Florida Inshore Fishing - Winter Snook

February 06, 2019
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During winter, catching inshore saltwater fish like snook can be challenging. To stay connected to the fish, anglers should stay in warm spots, such as on the west coast of Florida, where snook can be caught in 58 degree waters. Wind direction, sunlight direction, and tides play crucial roles in locating warm water. To catch snook, anglers should look for high houses, mangrove shorelines, or tall trees blocking cold north winds.

Summary Table

  • Winter Snook Behavior: Seek warmth, affected by wind, sunlight, and tides.
  • Fishing Techniques: Timing with tides, locating warm water zones.
  • Gear: Live baits, natural-colored lures, medium-heavy rods, fluorocarbon leaders.
  • Best Locations: West coast areas like Homosassa, southern Florida regions.

Florida's inshore fishing scene transforms as winter sets in, presenting unique challenges and opportunities for avid anglers. Among the prized catches during this cooler season is the elusive snook, a species that demands specific strategies to ensure a successful fishing experience. This article delves into the intricacies of winter snook fishing in Florida, offering insights into their behavior, effective techniques, and essential gear.

Check me out, if you want ask questions or spend a day on the water with me: Captain William Toney of Homosassa Inshore Fishing.

Understanding Winter Snook Behavior

The Quest for Warmth

Snook, part of the big three (trout, redfish, snook), are particularly sensitive to temperature changes. During winter, they migrate towards warmer waters, which can often be found in unexpected places. It's not uncommon for anglers in Florida, especially along the west coast up to Steinhatchee and in areas like Homosassa, to find snook thriving in waters as cool as 58 degrees.

Environmental Factors Influencing Snook Activity

  • Wind Direction: Key in locating warm waters. The north side of canals, rivers, or coves often provide shelter from the cold northern winds.
  • Sunlight: Midday southern sun can create warm zones against high houses, mangrove shorelines, or tall trees.
  • Tides: Outgoing tides are beneficial as they draw warmer waters from canals and rivers, enhancing snook activity.

Effective Snook Fishing Techniques

Timing and Tides

Aligning your fishing trips with the right environmental conditions is crucial. Snook are more active during outgoing tides when warmer waters are present. Conversely, an incoming tide bringing cooler Gulf waters can significantly reduce snook activity.

Locating Snook Hotspots

Identifying potential snook habitats requires an understanding of their winter behavior. Look for areas with natural wind barriers and spots receiving direct sunlight, as these are likely to be warmer and more inviting for snook.

Florida Inshore Fishing - Winter Snook

Essential Gear for Winter Snook Fishing

Baits and Lures

  • Snook Baits: Live baits like shrimp or small fish are highly effective in winter, as snook's metabolism slows down, making them less aggressive towards artificial lures.
  • Snook Lures: For lure enthusiasts, slow-moving, natural-colored lures can still entice snook. Focus on mimicking the slow, lethargic movement of winter prey. Soft plastics work great.

Tackle Tips

  • Rods and Reels: Medium to heavy rods with a sensitive tip are ideal for detecting subtle snook bites in winter.
  • Lines and Leaders: Fluorocarbon leaders are recommended for their invisibility and strength, especially in the clear winter waters.

Best Locations for Winter Snook in Florida

  • West Coast Gems: Explore areas like Homosassa and Steinhatchee for promising snook fishing.
  • Southern Hotspots: The southern regions of Florida maintain warmer temperatures, making them ideal for winter snook fishing.


Winter snook fishing in Florida is a rewarding endeavor for those willing to understand and adapt to the seasonal behavior of these elusive fish. By focusing on warm water locations, adapting techniques and gear, and being mindful of environmental cues, anglers can enjoy the thrill of catching snook even in the cooler months.

Captain William Toney In The Spread, Instructor
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