qually at home in both resh andsalt water, the common snook isone o Florida’s premier game sh.Many saltwater anglers consider thesepowerul aquatic gladiators to be theultimate challenge. The opportunityto meet this challenge was almost eliminated in the1950s when snook stocks plummeted. Shorelinedevelopment, shing pressure, and loss o coastalhabitats all contributed to the decline. As a result,common snook were eventually designated as a gamesh—restricted to recreational harvest only. Furthershing regulations were established to protect snook,and stocks o this versatile and vigorous sh are nowrebounding.
Worldwide, 13 species o the genus
occur in the tropics and subtropics o North andSouth America; at least ve o these species occur inFlorida. Along with the common snook, the otherour species are sword-spined snook, tarpon snook,small-scale at snook, and large-scale at snook.These latter our species tend to occupy riverineareas.The smallest o the ve Florida species, thesword-spined snook (
) is named or the length othe second anal n spine. Reachingonly about 12 inches in length, thisspecies is also the rarest and hasbeen reported only in the reshwatercanals and rivers o southeast Florida. Usually,neither the sword-spined nor the tarpon snook growslarge enough to be caught legally by anglers.The tarpon snook (
) gets itsname rom its upturned tarpon-like snout. It has amore compressed body than the other our speciesand an orange-yellow pelvic n with a blackish tip. Itmay grow to a length o 20 inches and is mostcommonly ound in shaded, brackish-water pools.The small-scale at snook (
),a rotund species with a deep body, may reach 20inches in length. This second-largest member oFlorida’s snook amily is ound rom the LakeOkeechobee watershed south to the Florida Keys.
Nearly identical in appearance to the small-scale at snook, the large-scale at snook(
) was conrmed in 2006.Currently this species is ound only on the eastcoast o Florida rom Sebastian to Jupiter. Evenexpert anglers may have trouble telling the twospecies apart—distinguishing characteristics in the
is the scientic name o the common snook.
To about 4 eet, 50 pounds
South Carolina to southern Brazil; in the U.S., common only in Floridaand Texas
Throughout estuary and nearshore waters, common along mangrove shorelines,in brackish streams, and in reshwater rivers and canals
Only recreational harvest is permitted, with size limits, bag limits, and open andclosed seasons.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation CommissionFish and Wildlife Research Institute
Snook art after Diane Rome Peebles painting.