This page will list my Sarasota fishing videos. Sarasota offers visiting anglers many different species to catch in several different techniques with which to catch them. These videos will give you an idea of what our fishing is all about.
Sarasota is a resort city on the West Coast of Florida. It lies about an hour south of Tampa. It is famous for its world class beaches, shopping, and restaurants. However, Sarasota also offers visitors some excellent fishing opportunities. Anglers can target speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, Pompano, and other species on the deep grass flats. Snook and redfish are caught by more experienced anglers along mangrove shorelines. The inshore Gulf of Mexico can have fantastic action on pelagic species and the spring and the fall. Giant tarpon provide the ultimate angling challenge!
My list of Sarasota fishing videos will give perspective clients an idea of what they can expect on their visit. There are so many different species to catch here, and multiple ways to catch them. Sarasota fishing charters are tailored to the skill level and expectation of the clients. Please enjoy these Sarasota fishing videos!
Sarasota family fishing charters
Sarasota family fishing charters is a video that shows that anglers do not need a lot of experience to catch fish. Young anglers are most welcome on Sarasota fishing charters! Capt. Jim enjoys taking children and other novice anglers out for a day of fun. Live bait is often used on these charters as it increases the chances of success.
When taking children and inexperienced anglers out on a Sarasota fishing charter, Capt. Jim generally targets the deep grass flats. Many different species are caught over submerge grass beds in water between 5 feet deep and 10 feet deep. Speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, pompano, ladyfish, bluefish, and more are taken in the spots. Anglers fishing docks catch bottom fish such as snapper along with snook, redfish, and other species.
Sarasota Spanish mackerel fishing
Sarasota Spanish mackerel fishing shows how incredible the action in the inshore Gulf of Mexico can be when conditions are right. Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, false albacore, cobia, and sharks migrate up and down the coast in the spring and the fall. They are following the huge schools of bait fish that they feed on.
This is very exciting fishing is so much of it is visual. Quite often, large schools of macro and false albacore are seen feeding ferociously on the surface. They have herded up the glass minnows and other bait fish and have them trapped against the surface of the water. Just about any lure, bait, or fly that remotely resembles the forage they are feeding on will get devoured. Sharks will hover around the edge of the feeding fish, picking up the scraps.
Siesta Key snook fishing
Siesta Key snook fishing is a video that shows how fast the action can be when snook are schooled up in one spot. Chumming with live bait is a deadly technique that Capt. Jim uses in the warmer months. Live bait fish are caught and used both as chum and as bait to catch the fish. Handfuls of live, unhooked fish attract the snook and get them in a feeding frenzy.
This technique is extremely effective. It also allows anglers who are not very experienced to have the chance to catch a really nice fish. Since the game fish are excited, they lose a bit of their caution. Along with the snook, redfish, jacks, large trout, and other species will be caught while targeting snook.
Best Sarasota fishing charter
Best Sarasota fishing charter is a video that shows visiting anglers some great action out in the inshore Gulf of Mexico. Spanish mackerel were thick just off the beaches that day. These two boys had a great time catch and those along with some small sharks. This type of action is not uncommon in the fall, especially the few weeks coming up on Thanksgiving.
River snook fishing
River snook fishing is a video that shows Capt. Jim catching a nice snook in the Myakka River. In the cooler months, these apex predator game fish move up into area creeks, rivers, and residential canals. They do this to escape the extreme weather changes that can happen on the shallow flats. Water can drop as much is 10° in a couple days on the exposed open flats. The water temperature and rivers and canals is significantly warmer.
This Sarasota fishing charter has a freshwater feel to it. Anglers drift with the current down the river and a 14 foot Alumacraft Jon boat. They cast artificial lures towards likely looking shoreline cover and structure. Most often, shallow diving plugs are used, but soft plastic baits catch plenty of fish as well. This is a trip best suited to more experienced anglers as it is more about a couple quality fish versus numbers of fish.
Siesta Key fishing charters
Siesta Key fishing charters is a video that shows some great action on snook and jack crevelle by anglers using live bait in the fall. These fish are most active in the spring and again in the fall. The east side of Siesta Key in both Roberts Bay and little Sarasota Bay has some great fish holding structure. Oyster bars, docks, creeks, and flats will all produce great catches at one time of the year or another.
Sarasota speckled trout fishing
Sarasota speckled trout fishing shows a couple of anglers as a cast lures and live bait while drifting the deep grass flats. This is a technique that produces a lot of fish for Capt. Jim on Sarasota fishing charters throughout the year. It is also easy for anglers to learn to do quickly.
Most speckled trout in Sarasota are caught over the deep grass flats. These are large areas of submerged grass or vegetation and water between 5 feet deep and 10 feet deep. Bait fish and crustaceans such as shrimp and crabs find refuge in the grass. This in turn attracts speckled trout and other game fish.
Sarasota summer fishing charters
Sarasota summer fishing charters is a short little video that shows what happens when you come across schools of “breaking” fish. These are fish that have rounded up a bunch of bait fish and push them to the surface. They are helpless as a are trapped against the top of the water. Ladyfish, jacks, mackerel, bluefish, and other species will be seen doing this throughout the year, but especially in the late summer when bait is plentiful.
Sarasota freshwater fishing
Sarasota freshwater fishing is a video that shows visitors that there are freshwater fishing opportunities in this area. Saltwater fishing gets the vast majority of the coverage and attention in Sarasota. Therefore, the freshwater fishing gets overlooked. Several small lakes along with rivers offer anglers the chance to catch bass, crappie, catfish, bluegill, and other species.
The top lakes in the Sarasota area for freshwater fishing are upper Myakka Lake, Lake Manatee, Benderson Lake, and Lake Evers. Each Lake is a bit different and has its good and bad points. Some have horsepower and access limitations. Rivers flowing in and out of the lakes also offer good fishing for freshwater species as well as title species in the river downstream from the dam.
Sarasota false albacore fishing
Sarasota false albacore fishing shows my buddy Tommy Hyser as we work a school of false albacore on the surface. This is a time. Just before Christmas. We are fishing over the submerged artificial reefs that are a couple miles off of Lido Key. These are great spots to find false albacore and other pelagic species such as Spanish mackerel and king mackerel. False albacore can be found anywhere on the beach foraging on the surface.
Sarasota chumming techniques
Sarasota chumming techniques is a video that goes into detail on the tactic of live bait chumming. This is an extremely effective technique when bait fish are plentiful and easy to catch. Using a cast net, Capt. Jim loads up the live well with frisky live baits that are around 2 inches long. He then anchors on a good spot and begins to throw handfuls of the bait fish out behind the boat.
If snook and other game fish are around, it won’t take them long to start feeding on the bait fish. Once the fish are excited and into a feeding mood, hooked baits are tossed back to mixed in with the chum. This is a great opportunity for anglers without a lot of experience to catch a nice snook, redfish, jack, or other species.
Sarasota tarpon fishing
Sarasota tarpon fishing gives anglers a look at what it is like to hook and land a giant tarpon. The video is only a few minutes long, it does not show the hours of patience that it often takes to hook and land one of these behemoths. For the most part, this is a site fishing situation. Anglers sit on the beach a couple hundred yards of shore and look for schools of fish to cast to. This is definitely a Sarasota fishing charter best suited for experienced anglers.
Sarasota snook fishing
Sarasota snook fishing shows a couple of experienced anglers casting artificial lures at first light. Rapala plugs and soft plastic baits on a jig head are cast around docs and the mouse of creeks. Snook were feeding on the outgoing tide, which is the preferred time to fish. This type of fishing is great fun and something that experienced bass anglers would certainly enjoy.
Sarasota sheepshead fishing
Sarasota sheepshead fishing shows anglers what it is like to target and catch these tasty saltwater pan fish. Sheepshead are members of the Porgy family. They feed around structure and mostly on crustaceans such as shrimp and crabs. Very seldom are they caught by anglers using artificial lures. A fresh shrimp fished around pilings such as in this video, along with bridges, rocks, seawalls, and other structure will produce sheepshead from December through April.
Sarasota snook and jack fishing with Erin
Sarasota snook and jack with Erin is a video showing how a relatively inexperienced angler with rudimentary skills can have a good day of fishing. The key to this is the live bait that we use as both bait and chum. It evens the playing field quite a bit, and gives anglers a great chance to have success.
Plug fishing Sarasota
Plug fishing Sarasota is a video about Capt. Jim and a buddy taking a day off of work to cast plugs on the Myakka River. This is a very relaxing and enjoyable fishing trip. Shallow diving plugs cast towards submerged trees and other structure will produce snook, largemouth bass, jacks, and other species. This type of Sarasota fishing charter is best for anglers with a fair amount of experience.
Sarasota crappie fishing
Sarasota crappie fishing is another video highlighting the excellent freshwater fishing opportunities available to anglers in Sarasota. Crappie have become a very popular fish throughout the United States. The same techniques that produce fish all over work well in Sarasota, too. Trolling with brightly colored jigs and fishing with live minnows produces best.
Sarasota jack crevelle
Sarasota jack crevelle shows how easy and exciting it is to catch a nice Jack on a fly rod and area rivers. Just like to snook, jacks migrate up into these rivers in the cooler months. They can often be seen foraging on the surface as in this video. Jacks are very aggressive and in a mood to feed in this situation. They will hit just about any lore or fly with reckless abandon. This is great fun is so much of the action is visual.
