Recently, I was down south on vacation with my girlfriend's family. And how do you not bring a fly rod with you to the great fishing state of FL?
With a white series 8wt in hand, I enjoyed spending my free time away from her family walking and wading some nearby docks and mangrove lines. Although I had a great opportunity to fish with a friend, Jake Haselgrove, born and raised in Florida. This guy is fishy, all across the board. We hit the water and I was poling for the first time immediately, somehow, he was able to quietly cast at some fish without me botching it all up on the platform. Sadly, I did botch quite a few moments. Anyways, we pushed further and further into a deep canal system. In this case scenario, we had no choice but to blind cast. The mangroves were on each of our shoulders, this was a very narrow spot we were fishing. I was on the front making casts at both 1 and 11 O’clock with a large EP mullet fly pattern in olive/white with 50lb. monofilament. We were NOT going to risk losing a giant in the brush.
I was two-hand retrieving my fly with the rod in my armpit, I had a solid little tug, assuming it was from a juvenile tarpon. I picked up the line and re-casted short, in the same zone as that hit. I “skiied” the fly across the surface, as Jake would describe it, using my rod tip to move the fly. Right aside the boat, a “POP” came out of nowhere, a huge snook inhaled the entire fly right on the surface. I was wrong, definitely not a juvenile tarpon. I had no room to strip set, so I just gave the fish slack as he ran down under with my fly in his mouth and absolutely reefed a trout set.
“Snook are hands down, one of the most rewarding fish to catch on a fly rod.” -Jake Haselgrove. I don’t disagree one bit with Jake on this comment, because they will kick your ass. Snook are like a Largemouth Bass on steroids. They are lazy, but when they eat, your world will be rocked. This snook, hooked, ran under the boat and did all it could to take me deep underneath the mangroves to my left. The best thing for me to do was keep my rod low, avoiding snags and pull back even harder. Trusting my 50lb leader, I could turn this fish’s head. Although in so many scenarios, the snook won’t let us change the direction of that head going right to structure to break us off. Snook usually run in short bursts, but with such strong effort. It is the one fish I feel as if I need to be on my best game when hooking, fighting and landing. For the reasons of their aggression and pure strength, they have to be one of the most rewarding fish to catch on a fly rod.
Photography & Written byJoe Evans
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