In many ways, fly fishing for Snook is a lot like Trout fishing. The biggest difference is snook are typically more likely to be found in and around structures.
Snook, like Trout, are surface feeders, perfect for fly fishing, Snook are also very aware of sounds and movement, make too much noise and you will scare them away.
The most important thing for most people fishing Snook is that they are an incredibly hard fighting fish. Fly fishing for Snook will test every skill you thought you had.
What is a Snook?
Snook (Centropomus undecimalis) are found in the coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, from southern Florida and Texas to Brazil. There are six Atlantic and six Pacific Ocean snook species. These fish can grow to over 4 ft and a can weigh in well over 40 lbs. The typical Snook in the Florida Keys is 5-15 pounds. Snook are predatory hunters (an opportunistic carnivore), fast and just a lot of fun to catch. We have a guide here for fishing in Texas if you’re planning on visiting the state on your next fly fishing trip.
How to catch Snook from shore
My favourite way to fish Snook from the shore is with small topwater plugs. The trickiest part here is to get your cast up under docks, under mangroves and all the other places your fly could get hung-up. Once you get the cast down, all you need is a short fast retrieve to get the hookup. The challenge of trying to get your fly and the fish out of whatever you cast into is what makes catching Snook on a fly fun.
The main factors at play when it comes to snook fishing are getting an early start and finding bait that hangs out in the structure you are fishing. You know you will be in for a good day when you find glass minnows near docks or mangroves. Another trick for finding big snook is looking along the mangroves for bubbles or froth.
Also, while the early start is important, there are exceptions. Even though most Snook feed all night during full moons, some big snook can be in the middle of the afternoon in the summer During the new moon.
How to catch Snook from the beach
When you are fishing the beach for Snook there are three main things you want to see:
First, you want to make sure you see a current, Beach Snook like to sit in the current waiting for smaller fish to be driven towards them. Second, you want to see that there are plenty of baitfish already around, these will draw the snook to the area,
Finally, you want to see a dock or a structure in the water, this gives the snook somewhere to lurk while awaiting their prey.
If all those factors are in play, your best chances at catching a beach Snook is by sight fishing. Wade a few feet into the water to keep your profile low, and avoid being detected by the fish.
Cast your line parallel to the beach, to ensure your lure has maximum time in the strike zone.
Lastly always cast up current and allow your line to come back towards you when snook fishing. Dragging your lure against the current will just look unnatural and likely spook the Snook.
What is the best bait for snook?
Snook feed on shrimp, mullet, menhaden, pinfish and crabs. They will also attack a fly. It is a good idea to fish remote shores where the Snook cruise the grass line. This is one of the more exciting ways we fish for these aggressive feeders. Strip a fly 12-20 inches from their nose (as if they spooked the meal) and you’ll learn just how ferocious these guys can be. Snook will crush a fly and rip off your fly line to get back into hiding, so be ready when they strike.
Put a little pressure on a Snook and they will jump two body lengths out of the water just to let you know they do not like being hooked.
What is the best gear for fishing snook?
If you intend to catch Snook on fly an 8-10 weight rod is recommended. If you are going sight fishing using bait, a 10-15 weight foot rod with a spin/plug tackle is your best bet . If you are using lures, ask around and be sure to mimic the local baitfish patterns.
Either way, the local tackle shop should be able to point you towards the best snook fly and baitfish patterns for use in the area.
Both fly fishing and bait fishing can be a challenge, Snook get angry when hooked and put up an excellent fight.
Can snook change sex?
No, contrary to popular fishing myth, Snook cant change sex, but they can get so big that they appear to have female parts. Rest assured your catch is still just a big fat boy with an attitude.
When do Snook Spawn?
Females usually spawn during a full moon phase and release about two million eggs. The male swims along with the female, fertilizing the eggs as they are spawned.
How quickly do snook grow?
First-year fish grow to 12 – 14 inches, feed on increasingly larger live prey, and are mostly found in mangroves. Snook fish are sexually mature in about four years and will grow to about 24 – 26 inches long.
Why are Snook so sensitive to movement?
Snook have a grey or black line that runs down the side of their body. This lateral line gives them the extraordinary ability to feel movement in any water. Snook species are capable of inhabiting both fresh and saltwater. These are ambush feeders and big fish love structure. This sixth sense for water movement and vibration allows them to find and attack prey in water of low visibility. It also makes them hard to sneak up on.
What is the best temperature for fishing snook?
These guys hate temperatures below 60F – at temperatures below 58F, they are in danger of dying. However larger fish will move to deeper water and be fine but inactive. Big fish are most active in water temperatures of 68 – 78 degrees.