August is your last chance to target large schools of snook along the beaches.
During the first two weeks of September, most will start moving to the inside and upper parts of Tampa Bay. The beach areas have fewer obstacles and structure that snook can use to cut your line. This means you can use light tackle to catch and release large snook. Most of our trips produce snook in the 32- to 40-inch range that are being caught on 15-pound line with 30-pound leader. The most productive times are the strong afternoon outgoing tides that follow the new and full moon. These tides start on Aug. 16 and 30. The best movement will be the three days after these dates.
Most trips start by filling the livewell with threadfins, sardines, pinfish and grunts. Then we work the dropoffs along the passes and the swash channels along the beach. Most schools will be 5-10 feet off the shoreline. The trick is to cover large areas until you locate a school. The most productive technique is to cast free-lined bait upcurrent and let it flow downcurrent. If you fish from land, cast the bait and walk with it as it moves with the tide. When you catch a snook, keep working that area; chances are there are more where that came from.
The first few days of September, when snook season is open, should give anglers a shot at a nice beach snook they can keep.
Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 347-1389.