Although fishing shows on television more often than not feature anglers using live bait to catch snook, it is not essential. You also have the option of doing most of your snook fishing using artificial lures as it can be used throughout the year and frees up a lot of energy and time in catching live bait.
All it takes for a successful snook catch is matching up the right lure to the ideal spot. This is done by choosing the right lure for a combination of structures and water surface. It is also important to match the right gear to the conditions: type of bait/lure being used and the area where you are fishing.
The best way to choose what bait to use is to note what is most prevalent in the fishing area at the time. Selecting the ideal live bait sometimes takes catching a few different types to see which one attracts the most attention.
It is best to match the hook size to the size of bait you are using. For example, small bait such as shrimp needs a smaller hook than a mullet. A good tip is to hook the bait to the nose if there is a ripping current so that it appears as though they are swimming naturally when pulled through the water; and towards the tail in light current conditions so that the bait can be directed away from you towards a structure simply by pulling on the line.
Many anglers feel that fishing with artificial lures adds a challenge and flavor to the adventure of fishing, especially in sub-tropical waters. They pay a lot of attention to lures for snook fishing and therefore there are a tremendous variety of artificial lures. Once you understand the basics of why some lures work better than others in certain conditions, it will be easier to choose the right ones.
Simplify your lure selection based on the holding depth of the snook, presentation style and feeding path. If you will be fishing in a heavy current with live bait, a stronger reel with heavier line will be best. However, if your fishing is taking place in a lighter current with an artificial lure, a lighter line with a more sensitive rod will allow you better presentation and a feel of the lure.
Topwater and Floating Lures
The best time for using floaters is during spring and summer, but they will work equally well all year round. The best conditions is when there is hardly any wind as the fish need to see them and rough conditions will make them invisible to the snook as well as to you. Snook are known as “superior fish” as they are able to look up as well as sideways. They do look down to feed from the bottom, but their longer lower jaw extending past the upper jaw which makes them look up more than down. Therefore a floater will attract their attention in calm conditions.
Topwater lures come in different colors, sizes and shapes but are also categorized by the sounds they make and what they can do on the surface of the water.
Propeller Lures are cigar shaped lures that are longer than their width with pointy ends for small propellers on the sides or on the back or front. They spin and move causing the water to bubble causing a wake. The noise from the props attract the fish.
Suspension Lures are designed to simulate live fish suspended in the water. Some can vibrate or rattle and they have lips and fins. First choice should be the ones that will look like live bait to snook according to the season. In winter time for example it is pinfish and in summer it’s scaled sardines or threadfin herring (greenback or greenies).
Sinking Lures will sink to the bottom and simulate crustaceans. They work particularly well when fish are moving in or out of deeper water and work best in deep channels, on the bottom where snook like to congregate or structures near the shore. Some anglers will attach a soft plastic tail and flavor the jig head with strip-lure from natural shrimp to draw strikes.
When to Fish
Although snook will most certainly feed during daytime, they are actually more geared for night feeding. They have large eyes situated way up on the head with a distinguished lateral body line that senses movement, which makes them great night predators. One of the most popular ways to catch snook at night is by fishing from a bridge or a dock with lights where snook will congregate to pounce on the prey like crustaceans and baitfish that are attracted by the light.
For night fishing, a favorite live bait is ballyhoo as even the most pressured snook find it hard to turn it down. Any other live bait will work just as well.
Artificial bait is more difficult to select because of the popularity of this type of fishing which means that snook have already seen almost every lure made by man multiple times. A good tip is to cast a line up-current and faster retrieves than normal which may trigger a bite based on a strong reaction from the snook.
Caution: always make very sure that you are familiar with the area in daylight before fishing at night and be sure to have safety equipment and lights operating in good condition in order not to spoil an incredibly fun and rewarding excursion.
So when deciding on the best lure for snook fishing, bear in mind the season and where the fish like to feed. Pick a floater when the snook are near a calm surface and a suspension lure when they are midway down the water column below the surface. For very cold water, choose sinkers or bottom lures.