The fall snook season is now open. Remember, for snook the regulations are as follows: size limit on snook is 28 to 33 inches with a pinched tail, with a bag limit of one fish per person per day.
Pinching the fish’s tail requires anglers to measure the fish at its absolute maximum length. And as always a snook stamp is required in any situation that a saltwater fishing license is required. After what were a much improved catch and release summer for snook, it’s hard to argue with the way the snook fishery has been managed.
The largest concentrations of snook right now are still going to be found in or around any of the inlets leading out to the Gulf. These fish have been hanging around bridge structures, jetties and sand shoals for the past few months and has undoubtedly received their fair share of catch and release angling pressure. Concentrate your efforts on peak tidal movement and always keep in mind that snook feed best on a major solunar period. When these two events align, the bite can be awesome.
Fishing up next to bridge pilings requires pretty heavy tackle. Drop down hand sized grass grunts on a good moving tide and be ready to turn the fish away from the pilings just like you were grouper fishing. The pass shoals and jetties require a downsizing of tackle, light leaders and a loose drag will catch far better in these spots. Big grass grunts still work great here, as does a good-sized pilchard.
Many of the fish have actually begun to move out of the passes and began their trek inland. Nocturnal anglers know that this is the time of year that dock light fishing starts to get good. Those deepwater dock lights off the beaten path can often hold their fair share of keeper-sized snook as we head into the fall months. Live threadfins work great and as for artificial lures, the Maverick Golden eye gets the nod.
Beach snook remain a viable option. Early morning sight-casters can walk the beach looking for snook cruising the shallows. Though their numbers have thinned out some, anglers should still expect to encounter a decent amount of fish holding on most Pinellas County beaches. Shallow diving plugs or lip-less twitch baits work great on the beach, as does a free-lined shrimp.
Tyson Wallerstein can be reached at email@example.com. To get a fish photo in the paper, send the photo along with your name, when and where it was caught to editorial@TBNweekly.com or mail it to Tampa Bay Newspapers, 9911 Seminole Blvd., Seminole, FL 33772.