Mixed bag on the Myakka
Mixed bag on the Myakka is a video showing how many different species can be caught by anglers simply fishing a worm on the bottom. This is a technique that is been used for centuries and is still effective to this day. It is an easy and relaxing way to fish and produces both action and variety on the Myakka River and everywhere.
Sarasota river fishing
Sarasota River fishing gives perspective clients an idea of what to expect on a River snook fishing charter. Anglers cast plugs and other lures towards the shoreline is a meander down the stream in a small boat. This is a very relaxing Sarasota fishing charter with great scenery in the chance to catch a really large fish.
Sarasota bass fishing
Sarasota bass fishing is a video that shows Capt. Jim and Capt. Jack taking a day off work to catch a few bass on Upper Myakka Lake. The to cast artificial lures such as spinner baits, plugs, and soft plastics to catch a few chunky bass on light tackle.
Longboat Key fishing charters
Longboat Key fishing charters is a video to show visitors to Longboat Key the angling options that are available to them. This video focuses on family fishing with children and less experienced clients. Capt. Jim will tailor the trip around the clients skill level and expectations to give them the best chance of success. Live bait is generally the most productive method.
In closing, I hope this post showing Sarasota fishing videos gets you excited to go on a Sarasota fishing charter!
Visiting anglers from all over the world will enjoy a Sarasota fishing excursion. Sarasota is a small resort town on the West Coast of Florida. It lies about an hour south of Tampa. Sarasota offers a variety of fishing opportunities and many different species that can be caught.
Capt. Jim Klopfer has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. He is very well-rounded and can accommodate anglers of all skill levels and ages. Novice clients are welcome as is the seasoned angler seeking more of a challenge. Capt. Jim runs his Sarasota fishing charters out of a 22” Stott Craft bay boat. It is roomy and stable. Capt. Jim is a great choice for anyone looking for a Sarasota fishing excursion.
Anglers have several options when going out on a Sarasota fishing excursion. The inshore waters of Sarasota Bay offer plenty of action and variety. On most fishing charters, six or so different species are landed. However, it is not uncommon to land double digits on a four hour fishing charter.
Sarasota fishing excursion options
The waters of the Gulf of Mexico close to shore provide very good action as well. In the spring and fall Spanish mackerel, false albacore, king mackerel, sharks, and other species migrate along the Sarasota beaches. Several artificial reefs a couple miles offshore offer good fishing for bottom fish such as sheepshead, grouper, and snapper.
Natural ledges and artificial reefs provide good fishing for anglers heading offshore. The area from about 8 miles out to 30 miles out has plenty of good bottom spots to hold grouper, snapper, amberjack and other species. King mackerel, false albacore, cobia and other pelagic species will be taken as well.
And inshore bay trip is the best Sarasota fishing excursion for most clients. This is especially true for novice anglers or families with children. Most trips are four hours long, though trips can certainly be longer. But, four hours is plenty of time to catch a bunch of fish. Mornings are usually the most productive, however in the colder months the afternoons can be better as the water warms up.
Sarasota fishing excursion, inshore bay trip
Anglers fishing the inshore waters can drift the grass flats for a variety of species. Speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, Pompano, bluefish, jacks, snapper, grouper, sharks, ladyfish, catfish, flounder, and other species are often taken on the deep grass flats. These are basically areas of submerged grass and weed beds. This vegetation attracts the shrimp and bait fish, which in turns attracts the game fish.
Artificial lures are used quite often when drifting the grass flats. The number one lore by far is a jig and grub. This is a hook with a little bit of weight in the front and a plastic body. It mimics a shrimp or bait fish. They cast a long way and are easy to learn to use. Jigs often out fish live bait on a Sarasota fishing excursion.
Live bait is used quite often on inshore bay trips when drifting the deep grass flats. The number one bait in all of Florida, Sarasota is no exception, is a live shrimp. Shrimp are available all year long at local bait shops. Everything that swims will eat a nice lively shrimp. I like to joke that they are the “nightcrawler of saltwater”!
Small bait fish are used on the deep grass flats as well. This is especially true in the summer time. Bait fish are usually thick on the shallow flats near the passes in the summer. Capt. Jim will catch a bunch of them in his cast net. He will then use the live bait as both chum to attract fish to the boat and as bait to catch the fish. This is an extremely effective technique in the summer and produces a lot of fish.
Sarasota fishing charters
Sarasota has two passes that connect the Gulf of Mexico with Sarasota Bay. They are called Big Sarasota Pass and New Pass. Passes are basically inlets. Both offer excellent fishing most of the year. The passes can provide excellent action on a Sarasota fishing excursion.
Pompano, ladyfish, bluefish, jacks, and Spanish mackerel are caught drifting the passes. As the tide moves the boat along, anglers cast out lures or drift with live bait to catch the species. Ladyfish in particular will oftentimes school up thick in the passes. They are great fun on light tackle and are a good species for novice anglers to practice on.
Structure in the passes provide excellent habitat for bottom fish. Sheepshead spawn there from January through March and are usually available and good numbers. This is another situation that is great for novice anglers. A live or frozen shrimp is hooked on and simply drop to the bottom, he required. Grouper, snapper, drum, and other species will be taken as well all year long.
Snook on a Sarasota fishing excursion
More experienced anglers may seek the challenge of trying to catch snook, redfish, and jack crevelle. These fish are larger and more difficult to catch. Shallow flats, mangrove shorelines, docks, bridges, oyster bars, and creeks are all spots that are targeted on a Sarasota fishing excursion when targeting these species.
Once again, both artificial lures and live bait can be employed to achieve success. Lures are a great choice when fish are scattered about. They allow anglers to cover a lot of water in a relatively short amount of time. Often times these flats and mangrove shorelines are fairly large areas. Lures are more practical while searching for fish in the spots. Top water plugs, shallow diving plugs, weedless spoons, and jigs with soft plastic trailers are the top baits.
A large live shrimp is a great bait to catch a snook or redfish under a dock. These big shrimp are not always available. However, when they are, they are terrific baits. They also work well in the cooler months fished around oyster bars, creeks, mangrove shorelines, and any other structure.
Live bait fish are used in the warmer months much the same as on the deep grass flats. Once a well full of bait is acquired, the boat is anchored in a likely spot. Live bait fish are then tossed out to attract the snook and other game fish. Once they are behind the boat and excited, they are usually pretty easy to catch. This is a great technique to use to give a novice angler the chance to catch a nice fish.
Sarasota fishing in the Gulf of Mexico
The inshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico can provide great action at times. When the seas are calm in the water is clear, pelagic species such as Spanish mackerel, false albacore, king mackerel, cobia and more will migrate through the area. They are generally right on the heels of the huge schools of bait fish.
One of the most exciting aspects of this type of fishing is that much of it is visual. Fish will often be seen foraging on the surface as a devour the helpless bait fish. Just about any lure, bait, or fly that remotely resembles the bait fish will draw strike. Spanish mackerel are usually fairly easy to catch in this situation, while false mackerel can be a bit fussier. This is great fun and a popular choice on a Sarasota fishing excursion when conditions are favorable.
There are three inshore artificial reefs just off of Lido Key. They consist of old bridges, construction material, and other debris. Most of the bottom in the Gulf of Mexico is barren. Therefore, any structure will attract and hold fish. Both bottom fish and surface feeding pelagic species will be attracted to these reefs.
Sarasota inshore artificial reefs
Sheepshead are plentiful on the inshore artificial reefs in February, March, and April. They provide great action for clients on a Sarasota fishing excursion. Sheepshead pull hard, grow to 5 pounds, and are very good eating. They feed primarily on crustaceans. Therefore, live shrimp are a terrific bait for these members of the porgy family.
Mangrove snapper are found on these reefs all year long. Snapper school up in big numbers and can be quite aggressive. The trick with the snapper is to find the larger specimens. Hordes of 8 inch snapper will devour every bait that’s drop-down. Moving around a bit can help to find the schools of larger fish. Also, a larger bait or a live bait fish may help. Gag grouper, flounder, grunts, and other bottom fish will be caught as well on a Sarasota fishing excursion.
These reefs will also attract pelagic species such as Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, cobia, and false albacore. On days when the albacore and mackerel are not seen working on the surface, the artificial reefs can be a great backup plan. The structure on the reefs attract plenty of baitfish, which in turn will attract the game fish. Often times, the bait can be seen dimpling on the surface right over the reef.
Anglers can also choose to target tarpon. Giant tarpon show up in early May and stay until late July. They average 75 pounds and grow to over 200 pounds! Many consider this to be the ultimate fishing challenge. Tarpon are sight fished just off of the Sarasota beaches. Once the fish are found, the boat is eased into casting range. Live crabs and bait fish are cast towards the fish in hopes of a take. When a tarpon eats, it is bedlam!
Sarasota offshore fishing
Many anglers enjoy going offshore fishing off of Sarasota. In most instances, the goal is to put some meat in the cooler. Grouper are a highly sought after bottom species in the Gulf of Mexico. They are structure oriented and will be found over natural ledges as well as artificial reefs and wrecks. Grouper pull hard and once they feel the hook it will dive down into the cover. The trick for anglers is to get their head turned and get them coming up towards the boat.
