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Banana River Snook Guide

Fishing For Snook on Florida's East Coast with a Fishing Guide

Friday June 22, 2018

These two brothers from Iowa spent a day fishing with Captain Richard Bradley on the Banana River Lagoon west of Cocoa Beach, Florida. They lost a monster red fish but managed to catch a nice snook in the cold winds of December.

snook on boat deckSnook are a tropical fish and tend to get stressed out during the deeper winter months and cold fronts. Like many species of Florida fish, cold fronts can cause the fish to get lockjaw during the fronts but prior to the weather the fish often feed vigorously. The snook above was caught in a backwater canal at Cocoa Beach on a cold winter day and surprised me that the fish had it in him with the water temperatures going into the 50° degree mark. Typically I would have put these guys on deepwater trout but the water temperatures went down so quickly, the trout had not yet retreated to the deeper water and were very inconsistent. The following day, the trout made their appearance and the winter time trout fishing had arrived.

Better seasons for snook fishing in the Banana River are from May thru October with May and June being prime times and the rest of the months ranging from good to fair. When the temperatures in the summer peak, the fish retreat to find cooler waters that have some turnover from the winds or tides. Fish in the summer can get as uncomfortable as they do in winter as the water gets to a simmering 90° causing most fish to not feed or to find shelter in shadier areas.

releasing big snookBecause snook are nocturnal feeders you'll find that early morning and evening is the best time to target these gamefish in the Banana River. Personally, I find that morning is better than evening and I'm not exactly sure why. Maybe because it takes them awhile to get into the night stalking and their stalking mode lingers into the morning. However, we do catch snook in the later part of the evening in the canals and waterways of the Banana River Lagoon.

There are several ways I approach snook fishing in the Banana River Lagoon. First and foremost, I try and get live bait and work a mangrove shoreline or docks. If I have pilchards in enough quantities, I'll use injured pilchards to chum as I'm fishing structure. If I have finger mullet, I probe with a live mullet and don't often use them as chum. secondly, I use artificial's like jerkbaits with very little (if any) weight. Skipping lighter colored jerkbaits under docks and mangroves can produce fantastic results. Topwaters are fun snook lures too...

snook at portIn the early days before jerkbaits we would use stickbaits like Rapalas or Mirrorlures with good results, but your casting better be accurate or your hooking branches, docks and other assorted structure regularly. Thirdly, it's the fly... and for the fly fisherman it's often one of the greatest ways to catch a snook and often more productive than any other method, except you won't get the bigger ones as often as you could on live bait.

Many anglers prefer fly fishing for snook because of the challenge provided and their readiness to take a streamer or popper. During the warmer time of the year, use Lefty's Deceiver or an assortment of Clousers in lighter colors (especially white). A little flash or mylar will put an extra sparkle for visibility and some eyes will make it even more appealing. Present your fly along the edges of mangroves and you've got a deadly combination for catching snook on a fly rod. Eight or nine weight flyrods and an intermediate or floating WF line is always best in the mangrove roots.

"I took military leave with my family to come to the Banana River with Captain Richard and go snook fishing with my brother. We had a blast during a cold winter day catching fish and even landed a snook during the cold front. I'd recommend snook on the Banana River again."
-An Iowa Angler taking his vacation in Florida

Try Snook Fishing in the Banana River

Snook fishing in the Banana River is great, whether you use artificial, flies or live bait. Come on aboard with a Lagooner fishing guide and we'll try to hook you up with your Banana River Snook. The best time to snook fish inshore is typically late April thru early summer and then again as the late summer rains start up and the outflows of late August and September make snook more active as they prepare to spawn in the summer and feed to get ready for the winter months.

Snook are inshore fish with an attitude. They are generally a golden yellow in color with a dark black lateral line (stripe) running the length of their body. Their mouth is similar to a large mouth bass' size & shape, yet their gills are razor sharp so watch out when handling these guys.

Most anglers don't know about or haven't caught the four species of snook in Florida. In East Central Florida waters we have alot of common and fat snook. The tarpon and swordspine are more frequent in South Florida.

Snook are revered as one of the most prestigious fish to catch, partly because they tend to be finicky about how and when they will approach a presented bait but mostly because of their fighting tactics (which seem unfair). But if you want to tangle with a fish thats' bound and determined to give you a brutal fight... SNOOK is your fish.

Varieties of Snook Species in the Atlantic
Common Snook
Fat Snook
Tarpon Snook
SwordSpine Snook

From central Florida south, usually INSHORE in coastal and brackish waters, along mangrove shorelines, seawalls, and bridges; also on reefs and pilings NEARSHORE. They are usually low-light or nocturnal feeders so get up early or fish at night for these large inshore preditors.

