For a Fish Fight, Go for Snook

By: Terry Gibson

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Nothing smashes a bait, lure or fly like a good ole “linesider.” The snook, though wary, is piscine embodiment of aggression when it decides to strike.

Hook one, and you're in for a major tug-of-war. These powerful fish bolt for the first piece of structure they can hang you on. If they don’t hang you up, or shake the hook while jumping, they can still cut off even the heaviest leader on their razor sharp gill plates.

There are actually five species of snook in Florida waters, and according to the geneticists, which we affectionately call “lumpers” or the “splitters” depending upon their bent, you can catch all but two species of snook here in the Fishing Capital of the World. (If you want to catch the Pacific white or black snook, you’ll have to go to the west coast of Central America.)

The various species of snook all have the “misfortune” of being absolutely delicious. Hence, only in places where the harvest is well regulated will you find healthy populations anymore. Snook were once a species of special concern in Florida, but sound conservation practices have restored them to relative abundance here in the Sunshine State. We have the best snook fishing in the world.

Florida’s Gulf and Atlantic populations are separate stocks and managed as such. I’ll hazard an unscientific assertion based on 30-plus years of snook fishing that the fish are larger on the Atlantic Coast on average, and in term of numbers of really big fish. Snook are basically tropical animals with a limited ability to deal with cold. Generally speaking, you can catch them primarily from Cocoa Beach southward on the Atlantic Coast.

Top Atlantic Coast Spots

Sebastian Inlet, the beaches to the north and south, and the Indian River Lagoon that it connects to the ocean include some of the snookiest real estate in the state.

The same can be said for the Fort Pierce Inlet, especially in the Port’s turning basin and along the beaches of North Hutchinson Island.

The Stuart area, with its mazes of rivers, the Indian River Lagoon and it’s reef-lined beaches, arguably offers the world’s best snook fishing.

In Palm Beach County, Jupiter Inlet is my favorite area, including the beaches to the north and the entire Loxahatchee River, though the North Lake Worth and South Lake Worth inlets provide a highway for the species in and out of the productive Lake Worth Lagoon.

Snook are regulated by size limits, bag limits and seasons. Fishing is best spring, summer and fall, though the species is routinely caught all year, on all sorts of tackle ranging from light spinning, to conventional to fly tackle. Here are links to some these area’s best guides:

Sebastian: Capt. Glyn Austin

Fort Pierce: Capt. Mark Dravo

Stuart: Capt. Mike Conner

Jupiter: Capt. Butch Constable

Palm Beach: Capt. Danny Barrow

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