Posted by: 1000fish | July 18, 2019

Pictures of Other People With Big Snook

Dateline: February 23, 2019 – Bertioga, Brazil

No matter which one of my three steady readers is looking at this, you well know that I have had some brilliant days fishing the central coast of Brazil, but that most of these happened before the 1000fish blog era. What you all remember about Brazil are some terrible fails, including an inexplicable cold front in mid-summer, and me somehow catching a world record stingray while I wasn’t wearing any clothes. Still, I couldn’t stand the idea of going there and not fishing.

I would be in Sao Paulo on business, and over a weekend, there is not much for a foreigner to do there, unless they are single and/or attractive, fill in your own punchline here. I have explored most of the freshwater options in the area, but the Atlantic is only an hour away from downtown, in perfect traffic conditions, which happened once in 1958. I called old friend Ian-Arthur Sulocki, and through his complex net of contacts, I ended up finding Thomas Schmidt, who guides snook trips in Bertioga. He has helped pioneer the use of plastic baits in the area, and his photo album speaks for itself.

The first photo I saw of Thomas. This got my attention.

I stayed up well past my bedtime going through his website – www.pescarobalo.com.br

I was hoping this was his deckhand. (Note from Marta – Go for it. I’m sure she’ll be impressed by your Honda Pilot.)

I have caught all the snook species in the area, but no trophies, and the idea of flipping swimbaits for a day in beautiful scenery was definitely appealing. Of course, my unique fishing needs took quite a bit of explaining, especially considering that I speak no Portuguese, but Ian jumped in and helped Thomas understand that there really are people who want to catch blennies. (It’s never easy to explain that size doesn’t matter.)

In the days before I would be heading out with Thomas, old friend Cris Bernarde texted me some photos from South Florida. I’ve never caught a snook close to this big. My time had to be coming.

And on a fly rod.

This is practically in his front yard.

Saturday morning broke clear and beautiful, although far too early. Math was never my strong suit, and it hadn’t occurred to me that staying up until 3am with buddies was a really bad idea when I had a 4:30am wakeup call. On the drive to the coast, I blearily enjoyed a bit of scenery, mostly involving pre-carnival walks of shame, but I pretty much slept the entire way. We got to Bertioga at 6:30, and Thomas was ready and waiting for me.

The central coast of Brazil has a unique beauty – forest right down to the water’s edge on endless rock dome islands. Every one of them looks full of fish.

I love it here.

We motored a few miles and started throwing plastics at a likely shoreline. I got a few taps, which of course exhausted my patience, so I switched over to shrimp just to see what was down there. I got the usual suspects – croakers, catfish, and blennies. I smiled as I remembered getting all of these for the first time, almost 20 years ago, just a few hours to the north. Brazil was the sixth country where I caught a fish, and even with 88 more since then, the place has never lost its wonder for me.

The blennies are remarkably savage for their size.

I went back the plastics intermittently, and we cast our way through the morning, moving from reef to reef and island to island. We had a few strikes, but nothing to write home about. Around 11, I got my first and only snook of the day – a fish about which I am justifiably modest.

This did not bode well for my trophy hunt.

I went back to live bait on the reefs and caught a dozen nice black margate on an ultralight.

These things fight hard.

Now and then, I recharged my confidence by looking at Thomas’ photos.

From the week before I was there. The fish just had to be there.

Then I would throw plastics for an hour and not get a big snook. Thomas worked hard, moving from spot to spot, but I would eventually regress into bait fishing for the small stuff that was running around in the shallows. There was plenty of action – the area is loaded with puffers and the occasional blenny.

I caught dozens of these. Note that Thomas is almost keeping a straight face.

The same porkfish we get in Florida, but they always make a beautiful picture.

I dutifully photographed everything, but as it turns out, only one of the fish – the very smallest – was a new species – the aptly-named Brazilian blenny.

Thanks to Dr. Alfredo Carvalho for the ID.

Thomas would have fished into the evening, but I needed to be back in Sao Paulo for a business dinner, so we had to wrap it up around four. With about an hour to go, he found a likely-looking reef about a mile offshore, and, optimism intact, we set to it. The snook just weren’t going to cooperate. But I had a light rod and a lot of shrimp, so I decided to enjoy myself. I got another mixed bag of margates and croakers.

Good fishing is good fishing. I’ll get the snook next time.

Thomas pulled up a beautiful Lane snapper.

Steve and Thomas. Go fishing with this guy if you’re in the area – he was great.

As if I wasn’t irritated enough by Cris’ photos, in the weeks before I published this missive, I got another reminder that other people were catching large snook. Randomly, Adrian Gray from the IGFA, who you all remember from “The Editor-in-Chief,” proudly and innocently sent me shots of what looked like an epic snook trip for him and his girlfriend, Gina.

Adrian’s unsolicited snook.

Yes, hers is bigger. And she’s a lot better-looking than Adrian.

This is the kind of thing I would have done to be mean to someone, usually Jim LaRosa, but Adrian’s intentions were pure. I too would have been proud to catch snook that big, and would have sent photos to everyone I know and shown them to strangers on airplanes. My time will come. (Note – I have been to Florida in the interim, and that trip was also not my time, so by my math, my time should be getting closer.)

So the pessimists among you will remember this post as a bunch of pictures of other people with big snook, but I will remember it as another chance I had to spend a day fishing in a beautiful location that I have loved for years. Sure, I only got one species, but if I happen to finish my career with exactly 2000, this would be a pretty important catch – just like every one of them.

Steve

 


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