Snook

Snook is a common top predator in suitable fresh, brakish and inshore marine waters, and is a priority target of many anglers around the South-Western USA.
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Where and When?

The snook is distributed in coastal waters along the western Atlantic seaboard from North Carolina, in the north, southwards to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. In the USA, they are particularly common in areas around Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. They are generally an inshore fish species, inhabiting lagoons, estuaries and areas around islands, and are rarely found in water deeper than 20 meters. Frequently found in brackish or even fresh water, juveniles often travel far up rivers and, as they grow and mature, they gravitate back downstream and then form spawning aggregations around river mouths. Spawning takes place from May to September and is erratic, probably dictated by daily temperature, and the fish are multiple spawners. Because the snook are very sensitive to temperature, they avoid cold water and feed most actively during warm times of the day and season. Spring, through to fall, is the time to catch snook and they can be caught throughout the day and, as they have excellent eyesight, also through the night when temperature conditions are suitable.

About Snook

The common snook (Centropomus undecimalis) are fairly long and thin fish with a dull greyish silver body color, and a clear black lateral line along the side. They can grow to 1.4 metres (4 ½ feet), with a mass of over 24 kilograms (53 lb), but the usual size caught is closer to 50 centimetres. It grows fairly rapidly to about seven years old, and is a so-called “protandrous hermaphrodite”. It means males can, with growth, develop female reproductive organs and lay potentially fertile eggs. Such “sex changes” are being discovered in increasing numbers of other fish species. Spawning, off the USA shore, takes place from April to October in saltwater, often near estuaries and lagoon mouths. The snook is reported to be very sensitive to temperature changes. “Cold snaps” during spawning can reduce or even stop reproduction, resulting in greatly reduced recruitment. In extreme cases up to 50 % of the adult population may die as well. Consequently the local abundance of snook can increase and decrease rapidly as a result of environmental conditions.

How to Catch?

As an inshore species, there are many places where snook may be caught from the shore, piers or structure. A small boat, however, often gives better access to exactly where the fish are located or feeding. Light tackle is probably best for snook unless there are a lot of obstacles in the water and thus the fish must be held away from them. As the fish is an opportunist predator, and takes an extensive variety of prey, a wide assortment of fishing methods and baits may be used successfully. Live bait, using shrimp or fish, is popular as is natural dead bait but, in many areas, artificial lures can produce good results and better sport. Lure fishing using plastics, jigs or spoons is favoured by many sport anglers while careful fly fishing in some areas can also produce good fish and excellent sport. There are closed seasons and strict fishing restrictions in many areas, especially in the USA, and it is important to check with local authorities and guides to avoid difficulties.