Capt. Sergio’s Corner, Winter Snook By: Capt. Sergio Atanes

Captain Chris Camps, a good friend and part of the Aventuras De Pesca USA TV show has a technique on how to catch big snook in early December before the cold weather sets in.

After some conversation, Capt. Chris invited me to go after some big December snook using his technique, and before he could finish his invitation I asked him when and where. I suggested we bring along the camera crew and film it for my new TV show. We set a time and place, agreeing to avoid showing any of his favorite fishing spots.

Tuesday morning arrived, and we had a moderate wind from the northeast with temperatures in the mid 60’s and dropping as the cold front approached.  A short trip from my home base, the Tampa Harbour Marina, we entered a channel that had old bridge structure on both sides protecting us from the shifting sands of the flats around it.

Capt. Chris explained that his technique works best with an incoming tide and the water temperature no lower than 68 degrees. The early bird doesn’t get the worm in this case, because you want the sun up for a while, allowing the sun’s rays to heat the exposed rocks. As the tide comes in so will the fish.

His method is to anchor up current from the rocks allowing the bait to drift on either side. You can free line your bait, but a float works, and it allows for better control of the bait. Additionally a float lets you control the drift of the bait.

We anchored our boat just like Capt. Chris wanted and after tossing some candy to the snook (we use a bait bat with about 20 live sardines), the rocks started to blow up with snook attacking the baits we had thrown.

The first cast I was on with a 10-pounder making several jumps trying to dislodge the hook, but to no avail. I had him and he was mine. Looking to my right I could see Capt. Chris fighting one of his own and his fish was a big one. I could tell by his expression and that beautiful sound of line leaving the reel. After what seemed like an eternity, Capt. Chris landed his 38-inch snook.

Within a few hours we managed to land over 17 snook. I lost several big ones to the rocks and left them to battle another day. I learned a new technique on snook fishing that day, and one to pass on to my grandkids and my friends.

We were back at the dock by noon with plenty of great footage for the TV show and some nice pictures of big winter snook to boot. The largest snook landed weighed in at 25-pounds.

When:  Fish ahead of a cold front for best action.  Incoming tides work best.

Where: Residential canals or channels with structure

Baits: Live greenback sardines if available, or live medium shrimp.

Tackle suggested for best results.

Seven foot medium action spinning rod.
3500 Medium size spinning reel.
15-pound test Windtamer Super Braided line.
30-pound test fluorocarbon leader.
2/0 chunk bait or wide gap circle hook.
Captain Sergio Atanes is a native resident of Tampa and has been fishing the waters of Tampa Bay and Boca Grande for over 45 years.  He is owner and operator of which is one the largest charter booking services in the West Coast of Florida with 125 professional captains on staff.  Capt. Sergio can be reached at (813) 973-7132 or [email protected]  Web site: and you tube channel Fishing Adventures USA.