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Home / Fishing / Fish Species





Common Snook
Fat Snook

Swordspine Snook
Tarpon Snook

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COMMON SNOOK (Centropomus undecimalis)

commonsnook.gif (31372 bytes)

OTHER NAMES: Lineside, Robalo, Ravillia
RANGE: A tropical species, Snook are found on the larger islands of the Caribbean, including Cuba, Puerto Rico and Hispaniola. They are absent from the Bahamas, except for an occasional straggler in Bimini. In Florida, they are largely confined to about the lower half of the Peninsula. However, a few successive years without damaging freezes will send them spreading northward, particularly on the Atlantic Coast, where they have been fishable even around Jacksonville at times. On the Gulf side, the Homosassa River seems to be the limit of their range, although wondering individuals are caught in the Panhandle on occasion. Even on the lower Gulf Coast, occasional freezes kill many Snook. Serious kills are far less common on the Atlantic side, where deeper, warmer water is closer at hand to provide a haven.
DESCRIPTION: The Snook has a most distinctive body shape, featuring a tapered head and snout, underslung lower jaw, large fins and, most distinctive of all, a prominent black stripe running the full length of the lateral line. The stripe is present in all species of Snook. Coloration is generally dark gray to black on the dorsal surface, shading to silvery on the sides. The fins are yellowish. As with many inshore fish, the coloration may vary with season and habitat. Snook of inside waters usually have darker sides.
SIZE: Generally, the size range is from 3 to 15 pounds. Snook weighing 20 to 30 pounds are not unusual on either coast, especially around inlets and passes during the summer, when spawning takes place. A number of Snook topping 40 pounds have been caught over the years on both coasts, and the maximum may be 60 or more. World record 53 pounds, 10 ounces; Florida record 44 pounds, 3 ounces.
FOOD VALUE: Snook are proportionately very thick through the shoulders, and their fillets represent a higher portion of total weight than most other fish. The fillets are mild yet flavorful and are ranked at the top of nearly everyone's list of favorite fish.
GAME QUALITIES: One of the best for all-around fighting ability. The fight is usually featured by several long runs and a few jumps. Small Snook leap high in the manner of Ladyfish, while the really big females manage to clear only about half their bodies. Snook also are past masters at utilizing shoreline roots or any other obstructions to their advantage.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Even though spinning and baitcasting tackle are the most used, light saltwater boat rods get plenty of action, particularly when live-baiting in passes and inlets. Even heavier gear often gets the call for fishing from piers and bridges. Surf tackle can be useful at times, although surf Snook are usually close to the beach, in easy range of casting gear. Fly fishermen take their Snook on large streamers and poppers, for the most part, while hard-lure casters rely heavily on mirror plugs, bucktail and plastic jigs, jerk plugs, spoons and topwater lugs. Any small fish makes good live bait, as do live shrimp and crabs. Schooling baitfish, such as Pilchards, work wonders as both live chum and bait. Large dead baits fished on bottom take some very big Snook; best are Mullet heads and Ladyfish heads or halves.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Casting; Drifting; Still Fishing; Trolling.

FAT SNOOK (Centropomus parallelus)

fatsnook.gif (36140 bytes)

OTHER NAMES: Cuban Snook, Calba
DESCRIPTION: Shorter and deeper in silhouette than the Common Snook.
SIZE: The Fat Snook is probably the only one of the three lesser species that occasionally exceeds 20 inches in length. May reach 24 inches, although most are 12-16 inches long. World Record 7 pounds, 4 ounces.
FOOD VALUE: Excellent, but seldom tried.
GAME QUALITIES: Good jumper and strong for its size.
TACKLE AND BAITS: The lightest spinning, baitcasting and fly tackle, with small jigs, surface and swimming plugs; also streamer flies and popping bugs. Good natural baits are live shrimp, Pilchards, small Pinfish.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Casting; Still Fishing; Trolling.
RANGE: In Florida, south of Lake Okeechobee. Not common anywhere, but not too unusual in Dade and Broward Counties, and the Keys. Occurs also on larger islands of the Caribbean.
HABITAT: Likes mangroves; small canals and streams.

SWORDSPINE SNOOK (Centropomus ensiferus)

swordspinesnook.gif (38140 bytes)

OTHER NAMES: Little Snook
RANGE: The Swordspine is also the rarest of Florida's Snook species, probably occurring only in protected canals and streams of extreme South Florida. It also is found in the Caribbean.
HABITAT: Most have been reported from freshwater ponds and canals from the Upper Keys to St. Lucie County on the East Coast, and the 10,000 Islands of the Gulf Coast.
DESCRIPTION: The long, sharp spine of the anal fin, when folded against the body, extends past the beginning of the caudal (tail) fin. Other species of Snook have similarly impressive anal fin spines, but not so long.
SIZE: The smallest snook; a foot or so at most. World record 1 pound, 5 ounces.
FOOD VALUE: Not eaten because of size, but fine.
GAME QUALITIES: The Swordspine strikes voraciously and gives as good a show as it can for its modest heft.
TACKLE AND BAITS: The lightest spinning, baitcasting and fly tackle with small jigs and flies; live shrimp.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Casting; Still Fishing.

TARPON SNOOK (Centropomus pectinatus)

tarponsnook.gif (36890 bytes)

RANGE: Large Caribbean Islands, plus Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties and the Keys; also reported from the lower Gulf Coast to Fort Myers.
HABITAT: Mangrove areas, canals. Like the Common Snook, hangs around bridge and dock pilings.
DESCRIPTION: The name refers to the upturned forward portion of the head, which somewhat resembles that of the Tarpon. The body is much more compressed than in other species.
SIZE: May reach 20 inches; usual maximum is 15 inches. World record 3 pounds, 2 ounces.
FOOD VALUE: Good but usually not eaten.
GAME QUALITIES: A good battler for its size, but its slighter body makes it less sporty than similar sizes of Common and Fat Snook.
TACKLE AND BAITS: The lightest spinning, baitcasting and fly tackle, with small jigs, surface and swimming plugs, streamer flies. Preferred naturals are live shrimp, Pilchards, small Pinfish.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Casting; Still Fishing; Trolling.

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