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How To Catch Trophy Snook

How To Catch Trophy Snook

Snook or Linesiders are one of my favorite inshore fish to target in South Florida.  The Gulf snook extends from New Port Richey to the Keys and the Atlantic snook range is from Daytona Beach to the keys.  However, with the warmer winters snook have been found all the way up to Jacksonville here on the east coast of Florida.  Snook are known for the excellent table fare as well as screaming drags and violent head shakes.  


The first step when it comes to catching large mature snook is understanding their habits.  In the winter the snook move back into rivers, creeks, and canals where the water stays warmer and more temperate.  Snook are able to survive in freshwater and have been known to live in ponds year round.  Freshwater springs in some rivers release the same temperature water year round and makes these creeks a great place for wintertime snook.  As the water begins to warm and the rains comec the snook begin to push out from the back waters and head to the ocean.  They move down the rivers and onto the flats towards the inlets and beaches.  During the spring snook can be caught all over the flats.  Look for deep holes and channels next to good flats with sources of food.  Shrimp, mullet, pilchards, pinfish, and threadfins are all great sources of food for all sized snook.  During the summer months the snook spawn around the inlets and offshore.  Concentrate on jetties, bridges, piers, beaches, mains inlets and channels, and offshore wrecks.  When the water begins to cool in the fall the snook make their way back into the creeks, canals, and backwaters to survive the winter.

Snook hitting mullet

Once you have information on where the snook like to live and you locate them, it's time to pick the right bait.  For larger snook my favorite bait is large mullet.  The bigger the better.   a 40 inch snook has a mouth with a 6 inch diameter and can eat very large baits.  a 2 lb mullet is a easy treat for a hungry snook.  Free lined mullet work very well with a small nose hook over deep holes and inlets.  If free lining does not work try a live bait on a Carolina rig on the bottom.  I have even caught snook on dead bait on the bottom also.  Snook have been caught on many different baits in many different locations.  Shrimp, ladyfish, mullet, white bait, threadfins, pinfish, whole squid, all of these baits will work at certain times.  The key is to figure out what the snook are feeding on in that area and use it for bait.  A live whole mullet free lined on the surface will guarantee you snook if they are in the area. Shrimp is a great bait for winter time or even to entice the larger fish when the shrimp are in.

If live bait is difficult to come by artificial can work well also. As for artificial baits to use for snook I would suggest a D.O.A. Shrimp in root beer, gold, or other natural colors for clear water.  Topwater lures such as Heddon Super Spook, or a Bomber Badonkadonk work very well.  I use natural mullet colors along with chartreuse depending on the amount of sunlight.  For targeting deeper snook there are some great swimbaits, large buck tail jigs, and some hard baits like Cotten Cordells Redfins and Bomber Long A’s.  Throwing any of these lures in the surf, inlets, or around bridges in the summer time will produce Snook.

DOA Shrimp

Concentrate on the lunar feeding times when snook fishing as from my experience they seem to follow them accordingly.  During the summer months snook feed aggressively at night and for those of you who are night owls this can produce some epic snook fishing.  The larger snook seem to feed on larger baits and feed less often than smaller snook.  

For tackle I like to use 30-50 lb braid with a 40-60 lb mono leader in structure and 20 lb braid with 20 lb fluro on the flats and mangroves.  Snook have sharp gill plates that will cut light line and they have been known to run into structure and break your line.  When handling large snook do not hold them by the lower jaw like a largemouth bass.  The weight of the fish will detach the spine and kill the fish.  Snook are a great sport fish to catch and tons of fun.  With the FWC regulations there is an abundance of these giants and we hope this article will help you catch one. 

Dale and snook

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