Winter Snook

It’s like that “Time’s Running Out” pitch we here via year-end sales commercials, but in this case, the angle’s based more on biology than quotas.

We’re talking about Florida’s snook—those line-sided scaled cyclones that bring loads of anglers to the coast for their share of the fury.

Snook will keep the party rocking until we get that sustained temperature drop that happens sometime in late December to early January. After that, the opportunity plummets to minimal levels until spring’s returning warmth.

Two good things about this time of year: First, the fish are in full-on food mood. They know that winter’s frosty grip will send them into a shivering lethargy due to the fact that even the Sunshine State’s mostly mild climate sits at the upper end of the snook’s subtropical range.

Once the really cold weather overtakes the southern U.S., snook will spend the majority of their time and energy just trying to stay alive. The fish will settle into deep canals, river bends, and marina basins with only the occasional winter warmup spurring them to movement.

Also, the baitfish schools that flourished from spring through fall are rapidly dwindling. With the easy meals a fleeting memory, linesiders become much more likely to bite artificials.

Jigs, slow-sinking plugs, artificial shrimp and flies will fool snook here and there throughout the year, but winter simply increases their popularity by the law of supply and demand.

Snook are prized for their delicious filets, but the season closed December 1 in the Gulf of Mexico, Monroe County, and Everglades National Park and December 15 in Atlantic waters.

Seasonal closures protect the fish during a vulnerable season. Nevertheless, great catch-and-release action will remain for another few weeks—weather depending.

A hooked snook is nothing short of a storm on a string and this fish’s incredible aerial acrobatics are astounding. Just consider that the snook are heading into a tough time of year, so use tackle sufficient for a prompt capture and be sure to revive your fish prior to release.


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