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Snookered

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 By Capt. Brylee
Special to the Pioneer

The weather has begun to give us our normal Florida summer weather. The rains each afternoon create the barometric pressure to rise and fall most of the day. This poses well for anglers both saltwater and fresh.
While rising and falling barometric pressures increase fish productivity don’t forget to find the three musts to locating the fish; food, structure and comfort.
Fishing and scalloping reports have been good in all parts of the Nature Coast. From Steinhatchee to Homosassa anglers have done well fishing jigs, live baits as well as cut-bait.
The floating grass still being pushed in from off-shore has made top-water and crank bait fishing difficult in areas, jigs and live bait rigged on popping corks have boasted results. Free line jigging has also been productive, especially in deeper waters of 7-9 feet.
Knowing where to fish is always a task for all anglers, as fish seem to migrate as the seasons and water temps change. The first thing to find is food. Look for bait fish schools running close to the surface.
 One way to locate them is to follow the birds. Once you have found the bait fish the only thing left is to locate the structure in that area where the fish feel comfortable. Now you won’t see them kicked back in a recliner watching Sports Center; what you are looking for is grassy areas and areas with under water spoils and or drop offs where they can hide. Around the points of the many Gulf islands and the creeks and small rivers that feed into the Gulf are often good places to start.
Our feature catch of the week takes place in the Crystal River, Homosassa area fishing just outside the Barge Canal. Clay Piel of Bronson Florida and his fiancée, Colleen McKenney, launched their boat at the barge canal and traveled toward the grassy flats just outside the canal.
Carolina rigged with cut bait on 12  pound braided line and a 2 foot leader with 1 oz. egg weight Clay fished the bottom.
 For those of you who do not know what “Carolina Rigged” means, it is simply running an egg weight on your line ahead of a swivel to allow the weight to both slide and stay above the swivel and off your bait. This allows you to fish the bottom while your bait can still have movement as the weight isn’t holding it down on the bottom. This way of rigging also allows your line to pull through the weight, making less resistance for the pursuing fish as he takes your bait.
 Clay landed his boat on a nearby island and fished from the shore. He used a Mustad number 2 regular shanked hook. His line soon began to sing. He adjusted his drag by tightening down on it and set his hook! Right away he knew he had something large, but at this time he still didn’t know what he had.
After a couple runs pulling drag like mad, the monster jumped out of the water violently shaking his head.
 “I thought I had a tarpon at first.” Clay said. But as the fish got closer to shore he realized it was a large Snook! Upon reaching the shore Clay pulled his catch in and saw he had a 38-inch Snook! After a few pictures he released his catch back into the Gulf.
Snook season is closed in the Gulf from Dec. 1 through the end of February and again from May 1 through Aug. 31. Catch and release only. When season is open for harvest the slot size limit is 28-33 inch and bag limit is one per angler, per day. Note to harvest Snook you must purchase a Snook stamp in addition to your regular salt water fishing license.
 Please obey all state and local laws and remember to catch and release.
Good luck catching.