Monday, March 28, 2005

A Snookery

We have to give credit to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for rescuing redfish (red drum) and trout (spotted weakfish)in Texas. They were pretty near gone. However, the snook or in Spanish the Robalo is a native species and really needs our help. The South Padre-Port Islabelle area is the only place in the US that has significant numbers snook outside Florida - and few in number at that. This is why I think we need a snook hatchery down here.

For those of you who don't know, a snook is a turbo-powered bass on steroids with a major attitude. Rednecks love to talk about peacock bass from South America and the Amazon but the snook puts them all to shame. Yankees like to talk about how savage bluefish and stripers are, but there's simply no comparison because snook are spooky, wily, powerful and smart. You are lucky to catch one in your lifetime, and catching one is considered to be extremely good luck.

There is quite a business in fishing for snook in the Brownsville Channel and some guides can land you one on light line or better yet a fly rod, the most manly. However, the number of snook hasn't changed much and most folks get no snook because there just aren't many left. This is in spite of wonderful efforts by the guides to release all snook regardless of size - take a picture and let 'er go.

So my idea was to get some university and local folks together to try to raise a whole bunch of snook babies over several years to try to save the species in Texas. The idea would be to actually promote taking legal 24-28 inch snook so people could release them, eat them or mount them, whatever (they taste as good as they look - just watch the gill flaps, they can cut your finger off). So a fish hatchery would be needed, something I smugly call a "snookery."

Don't worry, you have not been snookered. But once you catch the fever - and bag a snook - you won't want to fish for much else. You don't have to go five hours out to sea to get a line pull like that, pound for pound. By comparison catching redfish and trout is like pulling up old boots from the muck. No, the snook deserves far better than that. Either we help the species survive or it will be gone forever.

It would be a darned shame if we did nothing for the South Padre Island snookery.


Anonymous said...

I don't think we know how to raise snook in a hatchery.

Snook generally are plentiful up to the temperature point where they don't like to live. In FL that's about half the state, but will shift south if the winter is cold.

Texas is just barely within the upper range of snook due to the cold fronts that hit during winter. I doubt success would be great, it's a nture thing.

Sam said...

Now that I think about it, you're probably right. I was also a little frustrated because the snook loves the Brownsville Ship Channel, with lots of dock trash and deep water, which is usually "closed" due to Homeland Security measures. Boo! Well, I'm going to hire a guide and try to catch one on an utlra light - I can't fly fish worth beans.

As to the dreaming part, I remember wanting to invest in shrimp and prawn farming (aquaculture) back in the early 1980's. Everyone thought I was a fool (I even grew some Hawaiian prawns in a kiddie swimming pool). Now imported farm shrimp is 80 percent of the US market.

But snook? Probably way too hard to keep those boogers happy in captivity ...

Sam said...
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