5 Keys To Catching Snook From Shore This Winter


It’s snook time!

Wintertime can be one of the best times to target snook, and we brought in one of our Insider members, Mark Blythe, to talk about the trends behind how he’s been catching tons of snook, juvenile tarpon, trout, and redfish this winter in the backcountry.

The coolest thing is, he’s doing this all from shore, without a boat or kayak.


Backcountry Winter Fishing

by Mark Blythe

snook fishing in creeks

The creeks and ditches of the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge are alive and provide plenty of opportunities throughout the year.

Winter may not seem the best time to target snook, but if you’re anywhere near the refuge you should rethink that approach.

Over the past month, I have had over a dozen 20-40 fish days, using mainly artificial baits.

Find creeks and ditches with bait and muddy bottom and you should find snook, as well as a few redfish, small tarpon, trout, and ladyfish.

All my catches have been from the land instead of a boat.

I run and gun in my truck instead of on the water and it can be very rewarding.

If an area isn’t producing, pack up and move on quickly to a better location.

tarpon fishing in creeks

5 Keys To Catching Winter Snook From Shore

1. Where:

  • Dike roads throughout the MINWR, Bio-Lab Road and L-Pond Road are good starting points. Patillo Creek, Eddy Creek and Peacock’s Pocket are also productive areas.
  • If trout are your target, Eddy Creek is an excellent place during cold snaps.
  • Editor’s note: anywhere there are backcountry creeks and ditches with muddy bottom in snook country, you’ll likely find snook there in the winter.

2. When:

  • All year long for tarpon, redfish and trout.
  • When we have a couple nights with temperatures in the 40s, head out to the creeks for snook.
  • The best bite will be a couple hours after daybreak through sunset.

3. Rigging:

  • Try medium action rods with 10-15 pound braided line.
  • Use 30-pound leader if targeting snook, scale down if you aren’t getting bites, but their gill plates can cut right through light leader.
  • If you aren’t catching snook in an area, but are catching trout, reds, and tarpon, you can use 10-15 pound leader.

4. Approach:

  • Snook will be laying on the bottom of these muddy creeks and that’s where your baits need to be.
  • Reel slowly and if that’s not producing, slow down your retrieve even more. (Bass anglers, work baits like Senko lures).

5. Lures & Bait:

  • The best baits have been Creme Spoiler Shad, in blue and gray colors. These are usually well stocked at Wal-Mart.
  • Storm Wild-Eyed Shad baits work well also, try the ones that are light brown in color, they cast a good ways and have a treble hook on the bottom.
  • Mirr-O-Dine (MR17) works very well also, the pinfish colored lure is the one I use most.
  • Live shrimp under a popping cork works best during the full moon phases.

lures and bait for backcountry snook fishing

Backcountry Snook [VIDEO]

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Although Mark was specifically talking about the creeks and ditches in the Merrit Island National Wildlife Refuge, these trends and tactics are applicable all throughout the state where snook live.

If you want to catch more fish, you need to learn the trends.

The trends for snook in the winter are to hang out in the creeks and ditches with muddy bottom where the water is warmer and look for easy (slow moving) meals.

Knowing the trends can help you find the fish and present your bait in a way that will get them to strike.

Have any questions for Mark about catching backcountry snook?

Let us know in the comments below!

P.S. know someone who wants to catch more snook this winter? TAG or SHARE this with them!

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Randy green
22 days ago

Went to back country last week in Feb and caught over 100 snook and 5 red. Went out 2 days later 15 snook 2 red all on paddletail jig. Since then not much. Because of warmer temps have fish moved out?

Justin Winn
4 years ago

Great video, thank you for sharing!

Lara Delorenzo-Sims
4 years ago

Thank you for sharing the cool video 😉

4 years ago

I am s fishing guide in South Texas . I catch more snooknoer day in November to January than the rest of the year! My guide service is called Snookonahook.com

Thanks Captain Mark Machado

Gunny Mike
4 years ago

Great article bro, as always, good to see ya out at that canal…

Brett Roberton
4 years ago

Are the gators a problem to be concerned with around the creeks and ditches of Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge??

4 years ago
Reply to  Brett Roberton

There have been a few that have caused problems including one we have named Ninja. I don’t fish that pond much anymore due to a close call. It’s such a great tarpon pond it’s hard to resist. I have a small crew and we keep an eye out for one another

Colin Campbell
4 years ago

Years ago I lived in Fort Pierce and the snook would load up the base of the spillway of Taylor Creek to where you could almost walk across them. Many experienced angler would be frustrated because the snook would not take any bait, live or artificial. Any thoughts on what tactics would have gotten the snook to bite?

4 years ago
Reply to  Colin Campbell

Slow the presentation down, slow and slower

4 years ago

Good info! Thanks for the article Mark.

Scott B
4 years ago

Very informative Mark.

TK Kelly
4 years ago

Excellent insight. Thanks for the tips!


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