Sci: Sphyraena novaehollandiae

Common Names: This southern saltwater species, which is distantly related to the northern barracuda, is also known as the short-finned pike or short-fin sea pike, although snook is the most common name throughout much of its range. There is occasional confusion between this fish and the unrelated long-finned pike (Dinolestes lewini), which is found in many of the same southern waters as the snook, as well as further north.

Description: The snook is characterised by its elongated, almost cylindrical body, sharp teeth and widely separated, short-based dorsal fins. Colouration is greenish to bluish purple or brown on the back, silvery on the flanks, often with two or three darker green or brown longitudinal stripes along each side. The fins are lightly coloured, the tail sometimes yellowish, but never as bright yellow as that of the long-finned pike.

Size: Most snook taken by anglers weigh between 0.8 and 1.5 kg, although fish in excess of 3 kg are not unknown, and the species may have a maximum growth potential in excess of 4 kg.

Distribution: Snook range throughout our cooler coastal waters; from the far south coast of New South Wales through Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and into southern Western Australia. They are inshore predators of the sea grass beds and shallow reefs, although occasionally found close to the bottom over deeper reefs.

Fishing Techniques: Most snook are taken on lightly-weighted or un-weighted baits of whitebait, anchovy or pilchards on ganged hooks or single, long-shanked hooks. They also fall to fish flesh strips, small live baits and pieces of squid. These baits should be a lightly weighted and kept moving. A gentle jigging motion will often attract snook. Snook are also keen lure-takers and fall to slow-trolled spoons, jigs, feathers and minnows, particularly on weighted lines or behind paravanes. Eating Qualities: The snook is a very good to excellent table fish, much prized in southern waters. The fish's flesh is white, moist and sweet, although a little soft. Care should be taken not to bruise the meat, and all snook should be cleaned promptly after capture.


By Steve Starling