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By TERRY TOMALIN, Times Outdoors Writer
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 5, 2000
Many anglers consider the snook to be the top inshore gamefish. They are voracious predators and love to ambush prey along mangrove shorelines and dock pilings.
Snook range from South Carolina to Southern Brazil, but in the United States can be found mostly along the coasts of Florida and Texas. This species is very sensitive to cold temperatures and may become stunned or die during severe cold fronts.
A snook can grow to 4 feet and 50 pounds, which makes it a real challenge to an angler using light tackle. Most fishermen use spinning or bait-casting tackle with topwater and diving plugs or jigs. Live bait -- scaled sardines in the summer and shrimp in the winter -- is probably the most effective.
Anglers targeting snook should fish around the changing tide. Snook fishing seems to improve during bad weather. Fishing also improves the first two or three days after a full- or new-moon phase. Most fishermen work the passes and beaches in the summer. Bridge fishing also is productive in the warmer months. But cold weather sends snook looking for warm water in the canals and creeks, making winter snook fishing difficult.
The state has an aggressive tagging program. If you catch a tagged fish during the closed season, copy down the tagged number and the time, date and location of the catch and contact the Florida Marine Research Institute at (800) 367-4461. Snook must not be less than 26 inches or more than 34 inches. The season is closed in June, July and August, and from Dec. 15 to Jan. 31. Anglers may keep two fish. It is illegal to possess more than one over 34 inches. It is illegal to buy or sell. A snook stamp required.
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