Ask any inshore angler what’s their favorite fish, and snook will likely be in the top three. Snook are special. They live in fresh or saltwater, and due to climate change, they’re now found throughout Florida, in south Texas and even into Georgia and South Carolina. They can be caught from inlets, beaches, estuary creeks and flats, and the Intracoastal. They relate to piers, jetties, shoals and sandbars—wherever a food source attracts them. And they eat just about anything—including shrimp, mullet, shad, pinfish, menhaden… even crabs. Some varieties of snook can exceed 30 pounds. The biggest specimens are usually found on nearshore wrecks, along beaches and inlets, and occasionally on shallow flats, around mangroves and sand holes. Those are the ones I target. There’s something about stalking trophy fish in shallow water that adds to the challenge, especially with light tackle. Everything is amplified: the presentation, the strike and the battle. Snook are incredibly strong and violent once hooked. Your tackle better be up to the challenge.
The Proper Tools
My typical setups are 7-foot Shimano Expride casting and spinning rods, in medium-heavy. For the baitcaster, I spool a Shimano Chronarch-G with 30-pound PowerPro Super Slick braid, then tip it with 40- to 50-pound fluoro leader. The only exception is when I’m throwing topwaters, in which case I’ll opt for the buoyancy of 17- to 20-pound mono with heavier leader. For spinning, I prefer Shimano’s Stradic or Twin Power reels in the 3000 size, spooled with 10-pound PowerPro Super Slick and 30- to 40-pound fluoro leader. The leader size may sound excessive, but snook have abrasive mouths and shake violently. Anything less will break. My lure of choice for most situations is the Hildebrandt Drum Roller swimbait. It’s made of tin, not lead. That’s a huge advantage in super skinny water, especially when grass, marl or oysters are present. Tin is approximately two-thirds the weight of lead, so it stays higher in the water column during retrieve. It’s the perfect sized profile of the baitfish I want to match, and it’s very castable, even into a stiff breeze. Another reason I like the Drum Roller is its lifelike attributes, like pronounced gills and 3D eyes. Add to that the nearly indestructible Z-man MinnowZ swimbait body that comes pre-rigged on the jig-head and you have the perfect package.
The Proper Technique
The Drum Roller Jig has a subtle, seductive swimming action and skips well beneath docks, piers and overhanging mangroves. The retrieve is simple; just chunk and wind. About the only thing to consider is the depth. In super shallow water, raise the rod tip and reel at a normal pace. The lure will glide over most bottom features. For deeper presentations, slow the retrieve or count the lure down before beginning the retrieve. On certain occasions, you may want to speed up the retrieve. No worries there, as the Drum Roller tracks true at any speed. If a snook sees the lure, chances are good it will engulf it. And the strike will be vicious.
Reprinted with permission from Yakima Bait Company, www.yakimabait.com.