Lure Fishing for Snook (The Search for Monster Snook) - Part 3
With only a few days left, I headed back up to The Fingers, this time at a lower tide. I was excited to try a spot that I had fished the year before and I hoped to do battle with some jacks. I chose to fish the Enticer Minnow (one of my favourite lures for jacks), splashing it over the deep reefs hoping to bring something up. On only the second cast, I got hit and I was into a solid bluefin trevally, needing to lean on the strong rod to keep it from heading towards a bombie rock that sat just feet under the surface. These fish really go hard and are so much fun to catch but with snook being the target species for this trip, I had a few more casts and then headed back to the rivermouth to see if anything was about.
Cubera snapper were another species I had hoped to hook during this trip, so when I landed one at virtually the same spot as the previous year, I was feeling confident that conditions were good. It’s always nice to catch a new species, so although I didn’t see any snook that day, I was happy to land my first corvina! A couple more nice snappers also took the lure, along with the obligatory hawkfish. Nothing big but fun all the same.
With the fishing going quiet on the snook front, I couldn’t resist a last session up at The Fingers, where I was keen to test out some new prototype airbrushed 120g Enticer Tweak Baits and make a short video on how to use them. With a quiet start, I didn’t expect much action from the ledges but it’s always worth varying your retrieve when fishing lures for jacks (and other species) and covering as much ground as possible. In general, I like to retrieve medium to fast and erratic in deep open water, slowing down around the backwash and tweaking the lure just in case anything’s lurking in close.
Bringing the lure between a section of rocks, my lure was hit by a jack that unfortunately didn’t connect with the hooks. After a few more casts and no hits, I changed to the mullet-colored Tweak and was rewarded with a nice jack crevalle smashing into the lure. Although white has proved to be a good all round color, it can sometimes help to switch colors, especially if the fish have seen the same lure passing by a few times and already had a go at it. I’ve noticed that when there are a few fish around, a lure can be effective for a while but if the bite slows down it’s time to change color.
With the tide rising, it made sense to stay longer and see if there was anything else moving. I didn’t have to cast many more times before the biggest jack crevalle I have ever seen hit my Tweak Bait, going completely airborne and immediately ripping out drag at a rate of knots heading straight for the rocks. As the point was the wrong side of me and the fish, the only option was to grab my spool and try to stop it before my line was broken on the rocks. Fortunately, with the high pressure the hook pulled and I was able to save the lure from a near certain bust off.
After that experience, my adrenaline was pumping hard but apart from another hawkfish on the Tweak, that was it for my last full day. Hawkfish are an extremely aggressive species found hanging around close to the rocks and would be a dream for any light tackle fisherman. I was really tempted to go out one morning with my lightest setup and a 15g Tweak, but with the pull of the snook, bigger jacks and my limited time, it remained just an idea. Regardless, choosing to fish the lures for jacks had been a good call and I'd had a good day's sport.
I arrived before first light on my last morning to find the swell had dropped off just enough in the night. With the conditions giving me one last good shot at a snook, I headed across the reef leading out to a mark I liked to fish. I would have to keep my eye on the incoming tide - as soon as these rocks were covered, the brown water inside made it impossible to see where you were standing. As it was necessary to jump from rock to rock, it was essential you could see where you were going. I found this out the hard way on my last trip, leaving it too long and ended up getting slammed off the reef by a set of waves and washed up the boulder beach.
As the sun came up, the birds were diving again and I noticed small baitfish feeding out in the rip. I decided to put on my Enticer Minnow Topwater/Sub to get maximum distance, although I had been using the Enticer Sub Surface Tweak Bait for the majority of the trip as it suited the conditions, allowing for a slower retrieve over the ledges. Firing my lure out as far as possible I waited in anticipation of a hit. Ten minutes later a snook slashed at it, missing the hooks and leaving my heart in my mouth!
I changed to the Tweak and concentrated on casting to a rock where I saw some baitfish close in to the side - another slash and I knew the snook were about. I didn’t have long left to fish as the tide was rising fast and I would need to head back soon, so when my rod bent over for the last time of the trip, I knew it would probably be the last chance to finish on a high. The fish fought hard around the rocks diving and leaping in the air unsuccessfully trying to shake the hook. Keeping the line tight as always, I landed the fish cleanly for an almost perfect finish to a most enjoyable trip. Final score: Grant 6, snook 4!
As I started my drive back, I thought back over the trip and what I had learnt and what I would have done differently (as you always do) and came up with a few strange statistics that really left me thinking. When I arrived, I knew how important getting to the spot early was and made it to each mark every day before sun up. I also made sure to be out fishing as the sun went down. Surprisingly, I didn’t hook one snook in the afternoon, just a few other species. I also didn’t catch any snook around first light, which really surprised me, as all were caught under bright sunny weather. There’s certainly no hard and fast rules in fishing! I concluded that tide state and swell size were the most important factors here and, as I started my long journey back home, I was already dreaming of my next trip back in pursuit of these amazing fish.