The Common Snook or the snook fish is a widely popular recreational fish in the Gulf Coast, known for its intense fighting ability and quality meat. It goes by other common names such as robalo and sergeant fish.
The snook fish (Centropomus undecimalis) belonging to Centropomidae family is a hermaphrodite, meaning it starts its life off as male which on reaching maturity transforms into a female.
They are identified by their distinct two-part dorsal fins, a black lateral line that extends until their tail. They have a robust, concave shaped body, protruding jaw in a golden-yellow shade with the ones found in rivers being darker than the ones found in the ocean.
Snook are tropical fish. They can’t tolerate cold water. Even if the temperatures falls to just 60° F they begin to become lethargic and die eventually.
These fish commonly range from 50-140 cm in length. On an average they grow up to 50 cm (1.6 ft). The highest recorded weight of a snook fish ever caught is around 24.3 kg.
Snook are euryhaline, meaning they spend time in both fresh and saltwater . They are never too far from the sea when they’re up river and never too far from freshwater when in the sea. They live in a wide variety of habitats, including river mouths, near shore reefs, salt marshes, seagrass meadows, and along Gulf beaches, but have a preference for mangrove-fringed estuaries.
It is widespread throughout the tropical waters of the western Atlantic Ocean from the coast of the North Carolina to Brazil. They are found along the Atlantic coast of Florida south through the Key between the Florida panhandle and Galveston, Texas, but are plentiful along the rest of the Gulf Coast.
The live baits which are most useful with catching are any small fish, live shrimp or crabs.
The artificial baits commonly used include mirror plugs, buck-tail and soft plastic jigs, jerk plugs, spoons and topwater plugs. Pilchards are effective as both live chum and bait.
To get those big Snook go for large dead baits such as mullet heads, ladyfish heads or halves. Spinnerbaits are also excellent lures in tidal rivers and come in handy for novice anglers.
Snook fishing needs one to have quite the skill and be thorough with sight casting and fly fishing techniques.
Spinning and bait-casting are commonly used. Light saltwater
rods are useful when using live baits to catch the Snooks. Surf tackle can be useful at times, although surf Snook are usually close to the beach, in easy range of casting gear.
One of the most popular rigs for Snook is the Carolina Rig. Normally used with soft baits, this rig allows your weight to move up and down your line so it isn’t attached close to your lure.
Snook fish are commonly found to take shelter in areas such as rocks, grass flats, mangroves, oyster beds and bridges. Make sure to thoroughly search the brackish waters – do not limit your area of search.
When the fish feed actively, during the summer months, you should use fast lures, and then gradually move to slower lures as colder days kick in and the fish’s metabolism slows down.
Fishing for Snook depends a lot on the season. One more thing to consider is the water temperature. You will find Snook in warm waters, almost exclusively as they can’t stand the cold waters. So the best time to fish for them is from spring to early fall when the waters are warm.
The slob fish will move around estuaries, inlets, and bays from April until September, and then gradually start migrating towards cover structures to rest in rivers and piers around trees, mangroves, and other water structure.It is also adviced to go fish for snook during early hours of the days or late in the night.