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Welcome to Fishing Lido Key!
The best way for anglers visiting Lido Key to experience our great fishing action is to go out on a Sarasota fishing charter. Everything need for a great day of fishing is provided, including licenses, bait, tackle, and ice. Capt Jim is out on the water over 200 days a year and stays on top of the fishing conditions. He is very family oriented and enjoys taking out children. Anglers of all ages and experience levels are welcome. One exciting aspect of going out on a Sarasota fishing charter is the wide variety of species available and the different techniques that can be used to fool them.
4 hour charter $400
About Fishing Lido Key and Capt Jim Klopfer
Capt Jim Klopfer grew up in Maryland and learned to fish in the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay. He moved to Sarasota in 1986 and earned his United States Coast Guard “Masters” license (# USA000332878) in 1991. He has been guiding clients in Sarasota ever since! Currently, Capt Jim Klopfer runs his charters out of a 22′ Stott Craft bay boat.
Capt Jim Klopfer has also authored many fishing articles and even two books on fishing. He has written for GAFF Magazine, Florida Sport Fishing Magazine, Gulf Coast Fisherman, Woods-N-Waters, and other publications. Capt Jim writes a monthly fishing forecast for the Siesta Sand newspaper. He has self-published two books, “Sarasota Fishing Secrets” and “Fly Fishing the Suncoast”.
SARASOTA FISHING CHARTER SPECIES
Speckled trout are abundant on the grass flats and are available all year long for anglers booking a Sarasota fishing charter. Depending on the time of year and conditions, Spanish mackerel, pompano, bluefish, jack crevelle, mangrove snapper, gag grouper, sharks, ladyfish, and more are caught by anglers casting artificial lures and live bait. Big Sarasota Pass and New Pass connect Sarasota Bay to the Gulf of Mexico and many species use the passes to migrate back and forth.
SARASOTA FAMILY FISHING CHARTERS
Structure will hold sheepshead, snapper, grouper, snook, anchoring up and fishing with live bait works well. Another productive method is drifting the pass with the current and casting jigs or live bait, which will produce pompano, mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish, and more. These techniques do not require much experience and can be enjoyed by clients of all ages and skill levels.
Bottom fishing is especially easy for novice anglers and children. No casting is required as the baited hook is simply lowered to the bottom. It usually does not take long before a mangrove snapper, black sea bass, or sheepshead has the rod bent. This type of fishing can be done all year long. However, the sheepshead run starts in January and goes until early April. This is a great time of year to catch a bunch of fish and put a few fillets in the cooler. Finally, they are a great option when it is too breezy on the exposed, open flats.
SNOOK, REDFISH, JACKS, AND MORE ARE AVAILABLE ON SARASOTA FISHING CHARTERS
Anglers with more experience who seek a more challenging option on a Sarasota fishing charter will enjoy the thrill of casting lures and bait for snook, redfish, jack crevelle and more along mangrove shorelines and oyster bars. The inshore Gulf of Mexico offers fantastic fishing when conditions are right.
SPANISH MACKEREL, KING MACKEREL, AND FALSE ALBACORE FISHING
Consequently, Spanish and King mackerel, false albacore, sharks, and the mighty tarpon are all available at certain times of year. Another option for clients seeking a very unique trip is to visit one of the nearby rivers to fish for snook and largemouth bass. This requires some casting skill and patience, but those efforts are often rewarded with a trophy fish!
SARASOTA FISHING CHARTERS
Capt Jim Klopfer has been a U.S.C.G. Licensed captain in Sarasota since 1991. He is very well-rounded and adapts to the desires and experience level of his clients. He operates his fishing charters on a 2016 22′ Stott Craft bay boat. It is roomy, comfortable, and safe; a great boat for fishing Sarasota Bay and the inshore Gulf of Mexico. Capt Jim supplies all tackle, bait, fishing licenses, and a cooler with ice. Clients need only hats, sunglasses and sunscreen, and whatever they want to eat and drink. Catch-and-release is encouraged, but Capt Jim will clean and bag a couple of fish for dinner if desired.
