Snook Fishing in Southwest Florida

By Rick Paolillo

Considered one of the most exciting and delicious catches in the state, snook are a longtime favorite among those who love fishing in Florida. They bite and fight harder than almost any other fish and are also smarter, often swimming into sharp mangroves or dragging the bait under roots to cut fishing lines. This species is especially sought after because it's illegal for restaurants to serve them, or to buy or sell them in any type of market. The savory deliciousness of snook can only be experienced if you catch the fish yourself or have a very generous friend with an serious angling ability.

Snook Fishing Season & Regulations

A charter fishing guide runs down the basics off the coast of Naples, Florida

A fishing guide runs down the basics.

Once snook season re-opens on September 1st, anglers head to the waters of Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades to catch the highly acclaimed fish. To keep the snook population healthy and plentiful for future anglers, there are many fish and wildlife regulations you must follow. For example, you can only fish for snook on Florida's Paradise Coast during the designated snook season from September to November and March through April. Slot limit is 28-inch minimum to 33-inch maximum in length; bag limit is one per person and licensed anglers must possess a $2 permit in addition to a saltwater fishing license in order to keep a snook. If you're fishing with a professional guide, all licenses are provided for you.

Snook Fishing Tips

The warm waters of Florida's Paradise Coast are ideal for snook, since they prefer water above 60 degrees. You'll find them in the shallow saltwater flats, along rivers, right off the beach and under bridges. According to records, the larger fish like the bridges the most, and many guides in the area can help you find other favored locations, as well as provide expert advice on safely catching and releasing under- and over-sized fish.

A boat anchored near a deserted beach in the Naples, Marco Island and Everglades area.

The warm, shallow waters of Naples and Marco Island are ideal for snook fishing.

Since snook like shallow water, kayak fishing has become a popular activity, and you'll find numerous kayak rentals throughout the area. A kayak allows you to paddle to many of the truly pristine bodies of water, including those surrounding the Ten Thousand Islands, which are too shallow for motorized boats. Here you can explore and fish in uncharted, peaceful areas all to yourself. And you're sure to get an up-close view of amazing wildlife.

Fishing with an experienced guide is a great way to enjoy the wonders of Florida's Paradise Coast, but if you prefer to fish from your own boat, it's important to gather as much local knowledge as possible. For some area tidbits from professional fishermen, try asking the staff at Mangrove Outfitters Fly Shop, Everglades Angler Fly Shop & Fly Fishing School and Sunshine Ace Hardware.

Snook Fishing Tours

Experienced tour guides can take you on a backcountry fishing expedition. Captain William Faulkner of Gulf Coast Guide Services is a renowned fishermen, a member of Yamaha’s Saltwater Team/Pro Staff and a contributing editor for Florida Sportsman magazine. His guided fishing charters take you to the Everglades for nearshore fishing and to the Ten Thousand Islands where you’ll hook snook, tarpon and redfish. Other tour companies that will take you on a shallow-water game charter include Fins-N-Grins Charter Fishing in Marco Island and Hope Fishing Adventures, which also offers kayak services.