It was the Blood Moon, full moon portion of this month, which also brought a lunar eclipse. So Bently and I figured we would head down to the Keys and try for some evening trout.
Got to the spot around 4pm and took our time to unload, no rush as the bite doesn’t usually turn on for another few hours. The paddle out was assisted by our two faced friend/enemy, the current. I guess it has more faces than that, but whatever face, it’s grouped within those two. Today it was great. BAM we’re there. We proceed to work the usual areas with the help of Spock narrating the journey in my head, in this episode we were “In Search Of…the gator trout”. Shallow wouldn’t you know it, the tide is low, and incoming, so there isn’t much to be seen. Looking at the Suns position, I’m starting to sense things could get good. With the combination of the tide and full moon on the rise (which I didn’t know at the time, but soon found out as it lit up the sky after the sun dimmed it out) things did quickly turn on.
I went towards the nearby channel to take a few casts up in the mangroves. Had to anchor up with the current giving a good push. I had a new Live Target 3″ 1/4 oz shrimp in sand color that I had been wanting to try, rigged up on my light rod, primarily for trout. As well as a DOA Airhead in Arkansas Glow color rigged on my medium rod, which I was throwing first.
It only took a few casts to get hit on the Airhead. The first two hits, I missed. On the next one, I managed to be quick enough and pulled in a 20″ soapfish. Alright, ice breaker! As you can see, the Airhead got turned inside out so I just put that rod down and grabbed the light Star Plasma with the Live Target to give it a go.
It only took 3 casts and BAM! What a hit! Set the hook and let the drag peel! WHOA, not too much! Tighten the drag a few clicks when the fish makes a run to the mangroves. Turn it around back towards the channel, takes some line, fight it back, get it in the net. Whoooo, landed! It’s another nice soapfish! Measuring in at 29″ and I’d say around 8 or 9 lbs.
Jigalode Fun Fact: Snook are also known as robalo, linesiders, and sergeant fish. In the past they were known as “soapfish” when some sections of the “soapy” tasting skin were left on the fillets due to poor cleaning practices.
-Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commision
This light Plasma rod is becoming a fish catcher. Lucky rod almost? I don’t know. This fish was a keeper, and I was keeping it. I’ve been on a mission to try a snook for the last 3 years, and have never been lucky within season. I hear its the best fish to eat, and I can finally try.
Back to fishing.
The little Live Target was still getting smacked on every cast. That great trout bite that I’ve been missing is ON. No gators but all upper slot. They seem to like this shrimp. Seems like they’re giving DOA a run for the money today! Next cast, BAM!, slack…cuda. Shoot. Took my only damn Live Target. At $2.25 per shrimp, those things are expensive, but no worries, on goes an old trusty Figi Chicken DOA shrimp, looped on in no time and make sure to throw the rattle in. Any help is always useful, especially in the low light conditions.
With the full moon, these live shrimp are moving all over the place. I had a few jump into my kayak, they were everywhere! In no time, I’m back to casting, and back to catching. The trout were eating the DOA just as quick. I caught a total of 7 or 8 decent sized trout which was fun, as they dance so nice.
I bomb another cast but this time let the shrimp sink to the bottom. As I check my phone for the time, I pick my rod back up and twitch the shrimp which is now sitting on the bottom when all of a sudden…DRAGGGG PEEEEEEL.
I give it a good yank to make sure the hook is set as the fish darts straight up the channel edge. Judging by the way the bent rod tip is pointed, I’m pretty sure the fish has my line around some kind of branch, but it just keeps running. I loosen my drag a bit in hopes to lessen any wear on my 10# braid. The fish is still at it, then it stops. I pull on the rod and snap!
Wonder what it was. By the tug, I’m guessing it could have been either a snook or a grouper. I have caught groupers here before, and the way the shrimp was just sitting there, it seems a grouper saw it and picked it up. Whatever it was, it would have been the catch of the day for sure. Oh well, maybe it’s not my lucky rod after all. I guess a light rod with 20# leader isn’t what you want to go into battle near the mangroves with, but it came through for me on this trip.
The snook was good. I don’t know if I would call it the best fish I have had, but it was good. Nice to finally get something I have been after for so long. Chef Bently hooked up the catch something spectacular.
All respect to mother nature and to one of the most amazing fish out there, the soapfish.