Free Lining Shrimp to Catch Snook

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snook fishing

Free Lining Shrimp to Catch Snook

It’s a safe bet you clicked this article because you’re obsessed with catching more of one kind of fish in particular. The ever-so-elusive snook. That means you’ll want to know all about the techniques that will work best to catch them.

Keep reading and learn what our best way to catch snook with shrimp.

Set Yourself Free with a Free Lining Rig

Using a freeline rig is one of the simplest setups in all of fishing. At its core, a freeline rig set up is just like it sounds: a piece of fishing line tied to a hook. As befitting a strategy so simple, you can use this strategy for almost any kind of fish in any kind of circumstances, especially, while fishing for snook.

There are some complicating factors that generally qualify as free lining and you may want to consider: adding a leader and some swivels between the mainline and the hook is a common technique used in freelining.

The Basics of Free Lining Shrimp to Catch Snook

But consider the wisdom in Keeping It Simple… Snook-fisherperson. The fewer elements, the less things can go wrong and the more time you’ll spend with your line in the water.

Since shrimp are snook-food for all seasons, you really have a lot of flexibility when you’re free lining shrimp to catch snook. Before we dive deeper into all the information about shrimp that will help you better understand why free lining shrimp to catch snook is a good choice, we’ll look at a few of the common locations to fish.

Big snook often like their hiding places. They will actually stick to their favorite spot year long if they are not reproducing, so free lining shrimp makes a lot of sense in those non-seasonal snook spots. Those spots will be where the water always remains a hospitable temperature. This usually means sticking more inland, fishing along jetties and residential docks.

This makes life easier for you too; you can really plan for being sneaky, get to know the area, and give yourself the best shot of catching the monster snook hanging out by your local dock.

Especially at night, when the dock’s light will illuminate some parts of the water. If you look carefully right at that edge of the shadow of the dock, you might be able to see the snook. That allows you to cast your shrimp uptide and let the current serve your bait right up to a hungry fish.

Snook Love Shrimp

Interestingly, snook is one of the most-studied game fish. The folks at Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institution have been doing research and found some very interesting facts pertinent to our subject of freelining shrimp to catch snook.

After evaluating about 700 fish, the scientist have some good news. They discovered about half of the fish still had some food in their bellies. In other words, about ½ of all the snook out there are hungry and ready to hit some bait!

So what was in those fish bellies? The scientists broke down the contents of the snooks’ stomach as follows: out of the 37 species observed as snook dinner, 70% of their diet is fish. Of that 70%, pinfish (20%), anchovy (16%), and our favorite, pink shrimp (13%) added up to about 50% of snook-chow.

In contrast to the pinfish which were targeted based on their size relative to the size of the snook itself, snook were far less discriminating with regard to shrimp. The data says that snook enjoy eating shrimp all year round, in contrast to other more seasonal choices, and that consumption peaks in the winter.

Pink shrimp also generally maintain about the same size all year, and the increased consumption seems to be when there are more shrimp around. That information leads this author to believe that shrimp are the snooks preference, and that hungry snook will always be intrigued by a shrimp that makes it into their vicinity.

Catching Shrimp to Catch Snook

You can go ahead and buy your bait from the local shop, and that’s just fine. If the bait shrimp they’ve got are fat and healthy, you don’t need to splurge on the excess-sized shrimp. However, if those shrimp are looking well… shrimpy, then you might just want to mix up your purchases with some of the selects as well.

If you don’t want to depend on the vagaries of your local bait shop, you could always go one level deeper. Some folks will boss up and catch their own shrimp for free lining shrimp to catch snook themselves.

Go ahead and bait yourself a shrimp trap, leave it in the water for a day, and come back to see what you’ve found. Don’t forget the buoy and proper weighting so that your trap functions as intended. Amusingly, catfood seems to be a popular shrimp bait—so that might be a more reasonable alternative if you really hate to see income go to bait.

Proper Rigging for Freelining Shrimp to Catch Snook

A standard setup often looks like a good-sized live shrimp, a #6 straight hook in the tail, with 30lb test. This would work with no swivel and since this setup doesn’t have a lot of give to it, you might consider easing off the drag a bit, so the hookup doesn’t end up too severe and you end up losing the fish at the strike.

Of course, a lot of folks will add a small swivel, a couple small split weights, with a 12-20” leader too. That might make for a more durable setup, but freelining is really about simplicity—it might just be that as few accoutrements between the snook, shrimp, and you will make an attractive presentation to these picky fish.

What’s important when freelining is to allow yourself the most leeway to present a convincing shrimp. Whether that means using live baits and carefully hooking up a live shrimp

Hooking Up the Shrimp

There are some little details to pay attention to when you are setting up a freelining rig to catch snook. Not over-hooking your bait seems to be worth keeping on your mind. You don’t want the hook to weigh down the shrimp; living shrimp float and swim, and don’t fall right to the bottom.

On that same subject it’s important to hook the shrimp the right way for you. Because shrimp shoot backwards when they’re in distress, you can easily replicate this with your set up. Just follow a popular option for dead shrimp and hook it on the back end/tail, and you can manually simulate the shrimp fleeing by pulling back on the line yourself.

Living shrimp present a different challenge. There’s a way to hook shrimp without killing them, and there are good directions and more importantly, handy diagrams here.

What to Do if You Caught A Tagged Snook

If you end up catching a tagged snook, the good folks at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (try saying that 5 times fast) are offering up T-shirts as a reward. In the furtherance of science and snook-fishing, FFWCCFWRI offers up some directions to help them help you catch more snook (in the long run).

It’s a Keeper

If you’re going to end up keeping the fruits of your labor (and knowledge you gained from reading about how to freelining shrimp to catch snook on this site), the good folks as you do the following:

  • Record tag number, total length, date, and location of fish capture.
  • Call in or email the capture information to the Angler Tag Return Hotline (800) 367-4461 or tagreturn@MyFWC.com.
  • Mail the tag to to the address below:


Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Fish and Wildlife Research Institute
Attention: Snook Tag
100 8th Avenue SE
St. Petersburg, FL 33701-5020

  • Remember to include your return address and t-shirt size!

Catch and Release

If your success freelining shrimp to catch snook is a reward enough in itself and you’re eating something else for dinner, they ask that you

  • DO NOT remove the tag
  • Share the capture information (tag number, length, date, and location) to the same hotline and phone number as above: Angler Tag Return Hotline,
    (800) 367-4461 or tagreturn@MyFWC.com
  • Still include your return address and t-shirt size as you too are t-shirt eligible

Go Catch A Snook!

Being cognizant of the rules and the fish population is really most important part of fishing, and free lining shrimp to catch snook is no fun if tag limits go down or the fish have a tough time surviving. So consider following all the rules and regs and happy fishing!

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