The Common Snook – An Overview of the Stealth Eater and Scrappy Fighter

Cocoa Beach fishing charters discuss the common snook, another popular gamefish species known for its adrenaline-pumping fight

Many visitors to Florida’s Atlantic coast think that you have to get offshore and snag a Kingfish or Tuna for some heart-pounding fishing action.

As anyone familiar with fishing in Cocoa Beach knows, that just isn’t the case. While the fish living in the grass flats and brackish waters aren’t nearly as big as the gamefish offshore, they are every bit as feisty and exciting to catch.

Once you hook up on a Snook, you’ll learn why anglers and charters around Cocoa Beach always perk an ear when they hear Snook.

We invite you to continue reading to learn a few general facts about the Common Snook, including appearance, weight, habitat and more.

Appearance – The Common Snook can be described as having a head and snout that tapers, large fins and a clear black stripe running down its midsection. They are typically dark gray or even black on top and more silvery along its sides. Also known as robalo, linesiders or sergeant fish, there are actually five different Snook species that live in Florida’s waters (i.e. Common Snook, Small-Scale Fat Snook, Large-Scale Fat Snook, Swordspine Snook and Tarpon Snook).

Cocoa Beach fishing - Common Snook
Image courtesy of FWC

Weight and Length – On average, adult Snook weigh between 3 and 15 pounds, but it’s not unheard of for anglers to snag one over 30 pounds every so often. The Florida record caught near Ft. Myers in 1984 weighed in at 44 pounds. Adult females will grow longer and can get up to 48 inches long while males top out in the upper-30s.

Habitat – Snook are found throughout the Indian River Lagoon around mangrove shores, grass flats, holes, and especially any passes or inlets. They really like bridge or dock pilings when waiting for prey to pass by. Generally speaking, Snook are a tropical fish, so they’re not found too far north of Cocoa Beach unless there are several years where the winter doesn’t get too cold. They are found throughout the Caribbean – the world record of 53 pounds was caught in Costa Rica.

Interestingly, Snook can move between salt- and freshwater, but they cannot tolerate temperatures below 60 – some fast moving cold fronts through Cocoa Beach have been known to claim the lives of a large number of Snook. However, large Snook kills due to cold are more common on the Gulf coast since the water isn’t nearly as deep.

Diet and Feeding Patterns – These feisty fish enjoy feeding on smaller fish (i.e. minnows, pinfish, etc.) , but also enjoy shrimp, crabs and mollusks. Snook are classified as “ambush feeders,” meaning they lie in wait for their prey and attack it when it gets close enough. The mouth of an inlet with strong currents is a popular feeding spot for Snook where they’ll hide behind rocks or anything that will conceal their presence.

Breeding season – Snook are one of a few species in the entire world that are known as “protandric hermaphrodites,” meaning they can change sex from male to female. Why this occurs isn’t really known. Snook however spawn between April and October, with the peak part of the season occurring in July and August. The Snook will spawn in nearshore areas in water with a high salt content. The offspring will then migrate to brackish waters and the safety of the estuary. Females reach maturity around 4 years while males will take 5 to 6 years. Upon maturity, the Snook will move back into the salty ocean waters to spawn.

Regulations – Snook are managed and regulated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). On the Atlantic coast, Snook cannot be kept between December 15th and January 31st due to the peak of winter and between June 1st and August 31st due to the Snook’s breeding season. In order to keep a Snook in Florida, it must have a total length of at least 28-inches but no more than 32. Only one Snook per angler can be kept each day. Fortunately, over 98% of Snook caught survive their release back into the wild.

At one time, the Snooks’ numbers were getting pretty low, but careful management has brought their numbers back in recent years.

Capt. Mark Wright of Florida East Coast Fishing Adventures near Cocoa Beach offers fishing charters targeting Snook, Speckled Trout, Redfish and other species that call the Indian River Lagoon home. To learn more, visit or click here for available dates or to book a trip.


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