Snook are one of the most elusive fish on the planet, making them one of the most difficult fish to catch on a consistent basis. They are extremely smart, wary of anglers, and very temperamental. This is all especially true when it comes to giant snook.
For a snook to be considered trophy size, it typically means the fish is over 40 inches. A snook this size is rare for most people. Anglers often fish their entire life in search of a snook that large and some never even get a chance at one.
I was fortunate enough to land a 40 plus inch snook when I was just fourteen years old. The monster fish measured 43 inches and was actually the first snook I’d ever caught. But it hooked me on snook fishing for life and I’ve been chasing another fish of that size ever since. Unfortunately, I haven’t landed another snook of that caliber yet, but you never know when a true behemoth is gonna strike.
Today, I’m gonna talk about some of the best ways to target giant snook and explain how anglers can increase their chances of tangling with a 40 plus incher at some point. Targeting snook of this size takes extreme drive and determination. So if you’re on the hunt for a giant snook, come along as I dive into the most effective ways to go after these amazing fish!
When/Where to Target Big Snook
Although big snook can be caught anytime of year, the best times of year to target these fish are typically anytime from the late spring into early fall (May-September).
This is because in the summer, snook spawn in the inlets and passes. During the hot summer months, snook want to be in areas with cooler water, and current provides that. They is always a lot of current in inlets and passes and under bridges. There areas are where most of the biggest breeder females are at during the hottest months of the year. They stack up along the jetties and under bridges, feeding on bait as it passes by in the current.
The beaches are another great place to fish for giant snook this time of year. They group up and cruise the beach, looking for schools of baitfish.
In the late summer, around August and September, a lot of bait, such as mullet, greenbacks, and threadfins begins to show up inshore. This period is often referred to as the fall bait run. When this occurs, snook typically begin moving out of the inlets and passes and back inshore. They look for bait along seawalls, in the backs of residential canals, and under bridges. The snook will actually push the bait up against the structure and take turns gorging on the forage. Because snook are so aggressive during the bait run, it is an awesome time for anglers to take advantage and target those giant fish.
When targeting giant snook, and snook in general, it’s important to keep up with the tides in your area. Snook can be caught at any tide cycle. However, the best times to target them is anytime you have a strong incoming or outgoing tide. During these types of tides, lots of water is pushed through the inlets and channels, under the bridges, and around points. Typically, the more current there is in an area, the higher your chances of running into a giant snook are.
There are a variety of baits and lures that anglers can use for giant snook, including live bait, dead bait, or artificial lures. As you can imagine, big snook like big baits. However, that doesn’t mean a big snook won’t eat a small bait or lure. Yet, using a larger bait will help eliminate those smaller fish when you’re strictly searching for a giant.
Some of my favorite baits to use for big snook are large finger mullet, whole ladyfish, grunts, pinfish, sardines, threadfins, greenbacks, and even jumbo shrimp. I typically prefer my bait to be alive when fishing for snook, however, I have caught big fish on dead bait as well.
When targeting big snook on artificial baits, I always go big or go home. I prefer 1–2-ounce bucktail hair jigs, large swimbaits, and topwater lures.
Bucktail jig: https://amzn.to/3cuY7Z9
Topwater lure: https://amzn.to/3tc1DO1
Best Tackle for Giant Snook
When specifically target giant snook, anglers must have the right tackle, or else they’re pretty much wasting their time. Big snook are extremely power and smart, and they know how to escape. They didn’t get big for being stupid. If anglers don’t use the proper rod, reel, and line, a trophy snook can break them off in a heartbeat.
When targeting these massive fish, I prefer a 7’6” spinning rod paired with a 6000 sized reel. I’ll spool that reel with 50-pound braided line and tie a 40–60-pound fluorocarbon leader to the braid. That may seem a little on the heavy side, and some angler may be able to get away with lighter line. But, for me, I’d rather be safe than sorry when a 40 plus inch snook is on the line (no pun intended).
Braided Line: https://amzn.to/2YA3luq
If using live or dead bait, I prefer a 4/0-6/0 circle hook depending on the size of the bait. If fishing shallow water, say around a grass flat or shallow point, I’ll usually free line the bait with no weight. In contrast, if I’m fishing deep water, in an inlet or under a bridge in 20 feet or more, I’ll use a 1–3-ounce egg weight to keep my bait on the bottom. I’ll vary the size of my weight based on how strong the current is.
Stealth is Key
When targeting giant snook, stealth is crucial, especially if anglers are fishing in shallow water. Snook are extremely wary fish and if they know an angler is around, they are most likely coning to spoke out of the area.
If anglers are targeting big snook from a boat, staying as quiet as possible and not making any unnecessary noise is critical. Once in the area you’re going to fish, try to make your way around the vessel quietly and not drop anything on the floor of the boat.
If fishing from shore, like from the beach, try to target snook early in the morning or late in the evening and into the night. This will prevent fish from being able to see you as good if at all.
Back to You
After reading this you may think it sounds too difficult and like too much work to go after these elusive fish on a regular basis. Targeting big snook certainly can be slow at times. However, when you do finally hook and land a 40 incher and experience what it’s like to battle of a fish that size, you won’t ever want to stop hunting giant snook.
So, if you’re interested in catching a fish of a lifetime, be sure to give these giant snook catching techniques a try!
Thanks for reading! Happy snook fishing and keep your hooks wet!
The story of my first giant snook
The day was July 29, 2014. I was with my buddies inside the Intracoastal Waterway in Palm Beach fishing around mangroves and under docks for Snook.
Jake had thrown the cast net and caught some mullet, greenies and pinfish which we used for bait. We were also using artificial lures for bait.
We began fishing around the mangroves casting artificial lures and trolling live bait behind the boat. But after fishing for a couple of hours all we had caught was a small barracuda on a mullet. So we took off to a canal to fish under some docks.
When we arrived at our spot, we began casting Miro Lures under the docks while I tied on a bare hook. Once my hook was tied on I put a small split shot weight about 12 inches above my hook. Then I grabbed a dead greenie out of the bait well, cut him in half and put the body of the greenie on my hook. Then I tossed it out the back of the boat and sat it in a rod holder hoping to catch a snapper or ladyfish.
I then picked up my other rod with an artificial lure tied on it and started casting it under the docks. It didn’t take long for my trolling dead greenie to get hit. I picked up the rod in the rod holder, set the hook and after a small fight pulled up a small catfish. Not exactly what I wanted to catch, but hey it was a fish.
After I got the catfish back in the water I grabbed the head half of the greenie and put him on my hook. I tossed it out the back of the boat and sat it in the rod holder. I then began casting my artificial lure again. About 5 minutes passed and then suddenly my reel in the back rod holder went zinnnnnnnnnng! I dropped the rod I was holding, picked up the rod in the holder and set the hook hard. Line kept pouring off my reel as I wondered what kind of fish I had hooked. Finally the fish stopped running and I was able to regain some of my line.
Then the fish darted towards a dock and came to the surface. It was a monster snook and when we saw it we all went crazy.
I worked the snook away from the dock and fought him close to the boat. Jake got down on his hands and knees and got ready to pull the fish in the boat.
When the snook was close to the boat, Jake grabbed the fish by the mouth. The strong snook shook his huge head trying to get away, but Jake was stronger and he fought the fish into the boat.
Once the massive snook was in the boat we started taking a bunch of pictures and then we measured the fish. The snook was a whopping 43 inches and Jake estimated it to be about 25 pounds!
After the pictures were taken we released the giant fish and watched with awe as it swam away.