Winter and snook fishing do not necessarily go hand in hand, it is considered the hardest time of year to target snook, even in central Florida. However, this does not make it impossible and for hard-core lovers of linesiders, wintertime is no excuse not to target snook in St. Pete.
How To Approach Snook Fishing In Winter
The biggest factor when targeting wintertime snook is water temps. This is a tropical species of inshore fish that enjoys its warm weather. While Florida winters are mild, water temps below 75 degrees will send these guys in search of more temperate waters.
So, knowing the water temp on a given day is the first priority. At the same time, this is not the end-all as water temps are provided as an average for the surface- known as SST (sea surface temperature) and does not represent deeper water or spring-fed water. Still, knowing the average surface temp will tell you where to go hunt for the species.
Here is a handy website: St. Pete Beach Water Temps
So, let’s say the water temps you find are below 75, what next? You’ll need to find the zone where the proper temps do exist. There are a few rules of thumb for locating these in St. Pete. Warm water outflows (either man-made or natural) are the place to start.
A lot of times this is in areas where coastal rivers meet the bay in brackish water. But the real thing you are looking for in these situations is spring locations. Springs in Florida have an average temp range between 66 °F to 97 °F. As you can see, this puts our target temp about center of average, so springs are a great place to start during your wintertime snook fishing expedition.
The next place to look is deeper water. Deeper waters maintain higher temps as the water cools from the surface down. The ocean floor and surrounding billion megatons of water act as an insulator – it takes long stretches of cold weather to begin cooling the water down here.
For the most part, winter in St. Pete will not get this cold. So, targeting deep channels and pockets around bridges, docks, inlets, and where they are naturally occurring is your next safe bet. This can also be a great time of year to target snook under dock lights, as long as that water depth is present.
Lastly, and most commonly, during most of the winter in St Pete temps will dip at night and warm back up during the day. This will affect snook in shallow waters. What you wind up seeing is that snook leave these flats and shallow water backcountry areas while it is cold, since the cold penetrates this top column of the water body.
But, when the sun comes back out and begins warming things during the day, snook can be found lurking back out to “sun” on ledges and open areas where the sun can penetrate best.
These particular snook can be a little harder. A snook that is sunning is currently only concentrating on warming up – thunking him on the head with your mirrodine will not be the best bet here. However, slowly finesse your offering just within strike range, and he may decide to take the easy meal.
Then, when that sunning snook turns to patrol his sun-drenched location for the day, he is back up and running ready for you to try your best at enticing the wintertime snook bite in St. Pete.