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How to catch Snook in the Mangroves

by James Schulz
Published: Last Updated on

Today, Florida has about 500,000 acres of mangrove forest.

mangrove forest ccreek

Nearly every coastal Florida backcountry has miles of red mangrove shoreline at the water’s edge; it all looks “snooky” but it’s not. 

  • So how do you determine where to fish? 
  • First, are there baitfish along the shoreline? 
  • Are there birds?

Birds of prey don’t waste much time in a wasteland.

In the absence of birds, are the mangrove leaves splotched with white? 

That would be bird guano. 

So at least birds do frequent the spot from time to time. 

  • Is there a tidal current?
  • Finally, is there enough depth for snook at least during high tide? 
  • Is there a sharp undercut mudbank?

If all of these conditions are present, you may have found a snook spot.  And three out of four isn’t bad!

When current flows tight against the roots of the red mangrove shoreline, you can expect a change in depth along with the roots that protrude into the current or the ends of a mangrove island that points in the direction of water flow. 

In other words, if the incoming tide is flowing toward the east, the western end of a mangrove island is likely to have a deep cut right at the base of the mangroves. 

Zoom past a spot like that in your skiff and you risk blowing past the best snook hole of the day.

A close inspection of such a channel or cut might reveal some other structure within that hole — a submerged log, mangrove branch, or other debris. 

As water rips through that cut, expect snook to be waiting on the down current side of the structure, waiting for prey to wash by.  

 Which phase of the tide is best for snook in the mangroves?

Most anglers prefer a low outgoing tide because it forces snook and baitfish out of the root labyrinth. 

Further, there is more space between the lowest hanging branches and the water, an ideal opportunity to skip lures back into the cover where snook often lurk.

At high tide, your only option may be to cast weedless soft plastics as deep as possible in the small nooks and crannies in the trees. 

Often there is a strip of the flat just outside the mangroves that has relatively bare bottom.

This strip can hold snook looking to warm up in the sun.  Snook lurk right at the ends of the mangroves or the grass line waiting for prey too.

Pro Tip: Capt Chris Myers specializes in Mangrove backcountry on Mosquito Lagoon.

Using a 7.5 ft medium power fast action rod, a Daiwa 2500 size spinning reel, 10-pound poly braid, and 30-pound fluorocarbon and DOA Shrimp.

Myers skips plastic shrimp under mangrove branches along shorelines that have quick dropoffs.

The best snook mangroves have deep water nearby so the fish can take cover during extreme weather. 

Mangrove snook aren’t necessarily large but you have to turn them quickly.

It only takes one barnacle-encrusted prop root to slice your line.

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