Live and cut bait is used when bottom fishing for grouper and other species. Along with the grouper, snapper, triggerfish, grunts, and other species will be taken. Amberjack will be caught on the deeper wrecks as well. Red grouper are found over the Swiss cheese bottom about 15 to 20 miles offshore. Anglers can find Florida saltwater fishing regulations on the FWC site.
The primary species for anglers trolling offshore is king mackerel. Kings are taken year-round, but particularly in the spring and fall. Ledges and wrecks from about 7 miles offshore to 30 miles offshore are the prime area. Anglers troll spoons and plugs as well as live bait to catch the king fish. Anglers venturing further offshore may encounter a wahoo, tuna, or dolphin. Occasionally, sailfish and other bill fish are hooked.
Sarasota river fishing charters
Experienced anglers visiting Sarasota and seeking a unique experience may opt for a river fishing charter. In the cooler months, snook and jacks migrate up into area rivers. They do this to escape the cooler temperatures on the shallow flats. The darker river water is often times significantly warmer than the exposed waters on the flats. This provides a sanctuary for the temperature sensitive game fish.
This type of Sarasota fishing excursion is not about numbers. This trip is about the chance to catch a trophy snook. Artificial lures are most often used as they allow anglers to fish a lot of shoreline cover in a relatively short amount of time. Shallow diving plugs are generally used. They will elicit a reflex strike from the predatory snook.
The overall experience of a river fishing charter is a bit different. Capt. Jim uses a 14 foot Alumacraft jon boat for this type of fishing. Launching ramps can be primitive and the water is often times shallow in the winter. This requires a boat that can be manhandled off the trailer and will float over a shallow sandbar. Jon boats our perfect for this type of fishing as they meet these requirements and are quite stable.
The scenery in solitude are elements that attract anglers to this Sarasota fishing excursion. It is a very relaxing fishing trip. It won’t produce in terms of numbers or action like an inshore bay fishing charter will. However, persistent and patient anglers will have the opportunity to land the snook of a lifetime!
Sarasota fishing excursions, fly fishing
Fly fisherman are not to be left out either. Many of the species caught on a Sarasota fishing excursion will take a well presented fly. Speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, pompano, snook, redfish, false albacore, jacks, ladyfish, and more can be taken in Sarasota throughout the year.
The best all round outfit for fly anglers to use when fishing Sarasota is an 8wt or 9wt rod, matching reel, an intermediate sink tip line. A 9 foot tapered leader with a 30 pound bite tippet works well. Just about any bait fish or a crustacean imitation will catch fish. Top producing flies are the Clouser Minnow, D.T. Special, and Crystal Minnow. White is a great color as are combinations of white and chartreuse, and white and olive.
In closing, anglers seeking a memorable experience will go out with Capt. Jim on a Sarasota fishing excursion!
In this article I am going to provide a Sarasota fishing calendar. This is basically a Sarasota fishing forecast. It is based on my more than 30 years experience fishing in Sarasota.
While every year is different, throughout the years Sarasota seasonal fishing patterns hold up. Warm winters, stormy summers, when, red tide, and other factors affect fishing. However, in my 27 years of running Sarasota fishing charters, I see that the patterns replicate themselves. I will share those patterns in a month by month report.
Fishing in January is all about the weather. There will be days when it’s 80° and sunny. There will be days when it’s cold, blustery, and windy. In order to be successful in January, anglers need to adapt to the prevailing conditions. Fronts will move through regularly, resulting in dirty water in the passes and on the nearby flats.
If it has been a cold month, some species will have moved back into the deeper water of creeks and residential canals. Snook and jacks in particular will seek the warmer water in the upper ends of canals and creeks. Anglers casting lures such as plugs that cover a lot of water are effective. Trolling is also a good way to locate fish, especially jacks.
Bottom fish such as sheepshead, snapper, drum, and other species will be found around docs and other structure. Deeper water and some of the canals as well as in the passes will hold these fish. Big Sarasota Pass has a ton of structure on the north end of Siesta Key and also has deep water. This will hold bottom species all month long. Strong cold fronts will bring wind which will dirty up the water in the passes. When this occurs, it is best to fish the protected areas where the water will be cleaner.
Fishing the deep flats will be cyclical in January. Several days after a front moves through, the water on the flats will clear up and warm up. This should result in decent action for speckled trout, bluefish, ladyfish, and other species. Anglers casting lead head jig’s and live shrimp will do well. If the water temperature is low, below 60°, speckled trout will be found in deeper water. Channels and holes near the flats will attract them.
Sarasota fishing calendar in February
February is usually a tale of two months. The early part of the month is winter, but by the end of the month we are seeing hints of spring. The sheepshead run is in full swing and fish are loaded up in the passes and out on the nearshore artificial reefs. I target them a lot for clients who want a couple fish to eat. The flats and passes can be productive as well. Snook and jacks will begin to migrate out of the creeks and canals as it warms up.
The rocks in Big Pass hold a lot of sheepshead in February. This is pretty easy fishing. It is basic bottom fishing, where we drop a hook baited with a shrimp down to the bottom and wait for a bite. The great part about it is that anglers was very little experience can catch some nice fish. It is best to fish the pass during times of low or moderate current flow. It is difficult to anchor and control the baits when the tide is flowing hard. Docks throughout the entire area will hold sheepshead in February.
Phillippi Creek in the residential canals will still be productive for jacks and snook. Rapala plugs and soft plastic baits work well. As it begins to warm up, the fish will migrate and will be found closer to the mouths of the creeks and canals.
Action on the deep grass flats will start to be more reliable by the end of February. As fronts become less common and less severe, water clarity will stabilize and the temperature will rise. Submerge grass beds in 6 feet of water to 10 feet of water will hold many species. Speckled trout, Pompano, bluefish, jacks, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and more will be taken on lures and live bait.
Sarasota fishing calendar in March
March can be a great month to be fishing in Sarasota! It is springtime, and as is true in most fishing, fishing can be very good. Rising water temperatures will have fish moving out of their winter hunts and scattering out onto the flats and in the passes. Migratory fish such as Spanish mackerel and false albacore will show up as well. The occasional front will still move through, and anglers will experience some windy days. But, the really cold morning should be gone.
Action and the passes should be very good in March. Sheepshead should still be plentiful, though winding down by the end of the month. Anglers drifting the passes with jigs will catch ladyfish, Pompano, bluefish, jacks, and more. Often times, surface action will be seen as ladyfish and Spanish mackerel forage on the surface.
Fishing on the grass flats should be very good as well. The deep flats will have speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, Pompano, bluefish, ladyfish and other species. Lead head jig’s and live shrimp are the top baits. As in the passes, surface activity will be seen occasionally. This is a good opportunity to cast a shallow diving plug or a 1/2 ounce silver spoon.
Snook and jacks will be on the shallow flats in Roberts Bay and in Sarasota Bay. Oyster bars and mangrove shorelines that have a little depth will hold these game fish. Anglers casting artificial lures can cover the water much more quickly and effectively. Search baits such as plugs and weedless spoons are a great choice.
The inshore Gulf of Mexico off of the Sarasota beaches can provide anglers with fantastic action when conditions are right in March. Spanish mackerel, false albacore, king mackerel, sharks, and cobia migrate up the coast. They are right behind the huge schools of bait fish such as sardines and herring. When the seas are flat and the water is clear these fish will often feed on the surface. It is very exciting casting into schools of breaking fish.
Sarasota fishing calendar in April
April is a fantastic month to be fishing in Sarasota, Florida! Fish have solidly moved into their spring migration patterns. Severe cold fronts are a thing of the past. There will be fronts move through, perhaps bringing some wind and rain. However, with water temperature in the 70s the bite will be on. Just about every species is available this month.
The Sarasota flats are alive with life in April. The deep flats provide excellent action on speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish, pompano, and more. Anglers drifting and casting lures or live bait do well. Many fish species are in spawning mode this time of year. For the most part, they are aggressive and in a mood to feed.
Anglers fishing the shallow flats and backwater areas will do well on snook, redfish, jacks, and larger gator trout. These fish will be found in potholes (depressions in the grass flat) as well as along mangrove shorelines and around oyster bars. Top water plugs are great fun on the high tide stages. Shallow diving plugs, spoons, and jigs are good artificial lures. Large live shrimp fished under docks will produce all these species and more.
The passes will be full of fish in April as well. Though the sheepshead will have thinned out as a completed there spawning run. Mangrove snapper and other bottom fish will be available in the structure. However, most of the fish in the passes will be caught by anglers drifting through the pass itself. Pompano, mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish, and more will be caught by anglers drifting jigs and live bait.
Action out on the beach will be good early, then tapering off by the end of the month. Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, and false albacore will feed heavily on the beach and out on the artificial reefs. If it has been a warm spring, some tarpon may be showing up by the end of the month.
Sarasota fishing calendar in May
May means one thing to many Sarasota anglers; tarpon! Giant tarpon show up in May off of the Sarasota beaches and stay until late July. Many consider tarpon fish in the ultimate angling challenge. This is a game that requires patience is anglers sit a couple hundred yards offshore in search of fish. Once seen, anglers cast live crabs and bait fish to them in hopes of a bite. It is not easy, but when it all comes together, it is the thrill of a lifetime!
