Mild Winter Snook

Winter can be long, North to South. Everybody, especially anglers, would all accept an early spring with open arms.

Such photos usually hit my inbox between March and November, with noticeable spikes in early spring. But I’m not supposed to get photos of anglers in short sleeves with big snook in open areas during January and February.

Typically, by early December, the linesiders have packed into the rivers, creeks, canals and any deep, stable water they can find. Declining water temperatures are tough on this subtropical species and toughing it out in protected winter sanctuaries is their normal plan.

Nevertheless, several guides like Capt. Mike Anderson have enjoyed atypical snook action through much of the 2014-15 winter.

“This was an interesting winter because we caught fish in December and January in spots that I normally fish in April and May,” Anderson says.

Targeting areas not far from those traditional wintering spots, Anderson attributes the recent snook action to the abundance of forage—primarily scaled sardines (aka “whitebait”), which have lasted far beyond their normal availability.

“I think the bait was huge, along with the fact that the water temperature never stayed cold. We had a little cold push in November, but as it warmed up in December and January, the water temperature was in the 70-plus degree range and that’s going to keep those fish out there on the flats.”

“We’ve had a fantastic snook bite because they were eating whitebait all winter. I’ve run 4-hour trips in one spot and we’ve caught 25-30 snook. These are traditional early- to late-spring spots.”

The takeaway: Fishing logs are a key element of one’s angling development, but make sure you include a column for the oddball stuff—those atypical trends that can deliver a real seasonal treat.

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