Is Snook Illegal To Catch? Where and When to Fish Snook

Snook is a beautiful fish with a very distinctive shape and a powerful body. They also make a delicious meal, however, you will not be able to find them at restaurants or fish markets because of the strict regulations that limit how you fish for them.

So, is Snook illegal to catch? Snook is illegal to catch outside its harvest season, it’s also illegal to buy or sell them. The harvest season opens during March and April. There are still some regulations to follow when fishing for Snook including size & gear restrictions to preserve the Snook population when the season opens.

Keep reading to learn more about Snook season and the regulations you need to know before fishing for Snook.

What is Snook Season?

snook swimming to answer is snook illegal to catch

Snook season refers to the period of time at which anglers are allowed to fish for Snook. The window for fishing for Snook is very small in order to protect their population.

The recreational harvest season Snook typically opens during March and April, then again during September and November in Florida’s Gulf of Mexico state and adjacent federal waters, including Everglades National Park and Monroe County.

The season closes during December, January, and February because these are the coldest months of winter and that’s when they’re the most vulnerable. They are also protected during their spawning period which normally occurs during May, June, July, and August.

What Are the Must-Know Snook Regulations?

During the harvest season when Snook fishing is permitted, there are still some strict number and size limits as well as gear restrictions that anglers must follow in order to preserve Snook’s populations.

Let’s take a look at all the must-know Snook regulations:

  • Anglers are only allowed to harvest one Snook per day and they’re required to have a Snook permit to keep the fish, along with a valid saltwater fishing license. (unless they’re exempt from the license requirements)
  • The Snook’s size should not be less than 28 inches or more than 33 inches in total. Keep in mind that the length is measured from the most forward point of the head with the mouth closed to the farthest tip of the tail with the tail compressed or squeezed while the fish is lying on its side.
  • The only gear that’s allowed when targeting or harvesting Snook is the standard hook and line gear. Anglers are not allowed to use nets, traps, spears, gang hooks, multiple hooks, or snatch hooks.

State authorities take any violations of these regulations very seriously, so it’s important for all anglers to uphold the law to protect Snook as a valuable game fish.

Why is Snook Illegal?

Snooks is illegal due to years of commercial and recreational over-harvesting which resulted in a steady decrease in its population. So, in 1957, the Florida legislature implemented laws that prohibit commercial fishing and sale of Snook. There are also strict regulations for the recreational fishing of Snook.

How to Catch Snook?

Snooks are big in size and extremely strong. They’re also known to be excellent fighters as they have large mouths and powerful tails that allow them to swim faster.

To make catching Snook less challenging, there is some basic information you need to learn including where to find them when to fish for them and the kind of gear you need to target them.

Snook prefer areas with warm water because they’re sub-tropical species which means they cannot handle water temperature that is colder than 58 degrees for long periods of time.

They can be found in coastal waters along the American shoreline, mostly in the southern half of Florida and the southern coast of Texas. They can also be found in some tropical countries such as Costa Rica and Panama.

You can target Snook in open water occasionally, however, they tend to congregate in areas with structure, so it’s best to target them near piers, docks, shorelines, sea walls, and submerged rocks and ledges

As for the best time to target Snook, it’s recommended to target them around 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunrise. Although Snook can feed during the day, many anglers prefer to target them at night because traffic would be minimal and Snook would be more active.

When it comes to the fishing gear, it’s recommended to use a 7-foot medium or medium/heavy, fast action rod with a spinning reel spooled with a 20-pound braided fishing line. It’s also recommended to use a 30-inch fluorocarbon leader with a 30 to 40-pound line test. You can find the best spinning reels here and the best fluorocarbon lines here.

For the hook, it’s recommended to use a 1/0 or 2/0 circle hook, however, it’s best to match the size of the hook to the size of the bait you’re using. You can learn how to choose the right hook size for your bait here.

Related Questions

How to Store Snook?

You can store Snook by icing them using an insulated cooler. It’s recommended to leave the cooler’s drain plug open so the water can run out to keep it from spoiling the flavor of the fish. You can also store Snook by refrigerating them. It’s recommended to clean the fish first then wrap it in aluminum foil.

Can You Eat Snook?

Yes, you can eat Snook as it has an excellent flavor. Its meat is white and heavier than a trout’s but lighter than a swordfish’s, so it can be grilled, baked, or fried. However, the meat can develop an unpleasant soapy taste if it’s cooked with the skin on it, so it’s best to remove the skin first.

What Are the Common Species of Snook?

There are generally 12 species of Snook, 5 of which are more common in the United States. These species are the Common Snook, Small-scale fat Snook, Large-Scale Fat Snook, Swordspine Snook, and Tarpon Snook. All Snook species have a distinctive black stripe that runs down the full length of their body.

Can You Freeze Snook?

Yes, you can freeze Snook in order to keep it fresh for a long period of time. However, it’s important to prepare the fish for freezing to prevent it from losing its flavor. You’ll first need to clean the fish then place it in a Ziploc bag or wrap it in aluminum foil.

What Kind of Bait is Best for Targeting Snook?

The best bait for targeting Snook would be live bait such as pilchards, sand perch, threadfin herring, shrimp, pinfish, grunts, mullets, ladyfish, shiners, bluegills, and shad. You can also attract Snook with a wide variety of lures such as bucktail jigs and top water lures.

Helpful Resources 

How Florida’s Snook Permit Benefits Florida’s Snook Population

Check out the best Fishing reels For The Money

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