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How to Fish For Snook in Florida

Hooking into a Snook is one of the most exciting experiences when fishing beaches, mangroves or backwaters – light tackle is usually best but opportunistic feeders like them can also be caught using heavier gear.

Imagine a pinfish hidden at the bottom of a murky and dark creek; while snook move along cutlines, seawalls, dock pilings, bridge abutments etc to find and consume it.


Snook are abundant throughout Florida’s tidal creeks, rivers, and inlets. Although their habitat can range widely depending on where they’re found, snook fish tend to prefer shallow waters where predators are protected; grass flats, mangrove islands, oyster beds or bridges make for ideal starting points when hunting down this trophy fish.

Snook typically gather around structures like sea walls, docks and jetties – sites easily accessible on foot or kayak – as well as mangrove roots where they can hide among their roots. Since Snook are known to inhabit both freshwater and saltwater environments, look out for brackish waters as well.

Boat anglers seeking Snook are best served during the hours immediately before and after each incoming and outgoing tide as this allows them to effectively locate these fish as they swim back and forth through these areas, following baitfish into deeper waters with each tide cycle.

Beach fishing can also be highly productive. When the tide comes in, fish gather on the shoreline, while as it recedes they move further out. To be most effective when beach fishing is to remain stationary with bait until water level starts dropping then move when tide starts receding to different area as water starts receding again.

As a rule of thumb, when fishing for snook, use bait that stays close to the bottom, such as freelined croaker or mullet baits. Freelined baits may become caught up in grasses and difficult for snook to take from underneath the water surface.

Snook fishers will find success using both natural and artificial bait, although lures might have the edge in terms of covering more water. All kinds of lures work, with DOA Shrimp or Heddon Super Spook lures with plastic tails being particularly good choices. Topwater plugs also often produce results when weather conditions are conducive.

Snook spawning season occurs between June and July in Florida’s inlets, leaving their rivers and creek systems and congregating at rock piles or sea walls near inlets to lay their eggs. Witness this incredible sight while you visit!


Snook fishing in the surf requires any baitfish; live mullet is usually preferred. If these are unavailable, try white fly or shrimp tied onto a size 4 hook on a fish finder rig instead. Fish these lures during both rising and falling tides near docks, bridges, or any inshore cover/structure such as docks/bridges as snook are highly sensitive to changes in tide levels; pelicans or terns flying overhead or circling baitfish may indicate where snook are hiding.

Kayak anglers and those fishing from small center consoles will appreciate the light tackle action encountered when fishing for snook in grass flats, using soft plastic baits that mimic live mullet, shrimp or pinfish movements. Bucktail jigs in white or chartreuse are often best, though other popular lures include jerk baits, paddle tails and grub-style lures.

Trolling is another effective technique for targeting snook in areas with deeper water. This involves casting a line with bait or lure at slow speed behind your boat and moving slowly forward so as to create currents that pushes it towards the strike zone – this tactic is popularly employed in rivers, back bays, tidal creeks and shallow flats.

For optimal snook fishing in clear, shallow water it’s crucial to tie on a long leader that increases your odds of hooking these line shy fish. A five to six foot leader no lighter than 30 pound test will increase your odds of landing a trophy snook.

For inlets or beaches with active snook, try larger swimbaits like the Storm WildEye Swim Shad. These baits feature large profiles to mimic common targets of snook in these environments such as mullet, ladyfish and croaker that they prey upon. Rigged on 1 ounce jig heads and cast up-current with steady reel retrieves designed to mimic natural baitfish movement; their slow rolling motion mimics this natural movement more effectively than other lures available today.


Snook are voracious predators that feed on almost anything, consuming almost any type of live bait available to them. Snook can usually be found in estuaries and bays lined with mangrove trees as well as bridges and docks that provide cover from the elements. Snook become especially aggressive feeders from September – November as they begin bulking up before winter arrives; frequenting mouths of rivers, backwater canals and inlets as well as dock pilings, bridges and current breaks with larger baitfish imitations tend to work best here.

Artificial lures for snook include diving minnow plugs, spoons, soft plastic jerkbaits with paddle tails, surface walk-the-dog lures and jigs; just be sure that their sizes match those present. Rigged swimbaits such as the Storm Wildeye Swim Shad are another effective choice; their bigger profile mimics larger baitfish that snook prefer.

Suspending twitch baits like the MirrOlure MirrOdine or DOA Shrimp are effective snook lures, simulating wounded baitfish that snook love to feed upon. A quick twitch of the rod tip causes their iridescent sides to flash, making these lures even more tempting to wounded snook.

Along with choosing an appropriate lure for conditions, it is also vitally important to use the appropriate tackle and line. Snook have very sharp teeth which can rip through monofilament line. Fluorocarbon leaders are recommended as they are more abrasion resistant and appear virtually undetectable to fish in clear water environments – 15-20lb test lines of fluorocarbon are ideal for fishing for snook.

If using live bait such as croaker, finger mullet, or pinfish for your bait, a medium heavy rod of 6 to 7 feet in length should do just fine for snook fishing. Be sure to select a reel capable of handling 20 to 30 pounds of braided line, and one with an excellent heavy-duty snag-proof hook – in addition to having several sets of pliers and de-hooking tools on hand; to help ensure the fish swim away undamaged after removal from its hook. To do this safely, always support it using both hands so it can swim away unharmed after removal from its hook!


Snook are among the toughest inshore game fish to target, being notoriously line shy and needing patience and skill to catch. Furthermore, their hard fighting style means much line is lost during fights; with proper planning however it should be possible to catch snook on both light and heavy tackle.

Success when fishing for snook lies in using both bait and lure appropriately, in combination with fishing at the correct location at the right time of day. Snook are most active during low light conditions and feed heavily in shallow, moving waters, making areas that provide both warm water temperatures and cover such as mangroves, bridge or dock pilings, oyster beds or rocks an excellent place to look for these predators. Residential canals may also offer both characteristics.

Once you find a promising spot, sneak quietly up on it and cast your lure up-current of them so as to avoid scaring them away. Since snook rely heavily on scent and touch for prey detection, it is key that any bait or lure mimic the actions of natural food sources as closely as possible.

Tide and current are also key factors when fishing for snook. Snook tend to move with the tide and feed more actively when its running, so when possible it is ideal to fish during either incoming or outgoing tides.

As snook are notorious for being line shy, using an extended leader is an effective way to increase your chances of hookup during prolonged fights. A longer leader increases the odds of solid hookups.

Snook fish may have earned themselves a reputation for being challenging to catch, but in reality they can be far simpler to catch than many anglers realize. By learning proper techniques and selecting bait and lures during feeding periods, anglers can experience success fishing for these sportfish.

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