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Snook are hungry and on the move

February 16, 2018
By GEORGE TUNISON , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Snook are hungry and on the move earlier due to near summer-like temperatures and they're eating lures as well as live and dead bait lying on bottom.

This week, suspending MirrOlures flipped and pitched into shoreline cover did damage to smaller snook with a surprise 35-inch fish going for a pink and chrome MirrOdine, fighting like crazy then jumping high into the mangrove branches, hanging there by one hook.

This is a great time of year to catch a true giant snook. Catching a real monster requires planning, the right equipment and the right baits.

First pick your target area then return at night. Right now a good choice when be a downtown deep water dock on a point with some current running through it. Anchor up tide, settle in and go into quiet mode.

Your rod and reel set-up should include 80 to 100-pound test braided fishing line Uni-Knotted to a 3-foot section of 100-pound test fluorocarbon leader material. A 7/0 8/0 J hook is recommended.

Your rod must be big and powerful and able to cast a 12 to 15-inch mullet or ladyfish accurately. That is not your snook rod outfit.

We use a float as a strike indicator and to be able to keep track of your offering, especially at night.

As soon as the strike is felt or the float instantly disappears, you need to set the hook very hard and immediately use the big rod to crank the surprised fish away from cover.

In this case a J hook is preferred as a circle hook requires the fish to turn, hooking itself as it swims away from you. In this case we want to hit the fish instantly and hard before its starts heading back under the dock structure.

Bridling the baitfish through the nose leaving the hook fully exposed is the best method insuring a high hook up ratio and free swimming action on large baits like 12-inch mullet. Bridling or morticians needles are sold locally at Bass Pro Shops. Go to YOUTUBE for instructions on bridling large live baits.

Over-kill? Hardly. Ever try to change the direction of a 40-pound snook in heavy current trying to get back to the safety of its dock home after realizing its been fooled and is now in panic mode? Without heavy equipment you won't win the battle and will be broken off every time, leaving a trophy with a mouthful of hooks.

Trophy hunting like this requires planning and dues paying. If you are lucky enough to succeed in getting a leg-long trophy snook to the boat, by all means respect the resource, keep it in the water and take great care to revive it properly. Any jumbo snook is a female and the future of snook fishing.

Right now is an excellent time for the traveling angler to experience the 10,000 Islands just south of us. Although recent hurricanes did lots of damage to the area, the fishing remains stronger than ever.

Expect to find juvenile to adult tarpon resting in shallow bays and snook of all sizes patrolling mangrove edges. Redfish are abundant and looking to eat. Another reason the winter is a good time to experience this beautiful wilderness is because of the bugs. Even in winter mosquitoes and no-see-ums can be a problem. In summer the bugs are intolerable for many people - including me.

First-timers venturing into this wilderness may not find themselves coming out as it's quite easy to get lost or to run aground on shifting bars and underwater obstacles and become stranded.

Make sure you take proper safety gear, GPS, food and water in your basic kit in case your trip gets unexpectedly extended.

Hiring a local guide for your first few trips will pay big dividends in fish and information for your future return trips to this incredible fishery.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-440-1621 or captgeoget3



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