My story on spring snook for the Snook & Gamefish Foundation.
Spring has arrived, which means longer days, warmer water, less wind, and with a little luck, more snook.
The key is to be flexible. Typically, snook move from the backcountry, to the flats and then to the beaches from season to season. Perhaps that pattern is an oversimplification — inlets and passes and offshore wrecks come into play — but for the recreational fisherman, those three spots are the ones to focus on.
Since spring is a transitional season between winter’s chill and summer’s swelter, the challenge is to find which of those three locations — the backcountry, the flats or the beach — produces. And it’s not an exact science. A few years ago, I tried a formulaic approach, but found myself exasperated after consecutive fishless trips, so I called a guide friend of mine for moral support. His explanation: “Fish move.”
And so they do. Here’s a few tips to help you figure out where spring snook should be in the state of Florida, depending on where you live and the conditions, and how to catch them.
My story for the Snook and Gamefish Foundation on strategies for catching winter trout. Enjoy.
It’s almost November. A hint of fall is in the air as a tinge of cool air has replaced summer’s suffocating heat. Of course, we’ll miss those flat calm days, but with winter on the way, conditions to catch big seatrout are not far behind. Given that timetable, here’s a look at a handful of the top places in Florida to find your quarry.
The Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission plans a stock assessment for trout in the fall of 2016, so make sure to log your catches in the SGF Angler Action Program. The FWC uses SGF AA data to manage recreational gamefish. More info means better management. Try to do your part.
Back to the best state-wide spots for trout:
A nice way to start the morning.
As some of my fishing friends know, I spent much of the weekend wondering why the beach snook were not pushing up close toward the sand. The past few times I’ve been out, they’ve been deeper, in the second trough and beyond — tough to see, tougher to fish for.
Logan Valeri and I first thought it was terrain and beach topography. Spencer Goodwin’s response: “They have tails. It’s a big ocean.”
Ken Taylor believed it could be the full moon.
My conclusion: It’s tide driven. We had a fairly strong incoming early this morning, which ignited scads of glass minnows. Sure enough, the snook followed. My previous couple trips, however, the morning tide was sluggish and the fish merely lounged beyond the breakers.
So the upshot: Moving water, means moving fish, even if the distance traveled is fairly small. One note of caution: The tighter to the shore the fish are the tougher they are to catch. Awfully skittish. But this one girl did eat. Made my morning.
A little fishing advice from Spencer from his seminar Thursday, winter sight fishing from a kayak.
Spencer takes a break before his seminar at West Marine in Tampa.
Dropped by West Marine Thursday to check out Spencer Goodwin’s seminar on sight fishing from a kayak. Spencer has fished Tampa Bay since he was a tyke, when his parents would drop him off after school everywhere from Weedon Island to the 4th Street flats, as he scoured the local waters for redfish, trout and snook. His passion for the Big Three has not waned. In fact, he now guides for a living and teaches others his craft.
He provided a handful of good tips during his hour-long presentation. The main one focused on slowing down your presentation. Fish, he pointed out, want a realistic presentation. How many shrimp truly flee? Mainly, they plod. Move your offerings accordingly.
As for mullet, Spencer uses the popular baitfish to find reds. The prevailing sentiment is that mullet stir up crabs and shrimp, a theory that Spencer disputes. He said mullet usually swim on top of the water column, not the bottom. Reds do follow, but not because of food, but rather because of the instinctual need to school with other fish. Makes sense to me. Regardless, I’ll keep an eye on the mullet.
Gold spoons are among his favorite artifiicials. Though the traditional lure may appear cliche to some, Spencer likes the spoon’s ability to cover water and stay out of the grass. He stays simple with his presentation, using a slow, steady retrieve.
To attach a spoon to your leader, Spencer recommends a Canoeman Loop Knot. I use a Clinch knot because it’s easy. The Canoeman looks doable and seems to give the spoon more action. Anything to keep my leader from twisting!
Forgot to post this a while ago. The omission is glaring. A few months ago, I did a story for The Drake on Spencer Goodwin. Not sure if I ever posted it or not. It was a neat storyline, and Spencer has served as a wealth of information when it comes to sight fishing reds in Tampa Bay. I wouldn’t have made as many strides in my angling quest without him. He is truly gifted.
I did a feature for Spencer Goodwin for Blu Magazine this spring. Below is a link to a photo essay on the story. No text, but nice photos.
Goodwin photo essay
The spring issue of The Drake Magazine is out. I’ve got two stories — one on Spencer Goodwin and another on Sam Root and the Salty Fly. I’ve written for bigger, more established publications, but The Drake is the coolest. Not even close. It’s a great magazine. Not many of those around anymore.
I’ll have a few more stories in the summer edition as well.