Redfish & Snook

by Fly Fisherman

Some species, although not quite as easily spooked as the bonefish, demand just as great accuracy in casting. The redfish or channel bass, for instance, especially when feeding on the flats, calls for the ability to drop the fly on a dime.
This fish is remarkably short sighted and unless a fly is put within a foot of his nose, old red will go right by without seeing it.
A slow-played popper will often attract a big old short-sighted red, too. The popper should be cast so it lights about five feet away, not close enough to scare him, then retrieved for a single pop, left to sit quietly for a moment, then a series of pops, rest again, and repeat. The noise will often attract him, and he’ll come moseying user.

The snook is another ocean swimmer that will hit a wide variety of lures, but they must each be proffered at the right time.
When they are in canals, feeding on schools of minnows, the small, inch-long bucktail described earlier in this chapter is sure fire. And in June, when the spring migration is on, they work the beach at Marco, Florida, again feeding on schools of minnows, and the same small bucktail is in order.

Anglers used to fish snook at Marco by cruising along the beach in a station wagon with one man standing on top to spot the dense schools of minnows in about three feet of water. A big white patch will suddenly appear in the middle of the closely packed school, then again and again, each time a couple of feet apart, like a soft snowball exploding against a black-surfaced road. The ranks close in and then, wham, the snowball strikes again.

Those are snook hitting into minnows, and a small bucktail dropped into one of those minnow schools will usually produce a nice snook, anywhere from two to 20 pounds. Along the beach apparently the snook are too busy to be readily frightened and I have seen a fisherman pull one out of a group of bathers who happened to get close to the minnow school.

Probably some of the most exciting snook fishing of all is to be found by casting a popper along the mangroves back in the Everglades. Usually it is still water fishing, and suddenly as the popper moves along, the angler sees a great brown shape under it, and bang, the water flies as he takes. Snook are buffalo strong and when a big one heads for the iron fingered mangrove roots it’s usually on its way to cutting the leader—and freedom.

Not to be overlooked by the fly fishermen are the snook that frequently hang out around bridges, often right in the heart of town. A big, hard-breathing streamer will bring them up to sock it with determination. Or a popping bug brought playfully back across a current of running tide will raise their ever-ready tempers to the boiling point so they just have to whack it.

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