Snook are a popular fish to target for those that like surf fishing and inshore fishing. They are known as a powerful and aggressive species which makes them exciting to battle. If you’re fishing for snook, we created this guide for you. Here we will cover the different types of snook and how to identify them, their seasonal patterns, the food they eat, the equipment you will need to catch them, and a few additional tips to help you catch more snook.
Types of Snook
There are twelve different species of the Centropomidae family which are known as snook. 6 different species can be found in the Atlantic Ocean and 6 in the Pacific Ocean. The 12 different kinds are armed snook, swordspine snook, blackfin snook, guianan snook, black snook, fat snook, tarpon snook, mexican snook, yellowfin snook, union snook, and white snook.
The most popular species of snook to fish is the common snook. This is the most likely kind that you will be targeting if you are fishing for the species.
Snook are known for having a pronounced lower jaw. They often have back and flank colors that can be gold, silver, brown, or olive green in color. They also have dark black lateral lines and a sloping forehead.
How Big Do Snook Get?
The common snook can reach sizes up to 48 inches in length and 50 lbs in weight. Some species are known to reach even larger sizes, such as the black snook which is the largest species. The world record snook is a black snook that weighed a whopping 59.5 pounds
Where To Catch Snook
Snook can be found throughout the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Most likely if you’re targeting snook, you are looking for common snook which is located in the western part of the Atlantic Ocean. You can fish them along the coast of North Carolina all the way down to Brazil. They are extremely popular to fish in the Gulf of Mexico, Florida, and the Carribean Sea.
If you’re targeting snook look around inshore coastal waters, beaches, and shorelines. They tend to hang out near shallow structure so look near rock piles, jetties, docks and other areas where snook may be seeking protection. Snook are an ambush-oriented species, so look for anywhere they can be lurking waiting to ambush their food.
They also like to stay in shallower waters ranging from 10-15 feet in depth, though you can sometimes find them coming up to the surface to feed. Snook need water that is warmer than 60 degrees, so cold water areas are not great places to fish for them.
What Do Snook Eat?
Snook are ambush predators that are known to face moving water and let currents bring their food to them. They are known to commonly eat smaller baitfish like pinfish, greenbacks, sardines, small mullet, greenbacks, anchovies, shrimp, and crab.
It can be useful to know what snook are commonly eating in the waters you are fishing because then you can either use them as live bait, or use a lure that matches the hatch. It is also useful because you can focus your fishing in areas where they may commonly feed if you know what they are feeding on.
Snook are known to move from the beaches in summer, to the flats in fall, and the backcountry in winter. Then in the spring, they move back to the flats as they head towards the beaches for summer again. The key to finding snook is knowing where in the movement cycle the snook are at.
In the late spring to early summertime, as temperatures heat up snook around beach areas tend to become much more aggressive as they prepare to spawn. This can be a great time to fish for beach snook.
If you’re fishing for snook around the beach look for drop-offs, sandbars, and grass where the snook may be lurking. There isn’t as much structure around beaches for the snook to congregate by, but you should be able to easily see them in against the white sands.
During the fall snook tend to move toward where they will spend the winter. You can find them in canals, rivers, and flats. Many anglers tend to fish for snook in flats with flies because they eat almost anything as they begin to prepare for winter.
Look for coastal bay grass flats with abundant baitfish and there is probably a huge population of snook to target. Try casting towards the edge of deep potholes and you’re very likely to get a few bites.
Snook do not like the cold. In the winter, you can find them in canals, creeks, and bays because these areas tend to have warmer waters throughout the winter months. Look for creeks and ditches with muddy bottoms and plenty of baitfish, and you are likely to find a lot of snook lurking. Try fishing a few hours after daybreak all the way through to sunset. These should be productive times to get them biting.
As the water warms up snook tend to move from the winter backcountry to the flats as they head to the beaches for summer. In early spring you can find them in the flats. Fish potholes or the edges of mangroves. Another snook hot spot this time of year is fishing around dock lights on a rising tide. The glow of a dock light is a baitfish magnet, and where you find the food is where you will find the snook.
Equipment You Will Need to Catch Snook
Rods and Reels
Most anglers use spinning rods for snook fishing. Though you can definitely use a baitcasting rod and reel or fly rod depending on the situation. If you’re using a spinning rod, something right around 7 feet in length was fast to extra-fast action is a great all-around bet for most situations.
Generally, you want a heavier rod if you are fishing in heavy currents or using live bait. If you’re fishing lighter areas and using artificial lures than a lighter rod that is more sensitive will perform better for you.
