Most of the game fish occupying the top-12 slots in this list are found around much of the world. Not so for snook. That level of interest in fish limited in distribution to a small swath of tropical Atlantic — in shallow coastal waters from southern Florida and Texas south into Central America — says something about the species’ appeal. In fact, there are a half-dozen Atlantic species and as many similar species in the Pacific, but only a few grow large. Snook frequent mangrove estuaries, lagoons and inlets, at times dwelling in fresh water. They explode readily on plugs and flies, and usually put on an exciting aerial display. The underslung jaw and dark lateral-line stripe make snook hard to mistake for anything else. A 53-pound, 10 ounce Atlantic snook has held as the all-tackle world record since 1978, where it was taken in Costa Rica’s Rio Parsimina. Even larger: the 57-pound, 12-ounce Pacific black snook, the world record for that species since 1991.
Favorite of:George Large (“They can be caught on light tackle, hit hard, pull drag with strong runs, jump multiple times, are not easy to catch — especially on lures — and taste good.”)
Greatest attribute: Sight-casting opportunities (11.1 out of 15)