Tales from the Tupperware Navy By: Bruce Butler

Welcome back yak fans. Well, my cobia hopes didn’t work out.  The backcountry has been good, but challenging. More on that in a bit. I’m super happy to hear that the FWC has finally decided to allow our favorite trio to be harvested again with the lifting of the ban on reds trout and snook in the southern areas. While I firmly believe in conservation, it’s nice to hear my friends and readers can bring home something for dinner! Having said that, please fish responsibly.

As for fishing, I thought I’d share a little history on our area of my favorite game fish, the snook. While our redfish population has been more elusive than in years past, snook seem to have taken over part of that food chain. Fifteen or so years ago, snook on the Nature Coast were rare and Hernando County was considered the northernmost end of their territory. I’m happy to say that, due to weather pattern changes or natural migration, we now have snook literally everywhere. I’m not saying getting a slot-size fish is easy but, other than tarpon, snook give one of the most memorable battles with airborne head shakes (which can often end up with your lure flying back at you) and that sphincter tightening from fear every time they go airborne. Remember the fisherman’s mantra. Please don’t come unbuttoned; repeat it as necessary.

At the turn of the century, the snook was regarded as a nuisance fish and earned it the name of soap fish. This was due to the habit of cooking fish with the skin on (by the way don’t do that). It ruined the meat and made it taste like soap. Thinking about it, back then the most common soap was Lye based, so it would taste awful. I mean if you ever, like me, had a bar of soap stuck in your mouth for using a bad word, think about having it for your whole dinner.

The local bite has been tougher than I remember for this time of year, especially redfish. On my last trip, my buddy didn’t get a single slot-size fish, and this is one of the most experienced fishermen I know. knowing your terrain and changing your spots is important. Don’t invest too much time in one spot. I don’t care how many fish you caught there before–If it ain’t happening, move! I think, if nothing else, that was why I was able to get on snook, reds and sheepshead, because I refused to invest too much time in non-productive spots. Also, always work the tides. Out going to low will always be my favorite, but a general rule of thumb is that moving water increases the bite.

Also, a shout-out to all of you who have gone to check out Aripeka. My friends at Norfleet’s said they have had many people come through that learned about it from my stories. So, thanks. And, if you have any questions about where to fish in that area, send me a text message–I might not even lie. And, thanks to my buddy Kirby who shared this picture of a 39-inch snook in Hernando County to share with the story.

Till next time Bruce