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winter snook fishing live bait in the spread william toney
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Winter Snook Fishing with Live Bait

When you think about inshore fishing in Florida, there is one species that can haunt anglers. Snook are perhaps the one gamefish that can be tough to figure out. Even in the best conditions, robalo fish are as discerning as they come and when you mix in tough winter weather the difficulties compound. The unique part of fishing the Nature Coast on the Gulf of Mexico is how the springs in Homosassa and Crystal River dump volumes of 72 degree water down their rivers. The mixing of warm freshwater and cold saltwater create a brackish safe haven that this species thrives in. Snook fishing Florida in the winter serves up several obstacles. How far up the rivers are they going to go? What is the ideal water temperature for them to settle down in? Finding exactly where they will stack up is step one. Just because you can see them, doesn't mean they are going to eat. So, after you find them, you have to figure out when they will bite and what the best bait for snook is on the day you are targeting them?

This In The Spread video features Capt. William Toney winter snook fishing using live bait. Because William has been fishing the rivers and coastal waters of this part of Florida, he already knows where the fish typically stage. But, he will lay out for you what to look for in terms of structure that holds fish. This can be docks, seawalls, black muddy bottom or lay down trees. He will also explain in great detail which side of the river is more productive based on which direction the warming sun is shinning from and the prevailing cold winds. Snook love structure and they like to be warm in the winter. Learn what to look for and why these factors are so critical.

Once you know where the fish are hanging out, knowing when they will bite makes or breaks you. There is absolutely no reason to spend all day on one spot trying to get picky fish to move on your bait. When they are damn good and ready, they will gorge themselves. Tides are really what trigger the movement of water and movement of bait. Now, in the river, there is always an outgoing flow, due to the spring pumping water out at a constant rate, so you have to take that into consideration. Tide will still drive the bite. Which tide is best. Which part of a given tide is best. Is it the beginning, middle, end, the whole thing or what? We have all been there. The bite starts and gets crazy and in the blink of an eye it shuts down. WTF, you may wonder. There are reasons and William will talk about them.

This is a live baiting video, so William is going to discuss what he is using for snook bait and why. He will also show you several live bait rigs. Every angler wants to know what is the best bait for snook. It is just the same as with lures. It is whatever they are liking that day. In our case, the options narrow due to the introduction of the abundant freshwater. Only certain baits will work. Saltwater baits don't work in fresh and freshwater baits don't work in salt. What to do? Have options is the answer. Know what thrives in the water you are fishing. Certain bait fish and crustaceans do very well in the rivers. The snook will be feeding on baits that are natural to the surroundings, so try not to use something foreign. It really is not THAT difficult, once you understand how snook behave. Capt. Toney will demonstrate how to hook a shrimp and not kill it. You will also see how to rig bait fish different ways for more natural presentations. Once the bait is rigged, you will see best practices for placing your offering near the fish.

When it is cold out and you don't want to venture out into the big water, feel secure in hitting rivers, canals and other warm refuges for winter snook action. It may be the only good game that day. Learn where they like to hold and why. Understand when you need to be on your spot. Get loads of info on good baits, how to rig them and present them to the snook.

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Total time: 45:25
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