Summer Snook Fishing in Sarasota
This article will discuss summer snook fishing in Sarasota. The warmer months are a great time to target these terrific game fish on the beaches and in or near the passes.
Candice headed out on Sarasota Bay on a Sunday afternoon with her step-father to do a little tubing, a little fishing, and enjoy the afternoon on the water. The tide was running out hard and pass crabs were all over the surface. So, they netted a few up, dropped them to the bottom near some rocky structure in Big Pass, and before long she had her hands full with a large snook! It was a tough battle in the swift tide, but Candice subdued the fish, hoisted it up for a quick photo, and released her unharmed to go make babies. She landed several others as well. Summer snook fishing in Sarasota!
An over-slot snook caught at 2:00 on a Sunday afternoon? Yep. There is no doubt amongst anglers along the west coast of Florida that snook have made a rousing comeback since the big cold-water fish kill in 2010. Some anglers credit several mild winters for the increase in snook numbers while others feel the strict management of the species is responsible for the great action. Whatever the reason, snook are pleasing fisherman throughout the region.
As a fishing guide in Sarasota, I am out on the water around 250 days a year. Clients on Siesta Key fishing charters caught more snook this spring than they had in years, and in places that would not normally be associated with snook, especially open grass flats. Many of the snook are “schoolies” in the 16” to 24” range, but there are plenty of big fish around as well.
Siesta Key seasonal snook migrations
Local snook migrations are pretty basic. They move into creeks, rivers, and residential canals in the winter to escape the extreme temperature fluctuations of the flats. As it warms up they migrate out into the inshore areas to feed up, then by early summer most fish are in the passes and out on the beaches in preparation of spawning. The pattern the reverses itself as the fish move back into the bays and eventually back into the creeks if it gets cold enough.
Passes all along Florida’s west coast are full of snook of all sizes from May through October. Outgoing tides early or late in the day and at night are prime times to tame a linesider. Live bait will usually produce the most fish. Large pilchards are a prime bait, but hand-picked shrimp, 3” pinsfish and grunts, and as Candice proved, even crabs will entice a hungry snook. Stout tackle is required when fishing in heavy current and around structure. Diving plugs and soft plastics bumped along the bottom will fool wily snook as well. Summer snook fishing in Sarasota.
Chumming with live bait is an extremely effective technique. Scaled sardines, also known as pilchards, are usually easy to catch. A well full of 3″ baits is perfect. Once the boat is anchored, a few baits are tossed out to get the snook in a mood to feed. Once they are excited, hooked baits are cast out and a bite usually occurs in short order.
Artificial lures for summer snook fishing in Sarasota
Lures can also be used effectively for snook in the warmer months. Plugs are especially productive as they mimic the bait fish that snook feed on. Topwater and shallow diving plugs in the 4″ range in white and olive work well. Early mornings and late afternoons are the best times to cast plugs in search of snook, especially on a falling tide.
Soft plastic baits are also very effective and are a good choice when the sun is up higher. Shad tail grubs, jerk worms, and baits that imitate shrimp and crabs rigged on a 1/8 or 1/16 ounce jig head or rigging hook are good all-round choices. The best presentation is a slow one where the bait is worked in short hops close to the bottom.
Sight casting for snook on the beach is great fun and lighter tackle can be used. Snook will cruise the surf line within a few feet of shore in search of a meal. These fish will spook, so a delicate presentation is required. Small white bucktail jigs are very effective, as are shrimp imitations and small plugs. Fly anglers score with white minnow patters such as the D.T. Special and Clouser Minnow.
This is an excellent situation for anglers without a boat to catch a big snook. In fact, a boat can actually be a hindrance. It is much easier to spot snook with the sun at the anglers back as he or she walks the beach. Anglers in boats will be looking into the sun in the morning. While the fish will bite in the afternoon, the sea breeze kicks up the surf, making it very difficult to see fish. Mornings from 7:30 or so until noon is the best time to try this unique type of fishing.