Pro Talk: Winter Snook Fishing in Fort Myers, FL

Pro Talk: Winter Snook Fishing in Fort Myers, FL

Winter Time Snook Fishing

Traditionally, the years most productive snook fishing takes place when water temps are above 72 degrees. Late spring summer and early fall present great opportunities for targeting line sides. Winter time snook fishing can be challenging, as most fish will migrate far up creeks, rivers and canals to winter over in deep holes.

Soft Bait Selection:

Smaller baits are key. Colder water temperatures slow down the metabolism of snook, so they don’t need to feed as often or heavily.
Smaller profile baits will temp lethargic fish easier than traditional large style baits.
The Hogy HDUV Jiggin' Eel Tail baits and Hogy Skinny Series are perfect for winter fishing.

Rigging Selection:

Weighted Swim Bait Hook: During the cold days of winter, snook will almost always be on or very near the bottom, trying to absorb heat. For this reason, I prefer to used a weighted Swim Bait Hook to keep my bait in the strike zone longer.

The 5/0 Weighted Barbarian Swim Bait Hook will help the bait track properly; thereby stabilizing the front portion of the bait and allowing the tail end to quiver. This size is best for use with The Hogy Original Series and Hogy Skinny Series.

The 1/0 Weighted Barbarian Swim Bait Hook: Perfectly sized for small packages, this super strong rigging is a perfect fit with The Hogy Skinny Series.

Color Selection

Dark or cloudy water: Generally, bright colors work best. Bone, Bubble Gum, Green Sexy would be my top choice.
Clear or stained water: Go with natural colors. Amber in the Skinny Series or match the hatch with a Hogy® Swim Bait.

Finicky Fish: I’ve found when fish really don’t want to cooperate, amber has produced when other colors didn’t. It’s a very natural, non aggressive color and may be subtle enough to draw a strike.


Speed: Unlike the warmer months, a slow to medium speed retrieve is best.

Rod Tip: Try to keep the rod around the 9 o’ clock position. You’ll have the ability to pick up slack quickly and have the most sensitivity.

Action: I will try to cover ground by straight reeling a swim bait through likely areas. If you find that fish are not responding, bounce the bait across the bottom with short, sharp rod tip twitches. This same retrieve is best for the Skinny Series as well. Make sure that you are using a Weighted Swim Bait Hook to keep the bait near the bottom and in the strike zone.


Capt Ross’ Rod: I prefer a fast action 7′ or 7′ 6″ medium heavy spinning rod.

Long cast can be critical for shallow weary fish, a long rod adds considerable distance.
A fast action rod will help tip recovery time between tip twitches, keeping you ready to set the hook!
Reel: I like to use a 4000 series spinning reel, like the Shimano Saragosa or Sustain. It’s light enough to fish all day with our fatigue.

Line: Light braided line ( usually 15lb – 20lb) Winter fish are lethargic and will pull less than during warmer months. This allows you to get away with generally lighter tackle. I’ve been using the new Suffix 832 braid with good results.


When in pursuit of winter snook, there are specific conditions that hold snook in the colder months.

Temperature – Snook will die if water becomes too cold. So most fish will winter in or near slow moving deep water refuge. Usually these areas are along coastal rivers, creeks or warm water discharges. Such as the out flow from a power plant.

Structure – Most of these estuary areas will have mangroves, rock or fallen trees along the banks. All of these structures provide cover for the snook, but during the coldest parts of winter, fish will relate to temperature more than structure. Search for sun exposed rocks or dark mud bottom and you’ll find the warmest water.

Bottom – Darker bottom will collect and retain heat faster than lighter color bottom. Finding black mud bottom in the mentioned areas is a great start for finding snook. Remember to watch your temperature gauge.

Reading next

How-To: Kayak Fishing for Cold Weather Snook
How-To: Jigging for Cobia

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