Ever dream of being able to take home an insanely huge snook from the roaring ocean surf? In my video, I take you along for a ride down the path of finding some of the largest snooks the West Coast of Florida has to offer.
On this particular day, JC and I met up for some wild catches in hopes of finding the world's greatest snook. My video takes you along on the journey from zero to hero.
The Path To Catching Great Snook
There are a few tips and tricks that will take your snook numbers from minimal to maximal. Throughout my day out on the West Coast Surf, I will show you what to do and what not to do. Using monster lures like the infamous Flair Hawk jigs, I will go over exactly what we did to find success.
The Conditions and Material
JC and I decided to do some early morning snook fishing, and the sun was just barely peeking past the horizon. There was no rain insight, and it ended up being a pretty perfect morning. The wind was around a solid breeze, which is pretty typical for morning surf fishing on the beach. The waves were pretty wild near the shore as the tide was very high. The barometer was climbing, and the major feed was in FULL swing.
I used a 4000 series reel with a 12-20lb line and a medium-heavy action rod. This setup is on the lighter side for snook but, in my opinion, perfect for beach fishing. If you want to pull them in even quicker, you can go heavier, which isn't a bad idea to reduce stress on the snook.
If you want to make it an extra easy time on yourself, then maybe try your hand at several different live baits. Effective baits that I love include sardines, shrimp, and mullet. These all are difficult for a snook to turn down when adequately presented. However, rebating in the surf isn't the more unsuspecting prospect, especially on the fast-paced, wavy afternoons. Honestly, I love just the good old giant colorful jig, which catches the snooks' attention in the high surf.
First Couple Casts
The first two out of three casts were sure lucky. I ended up hooking two decent sized snook using a big flashy Flair Hawk jig. It is incredible how much these snooks love these lures. After a few casts, JC and I already knew that this was going to be a successful morning. These couple of snooks that we took in were healthy and a beautiful precursor to what the morning was going to yield. After a couple of casts, JC captured an excellent looking picture of me with one of the very first snook catches of the day. And to think, the momentum was just getting started. The west coast surf was already serving us well.
The Big Catch
After a few dozen cast, JC hooked into an absolute tank of a snook. His line was pretty far out, and it seemed odd because I was catching all of my fish right around 5 feet from the trough line.
As JC was reeling in the big boy, I figured it would be a great idea to get a nice solid underwater shot of his 40-inch snook. I couldn't believe that he had caught such a big guy, but at the same time, I wasn't surprised. His snook had a beautiful head on it, and he caught it a bit farther out than where I was typically catching my snook.
Everything aligned perfectly to allow for optimal success this morning. The tide was high, the major coincided with the tide, and it all occurred at sunrise—the perfect concoction for surf snook success.
One important tip, when you catch bigger fish such as the one JC did, try to leave the snook in the water. Taking the giant fish out of the water can quickly reduce their lifespan and doesn't allow them to breathe during a stressful moment. I love getting a good solid picture with the big catches, but you may want to invest in a rugged underwater camera to capture those special moments.
I snapped a nice picture of JC and his 40-inch snook, and I sure hope that one is going to go on the Christmas card.
Switching Up Bait
I decided to switch things up a bit and opened up a box of some Z-man jig heads that looked similar to mullet and gave these a go. I rigged up a one-ounce jig head, hoping that these would perform just as well as the big yellow jigs. I've used these before on the east coast, but I haven't tried them out on the west before this trip.
Since these guys look just like mullet, they can do a decent amount of damage. It took a few casts; then, the Z-man minnow was out to do some work.
Casting Into the Surf In The Afternoon
It took a few casts, but then I was able to snag another bite with the bright yellow jig, and I felt my pole bending and sliding. It was awesome how strong this big boy was, and I could feel him wanting to pull me in right there with him.
Unfortunately, I had lost him even though I was sure I had him. That is the beauty of fishing; you can never assume you have caught the fish; it's a battle between you and her until the end. The snook ended up getting away, but luckily he didn't take my lure with him into the surf.
It can be disappointing sometimes, thinking you have a good one and you are so sure of it then bam. Even with all my years of fishing experience, moments like these are sure still just as disappointing. I tried to set the hook twice, but it shows you just how quickly your high can crash. With the waves and tide going in every which direction, anything can happen.
JC's Monster Catch
After my heartbreaking loss, I was so pumped and ready for at least one of us to end the day on a nice catch. JC ended up reeling in absolute beauty, and I got it all on camera. When JC was reeling in his fish, he made sure to hook it hard and let her take a substantial line. He played her out beautifully, and up came a giant.
We captured some great moments with the snook and JC. Remember to make sure if you ever catch a giant picturesque that you try to keep it in the water as long as possible. This way, the species can still thrive for years of fishing to come.
Ending On a Positive Note
After a nice day of snook surf fishing, I asked JC just how he did it. And his advice was persistence. After spending 3 to 4 hours out on the surf, JC caught three monster snooks that left me with little to show. Although I am grateful that I caught that one big one, in the beginning, I never stopped fishing. With persistence like that, you'll be guaranteed to find some trophy snook out on the surf. Luckily we ended on a good note just before the storm started brewing, and it was time to head home.
Tips and Tricks for Catching Snook in the Surf
My number one piece of advice for catching snook is getting a nice big lure, preferably something colorful so the snook can spot it in the waves of the surf. The Flair hawk jigs and the Z-man swimbaits are great big presentation that can catch a snook's attention without seeming too suspicious. And like JC mentioned, be persistent and patient, and then you can at least guarantee a few decent sized snook's. Vary your retrieve; sometimes, a steady retrieve is most effective; other times, you may want to bounce the jig off the bottom to entice the strike. Switch it up and try different things. Eventually, you will key in on tactics that work for you.
The best time to go snook surf fishing is early and late when the beach traffic is slowing down. The snook is biting near the shore during the early morning and afternoons between late spring and September. Always make sure to exercise extreme caution and go early in the morning when the beaches are less crowded. Fishing in the surf is an exciting way to fish, and you can catch some prized trophies just a few feet from the shoreline.