If you are trying to catch a snook for the table your time is limited as the recreational harvest will close on May 1.
The season remains closed until Sept. 1 to help one of Florida's most valuable game fish during the summer spawning period where you will find them enjoying the beaches, passes, and each other's company.
You have waited all week and Saturday arrives. You've gotten up extra early and soon you're in your high-dollar, hi-tech fishing machine loaded with the latest and greatest gear. You get to your spot and select your favorite top water plug and start combing the waters in search of the big bite.
Capt. George Tunison
The bite comes, you hook up and in one jump your dream snook tosses the lure back at you. Your jumbo redfish inhales your MirrOlure and two minutes into the fight he comes off.
Frustrated, you look for answers. Obviously the fish like your favorite old reliable lure, the one that's been sliding and banging around your tackle box for the last five years.
Looking closer you find the hook points dulled, bent, rusted from snags, oysters, rocks, and banging around your tackle box.
Surrounded by $75,000 worth of boat and high tech gear with very limited time to fish yet defeated by a 20-cent hook makes little sense.
Before any lure touches the water see if the hooks are deadly sharp. Seems like a no-brainer, but it's a common theme. Dull or semi-sharp hooks are the cause of many frustrating moments on the water.
A typical plug may have two or three treble hooks on it and if just one of the six or nine hooks is dulled you can count on that one being bit and thrown by your dream trophy.
Carry a small file and learn to use it properly to touch up any questionable hook. If you snag on a rock or stick, stop casting and touch it up again with your file. On my hip I carry needlenose pliers, braid scissors, and a small file.
If your file is stuffed down deep somewhere in the boat you won't likely use it. Keep it ready at all times.
Hooks old and rusty? Stop by and pick up a pack of replacement hooks which are typically sharper than the factory hooks your lure came with. Split rings rusty as well? Buy a bag and replace.
Replace hooks and split rings with a similar size and weight as many lures are finely balanced and the wrong size can alter or kill the action of the bait.
Don't buy off-brand hooks as most are not really sharp.
Tarpon have concrete lined mouths. Sharpen those hooks!
Lately, I've commented on push poles and their use. If you have a poling platform installed on your boat, and like many that have it but use it only as a lunch table, relying instead on trolling motors, you are missing out on some of the best skinny water fishing the area has to offer.
You can access areas with a pole powered skiff that are way too shallow for trolling motor use. In this area that translates into miles and miles of fishy water you simply won't ever be fishing.
As important is the stealth factor. A trolling motor puts out an audible hum that all fish, especially trophy fish, can hear for quite a distance. In many cases that hum puts those trophy fish into another zip code long before your first cast.
Poles can be a long piece of bamboo or a $1,500 hollow graphite state-of-the-art tool. Always buy the best (lightest) you can afford if you plan on using it for an extended time. Cheap fiberglass poles work fine, but are very heavy. A high-dollar 23-foot hollow core push pole weighs in at less than five pounds.