As a Melbourne, FL resident for the past 28 years, it should be no surprise to hear that I enjoy spending my free time on the water. I can recall fishing the Melbourne Beach pier as a kid and landing my first speckled sea trout… I’ve been hooked ever since. Even though I have fished the Indian River Lagoon and Sebastian Inlet for most of my life, I never really caught anything worth bragging about. For decades, I have tried to convince myself that it’s a numbers game, and if I put in the time, the fish will come. As of Saturday, October 29th 2022, I have learned it’s not all up to chance.
For the past few years, I have become increasingly determined to catch the “big one.” I went out at higher frequency, attempted hard to reach locations, and tried every strategy I could find on YouTube. Nothing seemed to work as well as live shrimp off of Mathers Bridge. I began asking friends for recommendations on charter captains and would consistently hear one name over the others. Having been on a few charters previously, I was hesitant to pull the trigger. They were all a great time, but unable to deliver a respectable game fish.
We met at the Grant boat ramp just before sunrise. I immediately recognized his boat was like no other I’ve seen. This was no pleasure cruiser; it is a beast of a sport fishing machine. Within minutes we were at our first location off one of the chain islands. I was interested to see if he did anything different than me and watch as he rigs the line. Nothing special… circle hook with a loop knot on a mono leader. I noticed that he did hook the bait in a place I usually would not. He casts then hands me the rod. With the dawn about to break over the horizon, I can feel the bait getting nervous on the line, then… fish on!
The rod is bent and the drag is screaming. Unexpectedly, the fish explodes out of the water going aerial. At this point, I can only tell that it is silver in color and large. My initial thought was that it was a big lady fish or a juvenile tarpon. Maybe a trout? After a great fight with multiple acrobatic performances, we land the fish. It’s a snook, and it’s in slot. Holy shit! I’m no expert, but I didn’t know snook would do that. What a great start for the day! How could it get any better? We threw out another bait and waited another five or ten minutes before moving on.