Everything You Need to Know About Tampa Bay Snook Fishing

There’s nothing like Tampa Bay snook fishing. You’ve got world-class fishing opportunities when targeting snook. That’s why you can find a ton of fishing charters offering snook fishing charters more than other types of species. After all, snook is one of the most popular sports fish in the city.

So, if you plan on heading to Tampa Bay, you must learn to prepare to reel in some snook! Read on as we share a quick guide on how to catch snook in Tampa Bay!

Tampa Bay Snook Fishing 

What is Snook?

Before anything else, what are snook in the first place?

These are famous saltwater fish and the only species in the Centropomidae family. There are 12 different snook species, with five of them living in US waters:

  • Common snook
  • Small-scale fat snook
  • Large-scale fat snook
  • Swordspine snook
  • Tarpon snook

Depending on the species, the snook would come in various sizes. In this article, we’ll focus on the common snook, commonly known as the Robalo or Sergeant fish. They are the largest member of the family!

Snooks can grow as large as 44 pounds and feature a distinct black lateral line and yellow fins.

The major reason why anglers target this species is due to their delicious meat! You’ll be impressed with snook meat, which is white and features a medium firmness. While it isn’t as delicate as trout or dense as swordfish, it’s certainly a treat, provided you take the skin off before cooking.

Tampa Bay Snook Fishing 

When to Go Tampa Bay Snook Fishing

You won’t be able to catch any snook if you don’t time your trip strategically. While Tampa Bay snook fishing is available year-round, certain seasons are more optimal.

When March arrives, Florida’s weather starts to change. As the temperature warms up, snook will head out of their winter homes, going to shallow water hangouts. At this time, snook becomes more aggressive, wanting to replenish calories and stock up on food to prepare for the spawning season. They will be opportunistic feeders in spring, being eager to eat, and will likely strike almost any lure or bait coming their way.

But March won’t be your only chance to catch snook. Tampa Bay snook fishing continues to be excellent from spring to early fall. The conditions will remain favorable throughout that period, so expect the fish to stay active. You’ll likely find them in shallow inshore waters, though we’ll get into where to catch them in the next section.

In general, you can enjoy Tampa Bay snook fishing from March to November. We recommend these months as you can get a larger snook. May to June will be some of the best months when on the Gulf Coast, and if you want to get a particularly large snook, try night fishing, provided there isn’t a full moon.

Tampa Bay Snook Fishing 

Where to Go Tampa Bay Snook Fishing

Snook prefers hanging around bridges, docks, jetties, and sea walls. You can either access the waters to go snook fishing by foot or boat. You can also opt for places with a good, fast flow of water like inlets and passes in Clearwater Pass or John’s Pass. Try to fish for snook during strong tidal movement.

Remember, snooks prefer shallow water and will rarely be found in waters over 60 feet deep. Here are some of the top places in Tampa Bay to go snook fishing:

  • Big Pier 60, Clearwater Pass
  • Madeira Beach
  • John’s Pass
  • Fort De Soto Park
  • Around Sunshine Skyway or lower Tampa Bay
  • Anna Maria
  • Petersburg
  • The north end of Tampa Bay

There are also other places to try snook fishing, such as Boca Grande and Fort Pierce!

Tampa Bay Snook Fishing 

How to Go Tampa Bay Snook Fishing

Now, the next question is what approach and presentation you should use when catching snook.

In terms of your approach, it’s best to do so at an angle where you are out of view. For example, you found an ambush point with great tide movement flowing through. You would approach this from a 45-degree angle on the blind side to the snook. The approach in a way where you can case in front of the flow, working it in.

If you will use heavier bait, you can consider doing either of the two approaches:

  • Work the lure tightly across the opening and into the ambush point.
  • Cast far enough into the ambush point and beyond the snook point, working your lure back out.

Regardless of what approach you use, make sure that you keep the presentation and approach natural. Stay within the casting zone that best moves your bait to the zone and not to the snook.

The most common bait used is live whitebait or pilchards, which are cast-netted early in the morning of the trip on shallow grass flats. Prepare a lot of these baits so you can chum liberally, which can help increase your chances of getting a bite.

There are other baits you can consider using to catch snook as well, particularly the larger varieties. We recommend using grass grunts, small ladyfish, or threadfin herring. You can either have these baits netted or secured through hook and line.

Tampa Bay Snook Fishing

Wrapping It Up

If snook is on your must-catch list, then look no further than Tampa Bay when planning your ultimate fishing trip. You can’t go wrong with their aggressive fighting and delicious meat. As long as you know the basics of Tampa Bay snook fishing, you have higher chances of reeling in a big snook for you to show off once you’re back on land.

Hopefully, this guide on Tampa Bay snook fishing helped you out. Now that you know more about catching this fish, consider booking a chartered trip with a captain focused on catching snook. Contact us now and we can connect you with reputable charters in Tampa Bay to help you reach your fishing goals!