Snook season may be closed through the end of the year, but that doesn’t mean these prized gamefish will stop biting. Capt. Mike Slattery catches his share of lunkers in the waters near Boca Grande. Slattery, of Palm Island Outfitters, targets big fish, which he releases to catch another day.
So if you are fishing for snook this summer, remember the finer points of catch and release. When you hook a snook during the closed season, land the fish as quickly as possible. Leave the fish in the water and unhook it using a pair of pliers or dehooking tool. The quicker you release the fish, the better its chances of survival. If the hook is too difficult to remove in one, clean motion without ripping flesh, wet a rag and use it to lift the fish out of the water.
Be careful not to tear additional tissue in removing the hook. Back it through the original wound. If this fails, cut off the tip of the hook and try again. If the hook has been swallowed or is deeply embedded, cut the leader as close to the shank as possible and leave it in the fish. Most non-stainless steel hooks will dissolve in a few days.
Snook are pretty hardy fish. Biologists estimate that only two percent of the snook that are caught and released do not survive, as compared to five percent of the redfish and eight percent of the trout. To learn more, click here.