High of 77*
I took the Mako 161 out fishing the canals around my home for a few hours this past weekend. Things were fairly uneventful, catching some small snook and redfish that were released. I did land my first redfish with multiple spots, or false eyes as they are known. Most redfish have one black spot on each side of their tail. Researchers believe this is used to fool predators and give the redfish an advantage to escape. Occasionally anglers will land redfish with multiple spots and this is considered a treat. I don't know what causes the phenomenon, I just think it's a rare catch.
As sunset drew near and I was on approach to my home port, I decided to continue 3/10 of a mile to the end of my canal channel in order to give my line one last chance to produce. There were no strikes to the end so I turned around and headed for home. I called my wife to tell her I was coming in for a landing. With just a few hundred feet left I shift the boat to neutral and picked my road up from the rocket launcher in order to reel in and put it away...or so I thought.
The hit came on the first turn of the reel and I knew it was big. I was armed with a one week old Wright & McGill Sabalos 3500 reel spooled with 20 pound test Power Pro braided line, with a 2' fluorocarbon shock leader on a one week old W&M Captain Blair Wiggins Inshore Slam rod. My lure was the Storm Twitch 3/8 oz in Pearl Shad.
The fish went on several long runs, testing that drag. Since I was alone on board, I had to work the rod, reel and pilot the boat to chase the fish and get some line back. I've lost my share of big fish and have learned what not to do. My focus was on keeping the line tight while trying to not lose control of the boat in in the narrow canal. I could have dropped the Powerpole anchor but given the long runs the fish kept doing I thought best to leave the boat mobile. Besides, the Powerpole would give this fish one more thing to wrap itself around and prevent me from landing it.
My next door neighbors had just docked their boat and they could see I was hooked up. I thought briefly, at least I will have a witness who will know I had something big on, should the behemoth escape me. But this was to be my fish. When it flashed it's enormous head past me it confirm my hope. Snook, there it is!
The fight would go on for some fifteen minutes. My neighbor would later tell me she wondered why I was taking so long to bring it in. Really? My arms are killing me and I need two more. My net is a collapsible type, to save space on board. When you need to deploy it, it takes two hands to slide a shaft forward and lock it into position. Somehow, between shift the throttle, steering the boat, handling the rod, reeling the reel and running around my deck to keep the fish from crossing under the boat and snapping my rod in two (which a snook has done to me), somehow I managed to open and lock the net.
The big snook took one more run, toward my neighbors dock piling. If he wraps himself around that, this story end badly. But it didn't. Even though he was too big for the net, I managed to land this linesider.
Florida size limits on snook are slot limits. You can't keep snook smaller than 28" because they are still growing. You can't keep snook bigger than 33", as they are the spawners. This is the first time I can remember hoping a fish wasn't too big. My boat has a Florida law stick sticker with a ruler for quick measuring. My luck continued as it came in right at the top of the slot.
I've spent years searching the waters of Southwest Florida for a snook like this. How was I to know I'd find him in my own backyard?