One of the most popular inshore species in Bradenton is snook, aka Linesiders. This is a species native to the coastal waters here and can be targeted most times of the year, with the exception of extreme cold. We’ll go over the where and when alongside a few variations of “how” to target snook in Bradenton.
Bradenton Snook Fishing
Bradenton, Florida is a snook fishing haven. With a direct freshwater feed from the Manatee River, a healthy mangrove-lined backcountry, direct access to the flats of Palma Sola Bay, alongside direct feeds from the Gulf of Mexico and neighboring Tampa Bay – you have the ingredients to epic snook fishing opportunities.
When To Fish For Snook In Bradenton
Snook like warm weather, so when Spring and Summer hit, snook fishing goes into full swing. That said, there is a healthy resident population that can be targeted nearly all year. The exception being the cooler winter months when water temps drop. This causes the species to go lethargic and opportunities decline drastically.
This is Florida however and even though there may be cool winter days, there are warm ones too. It’s on these days that activity can spike again and snook can be on your days target species list.
Where To Find Them
Snook are ambush predators. They like to sit behind choke pints, or funnels, where the tide or current will move baitfish right into their strike zone. They will also apply this hunting method from underneath. Usually, near structure and in deeper pockets, snook will lurk at the bottom and launch up at their prey. But again, it is going to be at a funnel or choke point (like shown in the image above).
Most of the time, working the mangroves will be your best bet. In Bradenton snook love hiding inside of these root systems watching for passing prey. The same choke point theory can be applied here. One of the absolute best bets is in between two mangrove islands that sit really close together. Where they face each other at their closest points, look for current flow one way or the other. It is on the backside of these flows, usually, just around the corner, snook will be lying in wait.
With these tactics in mind, you can find snook in any area with these attributes:
- Moving Current
- Choke Points
Less often, but still possible, snook can be found out along the flats in grass beds, or even smashing bait pods along the coast. Snook have been caught on the beaches as well. These sorts of opportunities usually occur during those warmer months while bait pods are rolling into the area. Snook have even been seen “belly-crawling” along grass beds in mere inches of water.
Popular Snook Fishing Methods
There are three primary methods for targeting snook, these also apply to all kinds of inshore fishing. This is why, regardless of what you choose, you will most likely catch redfish, seatrout, and much more during your snook fishing excursion.
In all cases, a heavy-duty leader is going to be required. 25lb+ fluoro is a good choice. The reason for this is that snook have razor-sharp gill plates that slice at the leader material. This is often the number one reason for losing the fish early on in a battle. At the same time, even with the heavy stuff, your leader must be inspected after every single catch. The damage from one snook can be enough to break off the next. A lot of snook fishermen will start the day with an extra-long leader (like 36″) in anticipation of having to cut off end sections and retie throughout the day.
This is the number one choice for snook in Bradenton. Live bait is always going to produce snook and is readily available to catch in these coastal waters (see image above). The method is to simply freeline the bait attached to a 4/0 hook. The hook can be a short shank J hook or a circle hook. Cast the bait into your targeted zone and let ‘er swim.
A lot of seasoned inshore fishermen utilize artificial lures to catch snook. A basic rule of thumb is to match whatever bait is in the area at the time. Usually baitfish. The old “twitch, twitch, pause” technique works well. This can be applied to suspending twitch baits, soft plastic paddle tails, and topwater lures (walking the dog).
In cooler months, soft plastic shrimp can be a great way to target snook.
Fly fishing is much like the lure fishing description in regards to fly patterns. You’ll want to use an 8wt rod in general – heavy wind days a 9wt can help slice through the wind better. There are those that choose to go as low as a 5wt – but this takes finesse and time, which in turn overworks that fish and lowers its chance of survival upon release. The average snook in Bradenton will be plenty of fun on an 8/9wt setup.
First Time Snook Fishing?
If you have never targeted snook, you can learn a ton from a local guide. You’ll learn areas to fish, what to look for, proper equipment, and in most cases – first-time success while fishing with a Bradenton area fishing guide.