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SCIENTIFIC NAME : Centropomus undecimalis

: Line side, Robalo, Ravillia.

RANGE: A tropical species, Snook are found on the larger islands of the Caribbean, including Cuba, Puerto Rico and Hispaniola. They are absent from the Bahamas, except for an occasional straggler in Bimini. In Florida, they are largely confined to about the lower half of the Peninsula. However, a few successive years without damaging freezes will send them spreading northward, particularly on the Atlantic Coast, where they have been fishable even around Jacksonville at times. On the Gulf side, the Homosassa River seems to be the limit of their range, although wondering individuals are caught in the Panhandle on occasion. Even on the lower Gulf Coast, occasional freezes kill many Snook. Serious kills are far less common on the Atlantic side, where deeper, warmer water is closer at hand to provide a haven.

DESCRIPTION: The Snook has a most distinctive body shape, featuring a tapered head and snout, under slung lower jaw, large fins and, most distinctive of all, a prominent black stripe running the full length of the lateral line. The stripe is present in all species of Snook. Coloration is generally dark gray to black on the dorsal surface, shading to silvery on the sides. The fins are yellowish. As with many inshore fish, the coloration may vary with season and habitat. Snook of inside waters usually have darker sides.

SIZE: Generally, the size range is from 3 to 15 pounds. Snook weighing 20 to 30 pounds are not unusual on either coast, especially around inlets and passes during the summer, when spawning takes place. A number of Snook topping 40 pounds have been caught over the years on both coasts, and the maximum may be 60 or more. World record 53 pounds, 10 ounces.

FLORIDA RECORD : 44 pounds, 3 ounces - Fort Meyers - April 25, 1984

FOOD VALUE: Snook are proportionately very thick through the shoulders, and their fillets represent a higher portion of total weight than most other fish. The fillets are mild yet flavorful and are ranked at the top of nearly everyone's list of favorite fish.

GAME QUALITIES: One of the best for all-around fighting ability. The fight is usually featured by several long runs and a few jumps. Small Snook leap high in the manner of Ladyfish, while the really big females manage to clear only about half their bodies. Snook also are past masters at utilizing shoreline roots or any other obstructions to their advantage.

TACKLE AND BAITS: Even though spinning and bait casting tackle are the most used, light saltwater boat rods get plenty of action, particularly when live-baiting in passes and inlets. Even heavier gear often gets the call for fishing from piers and bridges. Surf tackle can be useful at times, although surf Snook are usually close to the beach, in easy range of casting gear. Fly fishermen take their Snook on large streamers and poppers, for the most part, while hard-lure casters rely heavily on mirror plugs, bucktail and plastic jigs, jerk plugs, spoons and topwater lugs. Any small fish makes good live bait, as do live shrimp and crabs. Schooling baitfish, such as Pilchards, work wonders as both live chum and bait. Large dead baits fished on bottom take some very big Snook; best are Mullet heads and Ladyfish heads or halves.

FISHING TECHNIQUES: Casting; Drifting; Still Fishing; Trolling.


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