Inshore fishing techniques change a bit in May. As the water warms up, schools of bait fish show up on the flats. We transition from casting lures and live shrimp to catching this bait in our cast nets. The bait is then used to chum fish to the boat as well is to catch them. Lures can still be productive, especially early and late in the day. Pin fish become abundant on the flats. That can make using live shrimp a bit frustrating.
Snook will be moving in May as well. They will school up in both passes as well as out on the beaches. They do this is part of there spawning ritual. By late May, the rocks in Big Sarasota Pass will be a reliable spot to catch snook. There should also be plenty of fish out on the beach as well.
Sarasota fishing calendar in June
June is a bit of a transition month. It is summer time and it is hot! Anglers fishing the inshore waters get out there early and are done by noon at the latest. Water temperatures will often approach 90°. This is especially true before the afternoon rains calm and cool the water off a bit.
Chumming with live bait is the number one inshore technique in June and really all summer long. Bait fish are usually abundant on the beaches and on the shallow grass flats just inside the passes. If the water gets too warm, bait can be difficult to catch. Once the well is loaded, the boat is anchored up and handfuls of bait fish are tossed out in the water behind the boat. If game fish are around, it isn’t long before they are popping the baits. Then it is just a matter of hooking baits on and casting them out.
Tarpon fishing is in full swing in June. The periods before the full moon and the new moon are the prime times. Boat traffic is heavy as many anglers are targeting these apex game fish. One nice thing about fishing in June is that with so many anglers out on the beach chasing tarpon, pressure on the inshore species is light.
Sarasota fishing calendar in July
It is hot in July in Florida! However, many clients are surprised to hear that the fish and can be fantastic. The key once again is the abundance of live bait. This is an early bite. Anglers need to be out there first light and done by 10:30 or 11:00. Speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, mangrove snapper, gag grouper, sharks, jacks, ladyfish, bluefish, and other species are attracted to the chum. Snook are still thick in the passes and out on the beaches.
Tarpon are still out on the beaches as well, but the numbers are really thinning out. These late-season fish do not show as often. However, they can be a lot easier to catch. Spawning is pretty much done and many anglers have given up the chase. Floating a pin fish or crab under a float out behind the boat will catch them. Once again, this is generally an early bite due to the heat.
Sarasota fishing calendar in August
Sarasota fishing in August is much like it was in July. Action on the deep grass flats should be very good as afternoon rains will have the water temperature down a bit. Bait fish are still plentiful and easy to catch. Chumming with live bait on the flats is a most effective and productive technique. Anglers casting lures at first light will catch fish as well.
Sharks show up on the grass flats in late July and August as well. These are the perfect size for catching, between 15 pounds and 40 pounds. The technique is fairly simple; a cut up ladyfish is put under a float and cast out behind the boat. It is then just a matter waiting for a shark to come along. I often do this at the end of a Sarasota fishing charter after we have already experience good action and are looking for a big fish to end the day.
Snook will begin moving back in from the passes and off the beaches, though plenty of fish will remain out there. Anglers do well sight fishing for snook in the morning. Tarpon numbers have really thinned out with some of the fish moving into Tampa Bay and North Sarasota Bay.
August is one of the best months to target redfish on the shallow flats in Sarasota. Redfish school up in big numbers this time of year. They can easily be seen moving over the shallow flats. A school of reds looks like a small wave going through the water. These fish can be very finicky in the shallow water. Anglers need to be quiet and make long casts in order to catch them. The flats in North Sarasota Bay are particularly productive.
Sarasota fishing calendar in September
September is the most “tropical”month in Sarasota, Florida. It is the time of the year that the hurricanes are most active. That really affects the fishing and can make it unpredictable. When no storms are threatening, fishing can be very good. Also, it is the slowest month of the year in terms of tourist activity That means that the beaches and bays are relatively uncluttered.
Water temperature in Sarasota Bay should be in the upper 70s by mid September. Bait fish are still plentiful and chumming continues to be very productive. However, anglers casting artificial lures begin to have more success as the water cools off. Breaking fish will often times be seen feeding on the helpless bait fish.
Snook will be moving back into the bays in September. There will still be fished out on the beach and in the passes, but the backwater areas will start to produce decent numbers of fish. The same lures and baits that worked in the spring catch snook and other fish in September. Plugs and soft plastic baits are the top artificial lures. Live pilchards are tough to beat for bait. Schooling reds will still be found on the flats at Long Bar and Buttonwood Harbor.
Sarasota fishing calendar in October
October might be my favorite month to fish in Sarasota Florida! It is cooling off in the weather is usually very pleasant. For the most part, the tropical season is over. Also, between the kids been in school and outdoorsmen turning to hunting, fishing pressure is light.
When I can get the bait, I targets snook quite often in October. They are found along mangrove shorelines, under docks, along seawalls, and around oyster bars in Sarasota Bay and Roberts Bay. Chumming with larger live pilchards is extremely effective. Clients also catch them early in the morning casting shallow diving plugs. Redfish and jacks will be mixed in with the snook as well.
Anglers drifting the deep grass flats and passes should do well in October. Spanish mackerel respond to the cooling water and are often quite active. Speckled trout, Pompano, blues, ladyfish, and other species school up in both passes and out on the grass flats. There can literally be fish at just about every spot this time of year.
The surface action and the inshore Gulf of Mexico should get cranked up by the end of October. Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, false albacore, cobia, and sharks are migrating back south along the Florida coast. This is very similar to the spring fishing. However, because weather patterns are bit more stable, the fall bite is generally a bit more reliable. Spanish mackerel and false albacore in particular will be gorging themselves on the way south for winter.
Sarasota fishing calendar in November
The first real cold fronts of the year will normally arrive around mid-November. Shorter days along with these fronts will have the water temperature dropping. Whatever bait fish that remained on the flats are usually gone by the end of the month. Fish will begin moving around in the bay and preparations for winter.
The bite on the deep grass flats can be excellent in November in Sarasota Bay! I’ve normally switched over to fishing primarily with jigs this time of year. Many of the fish are in the 8 foot to 10 foot range. A 1/4 ounce jig is an effective bait for getting down to the fish. Less experienced anglers do well free lining a live shrimp behind the boat. Speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish, and Pompano are the most commonly caught species.
Snook and jacks will begin easing their way back to the creeks and canals. The entrances to these areas are often a good spot to target game fish. Jacks will be schooled up and often seen foraging on the surface. This is great fun as they will eat just about anything cast in front of them.
The passes will continue to be productive as long as the water is clean. Pompano are often caught particularly on the outgoing tide with an east wind. Rocks, bridges, docks, seawalls, and other structure will hold mangrove snapper and other bottom fish. A live shrimp fished on the bottom is the best bet.
Sarasota fishing calendar in December
December will find fish moving back to their winter patterns. Cold snaps will have the water in the mid-60s. Snook and jacks will be moving back up into the residential canals in creeks. When the water is clear, action on the deep flats will be good, especially for ladyfish and bluefish. These species do not mind the cooler water as much.
Sheepshead will begin to show up in December as well. They are normally caught around oyster bars and under docks all along Siesta Key. They show up in these locations before moving out into the passes. Black drum and other bottom species will be caught as well. Speckled trout will be found on the grass flats when it is warm. However, a big drop in water temperature will have them in the channels and holes. Current Florida fishing regulations are found on the FWC site.
In conclusion, I hope to Sarasota fishing calendar helps both visiting and local anglers experience success!
Anglers fishing Sarasota Florida have many opportunities. Sarasota offers good fishing inshore, along the beaches, and offshore. Many different species are caught using a variety of techniques.
Sarasota is a resort town on the West Coast of Florida. It sits between Tampa/St. Pete and Fort Myers. Siesta Key in Sarasota is famous for its beaches. While Sarasota is not an angling destination, it does offer excellent fishing. Snook, redfish, speckled trout, and other species are caught inshore. False albacore, mackerel, and giant tarpon are caught along the beaches. Grouper and snapper are prized offshore catches.
Anglers fishing Sarasota Florida have several choices when it comes to how they are going to fish. Fishing from the beach are sure is easy and not very complicated. It is also not very expensive. Anglers can rent a boat and ply the inshore waters on their own. This is fun and adds a sense of adventure.
The best option for anglers who can afford it is to go out on a Sarasota fishing charter. Capt. Jim Klopfer runs adventure charters and has been doing so since 1991. His experience fishing the Sarasota waters dramatically increase the success rate for his clients.
Spinning tackle is the equipment of choice for most visitors fishing Sarasota Florida. Many of the baits used are light and spinning tackle is the best method of casting them. Also, majority of anglers are novices, including children. Spinning tackle is certainly the easiest equipment for them to be comfortable with. Fly fisherman can also do well. Any fish that will take a jig or other lure will take a well presented fly.
Fishing Sarasota Florida options
Anglers fishing Sarasota Florida inshore have quite a few options. They can target action and variety on the deep flats and in the passes. More challenging fish such as snook in redfish are sought after on the shallow flats and along mangrove shorelines. Tasty bottom fish such as snapper and sheepshead are caught under docks and other structure throughout the area.
