Saturday, March 17, 2012

Florida Vacation Part II: Snook Fishing

Nikki and I visited both my parents and her parents while on the trip to Florida. Her dad Lance loves to fish as much as I do which is totally sweet; so I knew a fishing trip was in order for the four of us. We inquired about guided fishing trips, and found Bad Fish Charters, and Captain Cayle proved to know where the big snook were hanging out. He also knew how to put 4 anglers (Nikki, Lance, Mary, and I) of all different skill sets onto the snook in a smooth and patient manner. He also was able to guide us with everything from casting live white baits gently and accurately on circle hooks to casting flashy baitfish flies in the dark near bright lights where the baitfish accumulated the snook like trout boiling on dry flies. It was really cool and very different, and it kind of reminded me of fly fishing in the Sacramento Delta for striped bass and fly fishing the night in Oregon for rock bass and lingcod smashed together, but add the tropical factor in and you have night time snook fishing. Kind of......, but not really......Just like any fishing, you just have to experience it to know what it is really like.
Snook fishing in the night was totally rad!!!
My First Snook - also the first catch of the day.
We motored out to an area where there was a lot of structure. That is what the snook like to hang out around, and Captain Cayle knew the snook were here. It was simply a matter of when the snook wanted to play. Snook love being around pilings and areas where the bait is accumulating. They are also very lazy, but love to hang out where there is a current moving through the structure; so getting right near a piling is the key to success.
Nikki caught a nice large spotted sea trout on a live white bait
Circle hooks were something I was very impressed with. They literally work like they are supposed to, and all you do is reel down when you can tell you have a fish taking your offering. You do not want to set the hook because you will literally "farm it" out of the fish's mouth. If you reel down tight, the fish will take the point of the hook in the corner of the mouth every time perfectly. I had more trouble keeping a nice good hook set with my flies compared to the circle hooks with the live bait.
This snook ripped the line hard!!! We wondered what was swimming on the other end.
 When it was sunny out, the bite was tough, but Lance was pulling the snook out on a higher frequency than the other three of us. He had the touch the snook were looking for, and since I am a fly fisher, I was feeling a little foreign to the spin tackle. My flies were not working either; so I was wanting to hone in the skills with the circle hook fishing. Funny to think how I used to bass fish super avidly with spin tackle when I was a youngester, and now I feel like a lamo on a spin rod. It is something I do not do often; so that is my excuse.... NO EXCUSES !!!
Another Fine Snook Caught By Lance on a White Bait & Circle Hook
 Lance kept on getting into the snook, and kept us all entertained with the radical action these fish put on. Captain Cayle assured me that the night time would offer snook to the end of my fly line, and I was also confident since I have experienced days in Oregon where I catch rockfish with regularity in the darkness after getting skunked in the light.
As it got dark, fly fishing started to really work well for the snook on small pfp flies
 We ended up seeing some insane fishing when it became dark out. Fish were boiling in a light that Captain Cayle took us to, and I was able to see snook chasing my flies when I was stripping them back. It was really cool, and super visual. Fish were boiling in the light at times, and it was almost looking like the snook were trout picking off flies from the surface. Only the snook were ambushing the white bait from below, and I thought how cool it was to see this behavior from another fish I have not ever fished for before this afternoon/evening.
Flies imitating small white baits took snook once it became dark out on the full moon night
 When the fishing was fast and furious, we were not able to get the good pictures that you can take in the daylight; so we refrained after a few fish. We tried to video some of the fish taking bait and flies, but that did not come out the way you would want it to. We had a blast catching lots of fish, and it was great having a great guide take us right to the hot fishing area.

Captain Cayle showing Mary's Snook
The spot was like a production snook catching conveyer belt. He would tell us when to cast, and then the line would pull tight with a snook crushing the offerings. I would strip the fly when it was my turn, and I would see shadows honing in on my baitfish fly. It was tough keeping the line speed/fly speed all in check with the variable currents coming around the structure.
This Grill of the Snook looks really similar to a Largemouth Bass's Bucket Mouth
 I was able to take snook on flies and also even got fish to chase a crease fly on the surface which was totally cool. Lance hammered snook on the white baits and circle hooks, and made me realize how tough it is to mimic the action of live baits on a fly rod. I was getting into fish, but once in every so many retrieves compared to almost every cast at times for the actual live bait. Fishing was fast and furious at the spot where we had a large light on the water attracting the baitfish, and it was a spot I could have fished for hours and hours.
Snook have eyes adapted for night time ambush predatory feeding
 We caught a lot of fish, and we took turns for who was up next to get into a snook. Everyone got to fight a snook, and everyone caught snook that were pushing sizes that any angler would be happy to catch. The snook is a fine game fish that hits your offering with total authority, they fight with explosive power, they jump, and they can hit sizes that will make you yell "WOW" when you tie into a trophy sized fish. Call Captain Cayle if you are ever wanting to go fishing the while you are visiting the Charlotte Harbor area of Florida.

The Snook were interested in a small FPF White Baitfish fly and a Crease fly

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