15 Minutes with: Capt. Ross Gallagher
Location: Caloosahatchee River – Fort Myers, FL.
Tides: I prefer to fish the end of an outgoing and first half on the incoming tide.
Approach: During the cooler winter months, most snook will seek refuge in deeper canal systems near dark or muddy bottom. In this situation, I’ll normally wait for the sun to warm up the water temp a few degrees and begin looking for fish basking in shallow muddy areas close to deep water. With little to no rain during the winter months, water clarity is generally decent, so spotting fish laid up shallow is possible with a good pair of polarized sun glasses.
Rigging Selection: Fishing very shallow water for spooking fish requires a subtle presentation. I’ll normally use an unweighted or lightly weighted swim bait hook to present my baits.
Bait Selection: The Hogy® Skinny Series in a 4inch or 6inch size.
Why this bait? I like the erratic darting action that the Skinny Series produces in shallow water. It’s a thinner profile bait that mimics the smaller bait fish that winter over in these canal systems. I also find, with the lower water temperatures and the fish’s slower metabolism, a smaller presentation is more effective.
Colors: Bone is top choice, followed by amber.
Retrieve: While locating the fish is the first challenge. Once you begin seeing these fish laying in the shallows, a very quiet approach is necessary. It’s a delicate balance when casting to these fish. Too close and you’ll spook the fish, cast 12 inches too far and they won’t move to eat your soft bait. Generally, I find landing withing the body’s length of the snook away results in the best chance to hook up. This means you may need to brush up on casting accuracy before heading out.
Once you cast, let the bait sink to the bottom and fire off two quick twitches followed by a long pause. Often this initial motion will either draw a strike, or at least get the fishes attention. The next two twitches will either result in a hook up, or it’s likely that your offering will be ignored on that cast. Remember, these fish are cold and lethargic during the winter months.
Rod: Medium-Heavy Action 7’6″ TFO Spinning Rod.
Reel: Shimano Saragosa 4000
Line: 20lb Suffix 832 Braid
Leader: 30lb Fluorocarbon Leader using an Albright Special Knot for line to leader connection.