If you were a snook, you had to survive a couple close calls with cold weather that arrived earlier this year. Chances are you may have experienced some water temperatures in the 50s, but you’re finally moving out of your winter time holes as spring has come very early to the west coast of Florida.
Now is your favorite time of year as a snook. Your preferred meals have returned back inshore, giving you plenty to eat. Water temperatures have crept into the mid 70s, and you’re feeling good because of it.
However, if you and your snook friends had a calendar, you might circle this Thursday as the worst day of the year — it’s the opening of spring snook season.
“It looks to me like spring came early,” stated 14-year guide Captain Rachel Nobbe Cato. “This winter I personally didn’t see any dead snook. I heard reports, but considering what I’ve seen the last few weeks, the population is strong.”
On Friday, Cato found herself landing not one, but two large snook in Miguel Bay and Terra Ceia Bay.
“One was in the mid 30s (inches) and the other was just a little bigger,” Cato said. “They were both caught while live bait fishing. The big one was caught at the end of the trip, I was cleaning out my pump filters when I heard the drag, and angler Jack Bearce said it was something big.”
Both snook were safely released, something Cato tries to make a habit of even when the snook are within the 28- to 33-inch slot during season.
“If you want to catch a keeper snook, fish a lot during the transition period of water temperature during the months of March and October. Fish the moving tide and sections of areas over time as water rises or falls.
“I prefer clients release slot fish but won’t prevent any from keeping them. Last year I didn’t see as many slot fish as in 2016; 2016 was so much better, catching multiple keeper slot snook in a trip.”
Nobbe can be reached through her website, CaptainRachel.com.
As well as the opening of snook season, this Thursday is the 19th annual Conley Buick GMC, CCA Manatee County Banquet and Auction presented by Avid Insurance and Artic Air Services. The event will be held at the Bradenton Area Convention Center starting at 5 p.m. The banquet will feature food, raffles, auctions and more.
Proceeds benefit CCA’s mission to enhance local habitat and the rights of recreational anglers throughout Florida. Tickets can be purchased online at CCAFlorida.org or at Crowder Bros. Ace Hardware locations.
For more information, contact Jon Chapman at captainchappy@ verizon.net.