Even after 30 years of guiding around Bradenton, Capt. Todd Romine still gets excited catching big fish.
For Romine, it has been a great week of flats fishing that will be remembered for a special snook that was about as big as they come around Tampa Bay. Each day he's been catching a lot of fish. For the week, he guesses around 500 snook and many redfish have made their way to the boat. Some would think all the freshwater, full moon and first cold front early in the week may make conditions tough, but Romine has proved otherwise.
"The rain really brought the snook out of the rivers and backwaters," Romine said. "The bite has been great. The best of the year for snook."
Ed Van Stedum and Steve Perry fished with Romine at the mouth of Tampa Bay on Thursday morning. "We were catching snook after snook between 23 and 26 inches with redfish mixed in," Romine said.
"Around 10:30 a.m., Perry had a hit from a fish that was followed by a large boil. I told him, 'That is a big fish,' and it ran about 50 yards before stopping. It never jumped or broke water, and when it got next to the boat I could see it was a total freak," Romine said.
That total freak was gently lifted into the boat, where Romine quickly measured it at 43½ inches.
"It was as fat a snook as I've ever seen, but we didn't weigh it or get a girth measurement," Romine said. "We got a picture and let it go. If I had to guess, it was 30 pounds!"
A once-in-a-lifetime catch got the chance to live another day.
Romine says the fishing should remain good on the flats until at least the middle of November, longer if temperatures remain mild. Maybe not catching-a-43-inch-snook-every-day good, but good enough to get out any chance you get!
The seventh annual Ben Gullett Mullett Fishing Tournament and Fish Fry was completed Saturday. The winning team of Luther Sasser and Scott Moboly had six mullet weighing 26.42 pounds. They also won the C.J. Kizer award for the largest mullet, a 6.34-pound fish.