Most of Sarasota Bay is fairly shallow. The maximum depth is around 10 feet. It has many acres of submerge grass beds. These are called “grass flats”. Grass is the primary cover for game fish and bait fish in Sarasota Bay. There is very little hard bottom view natural ledges. Therefore, fish will do most of their feeding in the submerge grass beds.
Deep grass flats in Sarasota Bay
Deep grass flats are submerge grass beds that grow in water between 5 feet deep and 10 feet deep. Anglers fishing Sarasota Bay on these deep grass flats will experience the most in terms of action and variety. Speckled trout are one of the primary species targeted on the deep grass flats. They are beautiful fish that are aggressive and taste great.
Drifting the grass flats is a great way to locate schools of speckled trout. Anglers using live shrimp under a noisy cork do very well. Shrimp can be free lined behind the boat as well. Live bait fish are often used, particularly in the summer time. Chumming with live pilchards and threadfin herring is extremely productive. Bait fish are usually plentiful on the shallow flats near the passes. They are easily caught with a cast net. The bait is kept alive in a large well and is used both as chum to attract the fish and bait to catch them.
Artificial lures on the deep flats
Artificial lures such as a jig and grub, plug, or spoon will catch plenty of fish for those that prefer casting. The lead head jig and grub combination will catch fish anywhere on the planet. It consists of a hook with a piece of lead at the eye and a soft plastic body that imitates the crab or shrimp. One quarter ounce is the most popular size. These lures are very effective. It does not take long for even a novice angler to catch fish with them.
Many other species are caught on the deep grass flats as well. Spanish mackerel, bluefish, Pompano, jacks, ladyfish, grouper, snapper, catfish, sharks, cobia, flounder, sea bass, and other species are encountered in these areas at one time of year or another. The same lures, baits, and techniques that produce speckled trout will catch all these other species as well.
Shallow grass flats in Sarasota Bay
Anglers seeking more challenging species such as snook, redfish, and jacks will target them on the shallow flats. These are areas between 1 foot deep and 4 feet deep. They are usually a combination of grass, sand, oyster bars, and mangrove shoreline. Artificial lures that cover a lot of water such as shallow diving plugs, weedless spoons, and soft plastic baits work well. Fish can be scattered and these types of search baits help locate the fish.
Live bait also works on the species for anglers fishing Sarasota Florida. A large live shrimp is a great bait, especially in the cooler months. They work very well fished on the flats or under docks. 3 inch pin fish and grunts are good baits as well. In the warmer months pilchards are very effective baits. Many of the small Silver fish are caught using a cast net. They are then used both as live bait chum and as baits to catch fish.
Sarasota has two passes, Big Sarasota Pass and New Pass. Both connect Sarasota Bay with the Gulf of Mexico. Pass is a term used on the Gulf Coast. It is basically an inlet. Both passes have good current flow and a lot of structure. They also have some of the deepest water around, up to 30 feet deep. These are ingredients for good fishing spots.
Anglers fishing Sarasota Florida passes do so in a couple different ways. Drifting through the middle of the pass while bouncing jigs on the bottom is very productive. Ladyfish can be loaded up in the passes times and are great fun on light tackle. Pompano are a delicious and highly prized fish that are caught using this technique as well. Spanish mackerel, bluefish, jacks will also be taken. Live shrimp can be fished either free lined out behind the boat or near the bottom on a jig head.
Deep water structure in the passes holds quite a few different species. Mangrove snapper are available all year long. Sheepshead move in by late January and stay until April. Snook school up there in the summer time. Redfish, drum, grouper, flounder, jacks, and other species may be taken there at any time. Live bait is generally the most productive when fishing these types of spots.
Sarasota river fishing
Several rivers flow close to Sarasota that offer a unique angling experience. The Manatee River, Myakka River, and Braden River are all less than a 45 minute drive from Sarasota. Snook migrate up into these rivers in the winter. Jacks, redfish, juvenile tarpon, largemouth bass, and other species are caught as well. It is a relaxing fishing trip with excellent scenery.
The fishing technique and rivers is pretty simple. Clients cast shallow diving lures such as a Rapala towards shoreline cover as the boat drifts along with the current. Fallen trees and rocks will hold snook and other game fish. This is a Sarasota fishing charter that is best for experienced anglers. Some casting skill is required. It is also not a numbers game. The goal is a trophy snook. Capt. Jim is the only Sarasota fishing guide that offers this experience.
Sarasota inshore Gulf of Mexico
The inshore Gulf of Mexico can offer world-class fishing to anglers visiting Sarasota. When conditions are right, the waters within a mile from shore will be teeming with bait and game fish. East winds will result in clear and calm water. This is a situation that is optimum.
Pelagic species such as Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, and false albacore will migrate up and down the coast just off the Sarasota beaches. They are following the schools of sardines and herring that they feed on. Anglers fishing Sarasota Florida can catch the species along with cobia and sharks in the spring and again in the fall.
Spanish mackerel and false albacore will often times feed on the surface. These are called “breaking fish”. This is very exciting fishing is so much of it is visual. Schools of fish will be seen foraging aggressively on the surface, feeding on the hapless bait. Just about any lure, bait, or fly that remotely resembles the forage that they are feeding on will get taken. The fish are very excited and aggressive!
Big fish close to shore
King mackerel grow much larger than Spanish mackerel. They will seldom be seen feeding on the surface. However, quite often they will be hovering just below the melee. The best approach when targeting king fish is to troll a large plug or live bait around the edges of the big bait schools. Some of the largest king mackerel are caught quite close to shore.
Giant tarpon show up off the Sarasota Beaches in mid May. Many consider them to be the ultimate angling challenge. There are very few opportunities to sight cast to fish over 100 pounds using spinning tackle. Again, this is a Sarasota fishing charter best suited to experienced anglers or hunters. That’s right, hunters. Tarpon fishing is as much fish hunting as it is fishing. Sighting the game and then stalking them is a big part of the fun and the challenge. There will be days when no fish are hooked. However, when it all comes together, it is nothing short of amazing!
Sarasota County has an extensive artificial reef program. There are a dozen small reefs inside Sarasota Bay. Most of the reefs are out in the Gulf of Mexico. Three of these reefs are within 2 miles of shore, just off of Lido Key. They provide excellent fishing for pelagic species when they are around. Anglers bottom fishing do well on sheepshead, flounder, grouper, snapper, grunts, and other species.
Offshore fishing in Sarasota
The waters offshore of Sarasota offer anglers quite a bit of variety as well. Bottom fishing for gag grouper and red grouper is very popular. Mangrove snapper, lane snapper, yellowtail snapper, Key West grunts, and triggerfish are also caught. Most of these fish are very good eating. Trolling produces king mackerel, blackfin tuna, and the occasional dolphin. Angling regulations change constantly. Current Florida fishing regulations can be viewed at the FWC website.
Anglers fishing Sarasota Florida for bottom fish target two types of spots. One is the previously mentioned artificial reef. These reefs are great fish holding structures. However, the numbers are published and everyone knows where there at. They get a fair amount of fishing pressure, particularly on weekends. The deeper the reef, the less pressure it receives. The deeper reefs and wrecks are the best spots to target amberjack.
The best spots for anglers bottom fishing are natural ledges. Most of the floor of the Gulf of Mexico is barren of structure. The vast majority is just flat sand. Therefore any area of hard bottom or ledge becomes a fish magnet. Coral will grow their which will in turn attract smaller fish. This will obviously attract the larger game fish. Live bait fish and cut bait such as frozen sardines works well. Florida does require that all anglers fishing offshore you circle hooks to reduce fish mortality. Fishing regulations are constantly changing, see the current rules on the FWC site.
Trolling offshore in Sarasota
Sarasota is not really known for its offshore trolling. The water simply does not get deep enough. At 30 miles from shore, the water is only about 100 feet deep. However, trolling does produce plenty of king mackerel in the spring and the fall. Most are caught between five and 15 miles from shore.
Adventuresome anglers will travel a long distance offshore in search of wahoo and Bill fish. This is a game for the serious angler and safety is a big concern. Boats need to be an excellent working condition, have large fuel capacity, and angler should never venture out there alone. The reward for all this effort and expense is a big wahoo, sailfish, or even a blue Marlin!
In conclusion, anglers fishing Sarasota Florida have the chance to catch many different species while enjoying a beautiful day in the Florida sunshine.
Anglers fishing Sarasota Bay have the opportunity to catch over 20 saltwater fish species. Multiple techniques are effective. Sarasota Bay can fished all season long.
Sarasota Bay is on the West Coast of Florida. It runs northwest to southeast and sits south of Tampa Bay and North of Charlotte Harbor. Sarasota Bay is roughly 10 miles long and 3 miles wide and is fairly shallow. It has many acres of submerge grass beds which hold fish. Other excellent habitat includes mangrove shorelines, creeks, and passes. Sarasota Bay can offer excellent fishing all year long!
This fishery actually extends another 10 miles or so south. Roberts Bay and Little Sarasota Bay are narrower. The character of these bays is a bit different as well. Grass flats are less plentiful while oyster bars are the primary habitat. Docks in both the bays and in residential canals and creeks offer fish sanctuary as well.
Sarasota Bay is home to many inshore saltwater species. Snook, redfish, speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, pompano, jack crevelle, ladyfish, cobia, sharks, tarpon, red and gag grouper, mangrove snapper, sheepshead, Key West grunts, flounder, black drum, whiting, catfish, and black sea bass are some of the more popular species.
