With the exception of the summer spawning period, when a lot of the bigger snook set up shop on the beaches, docks are almost always a good bet for linesider action. This time of year, when the fish are staging for their prespawn transition, docks close to inlets will offer prime snook potential.
Capt. Mark Dillingham, a prominent snook guide on Florida’s Gulf Coast offers a few tips for dialing in some rod-bending action:
- Location: Dillingham looks for docks that have additional structure like mangrove trees and rock piles around them. Snook like options and multiple habitat features allow them to move around with the tides and time of day. “Depth plays a large roll, too,” Dillingham said. “The deeper the better.”
- Stealth Matters: “Stay upwind and uptide from the dock and drift baits back through the docks,” Dillingham said.
- Appetizers: Chumming with handfuls of live baits—usually pilchards, aka “whitebait”—bears twofold benefit. First, it often jumpstarts the fish’s feeding. Second, when a snook smacks a wayward baitfish dashing around the surface, the frothy violence gives you a distinct “cast here” sign. “I don’t always chum, but sometimes it is necessary to chum to help locate the fish, as they tend to move back and forth between docks,” Dillingham said.
- Fight Time: Snook are tasty fish, no doubt, but most anglers value them more for their incredible fighting ability. Once you come tight, it’s just a roll-up-your-sleeves street fight.
Dillingham’s advice: “Keep the rod low, maintain constant pressure, and apply as much drag as possible. Of course, a stout rod, heavy braid and a strong fluorocarbon leader plays a major roll in helping you land the fish.”