that feel above the law.

Want to help the snook cause even more? Donate your harvested snook carcass to the FWC at the following in Lee County:

Seven Seas Bait & Tackle, 4270 Pine Island Road, Matlacha

Lehr's Economy Tackle, 1366 N. Tamiami Trail, North Fort Myers

The Bait Box, 1041 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel Island

Fish Tale Marina, 7225 Estero Boulevard, Fort Myers Beach

All regulations apply. Donate only legal snook during snook season.

Donate all sizes that you harvest. (donating only large fish will bias the data.)

Donate as many fish and as often as you can; however, do not harvest fish for the program. Keep only those snook you would normally keep.

Donate both tagged and untagged fish. If a snook is tagged please report tag information to the Angler Tag Return Hotline at 800-367-4461.

These past two weeks we've seen lots of big snook on the move, skittish along with lots of bigger reds with the rats the most consistent biters.

Very warm February water and clear flats with a mixed pothole, shell and grass bottom along overhanging green mangroves has been the go-to spot for catching smaller but always fun rat reds using small gold spoons and long 12-15 pound test fluro leaders with a tiny SPRO brand (only) swivel.

Small Clouser flies (gold) are killer in the open and tossed up and under bringing out the bulldozer in these mini-reds. Always use a loop knot.

Publix sells a lightweight four-legged, plastic non-slip, sturdy stool ($9) which I use as a step to go from the floor up to the casting deck and as a solid mini-casting platform putting me a foot higher off the deck. Coolers elevate you even more, but beware using an unsecured cooler on a non-skid deck. That's an easy way to break a shoulder, hip, head or drown.

If the wind's not blowing head offshore where bottom fish are waiting along with scared snook.

Capt. Roy of Hot One II Charters took out clients from frosty Michigan catching 13 red grouper to 30 inches on cut bait and pinfish. Fishing in about 90-feet of water in 3-foot seas the group managed a 24-inch average size.

Two days later, new clients fishing the same area had a keeper limit of 12 red grouper to 26 inches in two hours of fishing.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-282-9434 or, or



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