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Snook junkies lurk at piers, bridges and jetties
By RICK FRAZIER, Times Staff Writer
Published September 7, 2007
Snook season opened last Saturday, and there's no doubt that some snookaholics already put a keeper in the cooler.
So, there's no sense in wasting any time, better get a move on. With the state's new regulations, you only have until the end of November before the season closes again until March 1, 2008.
The state added an inch on one side of the slot, and cut one off another on the other end. Meaning, keeper snook from the Gulf of Mexico now have to be between 28 and 33 inches. That's only a 5-inch window.
Yes, the new slot limit is going to make snook harder to take home, but that doesn't mean it can't be done. With proper scouting and focusing on big snook hot spots, you too can be lucky enough to catch one for dinner.
Actually, a few places around this area come to mind right away.
Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach has long been a nighttime snook haven. With artificial lighting shining down in the water, it's not hard to see the keeper you so desire. Enticing the big guy into biting might be a little difficult, but be persistent. For best results, present your offering outside the shadow lines and draw it through the light.
John's Pass is known for its monster snook. Head there after midnight. Things are a lot quieter then. Don't fish off the bridge, rather present your bait from land and let it drift on the current naturally.
The Pass-A-Grille jetty at the south end of Pass-A-Grille beach is another big-snook spot. Target the outgoing tide with pinfish, grunts, or big greenbacks.
The little bridge that goes over Riviera Bay off 83rd Avenue in north St. Petersburg should not be overlooked. Use hand-sized pinfish as bait.
Don't forget about the Gandy Bridge either, especially around the radio towers. Snook use all the rocks and debris around the towers to hide and ambush prey. The Tampa side is good as well, but fish from the seawall where the water meets land.
Tarpon-size tackle is necessary if you want to take home a snook big enough to keep. Remember, you're targeting these fish around structure. Even a "small" snook at 28 inches can cause problems. Think about pulling a 33-incher from out and around pilings or barnacle encrusted rocks.
Many reel manufacturers have developed big, beefy spinning reels that can handle the heavy line necessary for this kind of snook fishing. Better yet, they have developed smooth drag systems, too. Fill the reel with 65-pound braided line and tie on 80-pound monofilament leader.
Put the reel on a 7-foot, 6-inch, 25-pound-class rod, and you're ready to go.
Anything less in size could be disastrous. Snook may not run more than twice, but the initial run is where most anglers lose their prize, and the idea is not to let them have that first run.
Rick Frazier runs Lucky Dawg Charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at 727 510-4376. If you've had a great day fishing from land and want to share it with readers, contact the lubberline at (727) 893-8775 or firstname.lastname@example.org.