When it comes to fishing I love to get snookered!
Mike Liskovec of Oak Hill catches some very big fish. Last summer he sent me a photo of a 48-pound black drum and now he has landed a 41.34-pound snook. My, oh my! That is only about three pounds off of the all tackle state record.
Mike was fishing the backwaters of Sebastian Inlet with a Zara Spook when the monster hit. Can you imagine the battle that took place? Whoo boy! That must have been some fun! Mike has certainly given us all some snook hope. Since the cold winter of 2009, I have landed only two that I can recall. That is the slowest period for snook that I have ever endured.
One thing for sure, Sebastian Inlet south of Melbourne has always been a superior snook area. If you arrive there and the jetty fishing platform is elbow to elbow, you know that the snook are hitting. Several years ago I mistakenly believed that I had the Sebastian snook bite timed. I headed out at 4 a.m. with my fishing buddy the late Jack Thomas. When we arrived, we saw big snook being dragged across A1A from the ocean. I was right, they were hitting like mad but in the surf, not the back waters. Jack and I had both brought our usual light tackle 10-pound test set-ups. Fighting a big snook in the surf with those outfits would be about as useless as the "G" in lasagna. We considered buying heavy tackle but managed to convince ourselves that if the snook were in the surf they would be in the backcountry as well.
Wrong, mullet breath!
Another example of how many snook are at Sebastian Inlet happened the year the state banned the drag nets. I owned a 50-foot by 6-foot net and knew where I could get a few black drum down at Sebastian. In June, my wife Lana and I decided to use our net one last time before retiring it. Once at the inlet we motored into the backwater to a drop off near a sand bar where we had netted drum before. Lana took one end of the net and waded out up to her waist while I took the other end and walked in a circle up to my armpits. As the net tightened the water inside came alive. Dragging it back to the beach I knew right away that the fish we had trapped were too active for drum. Pretty soon a 3-foot snook jumped up and over the net to freedom and then another and another. At times the snook were flying over the net 3 or 4 abreast. It was really something to see. Once on the beach we still had a dozen in our net. Of course it is illegal to net snook so we turned them all loose. Still, it was a very strange experience.
Right now snook season is closed until September 1. When it opens, you will be able to keep one with a minimum length of 28 inches and a maximum of 32 inches. In the past I have urged you to release all snook and I do hope you will do that. Our snook are so depleted it would be a shame to eat even one. Snook are an important catch in Fort Meyers, The Glades, Fort Pierce and Central America to name a few but they do well here as long as the winter temps don't drop too low. After a nasty freeze in the late 1970s, a dead snook was found in Spruce Creek that measured just under five feet. Had that fish been caught with hook and line it would have been a new world's record.
Dan Smith has fished the waters of Volusia County for more than 40 years. E-mail questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. His book, "I Swear the Snook Drowned," is available for $10.95 at (386) 441-7793.