The common snook (Centropomus underdecimalis) is the most prevalent snook in Florida. There are actually 12 different species of snook throughout the world and five species found in Florida. Some other names for these fish are: linesiders, sergeant fish, robalo and soap fish. The common snook is far from common, they are cannibalistic and protandrous hermaphrodites (animals that develop as males, but can later reproduce as females).
With a distinct lateral line, sloping forehead and high divided dorsal fin, these fish are built for speed. Snook have yellowish fins, silver sides and a grey dorsal color. The colors of this fish vary with the level of salt content in the water. Common snook are all born males. When they reach 18 to 22 inches, some of these fish transform into females. Their sizes range from 3 to 5 pounds and could be as large as 60 pounds.
Snook can be found in both salt and freshwater. They spawn during the summer and can be found off beach areas and passes in large schools. Mangrove shorelines, seawalls and bridges are other areas they frequently inhabit. Common snook cannot tolerate water under 60 degrees. They can be found from Florida to Brazil and throughout the Caribbean. Some have been spotted further North, based on the water temperatures.
Snook are voracious predators. When caught, they are known to put on incredible aerial displays. Their runs are powerful and can make a reel scream. Jigs, buck tails, suspending hard baits and top water lures are all great artificial baits for catching these fish. Mullet, pinfish, shrimp and ladyfish are just a few of the live baits that are effective.
One of the nicknames for the common snook, is soapfish. If cooked with the skin on, or not filleted properly, the fish will taste like soap. Filleted correctly, this is one of the best tasting inshore fish. Snook are a highly sought-after game fish. They’re pound-for-pound fight is second to none. Catching one of these sleek, fast moving, creatures is a must for any inshore angler.
Photo Credit: Josh Arney