Picture: Jenna Scott and Bill Farmer from Chicago area with a nice double on pass snook caught while fishing with Capt Matt Mitchell this week.
Lots of summertime options
As is normal the more consistent the weather the more consistent the fishing action is. This held true as a full week of our regular summer time weather made fish of all types easier to locate and work out the pattern so we could return to them day after day. The Snook bite in the passes continues to be absolutely on fire while the daily afternoon rains have triggered the high tide redfish action. The clear water deeper flats around the inside of the passes have not only provided some of the better big trout action we have seen in months but also gave anglers some shots at rolling tarpon.
All our local passes are loaded up with spawning snook in just massive numbers. Catching snook these snook has been the go to plan most trips this week. Live pinfish and grunts fished close to the bottom on a fast moving tide has been the method of choice. Most of these fish are male snook ranging from 20 - 26 inches but if you increase the size of your bait its possible to target the much bigger female snook. Look for schooling snook out along the beaches too where they give anglers a great opportunity to sight fish and catch them on flies, jigs and swim baits.
If your going to use bigger baits for these bigger pass fish you will need bigger tackle too at least if you want a legitimate chance of getting one of these trophy snook to the boat. I use a set of short stout 30-50# class jigging spinning rods rigged with 30# braided line just for this annual summertime bite. Stout hooks are also critical if you wanna pull some of these bigger snook away from the structure with a basically locked down drag. Light wire hooks will straighten out under this much pressure.
My rig for these big snook is a basic knocker rig; a 1/2-1oz sinker depending on how fast the tide is rigged so it can slide up and down on a 30 inch piece of 50# fluorocarbon leader. For hooks donŐt skimp and use a heavy duty 4/0 or 5/0 depending on the size of the bait. There is no worse way to loose that big snook than straightening out a hook while putting the heat to it.
Catching redfish on the high incoming tide up under the mangroves continues to get better and better. Live tail hooked pinfish and cut baits flipped up tight around the roots in the shade caught reds up to 30 inches. Instead of working just one favorite mangrove hole I like to keep moving if I donŐt get a bite within 5-10 minutes. After throughly working all the nooks and crannies at one stop pick up and move a little further down the shoreline, eventually you find them. Most mangrove islands had at least a few reds if you picked apart the whole bank during the last few hours of the high incoming tide. We also caught a few over the slot redfish while catching snook in the passes.
The large healthy clear water grass flats inside both Redfish and Captiva passes held some of the bigger trout we have caught in months. Some of these trout have been as big as 25 inches. Small pinfish and grunts fished 2-3ft under a popping cork seemed to be the best method for catching these fish. Cast to the sand holes and sand edges in 3-5ft of water. While targeting these trout we even had a few surprise hook ups on tarpon.
Tarpon fishing did get a whole lot better too this week with fish located both in the sound and out along the beaches. These tarpon now have a whole lot less angler pressure on them than they did during the month of May. During a few slick days we sat in rolling fish all morning long and even hooked a few on a variety of baits including crabs, pinfish and cut mullet. Having these tarpon all to yourself is what our summertime fishing is all about.