Snook are a very popular gamefish that is commonly sought after by recreational anglers. Snook are very finicky when it comes to moon phases and tides. The surf snook can be caught with the right presentation. Snook are found all around Florida but less common in northern Florida regions. In the winter months, snook tend to leave the ocean and head to the inland canals to spawn. Snook like warmer temperatures and cannot tolerate cold water temperatures. In the summer months, snook move back into the inlets and along the beaches.
SURF FISHING TACTICS
Snook are very spooky. Most of the time the snook are in the trough. The trough is the area between the first sandbar and the shoreline. The snook swim in the trough to feed on the baitfish in the area. When you are walking the beach stay away from the water line! They are sitting practically on the sand. You can either cast diagonally or cast parallel to the trough. It may seem that you are casting to nothing but sand, but you will be suprised when the snook ambushes your lure or bait. You can also sight cast the snook by getting a pair of polarized glasses and looking for the slow-moving shadows in the water. In the summer months when the bait moves along the beaches, just look for where the bait separates. This means a snook is swimming through the bait school.
SURF FISHING TACKLE
The basic snook outfit would be a medium spinning reel that would hold 200 or more yards of 10-12 lbs test line. The rod would be a medium- heavy setup with fast action so you could feel the bites easier. Braided line is becoming popular these days because it is more abrasion resistant, small diameter, and no stretch. An example of this ideal setup would be a 4000 series reel and a chaos or star medium action rod. This is not to say that only those work. Any reel with a smooth reel and a good line capacity will suffice. A Flourocarbon leader is very important. A 40-50 lbs leader is recommended for snook. Any live bait hooks up to about a 6/0 will do the job. It is also important that you limit your terminal tackle because they can see and and not eat.
SURF FISHING BAIT
Snook will eat a variety of live and dead baits. Some of the most common live baits include mullet, pinfish, pilchards, sardines, dork jacks, sand perch, and shrimp. They will also eat dead baits like ladyfish heads and all of the above baits listed. For live baits, freeline them in the trough by the bait schools to trigger a strike. Snook can be picky eaters at times so you should keep to a natural presetation.
SURF FISHING LURES
Snook are very readily caught on artificial lures. Topwaters, bucktails, crankbaits, jerk baits, DOA shrimp all work. My favorite snook lure would be the Rapala X-rap. The X-rap has a lot of noise and a life-like swimming motion. No matter what you do. you should always match the color lure with the baitfish they are eating. If you aren’t gettig any action on one lure, you should change the type of lure or color to trigger more strikes.
BEST SURF FISHING TIME OF DAY
The best times of day to catch the surf snook are sunrise and sunset. These times of dday are when the least people are at the beach and also it is not in the heat of the day. But if you do try the middle of the day, it is good for sightfishing because the sun is directly above the water.
BEST SURF FISHING LOCATIONS
One of my favorite locations for surf snook is Sanibel island. In the summer, the baitfish are thick on the beach which causes the snook to stack up. Other good locations include any beaches by inlets such as Jupiter, Sebastian, and St Lucie. On the west coast, Marco Island, Naples, Sanibel, Fort Myers, Bradenton, and Tampa.
These are some tips that will be very useful if you are getting into snook fishing. It is very addictive so once you try it you will be hooked!