Tricks for Catching Dock Snook

Florida’s backwater bay systems hold deep, dock secrets. Nearly every Sunshine State charter captain can claim a backpocket snook spot that holds a favorite piece of plank and piling. On a recent trip to Port St. Lucie Florida I witnessed an all out assault around the dock pilings in the Indian River Lagoon. Mullet schools were being crushed, obliterated in fact, as resident snook up to 30 pounds absolutely blew up the bait, right under the docks.


The key to hooking up is understanding how to target actively feeding snook when they have all the food they need in front of them. Commotion is key. Triggering an impulse strike is your best trick to pull out of the bag. Topwater offerings such as the DOA BFL and Yo-Zuri Mag Darters ripped just outside of the pilings garner a reactive strike. If that doesn’t work, go a little deeper under the mullet schools with a 3/8 to ½-ounce Kalin’s leadhead tipped with a 4-inch Bass Assassin, or 5-3/4- inch Fin-s Fish in Arkansas Shiner, Albino Shad or Bubble Gum coloring. That’s daytime fishing.


Night shifters working the dock lights under the guise of darkness will switch up to a 3 to 4-inch DOA Shrimp, in gold fleck/white or gray and white patterns and twitch the shrimp bait every two or three cranks of the reel. Casts should try and be skipped underneath the planks into the snook’s lair. The deeper you can get under the dock, the better. Night time dock snook fishing can be very precarious as a wizened fish will turn away at any offering after the second or third pass, so make your casts count the first time and work the lure perfectly.

When getting in deep under the docks, go with 30 to 50-pound class braided running line, and employ the use of a heavier 30 to 50-pound fluorocarbon leader with a 75-pound class Tactical Anglers Clip to the lure. A hooked, jumping snook will tangle you within the pilings and cut lines with their serrated gill plates on any leader less than 30-pound test so you need utmost pulling power to beat the brawny beast.

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Capt Pete Rosko

As a former Naples fishing guide, and owner of Capt Pete’s Bait & Tackle, my customers and I have had the good fortune to catch (and release) several thousand snook. The 1 oz gold Crippled Herring was a major seller for bridge fishing for both snook and tarpon. In over a hundred trips on the former Marco/Naples Bridge fishing catwalk, my fishing partner (Peter Danneman) and I were only skunked two times whlie vertical jigging 3/4 oz silver /chrome Crippled Herrings and Kandlefish metal jigs in 27 feet of water next to the boat channel on the Naples side. That was mainly in May before the snook headed out to the near-shore artifucial reefs like Marco’s Five Mile Reef. This is important to note…at no time did we ever witness a snook caught during daylight hours by other anglers fishing with live shrimp or live baitfish!!! The snook were triggered to strike the metal jigs because of their flash and vibration on the downward fall. Also, I have caught many snook off docks with smaller 1/6 oz Crippled Herring and Kandlefish . Those smaller sizes are no longer available but one company still specializes in smaller metal jigs that are very productive, especially their 1/10 oz size. Because of its sonic vibration, it’s appropriately called the Sonic BaitFish and is manufactured by the Mack’s Lure Company in Wenatchee, Washington.

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