Neil Taylor, Strike Three Kayak Fishing

Targeting all three species in one trip:   Set the right plan, get after each species at the right time.  A snook.  A trout.   A redfish.   The Florida “Slam.”   A “Grand Slam” add a tarpon.    Catch all three or four on the same day, achieve the Slam.    Redfish “the best fight”, snook “the best opponent”, trout “the easiest to catch”.  

            Catching fish:   Bait and lures.   Using bait, you are feeding fish.    Technique is not really an issue.    Properly rigging a bait and then getting it out into the right spot is really all it takes.   Using lures is more of a craft and requires some proficiency. 

Speckled trout are pretty easy.   Snook and redfish will be our main quarry.  I’m having decals made that say “Redfish is the best fight.  But a Snook is a better opponent.”    Redfish pull great.  It’s a tug of war.   Snook are a thrill but the fight is often kind of “so so”.    Redfish, once hooked:  You’ve got them.   Occasionally you’ll lose one but not often.   A snook.   I say that “there are 142 ways a snook can get off the hook.”   Good fighting form means you eliminate a lot of those fish getting off.   Your arms, like shocks, let the fish go berserk but keep the same tension on the line the entire time.     The best fighting technique:  Very unusual to lose a fish.   

            Trout have soft mouths.   Trout bite lighter.   It can be tougher to get a hook in them than the other two.   But they are the easiest to catch.   Trout are always over grass.   Nine months of the year, the biggest trout are in deeper water.    The dead of winter, usually the biggest trout will be in “redfish waters” in depths under a foot and a half.    In the dead of summer, the biggest trout are active in the middle of the night.   

            My trout technique is different than most.   I preach “no hookset”.    Trout kill their prey before they eat it.   Using lures, the trout grip the tail end of the bait before they adjust and get to the hook.   Setting the hook, you are just pulling lures away from these fish.    Keep a tight line, let them keep chewing at it and let them hook themselves.  

            Redfish are the most challenging of the three if using lures.   Using bait, redfish aren’t hard at all.   A chunk of cut pinfish is all it takes.  Hint:   Use pinfish caught that day.   Throw the unused pieces on ice.     A medium pinfish, two baits.    A large one, three baits.    Small pinfish can be used live and whole.   With scissors you can cut the fins off pinfish if you want to.    Using lures, redfish being in very shallow water you want to master “control of the lure.”     Control of the lure consists of clicking the bail shut immediately so you have a tight line and the lure isn’t allowed to get down to the bottom.   From there, it is “pace.”   Proper pace is moving the lure at a minimum speed without it snagging the bottom.    Redfish are normally in areas with some grass on the bottom.    The tides:    Low tides and incoming water, redfish climb the flats eating stuff that was stunned when the shallows were out of water.   At high tide, if you aren’t casting up against the trees, you’re in the wrong spot.   

            Snook, the ambush artists, found in different areas at different times of the year but predominantly “against the trees.”    Snook eat live things.   So, using bait, use very lively bait.     I throw lures 100% of the time.    I like the 12 Fathom Buzz Tail Shad for a shallow water snook.    It is the quietest landing lure I have ever used.    Natural action they like, it works great on snook.    I also use the Mullet and the SlamR to catch snook.   They all work.   For smaller snook, the Mullet is the best bait.    Highest tides, get lures under the tree limbs.   The snook will be in at the roots.    Lower tides, find the pockets of deeper water on the outer edge of the flats.   Summertime, snook shift out to the beaches pre-spawn and stay there usually until early August before returning to their normal locations.   

            A snook is an ambush artist so your technique can dictate how many strikes and hookups you get.   My technique, developed after much trial-and-error.    I “do something unusual” when the lure arrives in the location where I think that the snook is.   Reel fast, jerk the lure:  Do something to make your lure look like an escaping baitfish.   

As you’re thinking about this trip, when I have you out there and you hook up and I use the word “snook” practice it in your mind that anytime that fish is going hard the other way you’re going to relax your arm and let him take some line.   If you pull back?   “Bink”   They’ll pop knots or cut line.   People feel them taking off hard and they panic and pull back to try to stop it.   You don’t have to.  They may go on a massive run but they’ll stop.    Keep a nice little arc in the rod the entire fight and you should not lose a lot of fish.  

            The plan:   Go for the redfish and snook first.   The trout can be caught later into the day.   While it’s early, you should be after the two tougher species.   Snook are nocturnal so if you are out with zero light, probably best to be targeting snook when there is no sunlight.   Redfish, best right at sunrise.   

Neil Taylor

Kayak Fishing Specialist- Strike Three Kayak Fishing


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