June 11, 2012
It's that time of year when Florida fly fishermen can score, and release, the snook of a lifetime.
Matt Sexton, an occasional Florida Sportsman contributor, caught this 40-inch-plus snook in Palm Beach County inshore waters this week. He was fishing an area of shallow, rocky bottom where months ago he'd observed big snook sunning themselves. Now, with warming water and an influx of mullet and other baitfish, those big fish are on the feed.
Matt was fishing a 3-inch Lefty's Deceiver, black over white. He was using a 9-weight rod and floating line, and allowing the big fly to sink slowly around schools of mullet, before imparting action with short twitches. The depth was about 3 feet, the sun directly overhead.
"The fly just stopped, and I saw mullet scatter," said Matt. "When I applied resistance, the fish took off, running 100 yards across the bay toward a seawall. I chased it on the trolling motor, and the fish turned around and ran halfway back across. I landed her out in the middle. Definitely the biggest snook I've ever caught, on any kind of tackle."
Snook season is closed on both coasts, and of course many of those laid-up fish measure well over the 32- or 33-inch maximum, depending on the coast. Releasing these fish with minimal handling ensures they quickly and successfully resume the task at hand: Fattening up on summer bait in advance of spawning activities.