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NIRL winter snook

Went out this past saturday. Knew wind was gonna be blowing (like every weekend!) so decided to fish some protected creeks of the NIRL. Water was cold and stained. Found some protected mangrove shorelines.

16313540752_e3c799b63d_z.jpg1/17/15 NIRL by CDog2014, on Flickr
Was fishing my go to DOA cal shad tail rootbeer with chatreuse tail. First few casts felt some nibbles, probably a puffer. Slowed down my retrieve and wham! Felt like a decent fish. Figured it was a trout. Wasn't fighting like a red. As I got it closer to the yak I realized it was a snook! I've heard of snook being caught up here but knew it was pretty rare and never thought I of all people would ever catch one. If I didn't catch a fish the rest of the day I would have been plenty happy. My yak is 26 inches across, so it was nice underslot snook.

16288466056_bf14b6eedd_z.jpg1/17/15 NIRL by CDog2014, on Flickr
Just a few casts later landed this one. A little bigger fish. Same lure.

16313540492_f316d059cd_z.jpg1/17/15 NIRL by CDog2014, on Flickr
Bite slowed down so switched to a gulp shrimp on a jig head. Actually had another snook on that spit the hook right at the yak. After landing this small trout, I realized I was 2/3 the way to a inshore slam! Left the area in search for some reds.

Spent the next few hours searching for reds. Paddled back to the NIRL but the wind was just brutal. So paddled back and found a nice grass flat off a point. Water was about a foot to a foot and a half. Water was clear. Between wind gusts I could see some activity that looked promising. It was strange, saw some big boils, but no tails. And in water this shallow I figured if they were reds I would see tails. I have found that the best way to avoid skunking is to bring some cut mullet on every trip. I was still in search for my slam so I threw some cut mullet at the boils and let them soak.

16128550477_559cd5c93d_z.jpg1/17/15 NIRL by CDog2014, on Flickr
After about 5 minutes my reel was screaming. I'm thinking it has to be a red and I have my slam. Pulling drag like crazy. Hard to describe my emotions when I saw it wasn't a red, but it was the biggest trout I had ever seen.
I didn't have a scale or a tape measure. But using my old bass fishing days as a reference, I would say it was a lunker at least 6-8 lbs. At least 26 inches, and fat! She was revived and let go.

16288474656_a627552e1c_z.jpg1/17/15 NIRL by CDog2014, on Flickr
Still looking for my slam and still hoping there were redfish in those boils, I pitched out another circle hook with cut mullet. In the meantime I threw more lures at them. I knew they were big fish, because when the lure spooked them they moved a lot of water. Something absolutely slammed my cut mullet. I've never had a trout fight this hard, but I guess they got this big for a reason. Got it to the yak and snapped a quick picture. As you can see its a bit longer than the other one, but a bit slimmer. I thought it was cool how the spots are so different on the two fish. Fish was released safely.

As I sat and watched the boils in the water I realized that it was a big school of gator trout feeding. The biggest trout I have ever seen, let alone catch. I was happy for the catch, but even happier to release them safely.

Obviously it was a great day. Man I was due. The past 2 times I've been out I've been skunked and puffer skunked. Wish I could say it was all skill, but I wasn't doing anything different than all the other times. Like they say, better to be lucky than good!


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