Game Fish

By: Caitlyn Gatrell

For a lot of inshore saltwater anglers, when you say the words “game fish”, a species that often comes to mind is the Common Snook. They are often found in varying areas, such as marinas, jetties, docks, backwaters, bays, near shore wrecks, flats, etc. We tend to do most of our fishing in the bays of the Ten Thousand Islands, often near mangroves, islands, and flats. There is usually a big population of snook amongst these areas ranging in all different sizes. We have captured snook small enough to fit in the palm of our hands (caught in our cast net along with bait) up to around 40 inches, but there have been bigger ones caught by others. In my opinion, and I’m sure some may agree, snook can be tough to catch in the mangroves as they tend to move very fast and can maneuver all around the trees, branches, and structures. There have been quite a few times where we unfortunately broke off on a good sized snook, and other times we were lucky. A few times we have actually managed to catch a snook that has tangled line all throughout the mangroves. This often calls for lots of patience and sometimes even having to get out of the boat and untangle the line little by little with your hands. The snook pictured here is actually from one of those instances. It was a fun and heart racing fight as I was nervous the line would fray too much and break off. But we managed to make it happen, even when we had to have someone get off the boat and go into the mangroves to free it out. I always prefer to try my best to get them out, not just to catch the fish, but also to ensure their safe release as well. When we get them untangled, they are then able to swim away freely, especially not with a line or a hook attached to them. I will say, I have yet to join the 40-inch club, but I am hoping I will be able to soon! Snook are strong and hard fighting fish, and the big ones often seem to get away from me, but when I am able to capture one, no matter the size, it is still always great being able to see their strength and beauty up close. They truly are a representation of what a game fish is for inshore saltwater fishing.