Grip and Grin: Shady Snook

Jody Finley cast an Xcite Baits soft plastic into the shade and hooked up to this 10 pounder. Photo: Jody Finley
Jody Finley cast an Xcite Baits soft plastic into the shade and hooked up to this 10 pounder.

“A few of us got together to wet some lines here in Ft Myers,” said Jody Finley, a Bison Coolers and Xcite Baits pro staffer. “I was the only local, joined by Shawn Huber from NJ and Heath Panganiban from Sarasota. After a slow start, by which I mean bird watching while getting in some casting practice for an hour, we were still looking for the first fish of the day. The water temps were right at 75 degrees due to a rather warm December, even by Florida standards. This put us in search mode in this rather large lake with tons of tiny islands of Australian pine trees.

One of my goals was to catch a snook using a soft plastic by Xcite Baits. I made a blind cast with my Manley Platinum Spinning Series rod into a small corner that had a good bit of shade from some palm trees. Although I was using braid, I also tied on a 25lb leader due to the rocky bottom and underwater blowdowns that often can cause a break off. 

The lemon Meringue baby Ubershad from Xcite, which I had rigged weedless, was hit hard and I was hooked up with a good size fish. This time it was a 4.5 pound largemouth bass that pulled my Hobie against the bank, mainly because I wasn’t prepared for a hook up. I had a moment to CPR this fish for an online tournament then made my way out from the bank. I first thought I couldn’t get another bite there due to the commotion and floating across the area. Boy was I wrong.

I turned my kayak around, dropped an anchor and cast the same Ubershad back into the shade, let it drop in the water column and it was smashed again. However, this time the rod was bent even more and my drag was singing. The first jump out of the water, I saw that distinct black line, silver body and big tail; fish on! I had my snook hooked, now to get him to the kayak without losing him on another jump.

Unlike bass, you normally can’t just crank in a snook, they will make several runs in all directions with a few jumps and big splashes. After what felt like an hour of trying to maintain a tight line (probably less than 3 minutes in real time), I was able to land this snook to the kayak and get a few photos. This fish weighed in at a healthy 10 pounds and is on the skinny side for one this length. Even though snook season isn’t open in December, you can still catch and release them.

Although, this was the only snook we caught that day, we all were still smiling as we pulled up to the ramp. There were no traffic jams on the water, except for a couple alligators. Nothing like a few friends relaxing on the water and enjoying being up close and personal with nature.”


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