Sept. 2013 Surf Fishing Forecast
September 1st is the annual opening of Snook Season and the surf angler’s best shot of taking a legal snook home for dinner. With the opening of the season and the observed amount of bait fish in the surf, this is a “can’t miss” opportunity. To assist our new residents to the Space Coast, and as a refresher for the old hands, I will provide some thoughts to get everyone up to speed on tackle and rigging required to catch this elusive game fish.
If you have never tried surf fishing for snook, I highly recommend it for the angler using a fly rod or spinning rod. Snook, redfish and other game fish gather close to shore during the summer months to feed (in the trough) on the various baits as they pass overhead. At this point the surf anglers can catch fish literally “at their feet” as the saying goes.
Following are some thoughts on tactics and rigging that may help in catching a snook in the surf:
One, I scale down my rod into the 7 to 9 foot range. I prefer a 7 foot med/heavy spinning rod with surf fishing reel spooled with 20 pound test mono/braid. You can take the reel off your 12 foot surf rod and put it on the shorter rod and you’re ready to go.
Two, when using lures, I like to walk the beach casting as I go. I carry very little with this system and just what is needed to catch and land a 31 and ¾ inch snook (legal snook is within 28 to 32 inch slot limit). I use a small back pack or shoulder bag to hold tackle. In the bag I have, leader material of 30/40 pound test fluorocarbon, a few swivels and split shots, a rag, sunglasses, tape measure, lures (popping- sinking and a gator spoon) and knife. Park at any public beach and walk up and down the beach casting as you go. Point to remember is that you are casting only 10/15 yards from shore and you want the lure to be in the trough or close to shore as long as possible.
Three, this tactic is to stay put and fish live bait (mullet, porgies, pig fish, spots, croaker or pin fish) and cast to the same distances as described above. I tend to use 2 rods with split shot rigging to hold the live bait close to the bottom.
One, live bait rigging; take the running line to a swivel, add 12 inches of leader material and tie on a 2-0 or 3-0 circle hook with an improved clinch knot. Use the split shot if needed to carry the bait down depending on the ocean conditions.
Two, popping plug; take the running line to a swivel, add 12/15 inches of leader material and tie the plug to the leader with an improved clinch knot.
Three, sinking lure or gator spoon: I use a loop knot to tie the lure. This allows the lure to move freely and imparts action to the bait during retrieval.
Finally, anglers must be aware of the Florida Saltwater Fishing Regulations while fishing the surf. The current regulation covers July 1, 2013 – December 31, 2013. Anglers can pick up free copies of the regulations at tackle shops, Wal-Mart, Sporting Good Stores and on line at (www.myfwc.com/fishing)