It’s July and Summer time is upon us. In South Florida Summer means flat glassy seas, days at the pool or beach, and spawning Snook!The Summer time Snook spawn occurs on the both the East and West Coast of South Florida. Male and Female Snook congregate in inlets, passes, under nearby inlet bridges, and along beaches. This time of year Snook fishing is strictly catch and release so if a meal is what your after you will be sadly disappointed. However, for those who are looking to bend a rod or catch the most sought after inshore game fish in Florida, then this a great time of year to target Snook.
Most of the year Snook can be a finicky fish. Feeding in short windows. Greatly affected by tide, moon phase, barometric pressure changes, among other things. Anglers can be found during the fall, winter and spring months spending sleepless nights around brides and other high structure areas trying to land a trophy Snook or slot sized meal. But during the summer months (and leading into the mullet run) the typical patterns of these fish are dismissed (not completely) as they set their focus on spawning. They have one thing on there mind….making babies. Fortunately for anglers this means large schools of Snook, hungry Snook, all waiting for their next meal. Some are tying to plump up before the spawn, and others are trying to put on weight after. Either way this means hungry fish.
As previously mentioned Snook congregate at various places in the summer, but for the purpose of this post we are going to focus on the beaches. Why? Because it is one of the few times and places you can sight fish monster Snook on light tackle. You can be successful with artificial lures or a fly rod, and live bait as well. That part is mostly preference. But there are a few key factors I would like to go over that I consider non negotiable when targeting Summer time beach Snook.
How to see them?
When the conditions are right Snook can be seen cruising the beaches. Learning what to look for and how to spot them is going to make having a successful trip that much easier. If you know what to look for you can spot a fish at any time of day, but it is much easier with the Sun at your back (I talk more about this in the What Time paragraph). For starters get yourself a good pair of polarized glasses to help cut the glare on the water. Nothing is better then Costa’s 580 G lenses. I prefer Blue but any color will work. It is important when you walk the beach that you keep a good distance between you and the water line. The first trough is right along the waters edge parallel to the beach. Many big Snook can be seen here but fisherman often walk to close to the water and spook the fish before they ever see them. If the fish has been on the beach for a while they can be hard to spot. Their clean body, and white silvery scales can sometimes be missed. If you are not sure if what you are looking at is a Snook then get closer. The fish will spook but at least you will learn what to look for. It is important to take your time, look carefully, and be patient. Once you learn what to look for it will become a breeze.
On the East and West Coast alike the common advice given to anglers is fish any beach within a one mile distance North or South of an inlet. This is good advice and I can not say that is wrong, but it may not be the most productive. The chances of you finding Snook cruising the shore is pretty good in these areas during the summer. However there are beaches where the Snook like to stage in large schools. In my experience large schools of Snook can be found on the beach 6-8 miles away from the nearest inlet. The best way to find these areas is walk the beach. Look for structure, bait, or diving birds. Anything that can indicate there is life in the area. If you think you have found an area that holds fish one thing you can try is putting on a snorkel and mask and getting in the water. This will give you the best idea of how many fish there are in the area, where they are holding, and how big the fish are.
The best time of day (or night) to fish for beach Snook is dependent on a few factors. First, what is your preferred tackle? If you are set on throwing flies or artificial lures (especially flies though) then seeing the fish is going to extremely important to getting hooked up. On the East Coast dusk is prime time for sight fishing and on the West Coast dawn is best. When sight fishing you want the Sun at your back. The first 2 hours after the Sun rises and before the Sun sets will give anglers the best advantage when targeting Snook on fly or lures. I have had fish swim just a few feet in front of me and had no idea I was there. The angle of light did not allow them to see me, but I could see them perfect. If hooking up on artificials is what you want then going during the low light hours is going to be crucial to your success. (Fishing lures at night can be good as well if you where and when to go)
If you are open to using live or cut bait then you will have some other things to consider when planning what time to go. For starters, when are the fish eating? What tide are they eating on? What is the moon doing while they are eating?These are all things to consider whenever you are Snook fishing. Once you know where the fish are stop by that are a few times throughout the day to see if there is a prime feeding time. Once you find the window they are feeding then you must figure what bait to use…
Whether you are using live bait or lures it is important to know what the Snook are feeding on. Usually it is pretty easy to figure out. If you see a school of pilchards, or sardines getting swirled by a school of Snook,then just throw your cast net, bait up and hold on. Early and late in the summer months (usually end of Spring and beginning of Fall) Mullet can be found on the beaches as well. If there is no apparent bait around you may want to try getting in the water with a mask and seeing if you can find sand perch, whiting, or croakers. These are all excellent Snook bait and can be caught with a large cast net, or a small hook and small piece of shrimp. If the Snook are not keyed in on anything specific it can’t hurt to try live shrimp. Another popular bait is chunks of fresh dead mullet. This is most effective at night. The important part is finding what they are feeding on an using that as bait or matching your lure to the bait.
One of the best parts about catching Snook on the beach is most of the time there is nothing for them to break you off on. The fish can pull, run, and dive all it wants and there is usually no mangroves, oysters, or rock piles that the fish can run to. Because of this, light spinning rods and reels are the popular choice for most anglers. A 7 to 7.6 foot rod and 2500 to 4000 size reel will get the job done. As far lures are concerned anything that resembles the bait in the area will work. Mirror Lure, Rapala, Yo Zuri, and even Spooltek Lures are all good companies that make products that will fit this application. May favorite lure is the DOA shrimp in Pearl color. If you are fishing live bait we have many live bait rigs that will work great for beach time Snook fishing. A favorite of many when fishing clear water is our Fluorocarbon Leader,or in heavy current or inlets our Snook Inlet Rig is a long time classic, just to name a few. Thanks for reading!
Director of Operations