Tackle used for anglers fishing Sarasota Bay is pretty basic. A 6 1/2 foot to 7 foot medium action spinning rod with a 3000 series reel spooled up with 20 pound braid or 10 pound monofilament line is the best all round rig. Anglers then attach a 24 inch piece of 30 pound fluorocarbon as a shock leader. The lure or hook is then attached to the end of the leader.
Sarasota Bay fishing seasons
While every year is different, seasonal patterns hold up over time. A cold winter will find fish in the deeper holes as well as in creeks and residential canals. Fish on the grass flats tend to be a bit deeper, in a to 10 feet of water. Several days of warm weather may have them up on the shallower flats.
Residential canals and creeks will hold a lot of fish in cold weather. They also offer anglers some refuge from the wind. Docks in these areas will attract and hold fish. They offer shade, structure, and forage. Anglers fishing live and frozen shrimp under docks will catch sheepshead, black drum, snapper, snook, redfish, and jacks.
Anglers targeting snook in jacks will do well in the upper end of canals as well as several creeks in the area. Phillippi Creek, Hudson Bayou, Whitaker Bayou,Bowlees Creek, in the grand Canal on Siesta Key are but a few of these types of areas. The best approach is to cast a search bait such as a shallow diving plug. Trolling the same plugs can help locate fish.
As it warms up in the spring, fish will move out of these deeper sanctuary waters and scatter out over the flats. They will be active, aggressive, and in the mood to feed. All of the deeper grass flats in 4 feet of water to 10 feet of water should hold speckled trout, ladyfish, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, pompano, and more.
Snook, redfish, jacks, and large speckled trout will be found on the shallow grass flats, around oyster bars, and along mangrove shorelines. Artificial lures are usually the bait of choice as they allow anglers to cover a lot of water in search of these game fish. Live bait can certainly be used as well.
Both Big Sarasota Pass and New Pass are very productive spots in spring. Anglers fishing Sarasota Bay passes will find the sheepshead schooled up heavily on structure. Mangrove snapper and gag grouper will be mixed in with them. They show up in late February and usually stay until April. Pompano, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, and ladyfish will be caught in the passes themselves.
Summer offers anglers fishing Sarasota Bay outstanding action! Many visiting anglers are surprised to learn this, as many times fishing slows down in the heat of summer. The key to the summer action in Sarasota is the abundance of live bait. Small forage fish such as scaled sardines and threadfin herring are plentiful on the grass flats near the passes.
Anglers fishing and summer do need to get up early. The best bite is first light and it gets hot awfully fast. The deeper grass flats provide great action on a variety of species during the summer. Anglers can use live bait or artificial lures. Night fishing is another way to catch fish while escaping the heat of the Florida sun.
Snook will migrate into the passes and out along the beaches and summer. Anglers can sight fish snook on all of the Sarasota beaches. Structure in both passes will hold plenty of fish as well. Live bait is usually the best approach for fishing for snook in the passes.
Fall is a great time for anglers to be fishing Sarasota Bay. The kids are back in school and the tourist traffic in Sarasota is low. The weather is usually quite reliable in the fall as well. Spanish mackerel will be migrating back south. Fishing the flats will pick up is water temperatures drop.
Snook, redfish, and jacks will be found in the same places as they were in the spring time. Shallow flats, mangrove shorelines, docks, and oyster bars are good places to target these fish, particularly in Roberts Bay and Little Sarasota Bay. As fall comes to a close and it gets cold, fish will move back to their winter haunts and the pattern will repeat itself.
Sarasota Bay fishing techniques
Deep grass flats
Anglers fishing Sarasota Bay who seek action and variety will do well to target the deep grass flats. By “deep grass flats”we are reference submerge grass beds that grow in water between 4 feet deep and 10 feet deep. These grass beds hold bait fish, shrimp, and other crustaceans that the game fish feed on. When the water is clear, these areas are easy to see.
The best approach when fishing the deep grass flats is to drift. These can be large areas without any specific structure. Therefore, fish will roam about on the flats in search of food, anglers drifting cover more water and have a better chance of locating feeding fish. Speckled trout are the primary species targeted on the deep grass flats. However, Spanish mackerel, pompano, bluefish, jacks, ladyfish, and other species are encountered regularly as well.
Both artificial lures and live bait are very productive when drifting the deep grass flats. Anglers fishing Sarasota Bay who prefer live bait will do quite well using live shrimp. Shrimp are available at bait shops all season long. A live shrimp under a popping cork has produced a lot of speckled trout over the years. The technique uses a noisy cork or float to attract the fish. Once the noise draw them in, they eat the live shrimp dangling there. On the deeper grass flats, free lining the shrimp often works better.
Live bait fish are used on the deep grass flats as well, particularly in the warmer months. A live 3 inch pin fish or grunt floated out behind the boat under a cork will catch some of the larger trout as well as perhaps a stray cobia. Live bait chumming is incredibly effective in the summer. The bait well is loaded up with live baits than they are used to attract game fish behind the boat.
The number one artificial lure for anglers fishing Sarasota Bay is without a doubt the jig and grub combo. It is a simple, cost-effective, ineffective lure. It consists of a lead head jig. This is a hook with a piece of lead near the eye. The weight provides both casting distance in action to the lure. One quarter ounce is the best all round size. White, red, and chartreuse are the most popular colors.
Some type of plastic body is then put on the jig hook. These grub bodies come in endless colors, sizes, and styles. They all imitate either a crustacean or a bait fish. Shad tail baits are very popular as a have their own built in action. Paddle tail and shrimp tail baits work as well. 3 inch to 4 inch baits are best for anglers fishing Sarasota Bay.
Jigs in Sarasota Bay
The jig and grub can be worked in a couple different ways. The best approach is usually a “jig and fall”retrieve. The lure is cast out, and allowed to sink several feet in the water column. It is then brought back in by twitching the rod tip sharply then adding some slack. This results in the jig jerking up quickly than falling helplessly back down. This action triggers a lot of strikes. Jigs can also be cast out and reel steadily back to the boat.
Plugs and spoons are also effective lures on the deep grass flats. These lures work very well when “breaking fish”are seen. These are schools of fish that are feeding on helpless bait fish on the surface. They can be seen splashing about as they feed. Bird activity is often a great indication of breaking fish. A fast, erratic retrieve usually works best.
Anglers fishing Sarasota Bay on the deep grass flats can also troll. This technique works well on days when there is little wind to provide a drift for the boat. It is also a good technique for novice anglers and children with perhaps less than ideal patience. Plugs work very well for this. The Lord is simply cast out a ways behind the boat and then the boat is idled along until a fish bites.
Anglers fishing Sarasota Bay in search of snook, redfish, jacks, and gator trout will do well to target the shallow areas. It perplexes some anglers to learn that the largest fish are often caught in the shallowest of water. For the most part, these fish are loners. While the smaller fish are not comfortable in the shallow water the larger fish are.
Tactics are different for anglers targeting fish in shallow water. These fish can be spooky and a quiet, stealthy approach is required. Anglers that lighten up their tackle will be more successful. Long, accurate casts are often times required. Most anglers choose to use artificial baits in shallow water. Lures are easier to keep out of the grass and are more effective when searching for fish.
Jigs, spoons, and plugs are all effective baits on the shallow flats. Light jig heads in the 1/16 ounce to 1/8 ounce range are best. Anglers can use buck tail jigs as well as a jig head with a soft plastic body. Longer trailer such as a six-inch jerk worm tend to work well. Jigs remain relatively weedless as a rod with the hook up.
Weedless spoons are a staple of shallow water anglers all over the country. These lures cast a long way, run shallow, and are fairly weedless. They are particularly effective for redfish. Spoons are great search baits. Gold is the preferred color in 1/2 ounce is the most popular size.
Passes connect Sarasota Bay with the Gulf of Mexico. Pass is just another word for an inlet that they use on this coast. Anglers fishing Sarasota Bay can experience excellent action in the passes. Ladyfish are often times thick right in the pass itself. This is great fun for children and novice anglers as the action can be virtually nonstop. Pompano, mackerel, bluefish and other species can be taken in the middle of the passes.
Vertical jigging while drifting the passes works very well. It is also quite simple to do. The angler simply drops the jig down to the bottom, engages reel, then gives the jig little 1 foot hops as the boat drifts along. Most of the fish in the passes will be feeding on crustaceans on the bottom. This jigging action mimics a fleeing crab or shrimp and is very productive. A jig head with a live shrimp can be used as well.
Structure in both Big Sarasota Pass and New Pass hold fish all year long. In the winter and early spring, sheepshead will school up thick in the passes. A live or frozen shrimp fished on the bottom will catch them, as well as other species such as grouper and snapper. In the summer, snook will school up in the same rocks.
Docks and bridges in Sarasota Bay
Docks and bridges are basically inshore artificial reefs. Anglers fishing Sarasota Bay target them for a variety of species all year long. Most anglers use live or frozen bait when fishing docks and bridges. However, artificial lures can be used as well.
