The fishing off of Hernando Beach has been very productive the past week. The hot bite has been in the deeper flats, but Monday marks the opening of snook season so anglers can target these hard fighters for the cooler.
Anglers have until Nov. 30 to target these strong fighting bruisers that provide excellent table fare. The slot limit for snook is 28-33 inches in our region and anglers may keep one fish per day.
Free-lined live white bait is my preferred tactic to catch these hard fighting linesiders. Live pinfish will also work, but it’s best to net enough 3-inch white bait to fish and chum with. Scoop up 8-10 baits in your bait net and squeeze them just hard enough to make them swim wounded and sling them to your target area with a “bait bat.” Look and listen for the “pop” sound and toss a lively bait into the frenzy. Be sure to handle snook with care and get them back to the water ASAP if they are not in the slot.
The flats off Hernando beach have given my clients some steady rod bending action in 8-11 feet of water. Big trout, Spanish mackerel, cobia, sharks, sea bass, blue fish, and more are all pulling drag in these depths. I prefer to bounce jigs across the grass while drifting. The key is to get a steady drift across these depths at around 1 mph. If the drift is faster, consider using a heavier jig to keep your offering close to the bottom, and be ready to cast and retrieve more if the drift is slower.
The scallops are still thick north of Hernando beach in 6-8 feet of water. The season doesn’t close until Sept. 25. Scalloping is a great way to beat the heat and enjoy the clear Gulf waters. Remember your diver down flag and be sure to use caution when navigating near other swimmers scalloping.
Good luck out there and tight lines!
Capt. Keith Tomlinson runs Bulldog Fishin Charters out of Hernando Beach. Contact him at www.bulldogfishin.com or (352)238-3581.