Allen Applegarth

The temperature isn’t the only thing heating up in May; snook action begins to boil in the last two weeks of the spring snook season.  The time is now for both, large concentrations and size of linesiders. They begin to gather around the passes as the summer spawn approaches and the days between now and June 1st  (closing) is the best that it gets.   Spawning is most intense around the new and full moon periods when tides are strongest; this also is prime time for anglers to find the fish.  If you’ve missed the new moon, you’re in luck as we’ve got one last shot at high currents, a full moon, and lots of big fish on May 30th.

Look for the linsiders to pack up in the high current areas, where their eggs will be suspended during the fertilization period.  It is very common for mating snook to seek the protected areas just off the larger passes.  This time of year, where you find one snook you will probably find a hundred, so once you hook that first fish, it’s just a matter of working that spot repeatedly and getting the bite in full swing.

  Finding the fish is a matter of working your way around the passes.  For you live baiters, conjure up some frisky pinfish, sardines or jumbo shrimp.  Drift with the tide and drop the baits straight down, with enough weight just to get it down, occasionally bumping the bottom.  Keep drifting the same area and you’re sure to get the bite going!    For those who persist on artificials, they tend to work best after dark.  Try a redhead jig with an iridescent swimmer tail, or a Reddish Bronze, deep diving Mac.  Bombers work well too.

For the land “lubbers,” many of the largest fish are caught from the shore or from piers.  The Sunshine Skyway is a very productive spot for monster size snook every spring, with most caught by anglers using threadfins.  Give the south mini-bridge a try, then thank me for the inside tip!  Some other productive spot include the jetty at Blinds Pass, the inside wall at John’s Pass, and Bunce's Pass Bridge on the north side approach.


We’ve got the best of both worlds, from the above to the following.  Look to the main pylons of the new Skyway just after sundown.  Drift an 8-12-inch ladyfish close to the rocks.  As for tackle around heavy structure, most snookers are using 80- to 100-pound-test lines and 5/0 forged hooks.  I’m not one for this unfair tactic, so I prefer a 20 – 40 combo and hope I can get em’ out to the open.

  Anglers’ fishing for snook in the open water passes and along the beaches will want to cut back on the “cable gear” and use light tackle from 8-pound test spinning gear, 1/0 hooks and 30-pound shock

Leaders, to 15 pound test with 30 mono leader.

Twenty-six inches or longer may be kept, but no longer than 34 inches.  Bag limit of two.   Season ends JUNE 1, so thereafter take a picture—not a snook!

  For more info on tactics, please check out some of my previous articles on snook fishing.

  Keep Your Tip Up,

  Allen Applegarth


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