The most productive approach when fishing a dock or a bridge is to anchor up current from the structure about a cast or so away. The bait is then cast out towards the pilings and allowed to sit. Live shrimp, frozen shrimp, cut squid, cut bait, and live bait fish can all be used. Sheepshead, snapper, drum, grouper, flounder, snook, redfish, and other species will be taken.
Anglers using artificial lures to fish docks have success using both plugs and jigs. Plugs allow anglers to cover a lot of water fairly quickly. A lower that dives down 3 to 4 feet is perfect. 3 inch to 4 inch baits in olive and white match the local forage. Shad tail baits on a 1/4 ounce jig head will produce as well, though they cannot be worked quite as fast.
In conclusion, I hope this article on fishing Sarasota Bay helps anglers experience success. Please contact me if you are interested in a Sarasota fishing charter! Anglers can find Florida fishing regulations on the FWC site.
Sarasota Florida fishing charters with Capt. Jim Klopfer
Captain Jim Klopfer offers Sarasota Florida fishing charters to visiting anglers. He has been guiding full time since 1991. His knowledge of Sarasota Bay and its fish species will help you catch more fish. Capt. Jim runs his charters on a 22” Stott Craft bay boat.
Sarasota is a great place for anglers to come and go fishing. Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico hold many different species. On most Sarasota Florida fishing charters, anglers catch 6 to 8 species. However, it is not uncommon to catch 10 species are more on a four hour fishing charter. Anglers use a variety of techniques to catch speckled trout, snook, redfish, Spanish mackerel, pompano, bluefish, snapper, grouper, sheepshead, flounder, drum, sea bass, cobia, sharks, and more.
Capt. Jim provides all the tackle, bait, and licenses on his Sarasota Florida fishing charters. Spinning tackle is used the vast majority of the time. It is the best choice for most anglers, and is easy for novices to learn to use. Fly tackle will be provided upon request. A cooler with ice is kept on board for drinks and snacks.
Many different fishing techniques are used on charters as well. This is advantageous as the trip can then be catered to the angler skill level and experience. Bottom fishing with live shrimp is simple and easy I can be very productive. Drifting live shrimp or live bait fish over the flats produces a lot a fish as well. Both of these techniques can be learned in short order even by the most novice angler.
More advanced fishermen may choose to cast artificial lures as the boat drifts along. Jigs are the primary lure that is used on Sarasota Florida fishing charters. It is simple but effective, and catches a lot of fish! Anglers seeking even more of a challenge can cast jigs and plugs along mangrove shorelines in search of snook, redfish, and jacks.
The inshore Gulf of Mexico can provide fantastic action as well. When conditions are right, which means calm seas in clear water, Spanish mackerel, false albacore, sharks, cobia, and a wide assortment of bottom fish are all available within a couple miles of shore. Several area rivers provide advanced anglers the opportunity to catch a trophy snook in the wintertime.
Sarasota fishing seasons
Winter Sarasota fishing charters
Winter fishing is all about the weather. Weather in the winter can vary from gorgeous to downright nasty. On pleasant days, anglers can drift the flats for speckled trout, bluefish, pompano, and ladyfish. Jigs are a great bait as the fish are active in the cooler water. A live shrimp drifting behind the boat will certainly produce as well.
Bottom fishing with live shrimp under docks, bridges and around structure is very popular on winter Sarasota Florida fishing charters. This is a great option on breezy days as many of the docks are in protected canals. Big pass is on the lee side of Siesta Key on a hard south wind. Sheepshead, snapper, grouper, flounder, and black drum will take a live or frozen shrimp fished on the bottom near some type of structure.
Snook and jack crevelle will migrate up into residential canals, creeks, and area rivers. This results in the fish being concentrated in a relatively small area, and thus are easier to locate and catch. Capt. Jim offers River fishing charters to the Myakka River, Manatee River, and Braden River. He is the only one offering these types of Sarasota Florida fishing charters. This trip is best for experienced anglers.
Spring Sarasota fishing charters
Like most fisheries, spring is an excellent time to go fishing. Rising water temperatures have the fish moving out of deep water and up onto the flats to feed. Many fish spawn in spring and feed heavily before they do so. Spring also brings migratory species such as Spanish mackerel, false albacore, cobia, and Pompano to the area.
The deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay will be very productive in the spring. Lush submerged vegetation will hold shrimp and bait fish, which in turn will attract the game fish. Speckled trout fishing is at its peak in late spring. Live shrimp and jigs are equally productive. Spanish mackerel, bluefish, Pompano, ladyfish, jacks, cobia, and other species will be taken on the grass flats as well.
The two passes connecting Sarasota Bay with the Gulf of Mexico can be teeming with fish and spring. These passes are migration routes for fish moving in and out of Sarasota Bay. Ladyfish are generally very plentiful in the passes. Pompano, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, and other species are caught as well. A jig bounced along the bottom from a drifting boat is very productive.
Snook, redfish, and jacks will be targeted by experienced anglers on the shallow flats. Grass flats, oyster bars, and mangrove shorelines and water from 2 feet deep to 5 feet deep will hold these game fish. Jigs and live shrimp work best for redfish. Plugs are a great artificial lure to use to locate snook and jacks on a large flat.
Summer Sarasota fishing charters
Summer is a great time to fish in Sarasota! Anglers are often surprised to find out that summer offers the fastest action of the year in terms of number and variety. The key to this great summer fishing on Sarasota Florida fishing charters is the abundance of live bait. Hordes of small shiny baitfish cover the shallow flats, especially those near the passes.
Charter boat captains use a special technique this time of year called “live bait chumming”. It requires a lot of live bait. A cast net is used to procure 500 or so frisky live baits. They are put in a large well with a recirculating pump. The boat is then anchored on a likely flat and a few handfuls of live bait fish are tossed off the stern.
If game fish are around, it won’t be long before there taking advantage of the free meal. Hooked baits are then cast in and it is “game on”! However, it is very hot so this is an early-morning game. Clients meet at the docket first light and are usually back home by late morning.
Summer also offers visiting anglers a special thrill, the chance to catch a giant tarpon! These fish move into the area in mid May and stay until mid July. Tarpon average 75 pounds and fish to 150 pounds are not uncommon. This is big-game fishing and is an unpredictable. There will be days when no fish are hooked. This is definitely a charter for more experienced hunters and fishermen.
Snook will school up in the passes and out on the beaches in the summer as well. The rocks in Big Sarasota Pass on the north end of Siesta Key are a particularly good summer time snook spot. Live bait works best in this situation. However, artificial lures and flies are the baits of choice when site fishing for snuck on the area beaches.
Fall Sarasota fishing charters
Fall is a great time to visit Sarasota, Florida. By mid October it has started to cool off a bit. Shorter days and falling water temperatures get the fish moving as a are transitioning into their fall and winter patterns. By this time, chances for a tropical storm are low in the weather is usually very reliable. Also, tourist traffic is light, which means hotels and restaurants are not crowded.
When conditions are right and the bite is on, I spent a lot of time in the inshore Gulf of Mexico and the fall. Site casting to schools of breaking false albacore is fantastic sport on light spinning tackle or on fly. These diminutive tuna fish make long, fast runs and will test the tackle. Spanish mackerel, sharks, cobia and other species are mixed in as well.
Sarasota Bay offers visiting anglers excellent action and the fall as well. Snook have moved from the beaches in the passes back inside. They are found in the normal spots, docks, mangrove shorelines, oyster bars, and flats. Outgoing tides early and late in the day our prime times to catch them. Jacks and redfish will be taken as well.
Both the passes and deep grass flats should provide steady action for clients on Sarasota Florida fishing charters as well. Grass flats in from 6 feet of water to 10 feet of water will hold the majority of species. Speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, Pompano, ladyfish and other species will be taken. Pompano are targeted in the passes on the outgoing tides in the fall.
Sarasota fishing techniques and locations
Sarasota deep grass flats
The majority of fish caught on Sarasota Florida fishing charters are taken on the deep grass flats in Sarasota Bay. These are submerged weed beds in water between 5 feet deep and 10 feet deep. These are fertile environments which hold bait fish, shrimp, and other crustaceans. The abundance of forage attracts the game fish.
The deep grass flats are fished in two ways; drifting in anchoring. Drifting is the preferred technique when anglers are searching for schools of fish. Jigs are cast ahead of the drifting boat while a live shrimp or bait fish is free lined behind the boat. Often times, both methods are employed at once. This is a very effective strategy.
Once fish are located, the boat can be anchored. Anglers can then thoroughly work the area, maximizing the bite. Once the bite slows, the anchor is picked up and the drift is resumed. Another option is to continue the drift then motor back around slowly and re-drift the productive area again.
Anchoring can also be very effective on the deep grass flats. This is done when live bait chumming and also when anchoring on the edge of a flat. Chumming will draw the fish up behind the boat so there is no need to drift. Fish often relate to edges. Therefore, anchoring on the edge of a flat where it drops off into deeper water can be very productive. For the most part, anglers anchoring on the grass flats will use live bait.
Sarasota shallow flats
Anglers fishing the shallow grass flats will often catch the largest fish. This may seem backwards, however, the larger fish are loners and will often be found in water that is to feet deep to 4 feet deep. Redfish school up in these shallow waters. Large speckled trout will take up residence along and oyster bar or in the deeper hole. Snook will be found along the edges of bars and mangrove shorelines.
