Sight fishing to snook on the fly – definitely one of the best saltwater quarry with the flimsy rod. Snook, or ‘linesiders’, the Queens of the Backcountry, are stealthy ambush hunters with keen senses, prowling mangroves for baitfish. They are a great challenge to find, fool with the fly, and get to pull you around in a kayak. I this article I’ll go through some tools and techniques that I’ve found effective for kayak fishing for snook on the fly.
1) Go where there are ‘stalkable’ snook. That may seem like common sense, but there are a lot of styles of snook fishing, many of which don’t involve sight fishing or fly fishing. Some people like to fish under docks for them, or using lights at night to attract baitfish and the snook that eat them. But in this article we’ll focus on stalking them on the clear flats around Tampa Florida. Snook live in tropical saltwater of the Western Atlantic, and Florida is a well known hotspot. The clear saltwater flats backing up to mangroves on the shore are ideal spot-and-stalk conditions for snook fly fishing. Early morning and late evening are great times to find actively hunting snook prowling the mangrove edges, which will be easier to fool than laid up snook basking in the sun.
2) Snook are spooky, but kayaks are stealthy – use them to your advantage. You may only get one shot at a fish once you see it, so make it count. The closer you are, the more accurate that cast will be. Sure, casting 70 ft is fun and challenging, but casting 20-40 ft will increase your odds and lets you see all the action.
I like to either let the wind blow me slowly along the shoreline, about 50 ft yards from the bank, looking for bait fleeing, the tell tale sound of the snook ‘pop’ when they strike, or seeing their grey-bodies cruising the edges.
My kayak of choice for this type of fishing is the Kilroy. Without any scuppers, it’s incredibly quiet, easy to stand in and see fish, and keeps all my gear and fly line organized and snag free so when it’s time to fire that quick cast, everything works together to get the job done.
3) Get in the right position. That includes getting in position to make a good cast before the fish sees you, quietly, and staying there if needed. Cruising fish in shallow water can often be spotted by their wake. Trying to time your kayak drift to keep you in a good casting position, when the shoreline is undulating, or the fish may turn, or the sun may cast your shadow poorly, all come into play.
A tool like the Power-Pole Micro Anchor offers kayak anglers a huge advantage with the ability to stop on a dime, on demand, and maintain the perfect position to make an accurate cast. I have mine installed on my Kilroy with the YakAttack Adapter Kit. A video for that install can be seen here: How to Install the Power-Pole Micro Anchor on the Jackson Kayak Kilroy.
4) Make an accurate cast. Casting accurately takes practice, but practice is fun. Get used to your gear, and fly selection, so when the time comes, you’re not fumbling around, making noise, and lowering your chances for success.
My particular fly set-up for this snook is an 8WT, mid-flex Orvis rod and weight forward saltwater fly line , Ross Momentum reel, and classic chartreuse and white clouser minnow tied to a 9ft tapered leader and 12lb tippet.
5) Get ready for a fun fight. For the particular snook in this video,
I spotted him chasing bait along a mangrove edge. He was kind of moving back and forth on the back edge of small bay lined with mangroves. I went to the opening of the bay so I could cover any side he went to, and Power-Poled down there. I put the fly about 4 ft in front of him, let it sink a little, and then with a couple strips he pulled in right behind it and moved in for the strike. I was able to see his mouth open, take the fly, strip set, tug, and off to the aerial races. One of the best things about snook on the fly is their tendency to jump.
6) Have fun, make memories, stay safe, stay protected. Snook on the fly are a ton of fun and can be a ton of frustration. Have fun with it. You’ll have blown opportunities, but the hard work makes the eventual reward worth it. That can mean long days on the water, and long hours in the hot sun. Stay protected from the sun with UV-rated clothing such as the Equatorial or Granite Creek series from Mountain Khakis, and gloves and mask from 12WT.
Jackson Kayak now has 12WT sun shirts with 50+ SPF protection available in the JK Store. http://store.jacksonkayak.com/categories/Clothing
For kayak fishing PFD’s, per personal choice is Astral’s Ronny Fisher. It keeps everything I need from fly boxes to my Power-Pole remote clean and where I need them, is super comfortable with our Elite Seat system, and even has a reflective hood if the weather goes South or there’s heavy boat traffic.
If you like to film your adventures like I do, everything in the video was shot on GoPros mounted to either the YakAttack Panfish Portrait on the front Kilroy track or RAM Camera arms on the rear track.
Have fun out there, and a special thanks goes to the folks at Power-Pole for sharing some of their home waters.