Kayak snook fishing is Capt. Butch Rickey's favorite passtime. One of Florida's top full time kayak snook fishing guides, he spent much of his youth fishing around Sanibel and Captiva Islands in Pine Island Sound. He also has years of experience fishing the waters of Sarasota Bay, Charlotte Harbor, and lower Tampa Bay. His knowledge of the local waters, years of experience, and strong work ethic, combine to give you a fishing experience you'll never forget.
Snook are probably the most pursued, but least caught gamefish in Florida waters. They have a disposition very similar to a largemouth bass, but are much faster and more powerful. Snook are wary, shy, smart, tricky, finicky, and probably most other adjectives you can think of would also be accurate in describing a snook. They are the grand masters of the art of escape. They learn their environment quickly and will use oyster covered mangrove roots, pilings, stickups of any kind, oyster bars, and even their own razor sharp gill rakes to cut your line and gain freedom. They are also leapers, and are masters at throwing the hook during the jump. Although they don't have teeth, and have a mouth which is, in fact, very similar to that of a bass. But, the inside of the lips is very rough like a rasp, like the mouth of a tarpon or ladyfish. They will quickly wear through the toughest of leader materials with their extremely abrasive mouths. By now I think you're probably getting the idea.....you have to be a skilled angler to have much success with snook on light tackle.
Snook will eat just about any kind of bait you can imagine. For pure fun and excitement, nothing will get your adrenilin flowing like a snook blasting a topwater plug or a live shiner clean out of the water. But, as crafty as we claim snook can be, they have one serious weakness; they're suckers for live pilchards. They just can't seem to resist, and for this reason most guides fish them with this live bait. There are many small baitfish available in our local waters that look alike to the untrained eye. There are pilchards, greenbacks, threadfin herring, and so on, that are all genericly know as shiners, or whitebait. But, when you hear a guide mention shiners or whitebait, he's talking about one thing; pilchards. Unfortunately, shiner fishing and kayaks don't mix well. But, snook will readily take flies, jigs, plugs, and other kinds of lures, as well as cut bait like steaked ladyfish.
Snook are a year-round resource, but depending on the time of year they can be plentiful or hard to find. During the summer months from about late May through September, snook can be found in great numbers in the passes and along the beaches. They are there to spawn and are usually full of roe.
With the coming of fall snook are roed out and begin their trek to their winter haunts, the creeks and rivers that offer protection from cold, harsh weather. For most of the fall they'll be on the flats around the mangroves and oyster bars on the high tides, and in the potholes on the low tides.
The first cold fronts of winter, which don't usually come until late December in southwest Florida, will push many of the snook into the creeks and rivers where they're relatively safe from all but hard freezes. It is said that snook often have to go as much as two months without eating during the winter, because there is a definite shortage of available food. For this reason, snook can be suckers for lures during the cold months, but the presentation must generally be much slower than it would be when the water is warm. Winter snook will not expend much energy to run down a meal, because they don't have it to spare!
As spring warms the waters of the flats, snook move out of the rivers and creeks and start the cycle all over again. They've been laid up all winter, and you can bet they're going to be lean, mean, and hungry fighting machines. All you have to do is find them, and that can sometimes be difficult. In the end, though, patience, experience, and live shiners usually pay big dividends. Having said all this, it becomes obvious that snook tend to be migratory, however, it is also known that some of the snook population is resident; that is, they find a home and stay there year-round.
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