Texas isn’t exactly known for burgeoning snook populations, but in certain places at certain times it’s a great gamefish to pursue. If, that is, you know how to get ’em. Because snook are one of those species that often behave in very specific ways, which require very specific tactics. I recently spent a week snook-hunting with multiple guides, and took note of these three commonalities which they all mentioned.
- Fish snook with a tight drag – really tight. Each of the guides we were with made a point of using relatively heavy gear (mostly 30 pound Yo-Zuri braid with 60 or 80 pound flourocarbon leader), and cranking down the drag until you could barely pull out an inch of line. The reason is this fish’s regular battle tactic: running to cover. Snook will immediately attempt to swim around pilings, piers, rock jetties, and whatever line-chaffing material they can find. Anglers need to haul them out and away from such stuff asap. Won’t this lead to some break-offs? Yes. But if you fish them with a light drag the break-offs are nearly guaranteed.
- Place your bait or lure within six inches of whatever structure the fish are hanging around, and if you miss, reel in and keep trying. Snook often won’t move, yet will inhale a bait that’s plopped down right in front of their nose. Case in point: more than once during this week of fishing, live baits were cast within a foot or two of a piling or pier which the guide was sure held a fish. After the bait splashed down within a couple feet of the target three or four times, I was sure there either were no fish there, or the snook had spooked. Then someone made one of those magical casts that landed within a micron of the target, and WHAM!
- If you’re fishing bait, remember that snook are poor candidates for using circle hooks. The reason why? With circle hooks, as you probably know the fish needs to swim away and begin applying some tension, as opposed to you setting the hook. Try this with a snook, and by the time you can apply any tension the battle has already been lost, because the fish is deep in around the structure it’s been hiding near. Remember that super-tight drag? Quickly applying that pressure and dragging the fish away from the structure often just isn’t possible, when using a circle hook.