Snook have been a main target by many inshore anglers over the last few weeks. My trips have also had a focus on snook, however, their appetite and types of bait to use are taking the normal summer detour we see every year. In the beginning of snook season, they are likely to eat almost any scaled sardine, also known as greenbacks. But as we get into summer months, the larger females tend to shift to larger, higher protein meals such as ladyfish, pinfish, grunts, and much larger sardines and threadfin herring. The smaller males are still likely to chase the small to medium size greenbacks, but big females are not interested in most cases.
There are large groups of snook along the beaches in north Pinellas County, often within 3 to 4 feet of the dry sand. These fish are extremely shy especially during midday sun. Early morning or evening has been the most productive times to get these fish to chase and eat a bait. I have even downsized to 25 lb. fluorocarbon leader and 1/0 circle hooks to disguise our tackle. The larger females have been congregating in 5 to 8 feet of water around the rock jetties and passes near deep drop offs providing cover for them to ambush. This is where the pinfish, grunts and other large offerings can get eaten by a sometimes 15-to-20-pound snook.
The shallow flats on the inside of the barrier islands have already reached 90° and above. The waters along the beaches are often a couple of degrees cooler, attracting many shallow water species out and away from the uncomfortable climate of the backcountry waters.