Cast live bait such as mullet or pilchards, or soft plastic lures near the pilings and hang on! The lights attract droves of bait fish and shrimp, then the shook move in to feast with reckless abandon.
Terra Can Preserve State Park borders Bishop's Harbor, providing an abundance of rich habitat that holds healthy numbers of shook and many other species of fish. While you can see the skylines of Tampa and St. Petersburg, the fishing in Bishop's Harbor feels wild and far removed.
The fishing here is great year-round, and if you get the itch to explore beyond Bishop's Harbor, Miguel and Joe Bays are close by and offer even more snookfishing potential. This shook spot is located near Vero Beach within the Indian River Lagoon system.
Cruise along the mangrove-lined shorelines to find even more fish, but be sure to tie on a strong leader and be prepared to horse a shook away from getting tangled up in the mangroves. Back over on the gulf side of the state, Stump Pass is an ideal location to launch a kayak or walk the beaches to get after some shook.
The shorelines of these islands all make up excellent shook habitat and are great for exploring with a rod and reel. Moving water plays a key role in finding fish in Stump Pass.
If it's a calm day with little or no current, you can always try the mangroves that line the channels and inlets throughout the Stump Pass area. Anglers fish Tarpon Bend in boats, or from the many seawalls and docks that line the water.
Strong tidal currents whip through Little Card Channel which can make the fishing tough at times. But with heavy tackle, you can take advantage of the abundance of bait at the mercy of the current in order to catch the shook that frequent the area.
But if you don't have a boat, there are five smaller bridges along Card Sound Road that are great for bank fishing. Shook is among the most difficult of all fish to land, not only because of their great speed and power, runs like tuna, gill rattling jumps and thrashing vicious head shakes, but also because they are caught in small creeks, residential canals lined with docks & barnacle encrusted pilings, rock piles of all sizes, bridges, piers, back- country long mangrove shorelines with razor sharp roots, line cutting gill plates and a mouth like a concrete wall.
Their first move when they feel the hook is to run into and the closest structure as far back as they can get, then go either over, under around or through until they break free, but they sometimes can be stopped or steered away with the right snookfishing instruction. Down and dirty techniques incorporated with using all the strength of the graphite rod has your whole body bending that rod horizontally to the water getting back whatever slack you can when you stop him or turn him and going through that all over again from the left to right side until you have worked the fish out and away from whatever structure, then using finesse to bring him boat side where it begins all over again.
Snookfishing on the Florida Gulf coast is one of the few and best places in the United States to do battle with the awesome shook. When water temperatures fall below 55 degrees they tend to float on the surface of their winter habitat barely hanging on.
Snookfishing is found from the upper reaches of the rivers, bayous, creeks, inshore bays, residential canals lined with docks to dump banks, spoil islands, passes and beaches. But there’s a lot to learn besides what time of day high and low tides come into your fishing area.
Tide heights are listed in feet and inches above and below the mean low watermark. Wind direction and speed also play a big factor in the wave on the MLW mark heights and lows of these tables.
One of the first things I look for when seeking out shook is glass minnows, even if you are going to use migratory bait fish such as pilchards, white bait, scaled sardines or thread herring. The presence of large schools of glass minnows in a river, bay or estuary system also means shook are there as well.
Suspended fish in the water column are usually active and hungry and this snook of early spring through fall must meet their needs for energy and gorge themselves on the migratory bait fish and will feed around the clock. Early in the morning, cooler water temperatures often mean white bait will not chum.
Snookfishing pros often have to rodeo their bait fish, which means moving back and forth across a flat or beach and watching for diving birds, pelicans and terns being the most helpful. It takes a shook about 5 to 6 years to reach the minimum legal length on Florida ’s west coast.
It takes an added 5 to 9 years for a 28-inch legal fish to reach the 40-inch length that identifies a real trophy for the most avid shook fisherman. Florida west coast females nook grow two to four inches per year after reaching the minimum 28-inch legal size.
The common shook (Centrosomes Decimals) is a species of marine fish in the family Centropomidae of the order Performed. This species is native to the coastal waters of the western Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, from southern Florida and Texas to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil to east coast Central America.
