Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Snook Fishing

I haven't been doing much snook fishing this year, but with a slow week and Anna out of town, some buddies and I charged off to a secret river mouth for some prime, from the beach snook fishing.    There is a cover shot from Saltwater Sportsman floating around with a picture of me and Joe Josey holding a 30 pound snook that came from the mouth of this river, caught with Capt. Daniel Espinoza on the Bob Cat..... a long time ago.

Catching a big snook from the boat is one thing, but catching a snook from the beach is an all together more difficult thing to do......let alone catching a big snook from the beach....kind of like drum fishing.  As my friend "Tiderunner" says, catching one big drum from the beach is as good as 10 from the boat.....personally, I think it's more like 100 from the boat....but then again, I catch a lot of big drum from a boat and not nearly enough from the sand.

I have not caught a lot of snook from the sand either, especially the last couple of years.  But there was talk of an"epic" beach bite that went on two months ago on this same moon, I had to give them a try.   Pat, Pepi, Raul and I headed to this secret river mouth which had previously been inaccessible from the beach for two reasons.   The first is that this area was a protected turtle nesting habitat and guarded by rangers who prevented entry to anyone......well, last year a flood wiped out the ranger station and  entry is no longer deterred.

The second reason that this area was previously inaccessible from the beach was thanks to Steve Ewin, the Crocodile Hunter.   The rangers were no big deal, Raul and I had arranged uninhibited passage into the mangrove estuary and river mouth via a couple of pre-orchestrated pizza and beer nights, delivered to the remote ranger outpost by your's truly.

It was Stever Erwin who screwed it all up.   I was watching tv one Saturday morning and saw the Crocodile Hunter himself in the back of a flat bet pick up with two huge crocodiles which they had "captured" from beneath the bridge of the Tarcoles River.   I say "captured" because these crocs, despite being the two largest caught by the television celebrity and naturalist, were not the examples of their athletic African cousins seen snapping gazelles out of the air bounding across a similar river in a similar latitude .

These crocs were two slip mates, as big as a panga, but as slow and nimble as a water-logged dug out canoe.  They were the two biggest, fattest crocs in the river and more resembled an overweight crocodilian representation in a Disney cartoon.  They had taken residence underneath the bridge from which mana rained down on them in the form of chicken parts, fresh and frozen and sometimes with feathers.  The tourists peeringover the bridge risked life and horrific maiming from speeding cars and sugar cane trucks for a picture of the dozen or more dinosours waiting below.

For the Croc Hunter, catching them was no big deal, they were easily lured by the scent of fresh pollo.  After a quick struggle and couple of "death rolls" the crocs had exhausted their energy and succumbed to being blindfolded and bound, affixed with GPS transmitters.....then relocated to my favorite snook hole, which naturally has a reputation for being home to aggressive crocs and the site of at least two attacks on a surfers and fishermen.

With now open access to the secret snook hole, rumors had been circulating  of an amazing  bite experienced two moons ago by local anglers with hand lines.    I couldn't make it then, but maybe with a like moon and a light week this week, I had to give it a try.

The four of us arrived at the spot, with 3 rods and 1 cast net between us.  I was the better at slinging a cast net, so I headed to the mangroves and waited for the tide to get low enough to round up some live mullet.    I've had close calls with crocs before (read the post from Jan. 10, 2013)....and with nearly drowning trying to cross a river mouth carrying a cast net.  Both experiences crossed my mind yesterday as I again waded across a croc-infested river mouth loaded down with a cast net, but thinking about those big crocs really got me jumpy.

I was having little luck catching mullet for bait......just as much luck as the guys were having catching snook on lures.   I saw a couple of flashes along the legs of some mangroves and launched the net.   As I tightened the loop, I saw the 6 inch long flashes of what I thought were the perfect sized mullet......but the far end of the net was stuck on something.

I wanted those mullet bad and had made it as far as waist deep in murky water next to the mangroves.  I reached down as far as I could trying to find the snag, my mouth just above water and out the corner of my eye I glanced at Pat and Raul a hundred yards down the way casting plugs.   From that far away I could see the look on their face.  Screw the net.  I got out of the water and don't think that I could have scrambled up that bank any faster if there was a croc on my ass.   The thought of it was motivation enough.

I grabbed the main line of the net and pulled and ripped until I got webbing, then a lead line, then ripped it out of there, destroying the net and releasing 5 baby snook out of it.   They were baby snook and not mullet at all that I was casting on......I guess that's what that big snook bite was about a couple of months ago.

It's good Anna isn't here this week, I've got that cast net spread out over the kitchen table making repairs......just being around a pretty place like that and making some casts got me fired up.   I'm trying to figure out how I can get a livewell rigged up in the minivan.