Sarasota Fishing Seasons
Winter fishing in Sarasota:
Fishing can be excellent in the winter in Sarasota. The key is adapting to the weather and taking advantage of the “windows” between fronts. As cold fronts move through, the wind will be strong out of the northwest. Fishing will be difficult at best. However, the wind will switch east and it will warm up. Fishing will then improve.
Colder water temperatures will have fish moving to different locations. The flats will become less reliable. Residential canals are protected and have deeper water, along with structure such as docks and sea walls. This will attract and hold fish. Snook, redfish, sheepshead, drum, and more will be caught in these spots.
BIG SARASOTA PASS IS A GREAT WINTER FISHING SPOT
Big Sarasota Pass is another productive winter fishing spot in Sarasota. Some of the deepest water is found there. Also, structure is abundant on the north side of Siesta Key. Sheepshead school up in big numbers in winter and are pretty easy to catch. Snapper will be found there as well. Ladyfish are often thick in the channel itself.
Snook and jack crevalle will move up into creeks and area rivers in winter. This is a unique fishing experience. Anglers cast plugs and jigs towards likely structure in search of a big snook or jack. This trip is best for anglers who are fairly experienced and decent casters.
Spring Fishing in Sarasota:
Like most areas of the country, fishing is excellent in Sarasota in the spring. Warmer water has fish moving from their deeper winter spots and out onto the flats to feed. Just about every species can be caught at this time of year.
The deeper grass flats will have speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, pompano, jacks, ladyfish, catfish, and more over them. Anglers casting jigs and drifting live shrimp do well. This style of fishing is very reliable in the spring. Shallow flats and bars will hold snook, redfish, and jacks for anglers willing to put in the time.
PASSES AND GULF OFFER GREAT SPRING FISHING
The passes will be great spots to fish in the spring. Ladyfish will school up in big numbers. They can be caught by anglers vertically jigging and drifting live shrimp on the bottom. While sheepshead fishing winds down, there are still fish around until mid-April.
East winds will result in great action out in the inshore Gulf of Mexico just off of the Sarasota beaches. Hordes of bait fish will draw in Spanish and king mackerel, false albacore, sharks, cobia, and more. Much of this fishing is visual as fish are seen feeding on the surface. Anglers can troll for them as well.
Summer Fishing in Sarasota:
News flash, it is very hot in Sarasota in the summer! However, fishing is outstanding. Anglers do need to get up early or fish in the evening or at night. Bait fish are thick on the flats and bars near the passes. This bait is netted up then used as chum and then bait. This technique is deadly on the deep grass flats.
Snook will school up in the passes and out on the beaches. They can be sight fished off of the beaches by anglers using light spinning and fly tackle. Lures and flies that mimic small bait fish work well. White is the best color. Live bait works best in the deeper water of the passes.
Anglers seeking the ultimate challenge can try their hand at tarpon fishing. Giant tarpon move through the area from May through August. These fish average 80 pounds and fish over 150 pounds are hooked regularly. This is “big game fishing” and is challenging and fairly expensive, so best for experienced anglers.
Fall Fishing in Sarasota:
Fall is a fantastic time to be in Sarasota, Florida. The weather is mild and the tourist crowds are gone. Falling water temperatures have fish in a more active mood. The deep grass flats, shallow backwater areas, and inshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico will all be productive.
The deep grass flats are once again prime spots for anglers to find both action and variety. Speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, pompano, ladyfish, and other species will be caught by anglers drifting. Artificial lures such as jigs and plugs are effective as is live bait.
Snook move back into Sarasota Bay
Snook will have migrated from the passes and beaches and into the backwater areas. Mangrove shorelines, oyster bars, docks, and other structure will hold snook along with redfish and jacks. Anglers can choose to cast artificial lures in search of them or to use live bait. Most years there is still enough live bait around to continue chumming up until Thanksgiving.
Action and the inshore Gulf of Mexico can be fantastic this time of year! The weather in the fall is generally a bit more stable than it is in the spring. This can result in better action for Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, and false albacore. Anglers can sight casting to breaking fish or troll in search of them.
