Patience pays off with monster snook tale
"OK, it can be a little boring," admits Captain John Griffith when it comes to catching the monster snook that he's famed for locating. "You're a hero or a zero because some days you wait all day for that one big bite and it never comes." In fact, says Griffith, he usually only takes long-time customers on his "monster trips" because they have learned that patience pays off when it comes to waiting until the giant snook, over 40 inches long, get ready to eat. Patience paid off once again a week ago Saturday when angler Matthew Gleich and his uncle, Robert Gleich, both of Tampa and regular customers of Griffith, caught one of the biggest linesiders Griffith has seen in years. "My anglers have caught maybe 75 to 100 snook over 40 inches in my 20 years of guiding, and this was one of the biggest I've ever had my hands on," said Griffith. "She was not only long, but she was deep, really thick, just a super healthy fish that looked young, not old and beat up like most are that get to that length."Matthew, who is a special-needs angler, had already brought a 36-inch snook to the boat, all the trophy anyone could ask for. But not long after that fish had been released, the giant struck. "I had a hundred yards of 20-pound-test braid on the reel, on top of a bunch of mono, and the fish went way down into the mono on the first run, to where we could see the bare spool—I knew it had to be a really big one," said Griffith. He said the fish came about half-way out of the water three times, but never tried to run into the mangroves as many fish do. "She just kept going for open water, and that allowed Matt to wear her down," says Griffith. Griffith had no tape long enough to measure the fish and no scales adequate to weigh her, but he estimated the length at 46 to 48 inches, and weight well into the 30-pound class. "A lot of people look at a 36-inch fish and think it weighs 40 pounds, but they don't come close," said Griffith. "This fish, with the combination of length and girth, easily went into the 30's." Griffith says his success with giant fish is no accident. He regularly targets the big ones, and depends on a combination of stealth and patience to get them. "I chum a lot with live sardines to scout, and when I see a big fish come up on a bait, I mark that spot to come back to again and again—the big ones usually stay in the same area for months at a time, winter or summer—about the only time they move a lot is around the spawn, and then afterwards they come back to the same area," says Griffith. When he gets on a known big-fish hole, he "camps". "These old fish have seen a lot of baits, and they aren't going to just eat the first sardine that lands close to them most of the time," he said. "I position the boat, I keep quiet, and I sit until the big fish I know is there gets ready to eat—it may be two hours in that spot without a pop and then it happens." Griffith said he often finds larger fish in the deepest holes on the lower end of mangrove creeks. "They seem to bite most often on incoming tide, and a lot of times from 2 to 3 p.m., I don't have any idea why," says Griffith. He said in this case, both large snook were in an area that was loaded with nice trout. "We caught maybe 20 trout before the first snook, so it made a good day for Matt," says Griffith. He said he typically uses an Owner Gorilla light J hook in 1/0 size and a length of 30-pound-test fluorocarbon leader, plus sardines around 4 to 5 inches long. For details, Griffith can be reached at (813) 263 2785.