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Moderation: Snook still recovering

September 5, 2014
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Although snook season is open, the FWC encourages moderation when deciding to kill one for the table. Stocks are rebounding better than expected after the 2010 big freeze die-off, but still has a way to go to regain pre-freeze numbers.

I do like one for the grill occasionally, but after seeing canals completely covered in dead and dying 35- to 45-inch trophies back in 2010, I now usually release them and stop at Andy's in Matlacha for more exotic and tastier fare.

Start your snook search by boat in all of the passes and any structure in or near the passes. Docks, rocks, downed trees, jetties, groins, anything that breaks up the current flow and provides an ambush point.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

Fish island points with channels and current flow closest to the passes fishing the early morning or evening/night. With the still near-boiling water night fishing is a good option in the passes, on the flats, and under bridges (Sanibel Causeway).

Pre-dawn barrier island beach walkers throwing bucktails, topwaters and swimming plugs have some lucky anglers doing the Sanibel Sprint as they run down the beach with drags screaming trying to keep up with snook headed for parts unknown.

Recently, veteran angler Tom Banks made it look easy catching and releasing an over-30-pound surf snook on his homemade Beach Bomb lure.

Banks buys wooden dowels and cuts them to 7-inch lengths. He rounds one end of the dowel with a pocketknife and sandpaper. The other end he cuts on a slight angle then whittles out a bit of wood creating a small concave cup in the dowel's end. The end result is an elongated popper/splasher top water plug.

He then screws in four hook hangers, one in the concave end/face for a split ringed line tie, then two on the bottom to hang split rings and hooks. Hook hangers have long threaded shanks. He then takes a bass sliding sinker used for plastic worm fishing, runs the hanger shank through the hole in the sinker and screws the assembly into the rounded end of the dowel to add additional casting weight (no hook).

The whole deal is dipped in a sealer and allowed 48 hours to dry. He then dips the lure in white paint, dries then re-dips the first two inches in fire engine red. Allowed to dry once again then two large, hand painted black eyes are added. Finally, it's outfitted with split rings and two treble hooks.

Place one hook near the middle and one close to the rear end. Space far enough to not tangle on the cast.

He casts this lure a country mile on 20-pound braid (add a 50-pound fluro leader) using a medium 7 1/2-foot rod, covering ground and quickly moving down the beach.

The retrieve is fast, erratic and noisy as he skitters and pops the lure along the surface in knee to hip deep water, but never deeper.

This lure and presentation has proven deadly over the years. His scrapbook was brimming with pictures of jumbo surf snook dating back to the 1960s all with his red and white Beach Bombers hanging from their jaws.

His advice is to fish two hours before the sun breaks the horizon and no more than 30 minutes after. Cover ground, stay low on the beach, look for birds and bait, and work the lure with a rather quick skipping, frantic, retrieve.

First time offshore anglers headed out for safe morning trips for reef fish in Florida State waters on the Gulf Coast (up to nine miles out) must remember to use in-line, non-offset, non-stainless steel circle hooks. In-line refers to the hook point pointing directly at the shank of the hook at a 90-degree angle or less.

After the nine-mile mark and beyond the only requirement is the circle hook must not be stainless steel.

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



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