Written By: Caitlyn Gatrell
It’s no secret why snook are considered one of the top inshore saltwater gamefish. Because of their incredible strength, tough and risky fights, and their beautiful looks, they are sought after by many. You can catch a variety of snook species around the world, but amongst the most common and targeted is the Common Snook in Florida.
Snook inhabit many varying areas in the ocean, but some of the best snook fishing occurs in the backwaters. Here in the backwaters, it is more of a unique experience. The main reason is because you are met with many obstacles. The mangrove islands produce endless mazes of branches and structures for them to get tangled into or break the line off on. I believe it makes for a challenging yet rewarding experience.
I can say myself, I have lost a good amount of snook, some big ones too, to the backwaters. Just when you think you have them close, they take off on a big, drag screaming run. Once they get too far in the mangroves, it’s almost impossible to get them out. And yes, “almost impossible” because we have been able to get them out before! Even when it took half an hour once to detangle all the line in the branches to get to our snook. Hey, if it was your next PB you would be doing the same!
When it comes to snook fishing in the backwaters, we like to use live bait. Using live mullet or nice sized pilchards, we will throw our bait right up on the mangrove lines. We will throw typically in areas where we see big branches sticking out, or bait flickering on the surface. A bonus is finding an area that has a flowing current, or a small creek pouring water out. We like to add sinkers at times, especially when the current is strong, to keep our bait in the same area.
I like to use live bait because the transition from stillness and quiet to chaotic and excited is just such a great feeling for me. The feeling of that hard thump and seeing your line race through the water as your drag goes crazy gets my heart racing. It’s a matter of skill, strategy, and quick timing to ensure you don’t lose your fish to the mangroves. Sometimes you are lucky, and other times you’re not.
When you are able to bring your fish in, you’ll notice they have a darker tint to them, almost like a golden glow. Being able to catch one and bring them up close, especially if it’s during “golden hour” is truly a sight to see. When I am able to de hook them, snap a few photos, and safely release them, it is a wonderful feeling. I love watching them swim back to their habitat and disappear within the murky water. Snook will always be amongst one of my favorite species to catch, and I hope to catch a monster one day.