Dock Light Fly Fishing for Snook | 3 Guide Secrets to Make it Easy
There's not a whole lot more exciting than tossing a fly into a school of snook silhouettes, watching your fly twitch near the surface, and the adrenaline of one breaking away from the group to chase your fly. With as visual as the entire process is, the 'take' is just the icing on top of the cake (which can be pretty easy to get, once you've already got them chasing).
And the best part is: it's pretty dang easy for beginners!
Last night was no exception, as beautiful Anna Maria Island in Florida could make a case for the best dock light snook fishing in the world. No joke.
With a pile of snook hovering around one of my honey-holes, we stalked our way up quietly from the boat. Katrina was bound and determined to catch her first snook on the fly, and it didn't take long before we made that dream a reality, as is the case more often than not.
But how do we get the snook to take a fly so consistently at night?
Here are 3 secrets and tips to making the most out of a dock light fly fishing adventure for snook!
#1: STEALTH. This is easily the most important aspect of dock light fishing on the fly for snook. Whether you're approaching the dock by boat or actually fishing from the dock, everything must be done quietly and efficiently. If approaching by boat, cut the engine and quietly set the anchor to avoid spooking fish. If approaching from the dock, walk quietly and set tackle down quietly.
The advantage to fishing dock lights is that you can get relatively close without spooking the fish, but loud noises are a killer--and you'll be able to see it as the silhouettes will disappear in a hurry, much to your chagrin.
#2: PRESENTATION. This part is a little trickier than the stealth part, but none-the-less just as important. The main thing we want to do with our presentation is ensure a soft landing of the fly, to prevent from spooking the fish.
I prefer to have my clients cast just past the light and aim high to prevent the fly from 'slapping' the water.
Once the fly is in the water, let it sit for a second or two and then begin to strip it back steadily. You will see fish turn toward your fly: DO NOT STOP STRIPPING. Continue the same steady motion as the fish follows and wait for a slight tug. When you feel that, give it a solid strip-set, feel the weight of the fish and then prepare to fight! (Make sure to enjoy and soak up the adrenaline here!)
NOTE: even if you make a poor cast or one that you want back, ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS be sure not to just rip the fly out of the water and recast. Slowly strip it back in to a good restart point for you cast and try again. You will save yourself many headaches and spooked fish in the long run--patience is a virtue.
#3 THE FIGHT / AND PROPER TACKLE. This last tip is two fold. When you are fishing dock lights, obviously there is a dock and/or pilings you need to worry about. The key is to keep the fish from getting underneath and wrapping you around structure. This is where proper gear and tackle comes into play.
Make sure to use, at the minimum, an 8 weight fly rod and a reel with sufficient drag to prevent the fish from running. (IMPORTANT NOTE: do not let your slack line just zip out of your hand only to snap to a complete stop once it hits your drag. This, more often than not, breaks the fish off from the shock of the stop. Ease the line back to your drag if you're going to use the reel.)
I prefer to use at least 30 lb. mono test line for my leader with a 20-25 lb. fluorocarbon tippet section about two feet long (this prevents the abrasive pads in the snook's jaws from fraying your line and breaking off).
The key here is to not to be afraid to horse the fish and be in control of the fish at all times. Keep him away from the dock pilings and you will be on your way to bringing in a prized fish in no time!
Tight lines and remember to keep em' wet!