Snook are one of the few fish that can be found on almost every angler’s bucket list. Florida is home to an incredible population of snook on both the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. With an overwhelming amount of freshwater dumping into the ocean along both of Florida’s Coasts, it’s no wonder why anglers travel thousands of miles to catch snook here.
The common snook (Centropomus undecimalis) is a marine fish known as the sergeant fish or robalo. These nicknames come from outdated terminology from the prior classification of the fish. The family of snook itself contains six species in the Atlantic and six in the Pacific.
They have a gray to golden coloration, a distinctive black line running horizontally from their front to back, and bright yellow pelvic and caudal fins. Snook have a very sleek, slender body with a sloped forehead.
Common snook can grow to over four feet long, but on average, are only about one and a half feet long. Snook on the Atlantic coast tend to be larger than those in the gulf. However, Pacific snook will outweigh Atlantic snook any day. Females of both sides also tend to be larger than males.
The IGFA all-tackle world record is a 53 pound, 10 ounce monster of a snook caught by Gilbert Ponzi. It was caught in Parismina Ranch in Costa Rica, out of the Parismina River, on October 18th, 1978.
Atlantic snook can be found both on the Atlantic coast and the Gulf of Mexico. In the Gulf, they are mainly only seen along the coast of Florida and partially the coast of Texas, ranging from Corpus Christi to South Padre Island. Pacific snook can be caught as far north as Magdalena Bay in California and as far south as Guatemala.
Florida is known as a hotspot for snook, as they are very abundant in that area. On the Gulf Coast, some favorite spots are Cedar Key, Tampa Bay, and Charlotte Harbor, whereas, on the Atlantic side, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and the Keys are the best places to go. If you're looking to get in on the action, you can book a guided trip with the top snook captains across Florida here.
Snook are known to tolerate a wide variety of salinity levels, so you can find them in environments like riverine estuaries, mangrove forests, salt marshes, seagrass meadows, and nearshore reefs. They prefer warmer temperatures in these waters, at least over 50 degrees as adults and 60 degrees as juveniles.
As the water gets warmer, the further inshore snook will venture. This means that May through September are the best months to target them. They are most active in the early mornings and evenings, so be sure to head out at dawn and dusk, especially during a rising tide.
Snook can be caught both with natural and artificial bait. For natural bait, use shrimp and small baitfish such as pinfish, mullet, menhaden, goggle eyes, and pilchards. For artificial, use Feather jigs with plastic worm tails or trolling plugs.
For both types of bait, cast in a way that allows it to drift downstream towards the fish because snook eat by facing towards the current, waiting for the water flow to bring their meal to them. Once you get a bite, let the fish run for about four to five seconds if using a natural bait or immediately if artificial.
Keep in mind that no slack should be given when fighting these fish, as your line can easily get cut on their sharp gill covers.
Snook fishing will remain catch and release only through the end of August. The Florida fall snook season will open back up starting September 1st, 2022 and run until December 15th, 2022.
The slot limit for snook is no less than 28 inches and no more than 32 inches total length. The daily bag limit for snook is 1 per person, per day which does not include the captain and crew on a for-hire fishing trip.
Snook fishing will remain catch and release only through the end of August, 2022. The Florida fall snook season on the Gulf Coast will also open back up starting September 1st and run until November 30th.
The slot limit for snook is no less than 28 inches and no more than 33 inches total length. The daily bag limit for snook is 1 per person per day which does not include the captain and crew on a for-hire fishing trip.
Snook are known to have a medium to firm, white, and flaky flesh, highly regarded for its taste in the states. In areas like the Caribbean and Puerto Rico, it is considered a trash fish due to the skin's soapy taste. Nicknamed the "soap fish," their skin must be removed before cooking.
Snook are very easy to clean and cook. After filleting and removing the skin, add some seasonings and marinade, throw it in the fridge, and when you're ready for dinner, pan fry or bake it.
Updated on January 17, 2023
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