Snook are one of the most sought after game fish in Florida. Florida is the only state in the U.S. that has a snook population. They are a sub-tropical fish which can not tolerate water temperatures of much less than 55 degrees. This is why they are usually only targeted during the warm months (March through November). The best time to catch snook is early spring through early summer with the best months being April and June. April is prime time due to the fact that snook have spent the winter far up in the warmer creeks and rivers or offshore over the deeper reefs and have been in a state of lethargy. Once spring starts to come they move out onto the shallows of the flats and start gorging to fatten up. The snook will feed heavily up until late May and early June when the will move out to the larger passes to spawn. The spawning grounds will be stacked up with hundreds and sometimes thousands of male and female snook awaiting the full moon tides in order to release their spawn out into the ocean. Its around this time that snook catches can skyrocket into the 50 plus fish a day range. The snook will average about 3 lbs. With some topping them scales at 10 – 25 lbs. With the light tackle that I use they are surely a blast to catch.
A typical day snook fishing would start out by netting greenbacks (a species of sardine) with a cast net. This usually takes about thirty minutes to load my well with hundreds of these. We then travel to a snook hole where we will anchor out and I will start to use the greenbacks for chumming. I take a half dozen or so and squeeze them slightly to stun them and then toss them out to where the snook bunched up either in a pothole out on the flat or in a small pass along the mangroves. Then you will here the infamous loud “pop” as a snook rises to the surface and inhales the greenbacks that are fluttering on the surface. Now it is show time. I then bait up a 8 ft spinning rod loaded with 10 lb test and cast into the frenzied snook. In a matter of seconds another load crash will be heard as your line tightens and the drag starts to scream. The snook will then go airborne with acrobatic leaps and jumps. Once the snook realizes it is hooked it will then seek out the nearest structure to make a run for as you try to turn the fish and keep him on. If the snook makes it to the mangrove roots or any other structure nearby he will try to part your line by running around it. This is where your angling skills will be put through the test. If you manage to turn the linesider away from his freedom you may then experience another two or three runs of the drag as the snook struggles. Then if all goes well the beautiful fish will turn up boatside ready for a photo for your memories. The process is then repeated over and over for you and your guests’ pleasure.
Next Article: Cobia Fishing Tampa Bay