5 Keys To Catching Snook From Shore This Winter

By: Joseph Simonds on February 25, 2019
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backcountry snook fishing

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.

Enjoy!

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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Conclusion

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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Justin WinnNick MoultonLara DeLorenzo-SimsRichard FlerraDoug Lindhout Recent comment authors
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Justin Winn
Member

Great video, thank you for sharing!

Lara DeLorenzo-Sims
Member

Thank you for sharing the cool video 😉

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

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
Guest
Gunny Mike

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

Brett Roberton
Member

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

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

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
Member

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?

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Slow the presentation down, slow and slower

Hammer
Guest
Hammer

Good info! Thanks for the article Mark.

James Bradford
Member

Very informative Mark.

TK Kelly
Guest
TK Kelly

Excellent insight. Thanks for the tips!

Garza
Guest
Garza

Awesome stuff. Looking forward to more.

Mark Blythe
Member

I would like to host a gathering of Salt Strong Anglers after my trip to the Keys in mid-March. I plan on meeting at Playalinda Beach and taking those anglers who have never caught a tarpon and would like to, out from there. If interested hit me up. We can all go to Dixie Crossroads afterwards for a good lunch. Only thing I’m waiting on is the tarpon to get in the refuge in 10-15 of my trusty spots. Who’s in?

TK Kelly
Guest
TK Kelly

In

Jason Klazon
Member

Mark, please let me know when you plan to go out with this group. I would love to tag along, as long as my schedule allows me to do so. I live in the Titusville area, & have only caught a couple of juvenile tarpon during my past 2 1/2 year journey of inshore fishing. I’m always up to learn more, catch some fish, & do all of the above with other like minded anglers in my area. Thanks.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Shoot me an email at blyline@aol.com we can go out sometime soon I’ll show you what to look for

Pat Ogletree
Member

I’m in for sure. I fish that area often would love to learn more about it. Thanks for the write up, very informative!

Paul Dobrow
Guest
Paul Dobrow

In. Sounds like a good time.

Shannon McNally
Member

I’m in please let me know, I live in satellite beach.

Webb Colegrove
Member

Great info, I would like to join you guys
Thanks so much

Doug Lindhout
Member

Mark, I’d love to join you. I’m a Tarpon and Snook virgin and anxious to get into some action.

Rich Flerra
Member

Sign me up!

Nicholas Moulton
Member

If my schedule allows count me in too!

Justin Winn
Member

Count me in!