By: Eric Henson
First and foremost, Happy New Year! I hope everyone has made their New Year’s resolutions and that catching snook is at the top of your list. And if it isn’t, it should be because this time of year can be quite productive and an absolute blast! Not only can you catch lots of them but you can also catch some absolute giants aka ” Snookzillas”. You just have to hone in on the right locations and understand the reasons they are hanging there, this time of year.
Snook are one of my favorite species of fish to target in Florida. There are actually about four different types of Snook: Snook Snook, Fat Snook, Swordspine Snook, and Tarpon Snook. Snook are mostly silver, have a distinct black lateral line, long face and have a huge bucket mouth with protruding lower jaw. In Florida they are predominantly found in Central and South Florida. They can be found way back in creeks and rivers all the way out to offshore reefs and wrecks. One of the things that is cool about them is that they’ve been known to subside in freshwater ponds and lakes. The main problem for Snook comes when water temps drop below 55-60 degrees. The weaker ones will begin to turn belly up! When Snook reach 18-22 inches, most of them will turn into females. They like to spawn in the summer months where they will group up into huge schools in passes and inlets. It is an incredible site to see!
This time of year, my favorite place to target them is in the backwaters like creeks and rivers. Look for these fish where you see any change in direction of the water. They will be facing into whatever direction the tide is coming from, waiting for their next meal. Also strong tides play a big role when Snook are feeding more heavily.
Snook are not very picky when it comes to the size of the bait most times of year. I’ve caught them on large mullet and lady fish where the bait was literally over half the size of their body. With their huge bucket mouths, no bait is safe! But, this time of year I like to use smaller size baits. Some of my favorite artificial baits to use this time of year are the top-water baits like the Yo- Zuri Pencil and the Monster 3X X-SWIM. For live bait it would have to be a nice handpicked shrimp or even a little chunk of mullet during these colder months.
The only thing I ask is to please release these fish with care and love; these incredible fish. Respect your fellow anglers. Tight lines and Tight Knots to everyone!