The Most famous Trash fish in Florida, The racing mullet, soap fish, Yes the Robalo, Sargent fish, Snook Yes this was a trash fish which grew through the ranks all because some dumb Yankee tourist decided one day the fillet one. OK strange thought and not provable but up north people fillet Walleye, and most fish where people in the south cooked them whole and many countries still today gut the fish and cook them whole on the skin, I was at a dinner in central America where the honored guest was the lucky one who got to eat the eye balls, OK by U.S. Standards gross, but to them it was real and offensive not to accept and I did with the best fake smile I could muster, Snook has a strange thing chemical or something between the skin and the meat so if cooked with the skin on gives the meat the wonderful flavor of dish soap. Yes while not exactly like taking a swig of the Dawn bottle on the sink pretty close. Snook during the depression was sold as cat food and that was kind of easy to catch, a stick with a gaff hook and stand by a culvert pipe and snatch them out of the water. It was in the late 1940’s 46 I believe the first fishing laws were created and in 1957 that the first Snook laws were enacted, Florida after WWII became a tourist state South Florida had something no one else had, A monster in shore Game fish that Jumped, pulled and was excellent table fare “really taste good.” The Snook could be caught from piers, bridges, or from a boat, the perfect game fish. Side note it is harder to get a Snook violation removed from your record than attempted murder, yes this fish was so prized by early fishing guides, the laws are very strong.
A Snook must bite the hook, you can not reach into the water and pick one out to keep, Here is why, when the water temps hits 60 degrees the Snook become lethargic, and stops eating, Snook start to die if the water temp is below 54 degrees and is deadly at 42 degrees, So Tampa is the far north of the Snook range, That is why there is no Snook Tournament trail fishing. Red Fish are in all of the Gulf states and up past the Carolina s. Snook are a South Florida and there is no more until you get to south Texas. Snook range from south Texas to Brazil after that it gets too cold again, so a real temperate zone fish, Like Goldie locks not too hot or too cold.
The other great thing about Snook is that they hit lures or bait, and as a shore hugging fish may be caught from land, Jigs, Spoon, crank baits, soft plastics, the only lure I have not caught a Snook on is a Erie dearie. Jitter bugs to hula poppers to Sabile lures old or new Snook like them all. Snook are strange in that after the spawning season which for most Snook on the west coast is May and June, but could start April and go on through October, many of the males which are sexual active at around 18 inches might turn female, yes in the span of 90 days a male Snook could turn female Not all Snook turn female which by reason not all big Snook are female although most are, the problem is that there is no way to tell the difference between male and female Snook they are hermaphrodites all of their lives they are a bit of both ale and female, How do they test which are which? Spawning season the females have eggs and the males sperm. And they are different colors, So to test the theory about the male to female they placed a bunch of fish in a test tank and over the course of 90 days many of the males turned to female. I would have thought it would take longer? Seems like a bigger deal than a 90 day switch over but oh well,, Another cool thing if a bunch of females get together and there are no males around several may turn male. Sounds an awful lot like a San fransisco thing to me. Too much? Any way A female Snook caries around a million and a half eggs and may spawn with several males every few days.
The Largest Snook was caught in Costa Rica over 53 pounds, the Florida record I believe is 48 pound-ish OK the BIG Final question why are they named Snook! And it is really pronounced Sn-oook with an oouk after years of people coming down from the land of Chinook the tone changed so why Snook from the Dutch name for Pike Snoek miss spelled and there you have Snook my fore father or mothers are responsible for the name. Hey with a last name Hommema I had to be Dutch. Thanks for your time have fun and go eat the best tasting in-shore game fish of all a Snook or just catch and release and let your heart pound.
P.S. I am of the belief we should not be able to keep a Snook under 39 inches as a male Snook lives about 15 years and a female maybe 20 lets not take the young and strong we should be taking the older ones. Just a Thought, How cool would it be to be catching and releasing 38 ¾ inch Snook all day rather than 25 inch Snook, let them all get through the Slot.