How To Catch A Snook

How To Catch A Snook

• Learn a little about the species
• Regions to catch snook
• How to fish for snook
• Best tackle for snook fishing
• Final thoughts on catching snook

The Cadillac Bass as they’re known by a few of the old salts around here in Florida. The snook is one of the most explosive fish and can be some of the most difficult to catch. Snook are very finicky and super picky on what they strike… when they do you better hold on.

Snook will test your tackle, you are only as strong as your weakest link. When fishing this targeted species you always need to check your leader and line. Snook have an incredibly sharp gill plate that could possibly slice a 50lb leader if you fight them long enough.

That being said, it’s always a balance, go as low profile as you are comfortable with. Snook sees a leader, it doesn't matter if it's a pass crab slathered in roe they won’t touch it.

We’ve always had great luck using live mullet in the backcountry to get the bite going. However, we’ve chucked live mullet to them to no avail and then threw a top-water Zara Spook and lit them up. My favorite is a solid white or a redhead and white body Zara spook.

When you do finally connect with a snook the fight is usually 2-3 good solid runs. Mind you they will utilize any structure available to break you off. Combine that with their razor-sharp gill plates with one or two brief passes and it’s a clean-cut to your leader.

About Snook

In the state of Florida snook generally, the size range is around 15 - 20 pounds, 40 to almost 60 pounders will put you in state and world record range. The larger snook tends to be easier to find during spawning seasons. You can find them in and near channels that open up offshore. This time of the year you’ll find them staging getting ready to run offshore to carry on the species.

Snook are slot fish species, meaning that Florida regulations only allow you to harvest a fish that is between designated sizes. This is heavily regulated and you should always refer to the FWC’s snook regulations in your area

Regions for Snook

Snook are mostly found in Florida, the larger Caribbean islands, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Hispaniola. Snook don’t seem to be present in the Bahamas with the exception of a few stragglers here and there. Just to note here, we had a freeze-off in Florida in 2010 that greatly impacted the redfish and snook species. So since that time both species have been heavily regulated by the FWC. I will say that both species have bounced back tremendously and I am grateful for all of the efforts that the state of Florida enacted to help increase the population of both.

How To Fish for Snook

Snook has a small migratory range. However, with that being said you can find them in multiple types of environments. Grass flats, up sweet water creeks, patrolling beaches, inlets, channels.

There are a few ways that I search for ‘Snooky’ environments: 

Scenario 1

I look for mangroves that have a channel that falls off into some deeper waters. If you can find some current moving through there that’s a bonus. If you can add some structure like dock pilings or oyster bars, don’t tell anyone where that spot is. Using live or cut mullet works really well. My favorite is to use a white or light-colored, scented paddle tail or use the Ghost Face Killah stick bait. With the swimbaits altering your retrieval speed, I’ve found that if I slow it down a bit I can entice a bite.

Scenario 2

You can find them on the beaches cruising up and down close to shore. If you’re close to a channel or inlet on an outgoing tide chances are you’ll find some active snook. I like to use the same techniques as mentioned above in Scenario 1. I also like to free line out live shrimp too. You’ll most likely catch sheepshead and other various species along the way.

During the spawning times, look for snook staging to go offshore near structures and or little ledges so they can duck under the current. Remember snook’s eyes are positioned close to the top of their heads so they’re essentially always looking up.

Scenario 3

On the flats, they can be all over the place. You can sometimes find them schooling up with redfish in potholes, which are sandy deep pockets in the middle of the grass flats. The snook stage up in here looking for anything to eat that pops out of the grass.

Creek mouths with moving current are incredible spots, look for where the water is moving and cast just outside of the current in the eddy areas. Chances are there are snook hanging out looking for an easy meal.

Scenario 4

Working the docks is especially fun at night. Look for green underwater lights when cruising. If you have a trolling motor it makes life so much easier. I have had the best luck when I pair down my artificial lures as small as I possibly can. Some of the largest snook that I have caught were on some of the lightest fishing tackle. It makes for a nerve-racking experience, but it’s addicting.

Because snook have great eyesight, I try to run with a 20Lb fluorocarbon leader to start and pair down from there. I like to use a small ½ oz jig head with a small white or tan tube bait about 2-3 inches long. Use the ½ oz jighead if there’s a good current. If the current is not as strong then pair the jighead down to a ⅜ oz weight that way it falls a little softer.

As the current or tidal change starts to ease up move in deeper into the residential areas to hit the docks. This approach has generally yielded good results for me.

Note: One of the most overlooked aspect when snook fishing is smell. I have had tremendous luck with using Pro-Cure Mullet Gel with my artificial lures. 

Best Tackle for Snook

The best all-around setup for snook fishing, my absolute go too is a 4000 series reel paired with a 7’ - 8’ medium action rod. My favorite reel that I use now is the Penn Battle III Saltwater Series Reel with 15 - 20 Lb. braid and 10 - 20 Lb. fluorocarbon leader. You can use this setup around beaches, docks, and piers, but it can get a little spicy if you hook up with an above-slot fish.

Remember, if you’re not getting a bite, you may need to pair down your leader and rigging to create a lower profile.

Ideally, if most of your time is spent fishing for snook in piers, jetties, and docks you may need a little more insurance with a 5000 - 6000 series reel. I’d run 40 - 60 Lb. braid on this setup with a 50 - 80 Lb. fluorocarbon leader.

Final Comments on Snook

Snook is one of the most sought-after species in the state of Florida. They also make for great table fare when you’re able to hit the slot. For us, we just enjoy the catch and release method. Our goal is to help you enjoy your fishing experience. If are looking to have successful fishing trips, but don’t know where to begin or if you don’t have the time to grab the gear our Black Box Inshore Subscription takes tips and insider secrets from captains and guides.