Family Fishing Evening and Big Snook

July 25, 2021 9:55 pm By:

When one of your first fishing clients calls on a last minute trip to Florida, with a cool kid, cool father in law, and always brings non stop laughs and banter, you find a way to get em out there.  Yesterday was a helluva day.  I had a full day booked already, but after I checked the tides, thought about some of my spots down in the 10,000, something felt special, and I decided to have him meet me at 4, and fish till dark deep down in the backwaters.  Dropped off some clients, fileted a pile of fish, and we climbed back in the Maverick for another round down south.

The water and magic of the islands was in full glory, as Joe, Tim, Lil Joe, from Nebraska, and I headed into the mystic, sliding  across the glassy back bays and creeks, on a heavy falling tide, and rolling waaay back into to one of my favorite tarpon spots.   The tide was falling hard and gonna head into the negative around sunset, which always adds some pucker factor to the adventure, knowing the way in, may be dry on the way out!
Despite the perfect tides, the fishing was mediocre, and the only thing creating any excitement, other than a few small snook, was the ongoing debate over the legitimacy of Joe’s big sail cat with Lil Joe, Nebraska and Florida Football talk, well maybe just Florida Football lol, and the antics of the construction industry.

After two fruitless hours of no tarpon, and tired tiny pilchards for bait, it was time to head across the back bays further south, to a bad ass little corner I have finally figured out, and stake our claim to to something,  before the tides dropped to low to escape  Well, the banter was rolling along, Joe was making videos, and Little Joe was in the baitwell,  when Grandpa lifted up his rod, set the hook like a boss, and the drag zinged.  That same tiny 2500 Florida Fishing Products Osprey and Bull Bay Banshee rod that seems to have caught every one of the special fish I’ve seen this summer, had something special going on again.  Gramps’ big fish zig and zagged a bit and headed right in the snags…but Grandpa (Tim) rared back, and somehow, stopped the train.  Now it swung back down deep, and toward the overhang it came from, with Grandpa locked down on it like a cowbird on a rhino.  As we wondered what on earth we had, our question was suddenly answered.  A long grey log rose up from the brown sweet tea colored water and we were staring at the profile a giant snook!  Knees started buckling, the captain, dad, and kid started squealing, but Grandpa went into big game pro mode, cigarette in lip, like Andy Capp, as he knew his chance for glory was waiting.  As the scream of the drag signaled another run, I went to suggest he quit sitting and fight it standing,  but his butt was already up off the cooler as he nimbly walked the gunnels like a seasoned old alley cat stalking a rat.   The fish ripped off a huge run, this time waaaay out into the open water, and Tim held on, staying smooth as silk, while I chattered my gibberish, and the fish kept running.  Then, the giant head erupted and we saw the bucket mouth and gills rattle, and another screaming drag. Got it closer…another eruption of rattling gills, and shaking bucket…getting closer…will that 15# test and 30# leader hold…suddenly that sonofabitch was under the boat, and hearts sank…Tim however, stuck the rod down deep, swung  it past the outboard, and all of a sudden, there she was, all up in the stearn head by prop…I lunged at it, but couldn’t get the net in the right place with the motor in the way, and zing, off she goes again.  10 painful feet away, she again came up to the top, turned on her side, made that endless lonnnng glide right into the landing net, and the galley of 3 erupted, like they did in Augusta in 1986 when The Golden Bear sank a put on 15 to start the charge!

Baboom! Thunder, and a flash of lighting from a huge storm that snuck up on us from behind the trees during the excitement shook the reality back to the boat, and we decided it was time! Not even the storm that tried to pin us down or the shrinking tides could contain us, or as we high fived our way across the skinny bays and cuts back to Goodland to a safe holdover at an empty bar in till the weather cleared and we could head to Marco. 

So excited thinking of the memories made last night…when clients who have become friends finally seeing a beast of a snook, a grandfather putting on a display of patience and guile with ultralight tackle on a lifetime snook, in front of his grandson, and son in law, and then an awesome perfect release…all in the backdrop of one of Florida’s truly remote magical places to fish, on a sweet Saturday evening still has me full of adrenaline and smiles.  Welcome to the 40 Inch Club Grandpa Tim!  Can’t wait to see ya’ll again!

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