For anglers seeking big snook, now is the best time of the year. Big females, and their smaller male counterparts, have gathered in and around inlets for their annual summer spawning. During the past month we've seen more big snook than we have in a long time. The key to catching the big ones is to avoid the 1-4 pounders. At this time of year, females seldom school with males during the day. That means big fish will be grouped together and separate from the smaller ones until they actually spawn. In the morning they often sit in the swash channels just outside the passes in 2-3 feet of water. The big ones appear as a distinct dark spot on the sandy bottom. Approach the schools very quietly and carefully. It doesn't take much to spook them. Once they're located, pitch big live baits past them, even onto the dry beach, then slowly drag it back into the pod. It's imperative not to drop the bait directly into the school as the snook will scatter and disappear. Six-inch threadfin herring has been a top choice. Live mullet also works. Smaller-sized whitebait works but is not nearly as effective as bigger baits.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.