Capt. Sergio’s Corner By: Capt. Sergio Atanes

Snook Bite is On

May is the time of year the Mr. Snook, a/k/a saltwater bass, makes his debut coming out from the creeks, rivers and marina basins ready to eat anything in sight.  When this happens, the bite depends on the water temperature, so it could be anytime after mid-April, but it will happen.

Snook are creatures of habit and, if you’ve done your homework over the years (keeping a fishing log of when-where-how), you will have a good idea where to start. If not, here’s some food for thought.

Early May, look for snook around the mouth of rivers. Little Manatee River is one good snook spot. You will find snook staged up around the bends where the water flow has formed some deep holes. They will sit and wait for the bait, as it is pushed by the tide.  The start of the outgoing tide has been most productive for me.

Double Branch is another hot spot in May because, as the water rushes out, all the bait fish and small crabs along the oyster bars become a feeding ground for snook and nice redfish.

As the weather warms mid-April or later, they will make their way to the mangrove flats fattening up for mating season which starts around the first full moon in May.


Early May or late April, fishing the mouth of rivers or creeks, I prefer to use medium live shrimp free lined, unless the current is strong, then I will put a #4 split shot about eight inches above the hook to slow the drift of the shrimp.  Cast up-current and let the shrimp drift into the deeper water and continue to feed line allowing the shrimp to act naturally until it passes the bend.

In May, the snook should have made their way to the mangrove flats and start feeding on live sardines (green back-scaled sardines) getting aggressive on their bite. Don’t overlook any structure like exposed rocks or around oyster beds, as they tend to radiate heat quicker and warm the water around them, which acts like a magnet for snook. Cool water slows their bite, and they prefer not chasing a fast-running sardine if they can. Some live shrimp sometimes can make your morning bite until the sun takes over.

Again, we are dependent on the weather and water temperature, as this can change their mood.  If the weather stays colder longer than usual, live shrimp will still be your best bait.  Our climate is changing, and I have noticed that we have had cold snaps in mid-April which dictates their mood.

Artificial Baits:

Top water plugs like MirrOlure skin series surface walker mullet work great in the early morning, once they move into the flats.  I find they work best when the water temperature is above 75 degrees.  Fish are always on the side that the sun’s rays hit the water first, as that is where they tend to get their morning heat and feed the best.

From mid-morning on, I will switch to Saltwater Assassin, either silver mullet split tail or my favorite Little P & V in Glow/Lime on a 1/8-ounce jig head. Worked along the edges of the mangroves, this technique catches snook, reds and mangrove snapper.

Dead Cut Bait:

As the water temperature increases, the big snook slows down and prefers fresh cut bait. To me, nothing works better than fresh cut threadfin sardines or pinfish.  I use a 2/0 or 3/0 Kahle hook with a #4 split shot about 3-inches from the hook, and just let it sit on the bottom.  Some drawbacks are that you will catch some catfish and rays but, if it’s a snook or redfish, it will be a big one.


·        OKUMA SRT rod #761M 7 ½ ft medium action rod with a fast taper

·        OKUMA Inspira ISX-3000 spinning reel.

·        Fins Windtamer 15 -pound braided line.

·        OHERO 30-pound fluorocarbon leader at least 30 inches long.