Catching Snook in Tampa Bay, Florida:

A Complete Guide

Snook belongs to Tampa’s top game fish. Florida possesses five snook species, and every one of them boasts excellent fighting skills. So, if you’re fishing for an adrenaline rush, why not try catching snook in Tampa Bay?

Besides their great gaming qualities, snook are well-known among fishing enthusiasts for their flavorful white flesh, too. 

Catching Snook in Tampa Bay, Florida

Florida houses the common snook, large-scale fat snook, small-scale fat snook, swordspine snook, and tarpon snook. These fish can reach 48 inches in height and grow up to 50 pounds in weight. However, typical snook caught in Tampa Bay average at 5 to 10 and 30 pounds.

You’ll see plenty of common snook everywhere, as its name suggests, and a little less of swordspine snook. Many fishing enthusiasts see the swordspine snook as a rare catch. You’ll also find that it’s not that hard to look for snook, but the challenge in catching snook in Tampa is that they require quite some finesse and strength to bag.

At present, the heaviest snook caught in Florida was from Sebastian. It weighed 45 pounds.

Best Snook Fishing Spots in Tampa

When catching snook in Tampa Bay, Florida, remember that snook hate cold water. Their bodies can’t quite tolerate it when water temperature changes. Adult snook find it difficult to live in waters under 50°F, while young snook can’t deal with waters less than 60°F. 

You’ll find snook in bays, estuaries, inlets, flats, backcountries, and inshore areas. You may also see them in piers or rivers and anywhere where water is warm. Likewise, snook love shelter, so you’ll easily spot them near shelters. They may swim for the nearest shelter as well once they’re hooked. 

For specific best snook fishing spots, check out Davis Island Dog Beach or Tampa Riverwalk. You can also head to Bay Pier, Cypress Point Park, Ybor City, Harbour Island, River Crest Park, or West Gandy Boulevard. When you’re in one of these places, remember to stick to a spot where fast-flowing water goes, preferably if they’re next to inlets and passes. Those are the best spots for big fish like snook to feed.

Best Baits for Snook in Florida

Good baits for snook are crustaceans and small fish, and effective fishing techniques are fly fishing and light tackling.

To catch Snook, you need to cast your bait or lure up-current from the fish. First, locate a Snook lair, sneak up to the spot, cast the bait and let the water carry it naturally towards the fish. You will have the best chances of a catch if you deceive Snook by having it mistake your bait for their natural prey. Once the tide carries your bait past the fish, they will go at it.

One of the most popular pastimes of Tampa fishermen is to go night fishing for slob Snook. Under the cover of darkness, these fellas hang around docks close to the surface, looking for food. A lot of local charters offer specialized night trips because they’re both fun and productive.

Common Techniques for Snook Fishing

Since snook are huge, they eat most small fish. So, great baits for snook include crustaceans and other small fish. It’s best to allow your bait to naturally reach the snook’s spot by floating on the water. That way, the snook will think your bait is a natural prey.

Snook Season in Tampa Bay, Florida

May to September and November identify as peak snook season, while January to March and December present themselves as low snook season. During peak season, you can spot snook around inlets and estuaries. Meanwhile, you can find snook by rivers and piers during low season.

In gulf state waters, snook season closes from December to January and May to August. Meanwhile, in Atlantic state waters, snook season closes from December 15 to January 31 and June to August. 

Snook Fishing Regulations in Florida

At present, some state waters in Florida are under a catch-and-release order. This includes Hernando/Pasco county line up to Gordon Pass in Collier Country. You can check out this page for updates.

In gulf state waters, you can only bag one snook a day with a minimum size of 28 inches and a maximum length of 33 inches. Meanwhile, you can catch snook within 28 to 32 inches in Atlantic state waters, limited to one per harvester per day.

Cooking Miami Snook

You can’t buy or sell snook, but you can catch it yourself and eat it. You’ll notice its flesh is white paired with medium firmness, but it’s not as wispy as trout meat or as dense as swordfish flesh.

When cooking snook, it’s crucial that you skin it. If you end up eating its skin, you’ll surprise yourself with a strong, soapy flavor, which may put you off from eating snook again.

The best way to cook snook is to fillet or grill it. You don’t need to any overpowering spices to snook because that will ruin it’s already flavorful meat. 

Hiring a Fishing Charter for Snook Fishing

When catching snook in Tampa Bay, it’s wise to hire a fishing charter. Fishing charters help you bag the fish and guarantee that they’ll provide you with the best fishing equipment and accommodations alongside an experienced captain and local guide.

If you’re thinking about hiring a fishing charter, feel free to contact us. If you’re just looking around, check out our other helpful guides like catching sharks in Tampa Bay, fish you can catch in Tampa, or best seafood restaurants in Tampa.


Snook Fishing in Tampa Bay
Snook Fishing Spots in Tampa, Florida


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