Surf Fishing for Snook: How to Catch These Mean Fish

If you’re looking for a challenging and exciting experience, then surf fishing for snook is definitely the sport for you! These fish put up a good fight when hooked.

We’ll teach you everything you need to know about surf fishing for snook, including how to find them, what bait to use, and how to land them once they’re on your hook!

What are snook?

Snook are a saltwater fish that live in the southern Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States. They can grow up to 35 inches long, with an average weight of 25 pounds. The common snook is also known as the sergeant fish or robalo.

Surf fishing for snook

Snook are often found in shallow areas near the coast, which means you can easily reach them from the shore. You can also target them from a boat, but shore fishing has its advantages:

  • more affordable
  • easier to plan and execute
  • requires less gear and experience
  • allows you to enjoy the beach

Now Let’s move on to the best tackle for catching snook in the surf.

Rod and reel considerations

A medium-heavy 7′ or 8′ rod is ideal for snook fishing. If you already have something bigger, that will work too. I tend to go with a longer rod for longer distance casting. Plus it’s better to land a small fish on a big rod than a big fish on a small rod.

Spinning or baitcasting rods will both do the trick. If you’re making me pick one over the other, I’ll usually pick a spinning rod and reel.


Go with your favorite 20lb braid as the main line with a 30lb flouro leader. Flouro works better as a leader since snook have above average eyesight and can be scared off if they detect your line.

If you’re fishing from a pier or near rocks, you may want to beef up your line size a bit. Read more on the best line for surf fishing.

Best rig for snook

My favorite rig for snook is the fish finder rig. This rig consists of a pyramid weight, a barrel swivel, and a leader. The weight is tied to the end of the line, and the barrel swivel is attached about 18 inches up from the weight. The leader is then tied to the barrel swivel.

This is a super simple rig that allows your bait to move freely in the water, making the bait appear more natural. That is why the fish finder rig is my absolute favorite rig for surf fishing. I probably use it 90% of the time.

Some surf fishing starter kits will include everything you need to make a fish finder rig. You should also be able to find one already made at most tackle shops in coastal areas.

Best bait for snook

Snook are opportunistic feeders and will eat almost anything they come across, so there’s no wrong answer when it comes to what bait you use. Live shrimp are a great option because they’re easy to find and hook up quickly on your rig.

Other options include live baitfish or cut bait (e.g. mullet, squid, chicken livers).

Artificial lures for snook

Artificial lures and bait are convenient and also work well for catching snook. If you’re looking to use artificial lures, we recommend using any of the following.

DOA Shrimp

DOA Shrimp have a natural appearance and life-like movement in the water. Fish them like you would live shrimp.


They come in a variety of colors and shapes, and are especially effective when fished around structures (e.g. docks, bridges).


Spoons attract many species, including snook. The common silver spoon is one of our go-to lures for surf fishing. They’re cheap, effective, and simple to use.

We recommend the Johnson Silver Minnow.

Topwater lures

Topwater lures are a great option when fishing for snook in mangroves or grassy areas. The folks at Salt Strong to a great job the proper technique in this video.

What is the best time to catch snook?

The best time of the year to catch snook is during the spring and fall months when the water is warm of the Florida and Gulf coasts.

The most common time of the day for surf fishing is when the tide starts coming in. I normally look at the tide chart and start casting about 2 hours before high tide. Smaller baitfish are closer to the shore at high tide, which means snook and other predator fish are also close.

Wrapping up

If you’re lucky enough to live in or visit an area where snook are abundant, you’ll have lots of fun catching these mean fish.

We hope this article gave you a good introduction on how to get started surf fishing for snook. As always, feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

Happy fishing!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you eat snook?

Yes, snook are delicious when properly prepared and cooked. They have a mild flavor similar to halibut or grouper.

Do I need a license to fish for snook?

Yes, you will need a valid saltwater fishing license to catch snook. Regulations vary by state, so be sure to check the regulations in your area. For snook fishing in Florida, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission has all the info you’ll need.

Is there a size limit for keeping snook?

Yes, the minimum size limit for keeping a snook is 18″ to 32″.

Fishing Fanatiks is reader-supported. If you buy via the links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you.