“Secrets to catching really big snook?”

hawgsnook.jpgEach month I field a question from a reader and answer it as best I can, focusing on those inquiries and responses that I believe will be of general benefit or interest. I recently received this email from Jonathan in Ohio , who asks: “Are there any secrets for catching really big snook?”

Yes, there are. There was a time when oversized snook were my single-minded focus. For a number of years I was obsessed with catching monsters on artificial lures, and I’ve been fortunate enough to land more than my share. (Click small image to left for a closer look at a plug-caught 46-incher). I stopped targeting them years ago, however, after a friend convinced me that I should avoid putting pressure on the large (primarily female) fish that are so important to producing little snook. I now see big fish as an occasional surprise to be enjoyed, not as a primary goal. In fact, I prefer to catch fish in the 30 to 35-inch range, since they tend to be far more explosive than 40-inchers. So yes, there are secrets that can significantly raise your odds of catching huge snook, but it’s not something I share or promote. Note: I can’t say that I wouldn’t enjoy besting a true giant on a fly rod – something I’ve never done. But if it happens, it’ll be in the course of a normal fishing day, not the result of a “big fish hunt.”

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2 Responses to ““Secrets to catching really big snook?””

  1. Ned Small says:

    I couldn’t agree more, the future of the sport will be a function of each of us taking the ‘long view.’ I have tarpon anglers that are in it only for the hunt and deliberately rig their leaders so that they are easy to break off after a few jumps. They insist on barbless hooks too. Although it would enhance my ‘cred on the net and other media, if I had pictures of those giants boatside, I am completely aligned with the ethic of ‘hunt and long distance release.’ Especially with giant tarpon. I know, you have to get at least one, hundred pounder to the boat, for a photo session, to prove you can do it, but after that what are we actually proving? Catch and release is a form of ‘giving back,’ you don’t have to pull it in the boat, if you hooked it, you’ve accomplished everything, the rest is just bull work that harms the fish. I like John’s point of view, ‘I’ll take it, if I have the chance, during the course of a regular day,’ I will too. And if we land it in a reasonable amount of time, I’ll photograph it. And we don’t keep any snook on my boat, that’s my decision, I’m not nagging anyone or pushing it, but that’s my policy, that’s what I want to do, a quick photo and back she goes. I’ve never had any complaints. I’m not hoping to open any arguments here, but I’ve thought about all of this a lot, I love fishing and I love the hunt for big fish in shallow water where you can see them, and as one wise man once said, “To know yourself, know what you love, and protect it.”

  2. John says:

    Ned, great take. The fact that some of your most seasoned tarpon anglers use rigs that break away easily is impressive to me. Experience has taught them that it’s the ferocious strike and following electric moments that linger in the mind, not the tug of war that follows. As for snapped leaders and pulled hooks, what fun would if be if we didn’t get whupped occasionally, anyway? Of course, with big tarpon, lots of ego-smashing “fun” is pretty much guaranteed.

    I believe more and more anglers are approaching things the way you do: seeing the folly in keeping big fish, posing with them too long and basing the “success” of their outings on numbers or size. Like you, I have a “snook go free on this boat” policy, as do most of my angling buds. It’s a wonderful trend that’s consistent with the “long view” you not only promote, but also live by.