Story Time It’s been a while….
Tuesday, March 22, was quite the windy day. After spending most of it hiding from the wind while trying to get the fish to bite, and only managing a handful of underslot redfish, we ventured out across a bay to get to one of my favorite snook spots. It was a strong incoming tide, but I wasn’t sure we’d have enough water with the wind blowing it out all day. I just had a gut feeling, so I followed it! Thankfully, I have an awesome trolling motor & was able to tow Cody. He might have been able to paddle across the bay, but it would’ve been a bit much for me!
Before we approached the area, we started casting the SaltStrong SlamShady 2.0 on 1/8oz jigheads, while I described the terrain & what the plan was. We were trolling slowly on the deeper side of an oyster bar that meets a small cove, ahead of the place I’d intended to fish. The water was flowing vigorously in the opposite direction, away from us and over the oyster bar, creating a deep cut between the rocks and the mangroves.
I’d made several casts from the before the outer most point of the oyster bar through to the furthest point of the cove with no results. Making the final cast at the cove, where the water is shallow and there are a lot of scattered rocks and oysters, my line goes tight. Thinking I snagged one of those rocks, my initial reaction was less than enthusiastic. Suddenly, though, that rock burst into life, turning my lack of enthusiasm into adrenaline inducing excitement! I knew I had a good fish on when she started to run!
I turned off my trolling motor, as my drag began to scream & my line peeled off the reel faster than my mind could react! I needed to anchor & fast, but I needed to get this fish under control. She was heading straight to the rocks! What I really needed was a third hand. Dropping anchor required me to let loose of the reel with one hand, but I wasn’t letting go of my gear to risk it!
I quickly shouted to Cody to drop his anchor. He did so without hesitation, giving me those few split seconds I needed to gain control. I was able to turn the fish away from the rocks just in time! I wasn’t in the clear, however. She decided to run the edge of the oyster bar in the direction we’d just came from, turning both kayaks into the wind and against the current! Thank God for good anchors and strong tether lines, because this fish would have towed both of us around Ozello! She was swimming hard, but I was hooked up tight!
I suppose now would be a good time to add that I was using my little Shimano Symetre 3000 rod and reel combo, with 10# braided line and 20# fluorocarbon leader. This fish was peeling my line off fast. If I tightened my drag, surely the line would break! I couldn’t let it spool me, either. I could just start to see the base of the spool when I finally gained a little control, and thankfully, and some line back. It was a game of tug of war, and I could feel every nerve in my body, tense with anxiety!
I was finally able to get her closer and see just what a beautiful fish she was! Her dark dorsal and tail fins coming up above her thick silver belly, with that long, dark lateral line extending down the side. As soon as I saw her, I held my breath. I knew this could possibly be my new personal best snook, and I also knew I’d lost many that would’ve beat it before. I had to do everything just right.
I didn’t overtighten the drag. I only reeled while she wasn’t pulling the line from the spool. I kept the line tight and didn’t allow her to get her body near the line, or nosedive into rocks and grass. I didn’t try to horse her in, only gently but sternly close the gap between us, all while moving things out of my way on the kayak and grabbing the net. It was a slightly stressful moment, to say the least, but she was almost within netting distance.
As I held the net into the water, I could feel my entire body shaking. I lifted the rod tip, successfully pulling the snook into the net nose first! By this point, I was so shaky and excited, it took both hands to lift her into my kayak. I couldn’t get the measuring stick under her fast enough, as I knew she was the biggest I’ve successfully landed. She measured in at an exact 34 and 1/8″, beating my previous personal best snook that was 33 and 1/4″!
I know there are a great many anglers who have landed much bigger snook than this one, but this was definitely an amazing catch for me, and I’m so glad Cody was there to witness it! I’m getting closer to that 40″ Club, but I think I may need to up my leader line just a bit for the next ones!