Snook fishing in East Central Florida is most often during the late spring, summer and fall months and starts to fade into the colder winter months. Typically during the winter months snook either head south or look for backwater areas where the water temperatures are move favorable. Don't look for snook to be active feeders during the winter months of January - March unless we have prolonged warm fronts or indian summers that bring the snook into a more active feeding cycle. During the spring snook are migrating toward their summer June-August spawning grounds along the beaches near inlets and ports. Snook often stage between their winter holdouts and the spawning grounds on spoil islands, docks and structure before heading out to meet their mates on the beach.

Late summer and fall produce some of the best fishing for snook at locations like Sebastian Inlet, Port Canaveral or Cocoa Beach.

Backwater snook can be fished for with a wide variety of artificials from jerk baits to top waters and plugs, much like bass anglers do around shorelines and structure including mangroves, stumps, docks, etc...

Saltwater flats often hold nice sized snook, look for baitfish, nearby structure including dropoffs or mangrove shorelines or docks. Fish for flats snook with live bait like pilchards or greenies or subtle shrimp or baitfish imitations. Remember that snook like the comfort of structure and can feel vulnerable in the open flat. Often snook have to be excited with live chum to get them to cooperate in open water flats.

Inlet fishing is usually done at night with livebait by drifting during the preferred tide phase (usually outgoing) or throwing plugs like bombers, rapalas or other baitfish imitations. This type of fishing is not for the novice and can be very challenging on the angler. You often break off and must have above average skills when fishing in heavy currents at night during the outgoing tides and fall swells.

Snook spawn primarily in summer; cannot tolerate water temperatures below 60 degrees F; can tolerate wholly fresh or saltwater; schools along shore and in passes during spawning season; feeds on fish and large crustaceans.


Snook in East Central Florida have many different habitats and conditions that make them a great target for anglers looking for variable ways to catch this elusive fish. Juvenile fish can be caught in the estuaries, canals and backwater areas almost all year long. While not as prestigious as large breeder snook, they are non-the-less enjoyable to catch and will bite on everything from baitcasters to flyrods and everything between. Juvenile snook are suckers for artificial's and readily take live bait as well.

Big breeding snook spawn on or near the beaches of Central Florida and always have a passageway or access to the beaches or inlets available to them. The only time a breeder snook is generally caught in the backwaters here is because it's a cooler transitional time period usually. Canaveral snook spend their winter months in the Port under docks, wharfs and around other structure like boats and pilings. You often see them hanging around the lights at night in small and large schools. Sebastian Inlet Snook are caught in the inlet itself during the summer and fall months and many of the larger snook migrate south to Jupiter Inlet or hunker down in the fresh warmer water of the Sebastian River a short distance away.

Articles and Photos about Snook

Sebastian Inlet Snook Fishing
Catching Breeding Snook on the Beach Video
Port Canaveral Snook Fishing
IGFA World Record Sized Snook
Night Snook Fishing in Port Canaveral
Double Hookup Snook
Beach Snook From Boat
Kids Catch Snook
Big Snook On Beach
Father Son Snook Fishing
Mosquito Lagoon Snook
Daytona Snook Fishing
Orlando Snook Fishing
Canaveral Snook Fishing
Cocoa Beach Snook Fishing
Indian River Snook Fishing
Indian River Rabalo Fishing


Not less than 28" or more than 32" Atlantic - Not less than 28" or more than 33" Gulf of Mexico, Monroe County, Everglades Nat. Park

Season Closed December 15th thru January 31st & June thru August on the Atlantic Coast.
Decemeber thru February & May thru August on the Gulf of Mexico, Monroe County, Everglades National Park

State Record

44 Pounds, 3 Ounces

Snook are one of Florida's most prestigious angling opportunities and popular gamefish species.

Reviewed by Captain Richard Bradley on Last modified: December 10 2015 17:57:33.

Published by: Captain of Lagooner Fishing Guides©

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Fishing Reports

June - 2018 Fishing Report

The summer is upon us and June is the beginning of the hottest time of the year. Typically Captain Richard is fishing the ocean during this month so his reports are not as fulfilling about the Banana River but some of my friends have been doing fine with small sea trout, jacks and ladyfish around the spoil islands and deeper dropoffs.

Fishing Forecast

June - 2018 Fishing Forecast

Forecasting the Banana River in the month of June is challenging as the water temperatures rise the bite tends to go down so that's why you'll find many anglers pursuing other places like Port Canaveral or Sebastian Inlet area where there's tidal flow and water exchange. The Banana is a unique estuary because of it's distance from any open ocean inlets and bays. Because of this it's important to realize that the temps can often get into the mid 80's and higher causing the fish to be less receptive to feeding and more likely to seek cooler places under docks or simply migrate into more comfortable waters.

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Inshore and Offshore Charter Fishing near Orlando and Cocoa Beach, Florida. Catch redfish, sea trout, tarpon, snook and many other saltwater gamefish aboard the world famous Lagooner flats fishing boat with renowned Captain Richard Bradley.

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