Snook: How to Catch the Elusive Species

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Snook: How to catch the elusive species

Snook: How to Catch the Elusive Species

Snook: How to Catch the Elusive Species

The thrill of the chase, a hard-fought battle, and a tasty meal are what lure anglers into the world of fishing for snook. This wily fish varies its habitats, is known for its finicky feeding habits and presents a challenge to even professional anglers. 

What do you really need to know about snook to catch them? We’ll cover the basics here, as well as 5 hacks to catch snook in Florida.

Keeping up with the Common Snook

jensen beach snook fishing

So, if you’re wondering first, where is the best place to catch Snook, you might never get a real answer. The Gulf Coast of Florida to North Carolina is its North American stomping grounds. And Costa Rica is where Rafael Montalvo caught the IGFA World Record 53lb 10oz fish. 

Even closer to their evolutionary home, the hermaphroditic fish are widely known through the waters of South America. And you can find them all the way down to Brazil. 

Not satisfied with being able to be just male or female, the snook can live in, salt, brackish, and freshwater too. But no matter what country you are in, this gender-bending fish is a favorite for food. 

So what does it take to get one on the table? Continue reading snook: how to catch the elusive species.

Sneaky Snook: The Best Way To Catch Snook

You will find snook in different places at different times in the year. In the winter-time, these temperature sensitive fish need warm water to survive. So you’ll find the escaping the cold in estuary systems, structures near the shore, and in residential canals. 

Come spring, these fish are still timid because a cold snap can be deadly. But when summer rolls around, they expand their territory from the flats, to the passes and the beach. But before we give any seasonal tips, let’s look at the equipment you might need. 

Understanding the changes in their location & demeanor is vital to understanding Snook. Determining whether or not to use live bait or lures for snook all depends on what time of year you’re fishing. 

Loaded for Snook

Do you need just ONE set-up that will work for you all year? TWell, if you’re looking for the best way to catch Snook, then get yourself a casting rod 7-8 feet long. Equip it with a reel with fast or extra fast action, and you’ll be equipped to handle even the biggest snook that might need 30 or 40lb test. 

But if you want, you can use spinning tackle. Just beware conditions where you might want a little more leverage. And you can go even lighter than that. 

Some folks even use fly-fishing strategies with heavy rods (like the 12 weight tarpon and billfish variety) to present crabs and shrimps for adventurous top-feeding snook. 

When it comes to Snook and how to catch the elusive species, as long as your equipment can handle the fish, your proficiency is what really matters.

Snook Sensitive Line and Leader Setups 

Different circumstances require different set ups. When it comes to snook: how to catch the elusive species, you might ask yourself. How serious are you? 

Monofilament Leader

On a budget? Top-feeding and high-water column lures work well with 30lb monofilament with soft plastic lures or bucktail jigs. 

This line has some stretch and is tough enough to stand up to structures, where thinner braided lines might leave you frustrated and jig-less after casting into rough terrain. 

It’s probably best to back up this thicker line with the lightest leader you can. Within reason, of course.

Follow the (Fluorocarbon) Leader

If you’ve got the wallet to match your determination, 25lb fluorocarbon line is the modern preference for leader material. It will stand up to the most abuse. And it will transfer strikes with much more precision than the stretchy mono. Which makes setting the hook that much easier. 

However, when you’re researching after reading snook: how to catch the elusive species, read the fine print of the product description before you buy. 

Not all fluorocarbon line contain the same amount of material. 100% fluorocarbon will be the most expensive. But when you’ve got one moment to set the hook, you might want the advantages fluorocarbon line offers.

The (Up-)Braided Line for Snook: How to Catch the Elusive Species

A 20lb test braided line is considered the “best” upgrade for most anglers after snook. 

Pair that with a 40lb fluorocarbon leader and consider yourself equipped for 90% of situations. 

However, part of why you’re reading snook: how to catch the elusive species is so you can avoid the annoying hiccups that cost precious fishing minutes. 

Secret Tips that Save You Fish

One of the downsides is that the braided line is susceptible to “wind knots” during saltwater fishing, especially with lures such as a topwater plug or live bait.

This is when the line is moving faster than your artificial lures. That makes a loop. And that loop will form a knot. 