Top Sarasota Fish Species
Snook are the premier inshore game fish in Florida. They are similar inhabits to largemouth bass. Snook are ambush predators with a large mouth that can inhale their prey easily. They have large, broad tales which give them a short, powerful burst. Snook are structure oriented and are almost always found around some type of cover. This includes docks, bridges, oyster bars, mangrove trees, and submerged rocks.
Snook have a distinct seasonal migration. They will be found in creeks and rivers in the winter. These areas offer protection from the harsh conditions on the exposed flats. As it warms up, they move out onto the flats to feed. By summer, they will be found in the passes and out on the beaches as part of their spawning ritual. As fall arrives, the pattern reverses itself.
Snook can be caught using a variety of angling techniques. Casting artificial lures toward shoreline cover is very exciting and productive. Live bait works very well and is a great choice for inexperienced anglers. Fly fisherman are not to be left out either. Snook can be caught by fly anglers off of the area beaches and summer as well as under lighted docs and bridges at night.
Speckled trout (AKA spotted sea trout)
Speckled trout are arguably the most popular inshore fish along the entire Southeast United States coastline. Here in Sarasota, most speckled trout are caught by anglers fishing over submerge grass beds. These are known locally as grass flats. Speckled trout school up and once located the bite can be fast and furious.
The best approach when fishing larger grass flats is to drift. This allows anglers to cover a fair amount of water in search of fish. The number one artificial lure is the lead head jig and grub combo. This consists of a 1/4 ounce lead head jig and a plastic grub body. It is cast out ahead of the drifting boat then worked back in using a series of hops. This lore catch as many other species as well.
Live shrimp are without a doubt the most productive bait for catching speckled trout. They can be drifted out behind the boat on the deeper flats. This is called free lining a bait. And water that is 5 feet deep or shallower, shrimp are often fished under a noisy float. These are called popping corks as the noise helps attract fish to the bait. Live bait fish can certainly be used as well.
Redfish, or “reds” for short, are another very popular inshore saltwater game fish. In the Sarasota area, most reds are caught by anglers using two different techniques; fishing the very shallow grass flats and fishing under docks. Both methods produce redfish for anglers.
Redfish can be found in very shallow water. They feed on crustaceans and bait fish in these areas. Anglers need to be quiet in order to sneak up on these wary fish. Waiting is a good approach as it allows anglers to be as silent as possible. Shallow draft boats also allow anglers to get into the skinny water and target redfish.
Most anglers use artificial lures when targeting redfish in shallow water. Using live bait is not practical in most situations as it will sink quickly to the bottom and get stuck in the grass. Weedless gold spoons and soft plastic baits are the top lures. Live shrimp can be used in the deeper potholes and depressions in the flats. Chumming with live bait will also produce along deeper shorelines.
Anglers targeting redfish under docks primarily use live bait. A large, live shrimp is tough to beat and will not only catch redfish but other species as well. The best approach is to use a small live bait hook and little or no weight to achieve a natural presentation. Bait fish can be used as well.
Spanish mackerel are a terrific and often times underrated game fish. They are aggressive, beautiful, very fast, and terrific when eaten fresh. They are found both in the inshore Gulf of Mexico and on the deeper grass flats. Spanish mackerel usually are found in schools, so once one is caught others are usually nearby.
Casting to breaking schools of Spanish mackerel in the inshore Gulf of Mexico is fantastic sport! Mackerel will drive schools of bait fish to the surface, trapping them there. This is known by anglers as a feeding frenzy. Just about any lure or bait cast into the fray will draw a strike. Spanish mackerel tend to stay on the surface longer than some other species, making them easier to catch. Trolling is a great option on days when the fish are not seen breaking on the surface.
Spanish mackerel are also caught in Sarasota Bay. The deeper grass flats, especially those near the passes, are generally the top spots. Anglers free lining a live shrimp or bait fish on a long shank hook will do well. Artificial lures such as spoons, jigs, and plugs are also productive. Mackerel will be found in both passes as well.
