Search Gulf Coast Fisherman's
(This is a selection from the author's e-book on how to successfully fish for snook in March and April)
March and April
This is exciting for me to tell you this. This is the secret that no one knows. Some people might disagree and say everyone knows what I'm about to tell you. But believe me they don't. There were too many times when I was on the pier alone with a few people fishing at the tee and I was slaying fish. No one knew about it.
I'm not talking about keeping more than the legal limit. I'm talking about times when I caught my limit in a half hour and the bite was so good that I kept fishing and I had fun releasing fish ( this was when the limit was two fish per person).
In March and April, you still have cold fronts that come in. If you pay close attention to the weather, anytime a cold front comes in, it comes from the northwest. The wind shifts to the north, then northeast, east, southeast to the south and south west. It circles around Florida. Anytime I've fished on a northeast wind at this time of the year, I would not get any bites. Everything I tell you here is for night fishing and can also be used at night in the month of February. When the wind shifts to the southeast, that is a good time to go fishing.
If the water is real rough and murky, see where the waves are breaking and fish just a little after the breakers. If you fish before the breakers closer to the surf, the current is too strong and too much sea weed. Now on to the deadly secret. When the wind is blowing hard out of the southeast and shifts to the south and southwest ( this is for east coast pier's). The offshore waters are rough but the inshore waters are very calm and murky. This is when the snook take advantage of the murky water at night to ambush bait. Also, the mullet are just starting their spring migration back up north. To top that off, shrimp will be out of the inlets swimming around the piers attracted to the pier lights. The snook will be close to the surf.
For west coast pier's it will be the opposite. When the wind shifts to north east going on to south east is when the inshore waters are calm.
You start at the surf with troll rites. If you have medium to jumbo shrimp, you use a ? ounce troll rite. For smaller shrimp use a 1/4 of an ounce only because the ? ounce troll rites have big hooks and when you cast out, the shrimp will rip off the hook. Unless you can find ? ounce troll rites with 2/0 hooks.
Look out to see where the shadow lines start from the pier lights. Snook are always swimming around the edges of the lights looking for food. Cast your shrimp out past the shadow line into the dark. Let it sink to the bottom and reel in slow with your rod tip down and rod over the rail. Reel it in slow like if you were fishing with a worm for bass. Work the pier slowly working your way up.
When you get hit don't jerk the rod up. Just reel fast. Sometimes you will find that the fish will be in certain areas. You work the pier up and down starting at the surf then up to the tee. If you dont get any bites. Don't sweat it. Be patient and keep working it until it's time to try the next deadly secret that very few know about.
Walking The Dog
This was the dumbest name I have ever heard for a fishing skill but it works and literally what it is. This was invented by the great Vinny. One night, I'm out on the pier with a few other good snook fisherman and were all up and down the pier casting out shrimp on troll rites and not getting any bites. Vinny is " walking the dog " and loses 3 or 4 fish in 20 minutes, then catches a keeper. We started doing it and caught on to the trick and before you know it, we're all getting hits and catch a few keepers too.
Just like a bottom rig you would use for snapper. Your leader is 14 to 16 inches of fluorocarbon. One end you tie on your small hook. The other end you tie on a swivel. Slide on your line a 1 ounce sinker and tie your line to the swivel of your leader. It's basically a sliding sinker rig. Hook your shrimp in the head. Now, when you look over the pier down at the pilings. The pilings are about 20 to 25 feet apart. You have a piling on your right and one to your left.
Let's say you start at the piling on your right. You drop the shrimp down on the bottom next to the piling on your right. When it hits the bottom you hold your rod over the rail in your right hand with the rod tip down. You place your index finger on your line and you lift the rod tip up just a little. Picture in your head that you are lifting your sinker off the bottom just a few inches. Slowly walk with one step at a time to the next piling with the shrimp as if you were trolling that shrimp at super slow speed just at the edge of the pier. Walk slowly from piling to piling.
Using this technique you can cover the whole pier. You can use the same technique using a ? ounce troll rite with your shrimp. There are alot of snook swimming under the pier in the dark looking out into the light waiting for prey to swim by. You're just walking the dog. That's exactly what it is. When you do it, you have to have one arm over the pier holding the rod in your hand. You can use this on both sides of the pier north and south. What I would do when using big shrimp on a ? ounce troll rite is start casting out and reeling in slowly working the surf area hard.
If that didn't produce any results. I would drop the troll rite with the shrimp next to the piling and start walking the dog. You can use this technique with a troll rite too. If you take a shrimp and cast it under the pier and let it sit and waiting for a fish to eat it. You'll be waiting all night. Take these two skills, use them and work it. That is how you will get results. You try casting out the shrimp and if that doesn't work you quickly move on to walking the dog.
When walking the dog and you get a bite. Slowly raise the rod up. Don't jerk it hard. I can remember times when I would start at one piling and when I got to the next one and had to reel up. I would slowly raise my rod up and there would be a snook following the shrimp. I would drop my arm so the rod tip goes down and the shrimp would sink. The snook would turn and suck it. It's crazy when you see them coming out from under the pier.
During the end of March going into April. Most of my catches were not always on shrimp. In the year of 2005 was when myself and other fisherman realized that the climate was changing. We noticed that the larger schools of baitfish that used to come back to the pier at the end of March did not come back till May. Before 2005 I used to go to the pier early in the morning before sunrise. As soon as I would see the bait breaking the surface I would start free lining pilchards. Hooking them right around the anal fin so they would swim down. This is great on windy days when the water is choppy. If you hook them through the nose, the bait will swim down for a moment but will shoot up to the surface.
On windy days, the wind will put a bow in your line and keep the bait right on the surface. If the bait is breaking the surface and you see snook on top. Hook the bait in the nose. If not, the snook are down deep and you hook the bait around the anal fin so it stays down. Always keep changing your baits quicky so you have on that frisky bait that's nervous. Baits that are slow and dying. Change them. While you're free lining baits, take a bait and put it on a bottom rig under the pier. Do a sliding sinker rig with a 2 foot fluorocarbon leader, a three ounce pyramid sinker or egg. Just make sure you keep your drag lose and keep an eye on the rod.
The book is designed to make it simple for readers (the zen of snook fishing on piers).
From the Author: My strategies for night are very simple and comes down to two techniques " walking the dog" and live shrimp on Troll Rites. My day time strategies are different depending on if there is live bait around the pier or not. I explain what to do in all situations. For more information about this e-book, visit www.snookonpier.com.