South: Heavy Lifting

After dark, tough-fighting snook provide a drag-sizzling workout.

Outdoor Life Online Editor

Snook are tenacious on the end of the line. Even a 10-pounder can stretch your biceps to the breaking point. This summer, try taking one on under the lights at night. The action comes naturally to bass anglers because it takes place around piers, docks and bridge pilings and requires pinpoint casting.

The fish average 5 to 7 pounds, but a 20-pounder is always possible. Snook wait for bait in the lights under the cover of a dock or pier; if you make the perfect cast, they eat your lure. Simple enough.

If you don’t get snook out of the water quickly, they’ll make a half-hitch on the piling and the stout line parts. To counter this threat, many anglers lock down the drag with pliers and hope for the best.

Most anglers use 25-pound-test gear and add a couple feet of 30- to 40-pound-test fluorocarbon leader. Lures include plastic shrimp and mullet, as well as molded jigs such as the 6-inch Tsunami.

Snook fishing is good from Clearwater, Fla., south to Marco on the west coast, and from Vero Beach to Miami on the east coast. It’s catch-and-release only-the seasons are closed during the summer spawn-but the action is awesome when a fish strips line while swimming off into dark water.