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.