Are snook really that elusive? The answer is No, they are not. It’s a matter of knowing how to target them, where to look, and how to present the right bait, or lure. Once you gained this understanding your success rate will go through the roof.
The picture on the right is me with a couple of Snook. I know they’re not monsters, I didn’t want to show you the big ones yet, You’ll see bigger, trust me.
At the time I was a charter Captain in the Everglades and surrounding 10,000 Islands. It was one of the best fisheries I have encountered. At first yes, I had a hard time boating these snook. But after consistent fishing I was able to zero in on them and learn their habits. And that was key. Now the tactics and techniques that I have learned in these waters can be applied anywhere in SW Florida. It’s all the same, just a different area.
Snook are ambush predators and tend to stack up on points, such as the ends of mangrove islands, bridge pilings and structures. They will always be facing in the current waiting for that unsuspecting fish to get swept by in the tide. This being said you need to position yourself up current of your target area. Anchoring up current is the method used when you are fishing LIVE BAIT. Check my other post for catching, and rigging Live Bait. You want to be stationary and be able to free line, and guide your bait into the strike zone. Free lining is a technique used to allow the bait to look natural. Once anchored and situated, if you have an abundance of live bait toss about half dozen into the area your targeting and see what happens. This will put the snook on hyper alert and start them feeding vigorously. The second you’re hooked bait gets in the zone it will get smashed.
The pic on right is an example of a free line rig. Notice there is no swivel. That’s a no no. There should be no hardware except the hook. Otherwise the bait will be fighting the weight and will look un- natural. The knot used to join Braid to mono is the Double Uni and you can click on my Knot section to learn how to tie it. Braid you say? We will discuss Mono Leader in a few. The Knot used to join Hook to Leader is a Circle Knot. Refer to Knot page.
40lb Power Pro Go to this link for the best snook line on the market.
Braid is a very tough fishing line that does not stretch. Stretch is bad if you’re trying to pull snook out of the mangroves. The diameter of 40 lb test braid is that of 12lb mono. Braid is your friend if Snook are your target. We will have a lesson on Braid later.
If you never used Circle Hooks, you’re in for a treat. Not only are Circle Hooks fish friendly, meaning 95% of hook ups are in the corner of the mouth, and easily removed. The hook up ratio is near 100%. If you allow the hook to do the work and, you do not set the hook. This takes a little practice if you’re used to setting the hook. Don’t give into the urge to set. Another link to some awesome circle hooks. Live Bait Circle Hooks .
Anchor up current, Bow into the current to avoid water slapping on your boat and creating noise as it would broad side, or stern anchoring. It’s best to line your boat up exactly with your target spot. About 30 to 40 feet away. Hook your bait in the back behind the dorsal fin and under the spine, so you don’t kill the bait.
And open your bail while holding light tension on the line. This will allow the bait to look natural and drift into the honey hole. If fishing a direct point lock your bail when you’ve reached the desired location and wait a few moments. If after a few minutes you don’t get a strike, reel up and repeat procedure. If you nose hook your bait it will be able to stay in the strike zone longer and appear more natural.
If fishing the length of an island or structure let your bait go as far a possible before locking down. Keep your drag snug, not super tight but tight enough you wont get pulled immediately back in the mangroves or structure when hooked up.
In the case of the Snook bait size can vary to three inch pilchards, or three inch finger mullet, to one pound mullet, or 15” ladyfish. Snook are greedy and always seem to bite off more than they can chew. Sometimes they do get finicky and you have to match the hatch. Meaning present them with what their seeing and feeding on, which sometimes could be tiny glass minnows. Often if that’s the case and you toss a hand full of live bait to them you can switch what’s on the menu.
Below is a picture of a Client I often chartered in pursuit of monster Snook. He was hooked and had the fever only after one trip in the 10,000 Islands. We anchored twenty or so feet on the edge of an outer island on a out going tide.
I threw my 1/4” Mesh Cast Net on the Port side of my boat and pulled up a half dozen 1lb mullet. I then hooked one up to a “ Knocker Rig” see “below” And without relocating tossed that giant mullet on the opposite side and let him sit on the bottom. It took about one minute to get the strike. Why? The snook were staged up in the same location feeding on giant mullet. I just gave them what they were already feeding on. For months I was able to return to the same spot on the same tide and repeat this time, after time, after time.
Above is the Knocker Rig with an Egg Weight. I used a 3 to 4 ounce weight to hold the bait on the bottom due to the current strength. This Rig allows the bait to be anchored to the bottom and still freely swim in circles around the weight. The standing end of the line “not shown” is fastened to a barrel swivel to avoid your line from twisting. Still using a circle hook, when the line comes tight from the fish all you do is start reeling, and she’s hooked. Fight on. 3oz Egg Weights