I was poling and sight-fishing a mangrove bank in Flamingo when I saw a gorgeous snook idly swimming just over a cast-length from the bow of the boat. My heartbeat increased immediately and I ducked down so that my profile would not spook the fish or make it uneasy.
I quietly poled a few strokes toward the fish and whispered “11 o’clock at 25 feet” The angler on the port side of the boat laid a perfect cast a few feet in front of the cruising fish with a Gambler Flappin’ Shad. The snook slammed the bait and the fight was on. The fish took a screaming run parallel to the shore. In between runs my client would gain line, only to have it peel more out.
“Keep it out of the trees!” I said. Seconds later, the fish took the line around some mangrove roots and shot along the bank. Now the snook was hooked on the rod and the trees and struggling up near the bank. The angler was from Atlanta and had never even seen, let alone caught a snook in his life.
I laid my push pole on the deck and jumped over board. The water was about waist high, but thankfully the bottom was firm. The angler handed me the rod and I began wading towards the bank and the struggling fish. I reeled as I waded toward the trees. As I approached, the fish took more line and shot behind more roots farther up the bank.
When I got to the mangroves I realized I was never going to unwind the line from all of those roots. I had to act. I kept tension on the line and wedged the rod in the mangrove branches with the rod tip facing the fish. Then I made a mad wading dash towards the fish, which was about 20 feet from me.
When I got to the fish, I made a lunging grab for its bottom lip. I lucked out and got it on the first try. It went crazy! It was splashing a jerking around like mad. I could hardly keep a hold of it. I unhooked the fish, left the rod in the trees and started towards the boat. I waded back to the cheers and celebrations of my anglers.
I handed the snook up for pictures and went back for the rod. (If you look in the far away picture of me with the fish you can see the rod wedged up in the tree on the right of me) I grabbed it out of the tree, untangled it and headed back to the boat. My anglers were ecstatic and excited to go home and tell the story.