Don’t be blind-sided by this line sider. This fish is one of the most sought after inshore species. That’s not just because they test your patience and tackle but because they are delicious on the dinner table as well. Get ready for the tips to start flying that will put you on this great game fish.
1.) Beach Fishing
If someone chased you down the sidewalk with a cheeseburger screaming “eat this” would you? Probably not. So, don’t chase Snook down the beach casting over their heads and expecting them to eat either.
IT’S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.
Set your alarm clock early because the key to beach fishing success is being the early bird. Snook are up and down the beaches all summer long. Look for beaches near the passes and beaches that have a bend in them. This is where you’ll start finding the fish. Mornings when the water is calm and clear is an ideal scenario for sight fishing. Light tackle and long leaders are 100% the way to go. You can use artificials or live bait. With artificial bait, you can cover more ground without the nuisance of a bait bucket. For artificials, small white buck tails, white spoons, DOA 1/4oz shrimp, shad tails, and jerk baits on 1/16oz to 1/8oz jig heads all seem to get the job done.
The key is to lead the fish or to be in front of the fish leading them as naturally as possible. They survive as a predator by chasing their prey down. Live shrimp work well, or you can break little Johnny’s cast net out and net some white bait on the beach. Use a small circle hook so that the bait can swim as naturally as possible without sinking. A #4 to 3/0 hook with 20lb to 30lb fluorocarbon leaders is the way to go.
2.) Dock Fishing
Just because you are up late does not mean that the dock owners are. Be respectful! Besides, the quieter you are, the less likely you are to scare the fish!
Night or day Snook fishing near docks is a great way to be successful in the Snook game. Night time dock fishing can prove to be both challenging and rewarding. Target the docks near passes in the summer and the docks in the backs of canals in the winter. (FISH TIP) Snook feed best on the major and minor moon phases, so try to plan your best docks trips around those peak feeding periods. Hit as many docks as possible, and if you find a dock with fish that aren’t eating, move on. Artificial lures are a great way to jump from dock to dock quickly. Great lures are the Maverick Golden Eye in the Grey Ghost, DOA glow shrimp, and small buck tails.
When day time dock fishing, you should use the same rules as night time fishing. The only things that differ are the baits you use and the level of casts you have to make. In the day, the fish tend to lie further up under the docks in the shade awaiting their prey. Skipping jigs under the dock or anchoring and live chumming docks are great ways to target them in the day. Some artificial baits are DOA 4inch jerk shad in a 415, 330, and 406. Also, the Mirrolure 17mr S or 49 and the Spro ¼ oz glow white buck tails. Deeper docks or docks that have more structure will be the ones that will hold more fish.
3.) Flats and Mangrove Fishing
Look for life on the flats such as bait schools, mullet schools, birds diving, or oyster bars.
There are two ways to do this. One is live chumming and free lining or float fishing white bait around mangrove points and channel edges. Two is using artificial lures in the same locations. Using top water bait in the early morning and late afternoon is a good way to start. Jigs and suspending bait are great for the middle of the day. Some great bait are the Rapala Skitter Walks, Heddon Spook Jr., One Knocker Spook, Mirrolure 17mr, and DOA Cal shad and Jerk shad. A live well full of white bait is also a great tool to search for new spots by getting fish into a feeding frenzy. When looking for new areas, a great way to see if fish are there is to quietly anchor and throw out a bunch of live baits. Usually, if there are fish there, they will start busting some of the free baits on the surface.
4.) Pier and Bridge Fishing.
All up and down both Florida coasts, there are a multitude of great fishing piers and bridges that hold huge numbers of Snook. Light tackle is out the window under these harsh circumstances. Some of the popular methods are walking the bridges and piers and free lining live baits in the lights, fishing live baits on a heavy sinker on the bottom, and casting a select few lures thru the lights. Some Popular live baits are Ladyfish, Threadfins, Big Green Backs, and Jumbo Shrimp. Large Grass Grunts and Pinfish are the bait of choice to fish on the bottom. Because your high off the water, there are very few lures that will allow you to fish effectively. Rapala CD 18 and Spro buck tails fished on a heavy spinning reel would be your best bet on piers and bridges.
While free lining big live baits, be sure to use heavy leaders: 60 to 80lb is a must. When using artificial bait, use the same with big plugs and drop down to 50 to 60lb for the buck tails in the lights.
5.) Rods and Reels
For beach fishing, we suggest a Shimano Stradic 3000 or 4000 or a Shimano Spheros 4000 reel depending on your price point. Pair that with one of our Dogfish Stik Signature Series rods in a 7′ to 7’6″ medium or medium-fast action. This is the same outfit that you would want to use for flats and mangrove fishing. For day time dock skipping, we suggest our 7ft Dogfish Stik Signature series rod in the medium-fast action paired with a Shimano Stradic 3000 or 4000 spooled with either 15lb or 20lb power pro.
For bridge and pier fishing, we recommend our 7ft 12-40 Dogfish Stik paired with either a Shimano Stradic 8000 or Shimano Spheros 8000 with 50lb power pro.