Snook is a term used to describe a species of warm-water tropical fish of the family Centropomidae that are renowned for their voracious appetite and intense fighting style. Catching snook can be incredibly addictive.

There are many different species of snook, but the ones you're most likely to encounter are the common snook, fat snook, swordspine snook and tarpon snook. Common and fat snook are found mostly in the Gulf of Mexico while swordspine and tarpon snook can be found in the Atlantic. Generally speaking, snook can be caught anywhere from central Florida (the Orlando area) down to parts of Brazil.

Snook tend to be white to golden in hue and have a dark stripe all the way down their side. Their mouths are wide and their teeth and gill-plates tend to be very sharp. Snook can grow to be properly massive. The biggest snook ever caught was something like 4 feet long and weighed right about 50 pounds, but most snook are maybe 20 or so inches long and anywhere from 5-15 pounds in weight. The legal size to keep a snook is between 26 and 34 inches (in Florida, when the season is open). Check with your local authorities for specifics in your area.

On to the fun stuff.

Catching Snook

Fishing for snook is very similar to fishing for largemouth bass. Anyone can do it. What I'm about to describe is my preferred way of catching snook; I find this to be the most effective and exciting way to fish for snook. There are many, many, many different ways to do this.

First off, let's talk tackle. I prefer to use short graphite rods and spinner reels (light tackle) as it makes fighting the fish a lot more fun than simply horsing the sucker in on heavy duty tackle. For line I like to use 10 pound mono or 10 pound braid as these lines will float above the water and not get tangled up in reeds or rocks. You can use stronger line if you want to, but I like to use 10 pound line because it makes things a bit more challenging and transmits more motion. Braid is better if you're going to be casting over long distances. Circle hooks are undoubtedly the best type of hook to use for snook fishing; you don't have to set them, all you have to do is reel and they set themselves. Snook don't often spit out bait that they've hit like bass sometimes do, so the circle hook is perfect. For bait you can use any live fish that is small enough to fit into a snook's mouth or top-water lures and plugs. I don't recommend using lures as I've never seen anyone catch a snook on a lure, but it is possible. If you're using live fish as bait, I recommend using a bobber in the warmer months. Snook have no problem coming up to the surface for a snack. In the colder months let your bait go as far down as it would like to as the snook descend to the bottom when the water is cooler.

As far as location is concerned, any kind of warm, brackish water (a mixture of salt and freshwater) is prime snook territory. Atlantic inlets and other canals that lead to salt water are excellent places to catch snook. Like most predators, they like hiding behind structure, so keep an eye out for walls and corners as well as underwater structure. Snook can also be found in straight salt water and even sometimes in pure fresh water. Just like you would when bass fishing, look for drop-off points and places where bait-fish gather. As a general rule, avoid water deeper than 25 feet.

Once you've got a bite, give the fish a second to properly take your bait. If you're using a bobber, chances are the hook has already been set. If you're not using a bobber, start reeling once you feel the line tighten up. Once you've hooked a fish, you need to work quickly. As I mentioned before, snook have very sharp teeth. I've lost far too many snook because I let their teeth rub against the line too long. Keep the strength of your line in mind as you're fighting the fish. If you're using 10 pound test mono, be very careful and let your drag out a little. Keep the tension on the line and don't let the fish take you around any kind of structure. If you're fishing off a bridge, pull the fish in quickly once you've got it out of the water. Keep in mind the fact that they can still wiggle themselves free once they're out of the water and your line can still snap. Trust me, losing a fish once you've got it out of the water is a terrible feeling.

Once you've caught yourself a snook, be very careful when handling it. The gill plates are extremely sharp! Use a rag to grab the fish or wear gloves. Use pliers to get the hook out and let him go. Snook is a mighty fine dish, but there aren't nearly enough of them to warrant eating in my opinion. Ultimately the decision is up to you.


Snook (?), v. i. [Prov. E. snook to search out, to follow by the scent; cf. Sw. snoka to lurk, LG. snoggen, snuckern, snokern, to snuffle, to smell about, to search for.]

To lurk; to lie in ambush.



© Webster 1913.

Snook, n. [D. snoek.] Zool. (a)

A large perchlike marine food fish (Centropomus undecimalis) found both on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of tropical America; -- called also ravallia, and robalo.


The cobia.


The garfish.


© Webster 1913.

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