A fun technique to target snook in the west central Florida area after the sun goes down is to take advantage of the many dock lights or underwater lights shining brightly in the dark water. These dock lights attract a whole food chain of life, including an abundance of prey that will in turn attract snook and other predatory gamefish.
The gear needed will be typical inshore fishing gear, such as a 7ft medium to a medium-heavy rod, with fast action for working artificial lures. For the reel, 3000 to 4000 sizes, spooled with 20-30lb braid should be sufficient for all but the largest fish. Since you will be fishing near structure, a 30-50lb fluorocarbon leader is necessary to prevent immediate break-offs, although preventing fish from getting around structure once they strike is most important.
When beginning the search for dock light snook. Start by surveying the area for the variety of lights and types available. Notice which way the current is flowing, and look for evidence of bait, fish feeding on bait, or fish silhouettes in the light. Over the course of the evening you will likely need to hit several lights to find action. You will want to approach the lights slowly and quietly, getting just close enough to make the casts accurately just beyond the light. Set yourself up to be able to cast and retrieve lures downstream through the shadow lines and lighted area. Vary the speed and action of the lures retrieve until you find out what works.
Lures that often produce include small bucktail jigs, soft plastic jerk baits/flukes, artificial shrimp, small paddle tails. If you see bait in the water, try to match their profile, size, and action. Another technique is to freeline live bait, such as shrimp or baitfish, on a small circle hook downstream to swim freely through the area.
Snook can be stubborn fish, and a patient fisherman will have the best results. If the fish are not biting, vary the bait, lure, or technique, or wait for the current change. Pay attention to the lures and conditions that produce the most bites to increase your success on future trips
When fishing residential docks it is important to be respectful of others. Avoid fishing docks when persons are on them, do not get on the docks, and avoid hitting the structure or vessels docked there. Lastly, don’t crowd other fishermen already fishing a light.