Better Baits for Winter Snook

Snook anglers who adjust to seasonal forage changes will have a good opportunity to boat more of Florida's premier inshore gamefish.

As temperatures decline, any remnants of the massive schools of pilchards and threadfin herring that kept the snook fed during the warm season will flee to the state's southern extremes. Throughout the rest of the linesider's range, the fish will turn more of their attention to shrimp and crabs, so this should help snook seekers plan their attack.

Jigs are a good bet, as you can crawl or hop them across the bottom and swim them through the deep water canals and basins where snook spend their winters. Also, jigs allow you to change plastic body style and colors to see what the fish prefer. This time of year, darker colors that match crustaceans are best.

Day to day, it's tough to beat a shrimp, but artificials like the classic DOA Shrimp will fool plenty of snook. For proper shrimp lure presentations, stop by a bait shop and watch live ones in the bait tanks. They don't swim long stretches and they don't dart back and forth like baitfish. Shrimp scurry along by kicking those tiny legs and when something startles them, they'll flick that muscular tail for sudden evasive maneuvers.

Master these winter presentations and you can expect plenty of winter snook action.

Snook season closes Dec. 1-August 31 in the Gulf of Mexico and Monroe County. The closure on the Atlantic coast runs Dec. 15-Jan. 31 and June 1-Aug. 31. For complete regulations, visit the pdf.