© St. Petersburg Times, published November 24, 2002
Cooling water temperatures and less daylight have snook moving from their summer homes along the beach to the warmer confines of their wintering holes.
Residential canals in Venetian Isles, Tierra Verde, Apollo Beach and Treasure Island are great snook hangouts when the water drops below 70 degrees. Most of these areas are protected from the brutal north winds and have a soft mud bottom that will hold heat, unlike a hard sandy bottom.
Rivers like the Braden, Alafia, Palm, Manatee and Little Manatee will hold snook all winter. Small contributing creeks that flow into the rivers are great spots, particularly at the mouths, where the snook can await prey.
Also, backwater bays and bayous like Coffee Pot, Miguel Bay, Riviera Bay and Terra Ceia Bay are productive, especially when the area is in the grips of winter.
Getting snook to bite during winter conditions can be challenging. One important point to remember is if you can see snook, they can see you and probably will not take your offering.
A snook's metabolism slows in winter as does its appetite. Snook may feed only a couple times a week and then it's usually on prey a lot smaller than the big sardines, whitebait and pinfish they readily inhaled earlier in the year. This is one time artificial baits will outproduce live bait. Slow-moving crankbaits, jigs and spoons will get attention as long as they are presented correctly. Natural color patterns seem to work best.
-- Capt. Rick Frazier runs Lucky Dawg Charters in St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 510-4376 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org