Fishing Report March 8, 2023

Snook season is open, be in the know to hookup

March is upon us and you can bet most inshore anglers around Anna Maria Island have one thing on their minds – the opening of snook season. With water temps hovering in the low to mid 70s, you can bet the snook are getting hungry and are on the prowl.

March 1 marked the opening day for harvest of these popular inshore game fish in west central Florida and with that brings the masses. Whether in a boat, wading the flats or fishing the bridges, piers and passes, the snook fanatics will be out in hordes.

And with the hordes, there will be some snook that fall prey to the irresistible temptation to take a bait, even if there’s a hook in it. 

But, as the season progresses, the snook will get wise. It’ll be harder to catch fish 28-31 inches. Among fish species, snook seem to rate fairly high on the intelligence scale. They can sense when things aren’t right and instantly come down with a case of lockjaw. And when this happens, the angler knows it’s time to quit for the day — or at least until the tide changes.

When snook are biting, a host of offerings — both live and artificials — will work as bait. Live baits such as pinfish, shrimp and shiners are delectable to a hungry snook. Artificials such as topwater plugs, lipped plugs and jigs also work if the conditions are right. For those who like punishment, snook will also take a fly.

Lastly, make sure to be familiar with the regulations when targeting snook. As they are one of the most popular inshore fish in our area, you want to make sure you’re not breaking the rules. A legal snook for harvest must measure at least 28 inches and not more than 33 inches. Trust me, there may not be a game warden in sight, but if a local sees you poaching a snook, they will educate you on your mistake. Season is open March 1-April 30 and again from Sept. 1 to Nov. 31.

Happy snook fishing.

On my Just Reel charters, I’m seeing the most action occurring on deep grass flats. Free-lining shiners over these areas is resulting in many spotted seatrout and Spanish mackerel. Bluefish and ladyfish are in the mix, which keeps the rods bent for quite a while. On shallower flats, snook are beginning to cooperate as the water temps rise.