What's hot: Snook have left cold-weather haunts and are on the prowl. Work the dock lights with your fly rod. Warmer water and the appearance of "greenbacks" have made snook aggressive. Incoming or outgoing tides are good, just as long as the water is moving. Some docks are better on a specific tide because fish are oriented away from, instead of under, structure.
Tackle: Use at least a 9-weight fly rod with some backbone. I prefer a clear sinking tip fly line because the larger fish are always deeper. Six-foot leaders with a 3-foot, 40-pound butt section, where the line is attached, and a tippet of 30-pound fluorocarbon secured to the fly with a loop knot will help keep snook away from barnacle-encrusted pilings. White EP flies, bendbacks and deceivers that duplicate the size of available baitfish work best.
Tactics: A bow-mounted electric motor is preferred to position the boat and move you to deeper water after a fish is hooked. Cast to the darker outside areas first and keep your rod tip close to the water. Retrieve in long, slow strips. Strip set by pulling the line with your hand when you feel a fish. A strip strike will move the fly a short distance if you miss, allowing your missed fish, or another, to hit the fly.
Pat Damico charters lower Tampa Bay and can be reached at captpat.com or (727) 504-8649.