February 14, 2020
If a fisherman could develop a dream species of fish, it might just be the snook. Snook are large, bony fish that thrive in the coastal and brackish waters of the southern United States all the way to Brazil. It’s an important food source and sportfish. But what also makes them appealing to fishermen is that snook grow rather large, and their body shape allows them to make long and acrobatic runs when hooked. Snook jump clear out of the water numerous times when they are on angler’s lines, and they have bursts of speed that test the drag of any reel. To say they are “lively” on the hook would be an understatement.
They are also fairly easy to develop a pattern for, and take a variety of lures. Small live bait like pinfish are excellent, as are mullet, shrimp and sardines. The most typical technique in deeper water is to fish the bait off the bottom where snook are located using electronic depth finders. Snook can also be caught on fly rods and flies as well as other artificial baits when the bite is really on. A big snook on a flyrod and light line is one of the ultimate angling challenges. Snook like to position themselves facing into moving water and feed on bait carried down to them by the current.
These fish love inshore coastal waters and can often be found in grassbeds, around beaches and structure along the coast as well as mangrove shorelines. The latter may be the most popular spot to find them in numbers. They don’t like cold water and often move to avoid water below 60 degrees.
Florida is a top snook fishery. The state record is 44 pounds, three ounces. The fish are whitish or silver in color, but have a yellow pelvic fin and a long black lateral line that extends all the way to the tail. The fish’s large mouth with protruding lower jaw allows them to scoop up bait easily, which also allows them to be hooked easily.
Snook are available to anglers throughout the waters surrounding the whole state of Florida. Some of the best areas include Snook Alley near Sarasota. This spot is good for day action, but also offers hot night angling because of all the lighted docks and bridges. It’s along the Intracoastal Waterway. Snook are also popular at the Crossroads area near Stuart. Fish hold here from the St. Lucie River all the way into the Indian River, concentrated on the many docks, bridges, jetties and other visible structure.
Tarpon Bend near Ft. Lauderdale gives anglers right near downtown Fort Lauderdale a great spot to catch snook. Fish along the seawalls and docks along the water’s edge. One other spot to try is the Chamber Canal of the Indian River Lagoon waterway system. This huge saltwater lake has lots of mangrove shorelines and canals, pockets and docks as well. Other top areas include Stump Pass near Grove City, Little Card Channel all the way down in the Florida Keys, and Bishop’s Harbor near Tampa Bay.
Snook have been catch-and-release only from the Pasco/Hernando county line south through Gordon Pass in Collier County, including all waters in Hillsborough County as proactive measures due to a red tide. Anglers should check for areas where this may be in effect before keeping their catch to ensure that they follow the rules. One warning about snook: They have razor-sharp gill covers, and should be handled carefully with a good pair of angling gloves to prevent injury, especially if you plan on holding the fish near these gill plates.
Anglers may be interested to know that the slang phrase “snookered” had nothing to do with the fish. It comes from the game invented in India by British military officers as a diversion from billiards. The name also alludes to being in a position of difficulty.
Either way, it’s not always easy to “snooker” a snook, but most of the time they are eager and willing to bite, and give anglers a great fight. Book your snook charter today and get the adventure started!
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