Jerry McBride of Jensen Beach, Florida. is quite the well-known expert angler for the gator speckled trout that cruise the Indian River Lagoon.
Currently the angler is on a personal quest for a 40-inch trophy trout, as he has already taken more than just a few of this species at 30 inches and more. Admittedly his largest, a 15-pounder, was taken some years back.
More recently, however, McBride experienced the delight of catching and releasing some of the longest snook caught and released in recent years. Two of them would have broken the current all-tackle IGFA length record of 109 centimeters, had McBride measured them with the official IGFA ruler.
All of these monster snook were taken on Egret Baits.
Snook No. 1
It was the afternoon of Thursday, April 3 when McBride steered his Hobie kayak into the South Fork of the St. Lucie Estuary near Stuart.
“It was actually the first time I fished the Egret Baits Bone Mo-Flash, 3.5-inch Wedgetail Mullet,” he said. “I had it rigged on the ¼-ounce Egret Baits’ red Beer Belly jighead.
According to the angler, the tide was almost dead low, which aided McBride in later landing this fish.
“When I hooked her, she went through the bridge pilings and then tried to cut the line in the mangrove root systems and oysters,” he said. “But thanks to the low tide, she was too big to reach the shallow water under the mangroves.”
After bringing the prized snook to the kayak, McBride measured her at almost 46 inches in length and estimated she weighed in the low 30s.
“I was very lucky as there was a youngster fishing on shore about 75 yards away. He took some great shots with my camera before I released her. Typical old snook from the South Fork, very dark and kinda skinny,” he said.
Snook No. 2
Prior to leaving for a writers conference on May 10, McBride had spied a huge snook cruising shallow flats in the Indian River Lagoon. He never had the time to have a try at this fish before the trip, however.
“She was very distinctive due to her width and light color. She snuck up behind me twice in knee-deep water, and I never got a shot at her,” McBride said.
Upon return from the conference, McBride had his chance again at the fish on Monday, May 19.
“I saw her twice that afternoon, and I was careful not to spook her when she swam past me,” he said.
McBride decided to give the area a rest and let the fish settle down while the tide dropped, landing a couple good trout a quarter-mile away before sneaking back to where he’d seen the big snook.
“The tide had dropped, so I switched to a VuDu shrimp I rigged weedless. I caught her blind-casting in a small area where the big girls consistently stage around the tide change,” he said.
“I hooked her on an Egret Baits’ 3.25-inch tiger VuDu Shrimp. I rigged the VuDu weedless on a 2/0 short neck weighted worm hook. ”
According to McBride, this snook was photographed and measured with assistance from a couple of friends, including Capt. Michael Connor, publisher and editor-in-chief of Fly & Light Tackle Angler.
Its length was a little over 43 inches – almost 3 inches shorter than McBride’s snook taken on April 3. But both Conner and McBride estimated the snook to be in the 40-pound class.
“I’ve caught longer snook, but we’d never seen one nearly as wide across the shoulders,” McBride said. “Mike and I both put the snook in the 40-pound class, which I wouldn’t have thought possible for a 43-inch snook. She unfortunately had a very short tail section, but was otherwise absolutely massive.”
According to the IGFA website, McBride’s second snook would have slightly bettered the current 109-centimeter catch-and-release all-tackle length record.
In retrospect, the angler’s previous snook taken on April 3 would have broken the record by an amazing 7 centimeters.
“The guy at the IGFA tells me I need to buy their $45 ruler,” McBride laughed. “But the record I’d love to break is the 17-7 world-record trout that was caught here about 20 years ago.”
Snook No. 3
Two days later, McBride was again paddling on the Indian River Lagoon.
“I only saw one big snook all morning. She blew up on a mullet in a shallow trough,” McBride said.
This time, McBride had an Egret Baits 4-inch gold VuDu Shrimp tied to his line, and three casts later he was in a battle with yet another giant snook.
“This snook jumped a whole bunch, and shook her head harder than any snook I’d caught before,” he said. “I didn’t work her hard because I could see my line was shredded due to her abrasive teeth and razor-sharp gill plates. It actually took longer to land her than the two bigger fish.”
“She measured 39 inches,” he said. “A very nice lady just happened to paddle by and shot a few pictures before I turned her loose.”
Besides using Egret Baits as his lures, McBride used the following tackle components in catching his three trophy snook: an Aqua Dream ADS72S8/15 rod; an Okuma 35S Helios reel; 10-pound PowerPro Slick braid; and 30-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon leader.
For more information on all Egret Baits products, visit: www.egretbaits.com.
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