SNOOK SEASON SEPTEMBER 2022: A COMPLETE GUIDE FOR INDIAN RIVER COUNTY
Indian River County is lauded as one of the top snook-fishing destinations in the US—and for good reason.
According to Catch a Florida Memory, the current Florida state snook record is held by Heather Lynn Connors, who reeled in a 45.75lb snook in 2015 from lagoon waters in Sebastian, FL, just north of our location in Vero Beach.
In this guide, we’re going to cover everything you need to know to land a slob snook in Indian River County.
Snook are tropical fish found in inshore and nearshore waters around Florida. They have a unique appearance featuring a large mouth, protruding jaw, and a distinctive black lateral line that extends to their tail.
The biggest snook are always female. Female snook often live for 21 years and grow up to 48 inches long, while male snook typically live for 15 years and reach up to 39 inches in length.
(Fun Fact: All snook are born male, but some will become female before their seventh birthday.)
These coveted fish can’t tolerate water temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, making Florida’s warm waters the perfect habitat. Many local anglers catch snook for fun, but they also make an excellent main dish.
BEST TIMES TO CATCH SNOOK
You can catch snook year-round in Florida, but to make the most of it, target them during open seasons and active times.
Meteorological seasons like summer and summer lite (Florida’s winter) don’t significantly impact snook fishing. You may find it helpful to change locations from the beach in summer to the Indian River Lagoon in winter.
However, you should be aware that you can only take snook home for a little over half the year. You’ll also need a snook permit to accompany your FL recreational fishing license before you can have your snook for dinner.
Indian River County is part of the Atlantic region of Florida’s snook fishery management. Florida’s Atlantic snook season is divided into two parts. It closes from June 1st to August 31st and from December 15th to January 31st.
During open season, you can bring home snook between 28” and 32” in length.
While snook season is closed, the species is catch and release only.
Seasons differ between management regions, and they can change to suit the population needs of a species. It’s always a good idea to check a resource like the FWC to be sure your catch is legal before you take it home.
Like many other fish, snook are most active when it’s dark. The best times to catch snook are the two hours surrounding dawn and dusk, or at night.
Night fishing for snook is a popular pursuit. The fish are especially active around dock lights, and many anglers fish from boats to target them there. If you don’t have your own boat, book one of our night-fishing charters to get in on the action.
Snook also like to hunt during the last couple hours of the incoming tide and the first hours of the outgoing tide, when the water is moving fast
WHERE TO CATCH SNOOK
Snook are very structure-oriented fish. You’ll rarely find them swimming out in the open. They can tolerate freshwater and like to hang out in brackish water like the Indian River Lagoon.
INDIAN RIVER LAGOON
In the lagoon, you’ll find snook hiding in and near a multitude of structures. Search for a snook lair along mangrove shorelines, under bridges and docks, and in seagrass beds.
There are two inlets near Vero Beach, one in Sebastian to the north and one south in Ft. Pierce, but most anglers flock to the Sebastian Inlet when snook season opens.
The inlets are great places to find snook hanging out along rock walls and under piers. Some local anglers have reported seeing hundreds of snook holding below the Sebastian Inlet’s north pier while snorkeling.
During the summer months, you can target snook at the beach with plenty of success. They’re usually hiding out in troughs.
Before we get into gear recommendations, there are a couple more things you should know about snook.
Once hooked, snook will take off and swim fast toward shelter. If you aren’t prepared, you run the risk of getting your line tangled in mangrove roots, barnacles, or any other obstacles within the snook’s lair.
Their strong initial pull can even snap your line and straighten your hook if you aren’t using the appropriate equipment.
We’ve divided most of the recommendations into two sections because snook size will vary based on location, but hooks remain constant. You should always use a strong circle hook (we recommend Owner hooks), especially if you plan to release your snook.
INDIAN RIVER LAGOON
Although the FL state record snook was caught in the Indian River Lagoon, most fish won’t be quite that big.
You can land most lagoon snook with a 4000 size reel, a 7’ heavy rod, and 20lb braid. To protect your line, we also recommend a 40lb leader.
INLETS & BEACHES
Snook that have ventured to the inlet or beach tend to be on the larger side, so you’ll need to use tougher gear.
To reel in a snook from the surf or pier, choose a 5500 to 6000 size reel and pair it with a 7.6’ to 8’ heavy rod. You might want to use a sturdier line and add a 50lb leader too.
One factor that can complicate snook fishing is their steadfast refusal to bite anything dead or frozen. Seriously, if you catch a snook with dead bait, buy a lottery ticket immediately.
The good news is they will chase a variety of live and artificial baits.
Live bait is going to be your most effective option. Snook will eat almost any bait fish, but they do have favorites.
We’ve seen the most success with pinfish, but snook will also bite menhaden, mullet, croakers, pigfish, crabs, big shrimp, and sardines.
We carry live shrimp year-round in our shop, and we often stock pinfish and other live baits whenever we can. To find out what we have in stock, give us a call.
Snook prefer to hide in structures and attack their prey as it passes by. Cast your live bait a bit beyond the snook’s lair so the current will carry it past the snook and trigger its ambush instinct.
Artificial lures are best used at night when snook are at their hungriest and most easily fooled. Snook will chase an assortment of large lures, but these stand out as the most effective:
- Rapala Floating Super Shad Rap in Hot Tiger
- Rapala Floating Super Shad Rap in Original Pearl
- Bomber Lures Allwater Windcheater in Silver/Red
- Bomber Lures Allwater Windcheater in Silver/Black
- Bucktail Jigs
We carry all of these items in our shop. Our bucktail jigs are hand-crafted by our fishing guide, Donovan, and they’re no joke.
To complete the deception, cast your lure or jig near the bottom and use a slow jigging motion or straight retrieve. You either want to trick the snook into thinking your jig is a wounded fish or that your lure is the real deal.
STILL HAVE QUESTIONS?
If you have any questions that we didn’t cover in this post, feel free to ask our staff at Vero Tackle. Not only will they answer your questions, but they may even reveal where they last found snook.
You can also learn from an expert guide by booking a fishing charter with our experienced captains. Once you select your date and captain, let us know you want to target snook and we’ll take care of the rest.
Good luck and happy fishing!
Author: Lauren Hamers