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Trying to up my game a bit - Snook tips please

I'm trying to get a little better at actually catching these days. I have most of the tools but seem to be lacking in skills. Had to take time off from fishing for a while with a broken leg now I really want to get back out there and catch a few decent fish.

I'm fishing inshore in PSL, Stuart, Fort Pierce. Want to catch some snook mostly. At least for this discussion.

I have caught some little ones on fly and on vudu shrimp, doa cal paddletails and on small xraps in the past. Nothing significant and I haven't been good at finding a pattern to my success. I know the basics - structure current, food... It's still a little tough to throw a cast net, I'm going to have to stick with shrimp or artificials since I suck at throwing a net even when my leg wasn't messed up.

Questions:

How close can I get to structure when I am fishing docks and seawalls?
I think i am fishing too far away and not getting to the good parts of the dock or something. Maybe not deep enough either. Been using a 1/8oz or 1/4oz jighead and trying not to spook the fish by getting too close. That used to work a little but not lately. :huh

Should I spend more time at dock lights with no visible activity?

When do the fish start showing up farther up river in the Saint Lucie etc...
Am I fishing in the wrong spots for the time of year? Plan is to hit the bridges this week at night, hopefully.

Bonus q. - When does the spillway action start?
Looking at my old pix, I was catching fish at the spillway in January years back. My fishing buddies from back then moved away, need to learn more myself I guess. (and maybe trying to impress the GF with my fish catching abilities)

Thanks for looking, feels like I should be able to figure all this out. I'm bored at work waiting on others. Figured I'd ask some basic questions. Thanks.
John.
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

Replies

  • FlfjackFlfjack Posts: 646 Officer
    If you're using the boat pictured in your sig i would try cutting the motor and drifting as much as possible towards where you want to fish, obviously this depends on the current. You should def be within casting range of the structure, as in you are only casting like 75% strength or less to avoid getting caught on something. As far as dock lights with no visible activity I would try to use a slightly heavier jig that will go deeper. There may be fish at the light but they may just be hugging the bottom. Id personally recommend white bucktail jigs for dock lights and the ones with the natural feeling hair are worth the extra dollar or two. I'm not familiar with your area so I can't help with that and the spillway being open i think is just a function of how much rain we get in a given period. hope this helps.
    East Boynton
    IG jack.bbi
  • beyondhelpbeyondhelp Posts: 392 Deckhand
    Yep that's what I'm fishing out of. I have a trolling motor with spot lock etc.. Not sure how spooky the fish are in the area. Maybe that's part of my problem.

    Been fishing fairly far away from the docks, trying not to crowd the fish. Stumbled across some decent trout/jacks/blues that way, often 10-15' off the dock depending on the layout. I see some videos where people are fishing alot closer than I usually would. Got me thinking...

    I have some bucktail jigs I was going to give them a shot too. I see them recommended alot. Seems like I end up with a pile of lures in the boat after trying several. Hoping to find that confidence lure again. At one point I was pretty good with the jighead/zoom fluke. Tests on a willing school of little jacks I couldn't buy a bite with one but they destroyed my mirrodines and xraps. Caught so many my arms and fingertips hurt. That was a great afternoon.

    The plan is to hit some structure around my area this week at night. Toss some first light jigs and various other stuff. This work thing keeps affecting my ability to fish. Although I sure do like being paid regularly. :grin
    John.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • brianbbrianb Posts: 2,502 Captain
    I'm no expert, but bored and will throw in my two cents.

    I would hire a guide, kid or mate in the area at least once or twice on YOUR boat. I'm sure the cost will be repaid 1000x. You can try Capt. Ken Hudson, Snook City Charters. Joupdog, who is not around much and I'm not sure he is guiding much, would be another great choice to go on YOUR boat.

    You can get pretty close. For the snook you have to cast right under the dock, or right up against the wall. One foot out is not gonna cut it.

    Regards baits/lures, it's the tail end of the mullet run...you gotta use mullet pretty much. You can buy from a bait guy, and/or buy pilchards which will work too. You gotta get good with the net in that area, it just takes some practice--it's not brain surgery. Get a smaller net if you have to. Tim Wade is the only person to get a net from.

