Snook Fishing At Night
Snook fishing at night is practiced by a lot of anglers, and when done right can be rewarding. If you live in Florida or nearby you’ll see a lot of waterfront homes where anglers spend several nights angling under lit docks. If you only fish during the day you’re missing out on a lot, and it’s not that hard if you know the tricks of the trade.
The Best Places to Fish at Night
If you’re going to fish at night, the basic principles for other types of night fishing still apply. Fish in a place where there’s light as it stimulates growth of plankton and that it turn attracts small critters and baitfish, and this draws snook into the area.
The best places to go are residential areas, inlets and bays: during the day these areas are inaccessible to fish because of boating, swimming and other human activity. During the evening however you’ll be able to find them. You can start by asking the locals where to catch the fish, though if you’re at the Florida coasts the best place to go fishing at night is Cape Canaveral at the east and Port Richey at the west.
Regardless where you decide to fish, do so near residential dock lights. You’ll find many lights set near the water to drawn in the snook, but the truth is any type of light is enough to attract a critter and snook.
Your options are not limited to docks either, as you’ll see plenty of action under towering bridges as long as there’s even a bit of light striking it. For new anglers, docks represent the most convenient option, but for something different, try bridges. This might run contrary to popular belief, but some of the best nighttime snook fishing is done near populated cities because the lights attract the fish.
Patience is Necessary
All experienced anglers will tell you that patience is necessary, and this is especially true if you’re fishing for snook at night. One of the most common mistakes anglers make is moving into the lights very quickly, producing noise and scaring away the fish. Snook are easily spooked during the day, but the sound of a boat motor at night will drive them away.
In other words you need to be quiet so you’ll be able to hear snook make “pops” when they feed. This usually takes place near a dock light’s beam, but in some cases it will be outside the beam, so check those out too. Once you’ve decided on the place to fish, use a soft, plastic jerkbait. Texas rig your lure so it doesn’t get caught up in ropes and pilings, and cast it. Let your lure settle down before making a few twitches.
Some anglers don’t like to use lures with multiple hooks because it might get stuck, but there are instances when a jerkbait made of hard plastic is necessary to lure the snook. It’s all right to cast beyond the light –some would even recommend it-, and remember to reel the bait steadily and slowly.
What Tackle Should be Used?
Underwater fish lights can help but you’ll still need quality tackle. For day and nighttime fishing consider using a light baitcasting or saltwater spinning setup. In most cases a 30 lb. braid is sufficient, and a fluorocarbon leader between 15 to 40 lbs. will do, depending on how clear the water is and the size of the snook you’re after.
Whether you’re fishing near covers, structures or inshore, snook is usually caught with baits or pitching lures. Keep in mind they are sensitive to movements of the tide and they face the current. If you can see snook under the night lights but they refuse to come to you in spite of all the bait you’re throwing, be patient and wait for the tide to turn.
Lures and Baits
A good snook light can help but you also need some decent lures to draw their attention. Bucktail pigs with tails work great as will shrimp and top water plugs. There’s also no shortage of live bait options either as you can use live sardines, pilchards, shrimp and other critters. Generally speaking it’s best to use live bait in the area where you’ll be fishing as that is what the snook will be looking for anyway.
If you don’t want to use live bait, a chartreuse or white paddle tail with jighead is always a good choice. Your options will also depend on the type of gear you’ll be carrying, and for serious fishing you should bring something you can use all night.
Is There Anything Else I Should Know?
Snook take different types of lures and baits, but their behavior can be hard to predict at times, and they can also be stubborn. Even if it’s well lit sometimes the method you use today may not work tomorrow so you need to be patient.
If you’re after big snook (10 lbs. and up), plan your fishing during early summer or spring nights, as that is when spawning takes place. Look for deep holes and use live pinfish or if you want artificial bait, a plastic tail jig or a bucktail. You can also troll a plug in these passes or use a needlefish.
If you’re fishing at flats or river mouths, it’s best to start during the last hour of the falling tide and keep going for the next hour as the tide rises. You can use live shrimp here but a far better option is a gizzard shad. While effective, they perish quickly and during transportation needs to be kept in aerated water. You can also try the freshwater shiner, and they’re available in most tackle and bait stores. Again though, they don’t survive long so handle with care.
If you haven’t gone snook fishing at night before, it’s a lot of fun. It might take some getting used to due to the different environment. But give it a few tries and you’ll realize that it’s as much fun as fishing during the day.
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