A Look at Snook

Photo of angler Harry Spears with a nice snook catch"
The snook comeback from a killing freeze will take years.

After a long cold spell in 2010 that decimated Florida snook populations, the state opened the recreational harvest season on Feb. 1 in Florida’s Atlantic coastal and inland waters, but taking fish from its Gulf of Mexico waters is closed until Aug. 31.

Anglers may still catch and release snook during the closure, but the FWC encourages everyone to handle and release these fish carefully to help ensure their survival upon release.

Guides said as high as 80 percent of the snook population was lost after the freeze in some areas.

“I would guess it’s going to take six or eight years to get the West Coast snook population back where it was,” said Capt. Ozzie Fischer, who runs out Captiva. “We’re not seeing any real big fish anymore and nowhere near the numbers to make a successful day on the water, so most of the guides are doing a little snook fishing then turning to the other inshore species to fill out their day. That’s certainly taking some of the pressure off the population.”