However, if you keep your finger near the line while you cast, you can use it to slow the line’s release just enough that your lure takes the lead and you end up with the perfect cast. And a quick-learning snook: how to catch the elusive species reader and angler like yourself will pick up this technique in no time at all (if you struggle with this don’t worry. Time is relative anyway). 

Avoid other hairy situations and keep a sharp eye on your line. Line that looks abraded (hairy) might choose to fail at just the wrong moment. So there’s nothing wrong with stern quality control about the condition of your fishing line.

Snook In Season 

One of the endearing qualities to the snook fish is that they offer you variety. How so? Well, season to season, and spot to spot, different techniques will earn you different results. 

Just like leaving the house wearing the right clothes for the weather, it wouldn’t be fair to send you out having read snook: how to catch the elusive species without including some deets about seasonal techniques. 

Spring Into Snook

You can fish all year for snook: but boy are these fish hungry in spring. In early spring, follow the warming water right into the edges of the flats outside the deeper rivers, channels and canals. You’ll see how these fish are right at the openings of the canals and backwaters.  And as it warms up the fishing only gets better. 

Snook: How to Catch the Elusive Species at Their Horniest

In late springtime, the snook abandon their elusive ways. And this is the only time of year that they do it. 

As part of the cycle of spawning, egg-laying, and egg-placement, snook congregate into whirling schools of aggressive fishy mayhem. These schools will number if not the thousands, and they are extremely aggressive. 

Lay out any good snook jig and the chances are a fish will hit it with prejudice. This is an exciting time for snook fishing… maybe you want to plan around it? 

Summertime Snook

With the waters reaching their warmest point, the snook are in their element. Snook enjoy water with temperatures as high as 90 degrees. Which makes for sweaty fishing. 

Summer is one of the hardest seasons to catch snook. The pros know that wherever water is “choked” and then flows out into an open bay area is prime snook placement as always. 

Check the deeper water as well. When you’re thinking about snook: how to catch the elusive species, don’t underestimate the fish. They’ll go for shade or deeper water to cool down a bit too. 

Snook: How to Catch the Elusive Species in the Fall

Fall is kinder both to you and the snook. Temperatures are coming down. That means less of a chance of heatstroke for you not to mention less stress for the fish. But it also means that the fish that previously occupied the flats and beaches retreat back to find their winter home. 

Snook are gearing up for a long, cold winter. And that means that they’re ready to eat anything. If you’re a fly fisher-person: now is your moment. The fish are aggressive enough to go up and get bait presented by fly fishing techniques.

The Winter of Fishing Snook to Your Content

In the winter, the fish have abandoned their liminal hangouts and are solidly ensconced in nearshore waters, or deep inside the estuaries and springs. Now is the time to get residential with the fish and hang out in the canals that are their home. 

The docks provide shelter and attract the shrimp and crabs that make good snook food. In the winter, snook: how to catch the elusive species becomes a bit clearer, if not easier. 

The fish will occupy almost any dock, but that is no guarantee they are hungry. Although, a diligent snook hunter knows that perseverance pays off. And there might be monster sized fish living under a dock near you. This time of year, the fish are pickier, but shrimp is their favorite food and is a safe bet. 

Snook: How to Catch the Elusive Species with Live Bait

Snook are a predatory fish that will eat larger and larger prey. Big snook will even eat small snook. It’s a snook-eat-snook world, if you will. And when they’re not eating each other, that doesn’t mean they go hungry. 

Taking the Bait 

And the number one bait for snook: how to catch the elusive species is… Shrimp. Just like us, snook love shrimp. Although I wonder. Would they eat Popeyes popcorn shrimp? 

Unless you want to experiment with your lunch, it’s not much more complicated than this. Make a good cast and put a shrimp in the water and snook may very well take you up on your generous offer. 

Of course, there are all kinds of other live bait; scaled sardines, finger mullet, pinfish, perch. 

However, if you are willing to go to all ends to find live bait that snook cannot resist, find yourself a “grunt fish” Grunts are known by that name because, well, they grunt. This noise is unique among the fish that snook eat. And a grunt with a hook through it is a very loud grunt indeed. This will intrigue even the most elusive of snook: how to catch the elusive species doesn’t get simpler than that.

Happy Snook Fishing

Remember, the most important thing is to get out onto the water. Treating this gamefish gently will ensure plenty of snook for you and future generations of anglers. Think about only harvesting fish you plan to eat and happy fishing!

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