Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tracking temperature is key to finding, catching the cold-water snook

Dino Pasquale of St. Petersburg caught this 38-inch snook using a free-lined live shrimp.

RICK FRAZIER | Special to the Times

Dino Pasquale of St. Petersburg caught this 38-inch snook using a free-lined live shrimp.

Someone once told me that if snook were as dumb as cobia, they wouldn't be half as much fun to catch.

Somehow I find that hard to believe, but the fact remains: Snook aren't dumb by any stretch of the imagination. On top of that, they're extremely wary and hard to catch, especially during the colder months.

Now that snook season is open until May 1, there are a few tricks to use to your advantage if you plan to target snook.

Right now, finding snook in a feeding frenzy is extremely hard to do. It's not impossible, but generally snook will feed during the warmest time of the day, when they're metabolism gets a boost from the warming water. Savvy snook anglers know that an increase in water temperature of only a degree or two can trigger feeding activity.

Another point to remember: Since the water temperature in the Tampa Bay area is still only in the low 60s, snook may only feed once or twice a week. The low water temperature slows down the digestion rate of cold-blooded creatures, notably subtropical species such as snook.

So how can one predict the best time to target snook? It's not easy. But, there are a few tools to use to help determine these times. One is to check the weather forecast, particularly, the long-range forecast. Pay attention to which day or days are going to be the warmest before an approaching cold front. These prefront conditions, where the barometer is dropping, are by far some of the best days to fish. And, if a major solunar period coincides during the midafternoon of any of those days, so much the better.

Unlike summertime, when snook seek out moving water, they do just the opposite during these cold-water times. They seek areas that have little or no tidal movement, such as the very back of deep residential canals. Some of the better canals are the ones that dead end to the north because they are the warmest. Small bays and bayous that are screened from the north wind are also good.

Now, let's pin down some of the best baits to use, artificial and natural, keeping in mind that snook feed on smaller offerings when their metabolism slows.

Slow-moving artificials, such as a jig, are a great choice in the winter. A jig is good for any time of year, for that matter, because of its versatility. Just remember to make a real slow presentation with it. Even if you think you're moving it too slow, slow it down. A 4-inch clear/gold glitter split-tail minnow is hard to beat. Get a jig of a quarter-ounce or less and you're ready to go.

For live natural bait, smaller shrimp are preferred. It's hard for a snook to pass up a free-lined shrimp drifting by its nose.

All fish are grubbers, and snook are no exception, so they'll take a fresh dead bait as well. Shrimp, finger mullet, ladyfish, and pinfish all are good choices.

Rick Frazier runs Lucky Dawg Charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 510-4376. If you've had a great day fishing from land, contact the lubberline at (727) 893-8775 or e-mail captainrick@luckydawg.com.

Fast Facts

Snook regulations

In gulf waters, anglers may harvest one snook between 28 and 33 inches total length per day. Licensed saltwater anglers must have $2 permit to harvest snook. Snatch-hooking and spearing are prohibited.

Tracking temperature is key to finding, catching the cold-water snook 03/05/09 [Last modified: Thursday, March 5, 2009 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. FSU players rally around freshman QB James Blackman

    College

    TALLAHASSEE — For the first few minutes Saturday, Florida State's James Blackman looked like a true freshman making his first start at quarterback for a big-time program.

    Florida State Seminoles quarterback James Blackman (1) gets sacked during the first quarter of the Florida State Seminoles game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack on September 23, 2017, at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla.  Final score, North Carolina State Wolfpack 27, Florida State Seminoles 21.
  2. No. 12 FSU, freshman QB James Blackman struggle in 27-21 loss to N.C. State

    College

    TALLAHASSEE — Whatever was left of No. 12 Florida State's College Football Playoff hopes suffered a massive, likely fatal, blow Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium.

    Florida State Seminoles wide receiver Nyqwan Murray (8) carries during the first quarter of the Florida State Seminoles game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack on September 23, 2017, at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla.  At the half, North Carolina State Wolfpack 17, Florida State Seminoles 10.
  3. Trump tells Warriors star Stephen Curry that White House visit is off

    Nba

    SOMERSET, N.J. — Stephen Curry and President Donald Trump agree on one thing: The Golden State star is not going to the White House anytime soon.

    Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry poses for photos during NBA basketball team media day Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Oakland, Calif. [Associated Press]
  4. For starters: Rays at Orioles, facing another old friend in Jeremy Hellickson

    Blogs

    UPDATE, 3:29: Here is the Rays lineup, with Duda at 1B and Morrison the DH:

  5. Bucs have chance to beat Vikings in their third stadium

    Bucs

    Here's a cool sign that the Bucs are getting up there as an NFL franchise: If Tampa Bay can win Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium, it will mark the first time the Bucs have posted road wins against the same NFL opponent in three different stadiums.

    TIMES ARCHIVES (2012) | Bucs RB Doug Martin runs during Tampa Bay's 36-17 win at the Vikings in 2012, in what was then called Mall of America Field. If Tampa Bay wins Sunday, it will mark the first time they have road wins against the same NFL opponent in three different stadiums.