The common snook (Centropomus undecimalis) is a species of marine fish in the family Centropomidae of the order Perciformes. The common snook is also known as the sergeant fish or robalo. It was originally assigned to the sciaenid genus Sciaena; Sciaena undecimradiatus and Centropomus undecimradiatus are obsolete synonyms for the species.
The common snook is an estuarine-dependent fish species. Within estuaries, juvenile common snook are most often found inhabiting areas such as coastal wetland ponds, island networks, and creeks. Despite being a euryhaline species of fish, common snook do show a tendency to gravitate towards lower salinity conditions in the early stages of their life. By being able to adapt and thrive in both high and low salinity conditions through osmoregulation, common snook display a high level of habitat plasticity. Common snook are opportunistic predators whose feeding habits indicate that there is a positive relationship between their size and the size size of their prey, meaning that as the snook grows it feeds on larger and larger prey. Common snook have been found to occasionally engage in cannibalistic activities, though this behavior is rare. This usually occurs during the winter months when adult and juvenile common snook are in close proximity to one another within their estuarine habitats. This form of cannibalism where the juveniles are fed on by the adults is referred to as intercohort cannibalism. The adult common snook who do cannibalize juveniles most likely target them due to the fact that the juveniles may be the largest of the available prey, and are therefore more nutritionally efficient to prey upon.
Snook closed to harvest in Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic waters in January 2010 after a severe cold kill affected snook population number.
At the June 2011 Commission Meeting, Commissioners received a staff report on the status of the snook population, which suggests that snook on Florida’s Atlantic coast were less severely impacted by cold weather than Gulf coast snook.
They orient themselves to face moving water and wait for prey to be carried down the current. Snook jump clear of the water, and burst into long runs. Use live pinfish, small mullet, shrimp, or sardines free-lined or fished off the bottom with a fish finder rig. They take a large variety of lures based on water conditions. Beware of the snook’s razor-sharp gill covers!