Bluefish, or blues for short, are well known to anglers fishing the East Coast from the Carolinas north to Maine. They are a very aggressive species that are found in schools. Sarasota bluefish average between 2 pounds and 4 pounds. They are caught in the inshore flats, passes, and inshore Gulf of Mexico.
Few anglers actually target bluefish. Most are targets of opportunity for anglers fishing for other species. However, this does not diminish their desirability. Blues are some of the hardest fighting fish that swim. Being aggressive, they often fall victim to fast-moving and flashy artificial lures. Jigs, spoons, and plugs are all productive. Bluefish will certainly hit live shrimp and bait fish along with artificial baits.
Jack Crevalle are not good to eat but put up a terrific fight. They have broad sides, large forked tails, grow large (to 15 pounds in Sarasota) and are quite aggressive. Jacks school up and often times are found feeding on the surface. Competition makes them quite aggressive and they will hit most lures and baits. In the winter, jack crevalle move up into creeks and rivers. This concentrates them, making the fish easier to locate.
Pompano are a highly desirable inshore saltwater species that are caught by anglers on Sarasota fishing charters. While they put up a terrific fight for their size, the key to their desirability is their value on the dinner plate. Pompano are fantastic eating! They average around 2 pounds and are found in the surf, passes, and grass flats.
Pompano have very small mouths. They feed exclusively on crustaceans. Therefore, most fish are caught by anglers using small jigs which mimic crabs and shrimp as well as by anglers using live shrimp and sand fleas. A sand flea is a small crab that is caught on the beach. It is a deadly bait used by surf anglers.
Sheepshead are a highly targeted species on Sarasota fishing charters in the cooler months. These tasty bottom fish are found in large schools in Big Sarasota Pass from January through April. They fight hard and taste great. Most sheepshead are caught by anglers bottom fishing with shrimp near structure. Docks, bridges, submerged rocks, and oyster bars are prime spots.
Mangrove snapper are another very good eating fish species. They are often found near structure similar to the type sheepshead are caught near. Snapper do feed on shrimp, but will take live bait fish and even artificial lures. The last few years, anglers have encountered schools of mangrove snapper on the open grass flats in late summer.
False Albacore (AKA little tunny, bonito)
False albacore are terrific game fish! They are members of the tuna family and are very fast, putting up a great fight on spinning or fly tackle. False albacore are found in the Gulf of Mexico off of the Sarasota beaches. They are most often targeted on the surface as they feed. Anglers do chum for them over hard bottom areas and artificial reefs.
King mackerel, known locally as kingfish or kings, are a pelagic, migratory species that move through the area in the spring and again in the fall. They are found exclusively in the Gulf of Mexico. When conditions are right, they will come quite close to shore, in range of smaller boats. Most kings are caught by anglers trolling large lures or free lining live baits.
SARASOTA OFFERS FUN FOR THE ENTIRE FAMILY!
Sarasota and her keys are also a VERY “family friendly” destination, allowing the non-anglers in the crowd to enjoy a great vacation as well. The area boasts award-winning Siesta Key beach, great shopping, and restaurants in downtown Sarasota and St. Armand’s Key, live theater and music, something for the entire family!
Siesta Key Beach has won the prestigious “best beach” award and its world famous for it’s powder-like white sand. This sand is the result of a large quartz deposit offshore. The public beach has a large parking area. To the north is Siesta Key Village which had a lot of shopping and food. Restaurants range from very casual to fine dining. Outside bars are fun with live music and adult beverages.
St. Armand’s Circle is quite famous for it’s shopping and restaurants. It attracts visitors from all over the world and is just over the Ringling Bridge from downtown Sarasota. Lido Key has many fine resorts and lodging right on or near the beach. Two nice parks exist at both the north and south end of Lido Key.
Downtown Sarasota has grown a lot in the last ten years! Luxury high rise condominiums have sprung up, as well as shopping and a ton of restaurants. Food choices are endless, from casual bars to fine dining. Live music, live theater, and movies are all entertainment options. Check out the Must Do Sarasota visitor guide for for great activities!