Our area has experienced a quick lived spring and with water temperatures in the upper 70’s, snook fishing has been on fire. February through April are the best month to sight fish snook as they’re eager to chew after a long lethargic winter. As water temperatures climb, a multitude of different species become available for forage and feeding times will become narrower. Sunrise and sunset times, major and minor solunars, and peak tidal flow periods are all variable that come into play along with a finely tuned pallet.
One species that has caught my eye that snook love to eat this past winter is the ballyhoo or needle fish. Gambler baits makes a soft plastic artificial called the slim EZ and under a fast retrieve, imitates our mentioned species. It’s important to make a long enough cast past the fish to bring the artificial to speed before entering the strike zone. Snook will always be facing into the current or tide and when casting to a fish or feature that might hold a fish, the direction we retrieve our fly/artificial can make all the difference in getting a strike or a follow. Casting and retrieving with the tide does forces a fast retrieve but the fish has less time to think and a reaction strike occurs more often than not.
Fly Fishing for snook has it’s advantages in shallower water as we can introduce a fly into their realm almost undetected especially in a higher tidal zone. Snook love to eat sardines and they finally become present in the spring. Flies for snook need to push some water and as good as their eyes are, I believe they feel the fly before they see it at times. When targeting redfish in the spring, often times snook come into play and they’ll devour a deer hair crab on the bottom but respond to it almost 20 feet out at times. Puglisi flies are some of my favorite as things really start to warm up. Having a comb and a pair of scissors in the box can help scale the fly if needed!
Targeting redfish has become relatively difficult too quick as temperatures soar. Our windows of opportunity have been occurring early in the morning when we get our low tides but things will be switching as we transition into summer solstice. Look for them to be in larger groups on the moon!
West Central Florida Restorative
Fishing in and around Tampa bay has been on the decline for the past couple years following the red tide in 2021. It used to be a common occurrence to see a group of a hundred redfish and now I feel lucky to see ten together. Unfortunately, after 3 millions pounds of fish were removed and a small 6 month closure, everything was reopened as if nothing happened. Now we’re paying the price and nothing in the bay area appears to be improving.
West central Florida is in trouble after a red tide that took a toll that none of us have ever seen. The red tide was so thick in some areas that it would prevent sunlight from reaching the floor therefore killing the sea grass. An algae bloom of this magnitude took such a toll that it impacted fish stocks from Sarasota bay all the way up to Tarpon Springs and all of Tampa Bay. Recovery time is a necessity for the preservation of our resource and with a re-open to harvest all inshore species, it won’t be possible.
The red tide in 2018 created by the blue-green algae dump out of the Caloosahatchee river from Lake Okeechobee was/is a catastrophic event. Following the event, FWC closed the harvest of any inshore species for what seemed like 5 years. This gave the ecosystem a chance to rebound/recover and the fishery now is doing better because of the closure. There is without a doubt, a larger problem at hand, being water quality and the whole state is feeling it. Let’s let nature do her thing.
Please SHARE and SIGN. The next FWC Commission meeting is 2/21 and 2/22/23 location TBD.