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Updated: 03/13/2014 02:59:21PM

Snook now, tarpon soon

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Here is a picture of Tom Sailock from Lower Burrell, Pa. caught his first Snook (undersize) at Ponce de Leon Park.

By Capt. Van Hubbard

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In Southwest Florida, we get excited about snook season opening and passionate about our tarpon fishing. We enjoyed a short shot at snook last fall, and now anticipate the spring bite. With literally millions of us out chasing these delicious fish, we also want to be especially careful how we handle them. This very small slot from 28 to 33 inches means we can expect to release most of our snook catches. How carefully we handle these fish will establish our snook stocks for the future. If it survives, stocks grow. If not, they don’t.

So how can you catch more snook? Start out by eliminating avoidable mistakes. Use quality gear, line with no weak spots, fluorocarbon leaders and dependable knot connections. Sounds obvious, I know, but many fish are lost because of careless or improper rigging. Don’t play around with cheap gear — especially hooks — be sure they are sturdy and sharp. My personal preference is the Daiichi Bleeding Bait circle hook. I also add a glow bead about a quarter inch from the barb to prevent double hooked minnows. I don’t like to work for a good bite, then miss an opportunity to land a big snook because my hook point is buried back into my minnow! Braids are stronger, no stretch, and more abrasion resistant, and my choice is Master Braid by Cortland. Quality costs more, but casts and lasts better.

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