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March 29, 2011

Southwest Florida Snook

A Florida pro shares his tips for fooling wary linesiders

Trip Planner

Rods: 7-foot medium-action spinning rods with light tips for casting long distances; 7-or 8-weight fly rods.

Reels: 3000-class spinning reels; 7- to 9-weight fly reels.

Lines: 15-pound braid for spinning, with up to 40-pound fluorocarbon leader; 8-weight intermediate fly line with a sinking tip or a full intermediate sinking line.

Lures and flies: Natural and contrasting soft-plastic shad tails and small jerkbaits on 1/16- to 1/8-ounce red or chartreuse jig heads, such as the D.O.A. C.A.L., Arkansas Glow and Glow Holo Flake. The lures can also be rigged weedless with worm-style hooks and pinch weights. Plastic shrimp, 1/4-ounce, in the spring when shrimp are larger. Hard-plastic topwater plugs like MirrOlure Top Dogs or Heddon Zara Spooks in various colors on the flats. Smaller fly patterns like the Grassett Snook Minnow, shrimp imitations and Clouser Minnows around docks and bridges at night.

Regarding leader size, Grassett says, "I normally use 30-pound-test for the fluorocarbon tippet, but if the fish are finicky, I'll downsize. Or if we're getting a lot of bites, I'll bump up as high as 40-pound. The key is checking the leader constantly. If it gets scuffed from a bite or a piling, I'll snip it back or change it immediately."


Snook are particularly vulnerable to cold weather, and the fishing season is closely regulated by the state when impact does occur. Currently, keeping snook is prohibited, but catch-and-release fishing is allowed. When the season is open, a Florida fishing license and a snook stamp are required. Details on seasons and license requirements are at

What: Snook.

When: Year-round catch-and-release.

Where: West coast of Florida between Sarasota and Venice; Fiesta Key; Intracoastal Waterway.

Who: Snook are a top game fish on Florida's west coast, and local guides are some of the best and most professional you'll find anywhere. Here are few contacts to help you get started.

Capt. Rick Grassett

CB's Saltwater Outfitters
Siesta Key941-349-4400

Capt. Kelly Stilwell

Capt. Ed Hurst

Capt. Roy String

Accommodations: Perfect for both anglers and their families, Siesta Key Suites combines history with comfortable ambience. The Ringling Beach House and adjacent lodgings offer accommodations ranging from efficiencies up to two-bedroom suites with full kitchens. The resort is across the street from the beach and within blocks of downtown, with access to restaurants, a grocery store, a pharmacy and night life.

Siesta Key Suites