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Sports

Hook a Snook!

By: Captain Will Geraghty, Professional Fishing Guide

Captain Will Geraghty displays a Naples Bay snook. Photo Courtesy: Jan Maizler Photos.

Captain Will Geraghty displays a Naples Bay snook. Photo Courtesy: Jan Maizler Photos.

Perhaps the most targeted gamefish swimming Florida’s coastal waters, the great snook is always a sure bet for summertime anglers.  Here in Southwest Florida, our spectacular coastal fishery lends itself to be one of the finest in the state for catching snook in big numbers and size.

What’s ideal about the snook is that they can be caught employing a broad range of baits and specialized methods.  Tossing live bait, artificial lures and flies anglers can achieve snook catching success only if their presentation is natural and lifelike.  Remember, snook especially larger specimens, can be quite savvy at times snubbing or turning down any and all offerings.  However anglers, there are a few tricks that can be implemented allowing you to turn a fish or two!

During periods of summertime clear water conditions, scaling down the overall size of tackle will be beneficial, as stealth tactics will reign supreme.  Liberal lengths (3-5-feet) of fluorocarbon leader in the 30-60# class should always be considered whether fishing the passes, beaches or around significant structure.  Virtually invisible when submerged below the surface, fluorocarbons leader material is also quite abrasion resistant compared to standard monofilament leaders.  While fluorocarbon leader does cost more, the beneficial properties are well worth the extra dollar!

For the live bait angler, it will be best to match your hook size to the bait you will be using to allow for a more natural presentation therefore garnering more strikes or bites.  Here in the shallow inshore arena, “circle” hooks are common practice when plying for snook.  By design, “circle” hooks will reduce gut or deep hooking by catching the fish in the corner of the mouth allowing for a safe healthy release.

While on the topic of a safe and healthy release, it is recommended to always handle your catch with great care.  Firmly hold your snook catch horizontally with the aid of one of the many lip-gripping devices on today’s market or your own set of wet hands.  Minimize the amount of time your snook catch remains out of the water and absolutely do not drop your fish on the deck.  As stewards of the sea, we must all do our part to ensure the area’s snook stocks continue to grow and flourish!

Anglers need to look no further than our area’s beaches to encounter great “snookin”!  Location, hydrology and topography often determine how active a certain beach will be.  Top producing beaches are typically within close proximity or range of a passes and posses features to include: downed deadwood, rock jetties, deep troughs, abundant seashells and moderate to swift current.

What makes the beach snook bite fantastic is that it is typically a sight fishing experience like no other.  Snook in solid numbers cruise the shoreline in search of their next meal in mere inches of water.  As anglers, we are trying to fool or trick them into pouncing on our offering. 

For the best beach results, a stealth approach will be paramount.  Always lead your piscatorial target rather than cast directly toward or over it as these beach snook are sketchy and spook quite easily.  It is truly hard to be the thrill of sightfishing Southwest Florida beach snook!

If the beaches are not your fancy, look for aggregate numbers of snook to be prowling virtually anywhere within our coastal ecosystem.  From the shallow backcountry bays, mangrove islands, residential docks to area pass there is a snook catching opportunity just waiting to happen!

I enjoy treating my anglers to some exciting dock and pass fishing for snook during the summertime months.  While the methods previously mentioned above enhance our catching success, I typically focus more on tides and quality baits. 

Moving tides, both incoming and outgoing, are beneficial for snook success around docks and passes.  For best results, try fishing the moderate phases of the tide, as they will be best for present your baits.  Too much or too little water flow does effect a natural bait presentation as well as the overall snook feed. 

Top live baits here in Southwest Florida include: pinfish, threadfin herring and scaled sardines or what are commonly referred to here in the region as “white” bait.  All of these go-to baits need to be rigged properly and presented up current and allowed to naturally flow horizontally down rock jetties or underneath dock where snook stage up and ambush their prey.

Savvy and hard-charging the snook will test both skills and will.  Anglers, summertime is finally here and now is the time to get out on the water and beaches to sample some of the best snook fishing of the year.  But don’t forget, there is always a solid chance you will be snookered by the snook!

– Captain Will Geraghty is a professional fishing guide and freelance writer living in Naples.  Specializing in both inshore and offshore light tackle sport fishing, Captain Geraghty offers trips aboard “The Grand Slam,” a custom 25-foot Privateer.  Contact him at (239) 793-0969 or visit www.naplessportfishing.com.