“How are they catching snook at night?”
“An alley full of snook? That can’t be true!”
“Who gave it the name ‘Snook Alley’?”
“Where is it and how do I get there?”
These were the musings of a 9 year old sitting at the breakfast table and combing through the Bradenton Herald fishing reports in the late ’80s. That was the very first time I saw the name ‘Snook Alley’. Not much information was ever given about this mysterious place. Most often it was one sentence: “Good snook bite continues south in Snook Alley at night”. One sentence was plenty. It sounded like a Disney World for snook fishing.
It seems impossible for a place to live up to a name as epic as Snook Alley, but it does. To this day, it remains a place of unbelievable sights and sounds, and still provides some of Florida’s best snook fishing. A place this magical has to have a great backstory right? I’d love to tell you that the construction of the ‘Alley was identical to the beginning of that magical baseball field in an Iowa cornfield, but not so much. There was no voice whispering, “If you build it, they will come.” If there had been a voice, it would have said something along the lines of, “It’s being built, so deal with it” or “eminent domain”.
Much of what’s now called the ‘Alley existed well prior to 50 years ago. But the Snook Alley that we have today, continued to receive significant changes and face-lifts as part of the ICW project. The last substantial hydrological changes were completed in 1967 which puts Snook Alley’s age at around 51. After major construction work ended in Snook Alley, it must have become apparent rather quickly that they had accidentally created the world’s premiere snook fishing spot (whoops).
The driving force behind the magic of Snook Alley has to be the multiple bays feeding water to only one Gulf outlet on outgoing tides and then those same bays demanding tidal recharges on incoming tides. The result of that dynamic would make even the most seasoned hydrologists blush on some nights. Snook load up around dock lights by the hundreds after dark, to feed on whatever food the righteous tides carry with them.
These days, I find myself in the ‘Alley often (rough life folks). Most of the questions that I had about Snook Alley in my youth have been answered. The one exception being, who gave this place it’s great name? There’s probably an old salt out there that knows the answer to that question. But by most accounts, the area came by its name organically. It’s an area with unique hydrologic features that has an abnormally high snook population, hence, Snook Alley.
So maybe Snook Alley turned 50 years old and we should celebrate it’s birthday. Maybe someone else will tell you it’s over 100 years old. It doesn’t really matter. What matters most is the name. It’s a name that captures your imagination and adds mystique. It’s a flame from Old Florida that should never be allowed to flicker out. Whispers of a magical place called Snook Alley should forever be carried to the ears of captivated anglers everywhere.