As spring-like conditions continued for anglers fishing the March 1 opening of snook season, the most hardcore snook anglers did not hesitate to target a slot linesider between 28 and 33 inches early Thursday morning. After the clock struck midnight, it only took a few minutes before angler Derek Wolfinbarger was breaking the ice with his first of the season.
“I fish pretty much whenever my job and girlfriend allow,” the Kentucky-born Wolfinbarger said. “I target snook almost every time I fish inshore.”
On Wednesday night, Wolfinbarger headed out late with snook on his brain for the season that would open in mere hours. His spot of choice was a Tampa Bay bridge, fishing in the shadows with live pinfish and soft plastic swim baits. Tackle of choice was a 7-foot medium action rod and 4,000-sized spinning reel equipped with 15-pound braid and 25-pound mono leader.
“It was a little windy with a strong current and high visibility,” Wolfinbarger described. “The snook were very cautious, that’s why I used the shadow line.”
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Wolfinbarger’s tactics paid off, and he was soon hooked up to a nice sized linesider. After a couple good runs, the snook was in his hands following a fight lasting about five minutes. He looked at the time. It was12:05 a.m. Thursday, March 1.
“I must have hooked the right at midnight. I got her measured to make sure she was legal, coming in just over 32-inches. I bled her out and packed her on ice to harvest her.”
In what was very possibly the first keeper snook caught of the season for any west coast Florida angler, Wolfinbarger also wasted little time in eating his catch, cooking it later that day for dinner. “I usually fish inshore for sport, and I’m pretty satisfied for the time being!” he said. “Maybe at the end of the season I’ll try to harvest another.”
With his luck, he might catch it at 11:59 p.m. on April 30, securing him the first and last keepers of the season.
March is also the return of many fishing tournaments around the area. A few to keep in mind for this month are coming up in Manatee County.
Saturday, March 10, will see the return of the Kiddie Pole Classic, which was postponed due to poor weather in January. The tournament provides a unique twist, as anglers must use only the classic “Barbie” style pole. More information can be found at facebook.com/KiddiePoleClassic.
The second annual Chad Day Fishing Tournament will be March 23-24 from the Bearded Clam. Winners will be awarded in four divisions of biggest redfish, snook, trout, and flounder. For more information on this tournament, visit thebeardedclamsarasota.com.
For more information, contact Jon Chapman at captainchappy@ verizon.net.