There’s an oft-repeated bromide that nothing good happens after 2 a.m., but that’s not necessarily true when it comes to snook fishing.
Snook angler extraordinaire/fishing tackle maker Dave Justice insisted that that’s when he, his son Dillon, 18, employee Greg Shaughnessy and I should test his latest innovation, the SpoolTek, for catching huge linesiders in Jupiter Inlet.
Justice, a Miami native who now lives in Okeechobee, is something of a fishing vampire known for targeting oversized snook in the middle of the night. It’s not uncommon for him to track the nocturnal feeders on the most favorable tides by traveling from North Miami to Fort Pierce in a single trip. So, for our outing, Justice was aiming for the last half of the outgoing tide from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m., following a full moon to demonstrate the power of SpoolTek. We would start in Jupiter but head north if we had to.
In case you haven’t heard of it, SpoolTek is a new fishing lure invented by Justice and his business partner Chris Walsh in 2012. After a frustrating night of hooking and losing a bunch of large snook, the two men designed a plug/swimbait hybrid with a strong stainless steel leader concealed inside the lure’s body on a small spool. When the fish strikes the hook, the spool releases the leader out and away from the lure so the fish can’t use the lure to shake itself free. Though originally intended for snook, Justice says the technology also is effective for other jumpers/shakers such as tarpon, bass and mahi.
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“It’s harder for them to throw the lure, and they can’t see the leader,” Justice said.
Our Jupiter test equipment consisted of nine-inch SpoolTeks in colors of key lime and “electric ladyfish with soft heads and hard bodies fished on Cousins Tackle inshore rods. The reels were loaded with 50-pound braid tied to 30-pound fluorocarbon leader attached to the lures.
“Fluorocarbon is tougher, and it doesn’t reflect light as much,” Justice noted of the moonlit sky.
The three men geared up and began casting the lures into the inlet from shore.
“You pretty much want to throw out and hit the bottom, and walk the lure with the tide, keeping it one to two feet off the bottom,” Justice explained.
At first, the lures got nipped by several of what we believed to be small male snook incapable of inhaling them.
But within about 15 minutes, Dillon hooked a trophy that dashed and thrashed for a few minutes until Shaughnessy could grab the leader.
No one had brought a scale, but you can tell by the photos it was a fatty. Shaughnessy released it, and it swam quickly away.
Over the next three hours, they caught and released four more big snook. The largest, caught by Shaughnessy, probably weighed over 20 pounds.
I got bored watching the men fish and said I wanted to try. Justice handed me a spinning rod with a key lime SpoolTek attached, and I threw it out into the inlet, following the line as it drifted out with the tide.
Within seconds, I felt a little bump, then the line came tight and it was on. I edged along the shore, tracking the fish as Shaughnessy and Dillon rushed up to land it.
Within just a few minutes, we had big snook No. 6, which we photographed and released.
Sometime around 6 a.m., the tide slackened and we got no more bites, so we decided to call it a night, um, morning. After hours of successfully battling monsters, it was time for us vampires to take refuge from the rising sun.