If you asked my father, who is a seasoned, lifelong fisherman, what his favorite fish is to catch, no doubt his answer would be the snook. Since the first time I watched my dad battle and land a big snook, I’ve been infatuated with them. I can remember, clear as day, my own initial encounter with the legendary linesider.
I would describe the snook (centropomus undecimalis) as a saltwater version of the largemouth bass. They are extremely aggressive, very quick, and have a mouth the size of a garbage can. In other words, they’ve got 99 problems, but eating ain’t one. This fish is sought after and pursued by the saltiest of the salty captains and serious fishermen. This is reflected in the lengths that the state has gone to since 1997 to protect this valuable, irreplaceable species. With our strict regulations on bag limits, slot sizes, and closed seasons, catching and bringing home a snook means being much more of an angler than a poacher. Due to a 2010 cold snap that not only killed but negatively impacted a substantial amount of the snook fishery across the state, the harvest season was closed in the gulf waters to allow the population some “breeding room”, so to speak. Commissioners voted at the June 2013 FWC (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) to reopen the recreational harvest season on September 1st. And reports have been steadily coming in that Florida’s snook fishery is back on track and looks even better than it has in years.
I think the majority of us have some trust issues with the government lately. I myself have often wonder, “Why do they care what I catch/kill and when? Can’t they just stay out of it?” However, this is clear evidence, for me anyway, that the state has made some serious strides in protecting our aquatic habitats for future generations. I certainly want my grandchildren and their children to have the same chance to enjoy the thrill of battling one of Florida’s wonders.