Lures and Baits
Using a good weedless jerkbait can be a very productive lure for snook fishing. The erratic twitch can really get the snook to bite when fished properly.
The reliable bucktail jig is another tried and true snook killing lure that deserves a spot in every anglers tackle box. Try a 1.5 to 2 oz jig and fish the bottom to get your presentation in front of a giant snook.
Another great option is to use a topwater lure. Nothing is more exciting than seeing a giant snook come to the surface to thrash your topwater lure. If you’re going to fish with a topwater lure, they tend to work best in spring or summer, though they do work all year. It’s best to use them in conditions where there is little to no wind.
A good weedless spoon can be very effective for catching snook. Try fishing them along to the beach in low tide situations. They are also ideal for fishing the bottom when structure is messy and is likely to snag other lures.
It’s also a good idea to carry a few swimbaits in your tackle box. Try to pick ones that closely resemble what the snook are feeding on in the waters you are fishing. Soft plastic baits that imitate finger mullets are always a good choice. Swimbaits can be very effective is you cast them near docks where snook like to congregate.
Snook in many areas feed on shrimp, which is why a good fake shrimp lure is sure to trigger strikes. Fish them in potholes or skip them on the bottom under docks and you’re sure to get the snook attacking your lure.
Sometimes using natural bait works best. Fishing live bait usually requires a heavier rod than fishing light artificial lures. If you want to use live bait to catch snook, good options include shrimp, sardines, pinfish, finger mullet, and crabs. Try to choose something the snook is regularly feeding on in the area you are fishing.
Some anglers prefer braided line for snook. Whereas others prefer monofilament or even fluorocarbon line. Each line has it’s pros and cons.
For braided lines, usually, something around 20-30 pounds will work well for fishing around beaches and mangroves. If you’re fishing for larger snook you may want to try something around 50-65lbs.
For monofilament fishing line 12-15lbs will work fine in most situations. If you’re specifically targeting larger snook you may want to go heavier around the 50-80lb range.
Lastly for fluorocarbon line use around 20-30lbs for most snook fishing. For larger ones go with a 50-80lb option.
Choosing the right hook size for the species you are fishing can be tough with so many options available on the market. You want the perfect size that will firmly snag the snook in the corner off the mouth. You also need to make sure the bait you are using is appropriate for your hook.
For snook fishing, a circle hook around 1/0 to 2/0 is usually a pretty good option. You can also use a 3/0 to 4/0 if you are fishing with larger live bait.
Tips To Catch More Snook
Learn How to Find Where the Snook are Feeding
One of the best skills you can develop as an angler is the ability to find where the snook are feeding. If you find where the snook are feeding, you will catch a lot more fish.
Snook are ambush predators. They tend to like areas with a current that will bring food to them so they can pounce on their prey. Snook also tends to stay near structure. They like structure because it offers them protection from larger predators, and a lot of baitfish tend to stay near structure as well, making it a great feeding opportunity.
Lastly, look for signs of baitfish like splashes, ripples in the water, and pecks at your lure. If you find an area with a current, good structure, and a lot of baitfish, it’s probably ripe with snook.
Match the Hatch
Yeah, you’ve probably heard this advice a thousand times, but it works. If you’re fishing for snook, use what the snook are eating. It’s pretty simple really. You can use live bait that matches what the snook are commonly eating, or you can use an artificial lure that matches the batfish they commonly eat.
Watch For Changing Tides
As we stated earlier, snook are an ambush predator that prefers the current bring the food to them. Sometimes they won’t even bother feeding if there is not a current. When going fishing try to look for areas where the tides are changing. This will likely be a snook hot spot.
Snook Faq – Commonly Asked Questions
When is Snook Season?
This ultimately depends on the area. In Florida, for example, snook are open in March and April and again in September through November.
What do Snook Taste Like?
Snook is a white meat with medium firmness. You have to take the skin off or you will be left with an aversive soapy taste. Be sure to check the laws and regulations in your area. In many places it is illegal to buy and sell snook and you have to catch it yourself.
How to Catch Snook at Night?
You can have a lot of success fishing for snook at night if you look in the right areas. They are attracted to lights in the water, so you can commonly find them around docks and bridges. They are also known to swim near the shoreline of beaches, which can be a great place to cast your lure at night.
When fishing at night live baits tend to work best, so stick with those to attract more strikes.
What Color Lures Attract Snook?
Many anglers will tell you that for snook fishing, darker colors tend to work best at night with lighter colors working best during the day. Ultimately it depends on the area you are fishing in. We recommend carrying a few different colors of lure with you. Chartreuse is a popular color for snook fishing that tends to work well in most areas.