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Cut-Offs More Myth Than Fact
Posted Aug 17, 2007 by Frank Sargeant
Updated Aug 17, 2007 at 09:06 AM
I have always wondered why outdoor writers and anglers have found themselves so fixated over the gill plates of a snook. Reams of paper have been devoted, and wasted, on insisting unless one is armed with a mono leader of hundreds of pounds, or wire, you will certainly be ‘‘cut off’’ by the gill plates.
Your story in the Aug. 12, 2007 Tribune prompted me to write. Just north of the terminal end of the gill plate of a snook lies what I will call that portion of the gill plate which has caused such misconception. Its sharp edge points to the tail of the fish. The great majority of hooked snook swim forward not backward. Hooked fish swim against the restraining fishing line. In a great many instances, if not in every instance of a hooked snook, the leader never touches the gill plate. The only exception which comes to mind is when a hooked snook jumps and flares its gills. Then, exists the potential, particularly if the angler ‘‘bows’’ to the fish thus placing slack into the line, for the leader/line to become entangled in that portion of the gill plate located north of the terminal end of the gill plate. If such entanglement occurs, your famous ‘‘cut-off’’ results.
I am convinced after many, many years of fishing the writings on gill plate cut-offs are more myth than fact unless, of course, hooked snook have learned to swim backwards.
What outdoor writers seem to regularly neglect from their snook writings is informing the angling public of the devastating effect on mono leaders, sans those of 100-pound test and above, by the lips of the snook. At the lip is where the vast majority of snook ‘‘cut-offs’’ occur, not on the north end of the gill plate.
I’d like to hear from you if you think otherwise.
Norman S. Cannella, Sr.
I don’t disagree that the rough jaws of the snook do sandpaper their way through mono leaders, particularly lighter ones. However, I do think that in numerous cases where the leader breaks on the first run of the fish, as the fish is going away, that the leader can come over the shoulder of the fish, and in that case could easily be cut by the gill plate. In cases where the broken leader shows no roughness or sanding, it seems to be fairly likely that the cutoff was on the gill plates rather than on the jaws, to me. On the other hand, I brought this up with Scott Moore, and he said he thinks 90 percent of the cutoffs are on the jaws. In any case, thanks for sharing your thoughts, and tight lines. FS
The Places To Wade
Posted Jul 27, 2007 by Frank Sargeant
Updated Jul 27, 2007 at 09:20 AM
Good Morning Frank—Did you used to work in the Houston, Tx. area as a sports writer? Your name sounds very familiar to me. I’m new to Tampa from the Texas Gulf Coast area and am looking for easily accessible spots to wade fish. You’ve written several articles on it, but I’ve not had much luck locating the exact points of entry into the water. Any help you could give me would be appreciated. I’m interested in Cockroach Bay, Simmons Park, and either end of Sunshine Skyway Bridge and Courtney Campbell Parkway (which restaurants are you referring too?). Sincerely, Ted Bishop
Ted: I used to work for Southern Outdoors and a number of other BASS publications, which is probably where you’ve heard my name. In any case, Cockroach Bay is at the west end of Cockroach Bay Road off U.S. 41 south of Ruskin. The trick here is to wade along the north shore until you round the mangrove point—then, you have miles of shallow water flats where you’ll find reds and snook. At Simmons Park north of Ruskin, it’s tougher—you have to wade or swim across the canal that’s on the northeast side, and then you gain access to more than a mile of mangrove shoreline—very good snook area. At the Skyway, you can park on the south end and wade either side—the farther you go from the parking area, the better the fishing. And at Courtney Campbell, I like the rocks out in front of the Rusty Pelican. Tricky wading in there—it’s easy to fall. But there are plenty of reds and the occasional snook. The east end of the bay here near the big hotel is also a good redfish wading area. Hope this helps. FS
Try Gandy For Sharks
Posted Jul 11, 2007 by Frank Sargeant
Updated Jul 11, 2007 at 08:46 AM
Dear Frank: My family and I and a friend of the family have been fishing a lot at the Skyway Pier. Mostly the south pier. We have been trying for shark mainly, but go for whatever we can get. The problem we have been running into is the sharks haven’t been hitting like we want. For baits I’ve been using mullet, bonita, jack and threadfins. I’ve tried chum blocks with no success. I’ve spoken to countless people at bait and tackle shops looking for advice. Some has been good and some has been bad. Do you have any suggestions for bait, chum, or a better place to go? We mainly go at night on the weekends. Any suggestions or tips would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Tom in St. Pete
Tom: Give the Gandy Friendship Trail Bridge a try; that area has lots of bull sharks after dark, in there feeding on ladyfish attracted by the lights. Best bait is ladyfish, naturally, which you can catch on a small jig. It’s sometimes possible to actually see the sharks cruising the light line, and then pitch a cut ladyfish in front of them. Then, HANG ON! Tight lines. FS
Fort DeSoto Advice
Posted Jul 5, 2007 by Frank Sargeant
Updated Jul 5, 2007 at 08:43 AM
Mr. Sargeant, I have read tons of your articles and have always found them knowledgeable and entertaining. I have recently fished the heck out of Fort DeSoto without very much luck, I’m afraid. I’m just not understanding what’s keeping me from the fish this year. I have heard about better snook fishing a little farther north, but I must be cursed this year. I really need some sure-fire stuff. Can you help me out? - James
James, I’d try getting out there at dawn and walking the beach near Bunce’s Pass, casting ahead as you walk within 5 to 15 feet of the sand. A DOA Shrimp of a Mirrodine would be a good choice. Best action is likely to be on the two or three days just after a new or full moon, on rising tide. Good luck! FS
Northern Areas Yield Good Action
Posted Jun 28, 2007 by Frank Sargeant
Updated Jun 28, 2007 at 02:31 PM
Dear Frank, It is obvious that the saltwater fishing is not so hot above Tarpon, but just once could you guys throw us a bone and show areas in Pasco and Hernando? If there are places to wade above Green Key, we non-boaters would be tickled pink that someone knew we existed. Thank you, Leonard Reiss
Leonard: Fishing is great above Tarpon Springs, and I fish there often. In the past few months we’ve had pieces on the trout fishing up in your area, and on the trout at Homosassa, among others. Of course, wading can be a problem up there, particularly north of Hernando Beach, because of the vast marshes that guard the area. I know quite a few people who do well fishing off the Honeymoon Causeway, north side for trout and around the undercuts for snook. Right now, in that area, best bet would be to go to Honeymoon and fish the beaches for snook—walk all the way up to the north end, fishing as you go, on a rising tide. Cast within 10 feet of the beach ahead of you as you go with a Tsunami 4 inch swimbait or a Mirrodine - you’ll hook up. Tight lines. Frank Sargeant