BINOMIAL NAME:Centrosomes UndecimalisKINGDOM: AnimaliaPHYLUM: ChordataCLASS: ActinopterygiiORDER: PerciformesFAMILY: CentropomidaeGENUS: CentorpomusSPECIES: C. Decimals The surf is barely there, just a gentle washing of the sand, enough to turn up the sand fleas that the sander lings race to capture, always an inch ahead of the foam.
Crabs track sideways, their feet making crosshatched trails to their holes. And down the trough, between the sand and the bar, comes a silver-gray shadow longer than a man’s leg.
It is a “beach bomber,” a giants nook, in water barely deep enough to float its bulk. Flip a plastic shrimp down the beach, to the place where water meets land, and wait until the fish swims close enough to see it.
If you’re lucky, in 10 minutes or so, you’ll wade out, cradle the big old gal in your arms for a few minutes, maybe ask a beach hiker to snap a photo of your pocket camera, and then let her swim off while you head back to the sand to do it again. One of the places the big fish show up most consistently is along the beaches within a mile or so on either side of the spawning passes.
And the east coast gets lots of bonus fish during the annual mullet migrations, as well, typically in October and in April. For those concerned about impacting spawning fish, remember that most of the beach bombers have already done their thing inside the passes at least once, usually on the new or full moon, before they begin making feeding excursions along the beaches.
John Roil and son Chris of Tampa have become expert at finding big fish along the beaches. Their preferred tactic is to swim a large sardine or thread fin in front of the giants.
Captain John Griffith of Tampa is also a fan of chasing shorelines nook. The Best gear is probably the same spinning tackle you’d use for all-around applications on the flats; a 6- to 7-foot medium-action rod, 2500 size or slightly larger reel, and microfiber line testing 15 pounds.
A leader is a must for big shook ; 30-pound fluorocarbon is the best bet because it’s both less visible than mono, and also harder. If the water is extremely clear and calm, a 20-pound leader may be necessary to get bit, but you can expect a huge fish to cut this off.
Live sardines are the prime offering, but dragging a bucket of them down the beach with you is a pain. Artificial work well, with the more realistic stuff like plastic shrimp and crabs at the top of the list.
Just don’t make the classic Yankee-tourist mistake of wading out to your belly and then casting as far beyond that as possible, because if you do, most of the fish are going to swim behind you. On extreme low water, some fish likely will be outside the first bar, but otherwise they’re usually inside the trough.
Because prowling fish swim down the trough for considerable distances, it’s often possible to make several presentations to those that don’t take the first time. Simply get back up on the sand a few yards, so they won’t see you, run ahead of them, and let them swim into range again.
Small stingrays are a common part of the fauna along the beach, and these little guys often take on the color of the sand, or cover themselves lightly with it, so you have to watch your step anytime you go in the water. So your best bet is to hit the beach at first light, and quit when the bikini crowds start to arrive.
The usual precautions for anchoring off an exposed beach are always wise, of course, no matter how flat the surf; run a long line off the bow to your heaviest anchor placed well offshore, and another from the stern cleat to the beach. Anecdote Key, pretty much the whole length of it, holds big fish in May and June.
Honeymoon Island, within a quarter mile of both the north and south ends. On the north end, (a long walk) the inside beach facing St. Joseph Sound sometimes holds large fish, as well.
Walk the surf at south end, or access the remote northern beaches by boat out of St. Lucie Inlet. Blowing Rocks Preserve (and pretty much any of the rocky stretches on Jupiter and Singer Islands) 8.
Catching spawner sized fish during the closed season remains a bit controversial for some anglers, but biologists report that most shook are caught and released, without injury, many times during their life span, so it’s likely a bit of exercise won’t cause any harm. They also hook up very well, so long as you simply reel them into the fish rather than using a hard rod set.
If you do a “grip and grin” shot, make sure to support the fish at the base of the tail as well as at the jaw. Hold them up horizontally rather than vertically, and don’t put a lot of pressure on the jaw.