Over the past few years, strict conservation efforts have improved snook populations from Florida to Texas. Years of conservative snook regulations and improved environmental conditions have resulted in a boon for anglers, and snook fishing has been excellent for those who know how to catch them. Late summer, during the annual mullet run, should be the best snook fishing of the year.

kayak fisherman demonstrates how to catch snook fish
Sneaking up on wary snook. | Feature Photo: Courtesy Kaku Kayaks and SUPs

Tips on How to Catch Snook

An ultimate inshore adversary, the silver fish with a long, black stripe can grow to 50 pounds and over 50 inches long. They will take a jig, swimbait or fly, but most anglers favor the explosive bite on a topwater lure. Snook are voracious predators with a devastating attack followed by a chaotic aerial battle.

But they’re no dummies—the fish have a prominent lateral line, making them super sensitive to vibration. And their sharp eyesight can detect movement at a distance. For a few fishing tips, we turned to Kevin Hawkins, designer and owner of Kaku Kayaks and SUPs.

Weapons Of Choice
Rods: 7’8” Medium-heavy Shimano Teramar
Reel: Shimano 4000 Stradic Fj
Line: 30-pound braid
Leader: 30-pound fluorocarbon
Lures: Heddon Super Spook Jr in bone color, Rapala Twitch Stick, or Live Target BaitBall when the snook are feeding on silversides. Replace treble hooks with single hooks to avoid injuring the fish. Snook respond to loud lures, listen for rattles and beads.
Boat: Stand-up kayak or SUP with an open deck and a high seat or casting platform. Snook are sensitive to vibration and noise so look for a boat with no hull slap.
Rigging: Twin Power-Pole Micro anchors deploy quickly to stop the board when I see a snook. Two Micro anchors keep the boat stable so I can stand when I’m at anchor.

Hawkins says, “Snook are my favorite fish to target. They are powerful, aggressive and very smart.” He even admitted that he designed the Voodoo, a standup paddleboard and kayak hybrid, for sight casting to snook. He explains, “The hull is quiet and the elevated seat makes it easier to sight cast to spooky snook.”

When to Fish for Snook

Snook season is year-round. Best in fall and spring when snook are taking advantage of warm water on shallow flats.

Snook are ambush predators, waiting in a deep hole or eddy for bait to sweep by in the current. Low tide can be the best as snook gather in deep holes waiting for the water to return.

During the day, look for the fish along the surf line or inlet. As the sun goes down, move inshore to fish in the dock and bridge lights. Light shining on the water draws in bait and snook follow.

The worst time to fish is the day after a cold front passes. If the wind is blowing, simply slip a standup paddleboard into the backwaters where snook hide.

Snook Fishing Tactics

Snook will take live or dead bait, or I can blind cast to current breaks and structure. Match the hatch with a live mullet or pilchard on a 4/0 J-hook. For mullet over six inches, bump up to a 7/0 J-hook. A shrimp on a 2/0 J-hook is hard for snook to turn down.

No live bait? No worries. A bucktail, DOA shrimp or Live Target mullet imitate the real thing. Don’t hesitate to toss a small crappie jig; snook love them.

Sight casting is my favorite way to target snook. Stand up in the kayak and search shorelines, oyster bars and flats. Look for baitfish blowing up on the surface and make a long, accurate cast if you hope to land a wary snook.

a snook fish underwater
Snook have a prominent lateral line, making them super sensitive to vibration.

Snook fishing is no time for light tackle. The wily fish love to run under docks, into bridge pilings and through mangroves. It takes a 5000-series spinning reel and 30-pound braid with a four-foot, 50-pound mono leader to stop snook.

Landing a snook in heavy cover requires quick moves in the kayak. Before making a cast, turn the kayak to paddle or pedal away from the snags and hangs. With a big snook on the line, be prepared to turn and burn.

This article was first published in the Spring 2019 issue of Kayak Angler Magazine. Subscribe to Kayak Angler Magazine’s print and digital editions, or browse the archives.

Sneaking up on wary snook. | Feature Photo: Courtesy Kaku Kayaks and SUPs



  1. For over twenty years, I fished for snook as a guide in Naples, Florida. Two of my favorite snook locations were under the Naples-Marco Island bridge and the Five Mile Reef off Marco Island. In both locations, an artificial lure far-outfished live bait over those twenty years. That deadly lure was a 3/4 oz bright chrome Crippled Herring metal jig. We would vertical jig the Crippled Herring next to the boat channel over a 26 ft deep hole during every April and May. Then, the snook vacated the bridge for their spawning run out to the Five Mile Reef area. Early July was usually prime time for vertical jigging and casting the Crippled Herring for those reef snook. I am now 84 years old but I never forgot a very special day on that reef. My boat was surrounded by seven other charter boats. Those boats were all fishing with live bait. I, and my client Peter Danneman, were vertical jigging and casting that 3/4 oz Crippled Herring. We caught, and released about a dozen snook. During that short time, we witnessed only a single fish caught by those other seven boats. It was not a snook but about an eight foot nurse shark. The reason the Crippled Herring was so effective was because of its flash and vibration on the fall. It mimics an injured bait fish that translates to an easy meal for the snook or any other species. Deep holes under bridges are very productive spots to bottom bounce a Crippled Herring for those anglers that do not have a boat. Another deadly metal jig is the Kandlefish that is manufactured by Wahoo Fishing Products in Punta Gorda, Florida. The Crippled Herring is marketed by Rapala under the Luhr Jensen name. Capt Pete

  2. For special technique tips on these two metal jigs, you can Google…”Crippled Herring Tech Sheet” and the “Kandlefish Tech Guide”.


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