As the first tides of September wash ashore in Jupiter, so does the start of snook season. Hot spots such as the Jupiter Inlet and Loxahatchee River are ideal for game fish, with thousands of snook swimming the inshore havens. Still, these are some finicky fish! Here’s how to increase your odds of snagging a trophy.
Jupiter Bait and Tackle is a local institution. Situated on Center Street, the shop has been supplying anglers with the gear, bait, and know-how for catching snook since 1980. Stop in (it’s open seven days a week), and owner Roger Tompkins is happy to offer tips and advice for your next fishing excursion. Jupiter Bait and Tackle, 141 Center St., Jupiter
Live bait is resupplied daily at Jupiter Bait and Tackle, but Tompkins warns there’s no “one” good bait that will always draw a snook. “You need to figure out what they like,” he says. That said, the shop carries options like greenies, pinfish, and croakers delivered by local bait fishermen. Of course, the mullet run offers the do-it-yourselfer a chance to fill the bait bucket with a quick toss of a cast net or sabiki rig. When all else fails, a proper topwater plug will do the trick. For local waters, Bomber brand’s Long A and Saltwater Grade Wind-Cheater or Rapala’s Saltwater Skitter Walk are highly recommended by area fishermen.
The right equipment is key to a successful day on the water. Here, Robert “Woody” Woodard and his team at The Snook Nook in Jensen Beach recommend some supplies:
Rod: The Star VPR Inshore rod packs enough bend and strength to keep the fish on without fear of snapping. For snook, light action won’t do, so grab the 7’6” Medium Heavy-Fast ($290), the perfect mix of lightweight, cutting-edge technology and functionality to land the game.
Reel: Pair that Star with a Penn and look the part. For larger game like snook, the Spinfisher VI 5500 ($190) rigged with a 20-pound braid is more than adequate. This rugged, finely tuned spinning reel is the perfect addition to the quiver as an all-around fisher.
Shades: When fishing, seeing is half the battle—which means a proper pair of polarized sunglasses is a must. Costa Del Mar’s 580 blue-mirrored lenses were meticulously designed with the fisherman in mind, allowing for the wearer to cut through South Florida’s harsh glare and see deep into the water to spy otherwise invisible shadows of fish. The Ocearch Reefton (from $209) is stylish, functional—and every purchase helps fund an Ocearch research expedition.
With a diverse array of environs, snook fishing in the Jupiter area is world-class. Tompkins recommends posting up near most of the bridges at the spillways at dawn or dusk (if they’re open to public fishing). And head out late—anywhere from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m—to ensure a better ambush. “You hear a lot more snook hitting around those times of the day,” he says. Getting skunked? Follow the bait. With the mullet run in full swing, finding an active feeding is as simple as searching out some roiling water. Notes Tompkins: “Finger mullets run back in the river, around the inlet, and off the beaches.”
Snook season: September 1 to December 14; February 1 to May 31
Slot limit: 28 to 32 inches in length; one per angler per day
Rules: Both snook permit and recreational fishing license required; hook-and-line only