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Snook Age Question?

I went sheepshead fishing this past Friday, Jan. 25th and encounterd something totally unexpected, especially in view of the recent red tide fish kills in our area.  In addition to a few nice sheepshead for the box,  I caught and released somewhere north of 40 juvenile snook. Every snook appeared to be from the same class, about 14-15 inches length. Do any of you know what year class these fish are from? I’m also curious where these snook possibly were during the red tide outbreak.

Replies

  • kmagnusskmagnuss Posts: 3,223 Captain
    They're around 2 or 2.5 years old most likely.
    As for where they were during the red tide... who knows.  Depends on where you were when you caught them... but I'd guess up river somewhere.
    Tarpon... everything else is just bait.
    Captain Keith Magnussen - Crooked Rod Charters
  • Gypsies CallGypsies Call Posts: 239 Deckhand
    The rivers and creeks are loaded with juvenile snook.  The big mother snook spawn in the gulf passes in the summer and the larvae / baby snook travel inshore to the backwater areas, mangroves, etc.  They spend the next several years developing. Small snook caught in the passes / beach are likely male.  They change sex once mature and lay eggs starting at about 26-28 inches. The smaller males do their thing and...  That is why you get so many bigger ones in the pass and that is why they closed the fishery this year... the red tide devastated the mature female breeding stock.  We won't really know the full extent of the impact until about 2-4 years from now when this years juvenile snook will be 14-20 inches long.... how many babies are there after the breeders died?

    My .02.  Not a biologist, but do read and understand as much as I can about my favorite species... :smile:
    Gypsies Call
    SWO LCDR, USN-Retired
    Sea Chaser 200 Flats Series
    Old Town Predator Kayak
  • Kokosing LoverKokosing Lover Posts: 708 Officer
    kmagnuss said:
    They're around 2 or 2.5 years old most likely.
    As for where they were during the red tide... who knows.  Depends on where you were when you caught them... but I'd guess up river somewhere.
    The juveniles spend most of their time upriver and in brackish waters.  Red tide algae don't really like freshwater, so the portion of the population in the rivers and creeks are going to have some protection.  Another interesting thing that the snook research folks found was that not all of the big adults bail out of the rivers to spawn every year; each year, a significant portion of the big adults stay upstream and skip the spawn.  The "why" isn't really known, but it does have the end effect of holding some of the breeding population out of harms way during red tide periods.  Gives the overall population a little bit of resiliency.
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