Beach snook season is finally coming to a close, so it’s back in the
kayak for this fishing guide.
There are still a few snook in the surf, but the numbers are down
drastically compared to a couple of weeks ago.
For planning purposes, I target snook in the surf from May until about
mid-August. For the most part, I sight-fishing these great game fish
with my fly rod.
My clients totaled more than 175 snook this past season. On days when
I didn’t have trips, I caught and released 154 snook from the surf to
28 inches.
This was the best beach snook season that we’ve had in at least five
years. I’m hoping it’s even better next year.
For beach snook, I recommend 6- to 8-weight fly rods, with clear,
intermediate sinktip line. I don’t get fancy on the leader. I use a
six-foot length of fluorocarbon. My fly of choice is my Gibby’s D.T.
Variation, a fly that has produced more than 1,000 beach snook over
the years.
Check out this video I produced on beach snook fishing:

I also did a little freshwater fishing during the month, although I
must admit I didn’t do all that well. We’re a couple of months from
peak action. Freshwater fishing will heat up as the weather cools and
the water level goes down.
Now that I’m back fishing the bays, here’s what we can expect:
SARASOTA BAY — I usually launch at Buttonwood Harbor on the west side
of the bay midway up Longboat Key, I like to get out an hour or so
before dawn and fish dock lights for snook, tarpon and other species.
At dawn, I like to be on an adjacent flat, casting for redfish. I look
for schools of mullet on the flat and concentrate my efforts there. I
usually start out with a topwater plug. I also use jigs, spoons and
jerk worms. Stephens Point on the east side of the bay can be a very
good spot. You can work the dock lights before dawn there, then paddle
out into the bay and fish for spotted seatrout, bluefish, Spanish
mackerel, jack crevalle, pompano and ladyfish over the deep grass. I
like to use jigs, Mirrolure MirrOdines and D.O.A. Deadly Combinations.
TAMPA BAY — I launch at the south rest area near the Sunshine Skyway
and fish the area around Joe Bay. I like to hit the nearby flats at
dawn and cast topwater plugs for redfish, snook and trout. I’ll also
use MirrOlure MirrOdines. At mid-morning, I paddle out to the nearby
sand bars where I like to sight-fish for redfish, snook, cobia, shark
and large jack crevalle. When on the sand bars, I cast MirrOlure Lil
Johns on 1/16-ounce jig heads. I also fish Tampa Bay out of Bishop
CHARLOTTE HARBOR — My favorite place to launch is Ponce de Leon Park
in Punta Gorda. If I paddle north to the mouth of the Peace River, I
often encounter tarpon from 30 to 100 pounds. The shoreline structure
(docks, mangroves, fallen trees) can be good for snook and reds. If I
paddle south from the launch, I’ll get into snook, reds and trout on
the flats and along the shoreline against the mangroves and around
creeks mouths.
SEPTEMBER FORECAST: Fishing around dock lights for snook, tarpon,
spotted seatrout and other species is the best bet and a great way to
beat the heat. You’ll need to use tackle stout enough to prevent the
fish from getting around pilings or back into the docks. After
daylight, I like to switch to deep grass of Whale Key on the west side
of Sarasota Bay and Stephens Point on the east side to cast for
spotted seatrout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel and other species. Action
should be good in southern Tampa Bay for redfish, trout, snook and
As always, I would like to thank my sponsors: NuCanoe, Aqua-Bound,
MirrOlure, D.O.A. Lures, Peak Fishing.

Steve Gibson
Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing