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Don't Let Them Snooker You

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On: Thu, Feb 20, 2014 at 4:45PM | By: Captain Sergio Atanes

Mike Simpson with a nice Snook

Sheepsheads are great fighters, especially on light tackle. March is the time of year the Mr. Snook, aka Saltwater Bass, makes his debut, coming out from the creeks, rivers, and marina basins ready to eat anything in sight. When this happens, the bite depends on the water temperature, so it could be anytime from early to mid-March, but it will happen.

Snook are creatures of habit, and if you've done your homework over the years (keeping a fishing log) of when-where-how, you will have a good idea where to start. If not, here's some food for thought.

Early March look for Snook around the mouths of rivers. Little Manatee river is one good Snook spot. You will find Snook staged up around the bends where the water flow has formed some deep holes. They will sit and wait for the bait as its pushed by the tide. The start of the outgoing tide has been most productive for me.

Double Branch is another hot spot in March because, as the water rushes out, all the bait fish and small crabs along the oyster bars become a feeding ground for Snook and nice Redfish.

As the weather warms mid-March or later they will make their way to the mangrove flats, fattening up for mating season which starts around the first full moon in May.

Early March I prefer to use medium shrimp free-lined unless the current is strong. Then I will put a #4 split shot about eight inches above the hook to slow the drift of the shrimp. Cast up-current and let the shrimp drift into the deeper water and continue to feed line allowing the shrimp to act naturally until it passes the bend.

Mid- or late March the Snook should have made their way to the mangrove flats and start feeding on live sardines (green back-scaled sardines) getting aggressive on their bite. Don't overlook any structure like exposed rocks or around oyster beds, as they tend to radiate heat quicker and warm the water around them, which acts like a magnet for Snook. Cold weather slows their bite and they prefer not chasing a fast running sardine if they can just pick a slow-moving shrimp.

Again we are dependent on the weather and water temperature, as this can change their mood. If the weather stays colder longer than usual, live shrimp will still be your best bait.

Top-water plugs work great in the early morning once they move into the flats. I find they work best when the water temperature is above 75 degrees. Always fish on the side the sun's rays hit the water first, as that is where they tend to get their morning heat and feed the best.

7-½ ft medium action rod with a fast taper.
3000 or 3500 spinning reel depending on the manufacturer.
15-pound braided line.
30-pound fluorocarbon leader at least 30 inches long

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