Snook Might Still Be Up in Local Rivers
By Ron Taylor, Florida Wildlife Research Institute
Most of us have always assumed that when the weather begins to warm, snook populations make a bee-line from the back bay lagoons, creeks, rivers and bayous and head for the open flats and beaches. Thus our snooking focus during spring and summer has always been in those venues. However, we recently received emails from anglers who are still catching snook well up in area rivers.
Is this a new phenomenon, or have we been missing populations of snook that are still staying put in these back country locations year ‘round? For some expert answers, we asked one of the state’s preeminent snook biologists, Ron Taylor, for a definitive response. And here is what he had to say about the possibility of snook that never leave the rivers:
Some observations we have made during the past two years concerning snook in south Florida rivers. To begin with, they are the same species of snook and are the same snook one sees in the estuaries and inlets except one may see each snook with some unknown rhythm. meaning that some snook may remain upriver, as far as Zolfo Springs in the Pearce River, for only one year or up to four or five years. we have a series of permanent acoustic receivers in the lower Caloosahatchee River that we have been monitoring since may 2005. we put acoustic pingers, or tags, in 25 adult snook to determine the frequency with which they leave the freshwater rivers to go to the higher saline areas of the estuary to spawn. Three of the 25 snook have never left the freshwater portion of the river and two of them have never left the original location in which they were tagged.
There is a seasonal distribution that supports the hypothesis that most adult snook leave the rivers in the summer to spawn in the inlets and that most adult snook leave the inlets and migrate into the rivers in the late fall and winter. However, some adult snook are found in the rivers in each month of the year.
This important finding has many implications- not all snook spawn each year. How many or what percent??? Don’t know, but it does imply that we don’t have the correct estimate of total spawning biomass for either the Atlantic or Gulf stock. Actually some of the largest snook ever collected by FWRI biologists were collected in the rivers during this past spring. We have also located the habitat type that holds small juvenile and young immature snook- quiet shallow ox bows and pools that are adjacent to the main stem of the rivers.
In the next three or four years, we plan to initiate a large acoustic monitoring program that includes all the major rivers in south Florida to determine the frequency and rhythm with which our common snook move between the rivers and the estuaries and beaches.
Snook research coordinator
FFWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute
100- 8th Ave. SE
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
ph (727) 896- 8626
fax (727) 552- 1352
cell (727) 510- 5347