    We like yozuri floating crystal minnows, but tons of stuff will work; topwater spooks, and tiny bucktails to mimic minnows under the lights.

    have fun
  • beyondhelpbeyondhelp Posts: 392 Deckhand
    Thanks for the tips, and the conversation. Looking forward to more. I'll share the results.
    John.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • FISHHUNTRFISHHUNTR Posts: 1,286 Officer
    No two ways about it..... the knowledge you want comes from time on the water. Not to say helpful tips or info won't help but will only get you so far.
    1st off the best most consistent snook fishing is at night followed by right before sunrise and sunset. I've fished them for years and have come to the conclusion that they have the smallest feeding period window out of any other fish out there.
    Lure suggestions are a dime a dozen and mean nothing cause if you don't have confidence in a lure chances are u won't throw it very long. Get some lures that resemble what they feed on.... pilchards or threads, mullet and shrimp etc in top water, subsurface and mid column versions, then use the appropriate lure to match the hatch for that given time of year.
    Then it's all about locating the fish.... early spring when the Temps get warmer will find the fish coming out of deeper water, creeks, canals and backwaters out onto flats and dock or other shallow water structure this period is typically the best daytime fishing for snook youll find. As Temps warm into summer fish will begin moving towards inlets to spawn... bite is early / late or at night in shallows then they seek deeper water to escape the hot shallows. After the spawn and moving towards fall the fish are on the beaches and inlets and will follow the mullet when they run. After the mullet run subsides and before water Temps drop significantly they are in a pattern similar to early spring... docks, flats holding bait are where to look as they feed up for winter. In winter during cold water the fish will be in or close to deep water to seek temp stability... good time to throw jigs around inlets, bridges etc.
    "FISHUNTR"- 2012 20' Pathfinder, Yamaha F150, HDS gen 3 9T
  • farside88farside88 Posts: 495 Deckhand
    A few tips
    1) As stated above, snook probably have the shortest feeding period. I can't tell you how many times I've had a snook bite every bait I've thrown in the water, for 15min than never touch a bait the rest of the night.
    2) Fish the moon. The full moon is your friend. Fish 3 days before through 3 days after. Also, the same time period can be good on the new moon, but during the day. Also the strongest tides.
    3) Cold weather? Deep chanals and further into the canals
    4) Live bait, plenty of mullet around right now. Shrimp are a good second choice
    5) Fishing a dock with lights? If the light is above the water, put your bait right on the edge of light and dark. They can see your leader if its in the light, if the light is underwater, bait in the middle of the light. They can't see it against the black sky
    6) Go buy some white "flukes" (bass fishing soft plastic). Work pretty well in salt water.
    7) When it comes to docks, stealth is key, but distance can hurt you. Each time the bait hits the water can scare the fish. Find the fine line between distance from the dock, and the distance you can accurately put the bait where you want it. I've caught fish 5ft from the trolling motor, so dont be too afraid to get close.
    That's all the tips I can think of for now. Good luck. Hope at least 1 of these help
  • greenie-slayergreenie-slayer Posts: 850 Officer
    How close to Structure: Sometimes I get within 5ft of a dock, bridge or seawall. The deeper the closer I get. On docks I like to cast as far under the dock as I can. If you can stay 10 yards off the dock and still skip a bait really far under the dock that helps but not a must to me.

    Dock Lights: All lights are good. Some people have favorite color but they all hold fish. Just because you don't see fish feeding doesn't mean there isn't a 40" snook laying on bottom waiting for a meal. More often than not it is usually the smaller snook trout ladyfish you see feeding on the surface. I personally think big snook like to have their own light either to not compete with the little guys or cuz they eat the little guys.

    St Luice River: Any month ending in Y they will be back there. Big and small. Clean water,and dirty they don't care. Take the time to search. Many deep holes off seawalls and docks that are home to big snook. The bridges are always good too. You can catch some monsters back in the st lucie in the summers.

    Spillway: Also any month ending in Y but depending more on the flow. Same with the locks. I like a good flow but not flooding. A snook jig, DOA swimming mullet or a mayan cichlid will find you a snook. When there is no flow I usually only catch little snook.
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