Hunting For Snook with OnX Hunt
Digital mapping software such as OnX
has revolutionized the way we hunt. Smart hunters spend hours searching for new hunting areas, as well as scouring their old spots in search of a small detail that they’ve been missing in order to seal the deal on this year’s target buck. However, did you know you can utilize these same tools to help you catch more fish?
Years ago, I found myself in Florida in search of a Snook. A species of fish that I’d never seen before but watching saltwater anglers catch them appealed to me and there was no better time than now to try my luck and landing such a beautiful fish. Sure, I could take a charter boat, spend thousands of dollars and maybe get lucky. Or, I could put my digital scouting skills to the test in a way in which I’d never down before.
So, I skipped the chartered trip, saved thousands of dollars, and decided to rent a couple of spinning rods and hit the water in search of snook by myself. With a little digital scouting on my OnX Hunt app, was on my way to “hunt” for snook. After researching how and where snook are likely to be, I found an area that met my needs, a mangrove tree-lined shore that most people aren’t going to reach because of the long walk to the water’s edge.
With a cooler full of drinks and a backpack full of gear, I reached the water’s edge and it looked better than I had imagined. Calm water, cover, and vegetation. The walk was long and the swarms of mosquitoes were miserable, but it helped me pick up the pace. I was surprised by how many turtles I ran into on my hike, so that made for a cool experience as well. But first, let me tell you how I found this spot on OnX to begin with.
What was I looking for in a place to fish for a snook in state that I’d never been in and fishing for a species of fish that I’d never laid eyes on? The first thing I did was talk to locals. I wanted to know what was biting and a general idea of where to start. That was simple. The snook were biting near Honeymoon Island, all I needed was a kayak to reach them. I got on my OnX Hunt App to scout around the island and found a unique peninsula that didn’t have a boat ramp and only had one access location for foot traffic. Just like hunting public land, most people aren’t going to go the extra mile and this trail was longer than I wanted to walk even. The area needed to be secluded, yet accessible by foot, with calm, shallow water and mangrove trees. Next, the area would need to have quick and easy access to deeper water as big fish like to have a safe getaway if things go sideways in a hurry. OnX helped me find the perfect spot that even the kayakers weren’t likely to reach due to the long paddle from the nearest boat ramp.
As luck would have it, the first fish of the day was a 26-30” snook that put up one heck of a fight a rented spinning rod and reel. As exciting as the first fish of the day was, the second snook was 38” and fought even harder. Little did I know just how rare a fish of this caliber would be, as it was only the second snook that I’d ever seen.
This fishing spot yielded other species as well, such as catfish, mullet snapper, black-tip sharks, stingrays, and some type of jackfish. I had the huge bay to myself and it was nice to watch a pod of dolphins surface in the distance throughout the day.
I have to thank Jake from Belleair Bait and Tackle Co. for hooking me up with rod rentals and a bait bucket. Trying to fly across the country with your fishing gear isn’t an easy task, but thankfully Jake had everything I needed to make the best out of the trip. Renting a charter wasn’t in the budget this year and shipping our gear down here wasn’t practical, so renting our gear was a great option. The equipment held up great and helped me knock a new species of saltwater fish off my bucket list.
Photo: That’s not me, just a snook of similar size caught by a guy that I don’t know. For more information on how to use OnX Hunt to find more fish, check out this blog post