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Solo Snook Mission

Solo Snook Mission

Cleared Stuart inlet at 0630 on a solo mission trying to look for bait at a local wreck. The area known locally as Bullshark Barge is a common first stop for anglers before heading offshore. It is truly a spectacle I have never seen until moving to the area with 30-50+ boats all fishing in a 100yrd diameter around the wreck. Even for season captains, the close quarters combat can be difficult and even expensive if your vessel is damaged. The surprising part is the lack of bait the wreck actually holds. After going several times I have only seen a single school of bait and very few holding the actual structure. The key is to use all your tools such as depth finder, side scan, and your eyes to find the school quickly before others notice. As soon as you bring the stringer full of bait, you will have every boat quickly moving to your position. You even have to wait for commercial bait fisherman throwing cast nets. It is the single worst part of every fishing trip for me but, it is necessary.

An hour later the live-well was full of hearing, threadfin, and pilchards ready to be fed to unsuspecting gamefish. I pointed the boat back to the south jetty of the inlet looking to fish the outgoing tide. I was greeted by several large schools of snook staging in their normal breeding patterns. I was using our Offshore Spinning Rod Light with a 1oz weight and a 3/0 circle hook. I let the current very slowly sweep the bait across the rock lines until falling in position behind the boat. This is where the majority of fish were, so it's a good target area. The first bait out got hammered by a slot size snook that jumped15 times during the fight. I ended up catching 6 good sized snook and loosing 7-8 more, as well as, a 17 3/4in mutton surprise (18' limit in my area and I was very depressed I didn’t get my mutton tacos…).

Tide went slack around noon and the South Florida heat was in full force, so I took the opportunity to learn the area more and search for new bait/fishing areas. This effort paid off big, finding several new bait spots as well as some snook spawning grounds. Still learning the area but feeling more confident every trip. To truly master a fishing area you must be continually learning every trip. Do not miss the opportunity to explore and use some of your valuable fishing time to find a new area.

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