I started fishing the beaches of south florida about 15 years ago and I can tell you its incredible. Put your polarized glasses on and the view of the world changes, in this case the view of the water and seeing snook change. On clear days you either stay put and wait for the fish to come to you, or you slowly walk the beach looking for them (usually to only be a few feet from shore during high tide). Just don’t make the classic tourist mistake of wading out to your belly and then casting as far beyond that as possible, because if you do, most of the fish are going to swim behind you. On low tide, some fish likely will be outside the first bar, but otherwise they’re usually inside the trough. Lucky for us these fish prowl along the beach in the trough which makes it possible to get several casts at them if needed. Preferred live bait is a large pilchard, sardine, or mullet placed well ahead of the fish being sure not to spook them. Best gear is probably the same spinning tackle you’d use for all-around applications on the flats; a 7-foot medium-action rod, 2500 size or slightly larger reel, 10 to 15 pound test, and then a 20-40 pound fluorocarbon leader with a 1/0 bait hook. If you prefer artificial then a small x rap, plastic shrimp, or mirr-o-dine will work early in the morning or when the sun is going down. We offer all the necessary tackle in our store right here on FishForSnook.

SPILLWAYS

Along the Atlantic coast parallel to the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee locks control water drainage to the ocean. After much rain, usually near the end of summer, but it happens all year, thousands of gallons of water are dumped daily into canals that empty into the Intracoastal Waterway, which eventually, through the inlets, carries the Glades’ water to sea. As the water cascades through the locks, bait fish are carried along and in the resulting brackish water snook have a picnic eating their way through the sudden food bonanza. Anglers have a picnic, too. Live bait is by far the best, Shad, brim, cichlids, mullet, or even a small bass. Artificials also work very well. Large plugs like a bomber or an x rap work well; Also large swim baits like Storm or Spooltek. Bucktail Jigs also work very well. Just make sure you are fishing on the bottom. After casting, let it sink to the bottom and retrieve slowly.

Best Florida Beaches for Snook

Atlantic:
1. Spanish House, first public beach access north of Sebastian Inlet (itself a fantastic area for beach snooking).
2. Fort Pierce Inlet State Park.
3. Walton Rocks, just south of the FP&L nuclear plant.
4. Jensen Beach, several access points along Hutchinson Island. Best after several days of calm, as post-hurricane beach fill fouls the water on choppy days.
5. Bathtub Beach, southern tip of Hutchinson Island. Classic sight-fishing waters.
6. Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge. Some of the prettiest surf-fishing in the state. Walk the surf at south end, or access the remote northern beaches by boat out of St. Lucie Inlet.
7. Blowing Rocks Preserve (and pretty much any of the rocky stretches on Jupiter and Singer Islands)
8. Lake Worth Pier—the pier hasn’t been reopened yet, but nobody told the snook…
9. John Lloyd State Park. Between the Dania Pier and Port Everglades is a nice stretch of public beach with good snook action for Broward County anglers.
10. Miami beaches. Find an accessible public beach that hasn’t been dumped on by recent beach nourishment and you’ll find snook, even in this urban jungle. Fish first light, or even earlier, for best results.

Gulf:
1. Anclote Key, pretty much the whole length of it, holds big fish in May and June. (Boat access only.)
2. Honeymoon Island, within a quarter mile of both the north and south ends. On the north end, (a long walk) the inside beach facing St. Joseph Sound sometimes holds large fish, as well.
3. Fort DeSoto, both on the west shore next to Bunce’s Pass, and on the south shore facing Tampa Bay and Egmont Pass.
4. Anna Maria’s north end, plus Longboat Key, particularly near the inlets on each end.
5. Beaches either side of Venice Inlet.
6. Little Gasparilla and Gasparilla. Fish the groins on the south island.
7. LaCosta Key and Cayo Costa State Park. (Boat access only.)
8. North Captiva. (Boat access only.)
9. Captiva and Sanibel—some of the state’s best.
10. Marco Island, particularly the north end.

Prime time is during the closed season May through August on the Gulf Coast, June through August on the Atlantic coast. And the east coast gets lots of large bonus fish during the annual mullet run as well, typically in September and October.