The following article was published in the October issue of the Villager Newspaper.
Fall Inshore Fishing Forecast
Gary Rankel, The PackerYaker
The recent drop in water temperature has turned on the bite. The next three months should be some of the best fishing of the year, so get out there.
Most notably, the snook bite has been on fire. Since retiring here in 2005, I haven’t had one five-snook day until this year; I’ve now had seven to date. Many have been juveniles in the 10-15 inch range, but there’s been quite a few big mama’s mixed in. Reproduction in our area is obviously occurring, and the population is really taking off.
Snook are super cold water sensitive, as evidenced by the massive die-off in the harsh winter of 2010 when I observed scores of them floating belly up in the mangroves. Perhaps because of climate change, this more tropical species has extended its range northward, and, unlike the recent past, are now commonly caught off Citrus County and all the way up to Cedar Key. Next to tarpon, it’s the most fun fish to catch in our inshore area.
Snook are ambush predators and seek resting areas adjacent to moving water where they wait to pounce on tasty morsels passing by. So, if you decide to target these fish, you’ll want to focus on the 3 P’s (passes, points and potholes) where they typically congregate. You’ll also want to be on the lookout for the 3 B’s (birds, bait and boils) which frequently give away their secret hiding locations. It doesn’t generally matter whether the tide is incoming or outgoing, just so there’s a current. I’ve had my best luck sneaking up on them in my kayak just after first light.
While regulations allow you to keep one slot size (28 –33 inches) snook a day during permissible months, my wish is for all snook caught to be released, as is the case with tarpon. They simply are too valuable a sport fish to keep. Seatrout, redfish and other species are better choices for the catch and cook crowd.
Paddles, Tight Lines and Happy Landings
Kayak Fishing – Nature Coast (http://fishingkayaks.us)