For the most part, anglers fishing the shallow flats are giving up numbers in search of quality. Patience is required as there is often a lot of water to be covered in order to find the fish. Many times the fish are loners or scattered out as opposed to encountering schools. Artificial lures are usually chosen as they allow anglers to cover the water effectively. Plugs, spoons, and jigs are all good choices.
As mentioned earlier, passes connect Sarasota Bay with the Gulf of Mexico. A pass is an inlet, it is just the term used in the Gulf of Mexico as opposed to the Atlantic Ocean. Big Sarasota Pass and New Pass are the two passes in Sarasota. Longboat Pass to the north separates Longboat Key and Anna Maria Island.
Big Pass is a great fishing spot that will hold fish all year long. There is a plethora of structure on the entire north side of Siesta Key in Big Pass. Concrete seawalls, riprap, docks, and submerged rocks and ledges hold large numbers of sheepshead in the late winter and spring. Mangrove snapper and gag grouper can be found all year long. Snook will hold in the structure in the summer time as well. The key to the spot is the abundance of structure along with the deeper water, up to 25 feet deep.
Plenty of fish will be caught in the pass itself, particularly ladyfish. These hard fighting rascals are great fun on light tackle and are a perfect fish for novice anglers to practice up on. They are very cooperative and aggressive. They leap high up out of the air when hooked. Pompano, bluefish, jacks, and Spanish mackerel will also be taken regularly.
Vertically jigging from a drifting boat is an excellent technique when fishing the passes. It is also very simple and easy for novice anglers to do. The jig is simply let down to the bottom, then the bail on the reel is closed. As the boat drifts along, the jig is hopped sharply up off the bottom a foot or so. Then, is allowed to fall back to the bottom. This action closely mimics a fleeing crab or shrimp and is very effective. Anglers can drift with live bait as well.
Breaking fish will often be seen in the passes. Bird activity will often give their location away. Once the angler gets closer, it is easy to see the fish feeding aggressively on the surface. This is great fun as just about lure or bait that remotely resembles the prey will get eaten. Jigs, spoons, and plugs are all productive lures.
Sarasota docks and bridges
Docks and bridges are fish magnets. They provide shade, structure, and hold forage. These are all the things a fish needs. There are many docks in the area, and not all will be productive. Capt. Jim has learned which once produce on his Sarasota Florida fishing charters.
Live bait is most often used when targeting fish under docks and around bridges. Live shrimp are used most of the year and are an extremely effective bait for a variety of species. In the summer time, a switch to live bait fish is more productive. Pin fish can be sick in the summer time and are a nuisance, nibbling the shrimp off of the hook.
Anglers can also fish docks using artificial lures. Plugs are a great choice as I don’t hang up on the bottom and allow anglers to cover a lot of water in a relatively short amount of time. These plugs will fool snook, jacks, redfish, snapper, and more.
Fishing lighted docks and bridges at night is a very productive technique for catching snook. The lights attract plankton which then attracts small a bait fish and shrimp. The snook and other game fish are then attracted to the bait. Anglers fish the shadowy area where the light turns to dark. An outgoing tide is considered best. This is a great way to beat the heat in summer time. Trout, snapper, bluefish, and ladyfish will be caught as well.
Inshore Gulf of Mexico
Clients fishing the inshore Gulf of Mexico can experience some world-class fishing in the spring and again in the fall. Pelagic species such as Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, and false albacore migrate up the coast in the spring and back down the coast in the fall. They migrate with the schools of glass minnows and other bait fish. They are often seen aggressively foraging on the surface. We call this “breaking fish”and it is very exciting! Jigs, spoons, small plugs, and flies are all very effective. Live bait will work, but there generally is no need to use them with lures being so effective.
Most of this action will take place from several hundred yards offshore to 2 miles or so. Anglers simply cruise around looking for signs of fish. There are three artificial reefs right off of Lido Key. On days when surface activity is difficult the fine, these can be excellent backup spots.
Those artificial reefs also offer anglers excellent bottom fishing all year long. Large sheepshead will be caught in late spring. Mangrove snapper and gag grouper are present all year long. Flounder are taken sometimes in the winter. Grunts can provide action at any time. Live or cut bait fish on the bottom will produce the bottom species for anglers looking for a fresh fish dinner.
Trolling can be a very effective technique in the inshore Gulf of Mexico as well as in Sarasota Bay. Trolling is very well suited for the open Gulf. While casting to breaking fish is preferred, there are times when the fish just do not show. This is when trolling can save the day as it takes the lures down to where the fish are.
Trolling also allows Capt. Jim to cover a lot of water in a short amount of time on his Sarasota Florida fishing charters. Trolling works very well for Spanish mackerel and king mackerel in particular, but will catch false albacore and other species as well.
Fly fishing is something many visiting anglers enjoy. Saltwater fly fishing is a bit different from fishing in freshwater trout streams. The primary difference is that saltwater fly anglers need to be able to cast about 40 feet or so in order to regularly catch fish. However, this is fairly easy to do with modern fly equipment.
Any fish that will take a jig or other artificial lure can be caught on fly. The number one fly in this area, as it is in many other areas, is the Clouser Minnow. This fly will sink down on the deeper flats and closely resembles a shrimp or small bait fish. Speckled trout, ladyfish, bluefish, mackerel, jacks, and more are caught on the deep flats.
Spanish mackerel and false albacore will most certainly take a fly out on the beach. When these fish are actively feeding, they will readily take a well presented fly. On some days, flies will actually out produce lures. False albacore in particular can be very fussy when they’re focused on tiny glass minnows. A fly is a better invitation for these than any lure.
River snook fishing charters
Anglers seeking a different experience may like a River snook trip. Snook migrate up into residential canals, creeks, but most of all area rivers in the winter. They do this to escape the extreme temperature changes on the shallow flats. The Manatee River, Braden River, and Myakka River all hold good populations of snook in the winter. Jack crevelle, redfish, juvenile tarpon, and other species will be caught in these locations as well.
These are brackish rivers. This means that they are tidally influenced but have a low salinity level. Largemouth bass, catfish, and other freshwater species will inhabit the same areas as the snook will. The combination of the scenery, species available, and the opportunity to land a trophy snook make this a unique angling experience.
Rapala plugs are used on the vast majority of river charters. These lures allow anglers to cover a lot of water while inducing reaction strikes. This results in the fish coming out of the cover to attack the bait, giving anglers a better chance to land the fish. Strikes are often times ferocious and sometimes right at the boat! This trip does require patience and decent casting skills. It is best for experienced anglers.
Sarasota fishing charters species
Snook are the premier inshore game fish in Florida. Sarasota has a decent population of snook. They are basically a saltwater version of the largemouth bass. Snook are ambush predators. They have a largemouth in a wide, broad tail. They are built for short bursts of speed to either attack a bait or elude a predator.
Snook have a distinct seasonal migration. They winter in creeks, canals and rivers. As it warms up, they move out to the open flats and scatter out and feed. By summer time they have moved into the passes and out on the beaches to spawn. As fall arrives, the migration pattern reverses itself in the fish move back into Sarasota Bay and eventually back into the creeks and canals by winter.
Snook can be taken by just about every angling technique. Live bait such as shrimp, pin fish, grunts, and pilchards are extremely productive. Snook will also take artificial lures such as plugs, jigs, spoons, and flies. Snook are nocturnal and anglers seeking fast action will fish the lighted docs and bridges at night. Anglers can view current fishing regulations on the FWC site.
Sarasota speckled trout
Speckled trout are probably the most popular inshore game species in Sarasota and the entire Gulf Coast. Speckled trout are numerous, aggressive, take lures and live baits, and taste great. They are the perfect charter fish! While not the greatest fighters in the sea, they put up a decent tussle on light tackle.
Anglers seeking numbers of fish will do well to target the deep grass flats. Submerge grass beds and 4 feet of water to 10 feet of water will hold good numbers of speckled trout. Fish generally school up by size. Once anglers start catching fish, most of them will be of a similar size. If a school of smaller fish is located, it is best to move on. At some point, patient anglers will find some decent sized fish.
It would be easy to argue that a live shrimp under a popping cork has resulted in more speckled trout being caught than all other live baits and lures combined. It is an extremely effective technique for catching trout and other species. A special cork is used. It has a concave face on the top. When twitched, it causes a “popping”noise. This simulates feeding fish and will draw trout and other species to the helpless shrimp. Bait fish and artificial shrimp can be used under a popping cork as well.
The jig and grub combo has resulted and many speckled trout for Sarasota anglers. Capt. Jim uses the jig and grub combo extensively on his Sarasota Florida fishing charters. They are very effective and it is an easy bait for novice anglers to learn to use. The jig casts well in the Shad tail has a good built in action. Jigs worked over the deep grass flats will produce ladyfish, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, Pompano, grouper, snapper, and other species.
Redfish are extremely popular all along the southeast part of the United States. Fishing tournaments that target redfish occur in all southern states. While Sarasota Bay does have some redfish, the numbers aren’t as great as Tampa Bay to the north and Charlotte Harbor to the south. Both of those areas have much larger areas of expansive shallow grass flats.
Redfish in Sarasota are caught two different ways, under docks and on the shallow flats. Many redfish are caught by accident by anglers targeting other species using live shrimp under docks and along mangrove shorelines. This is especially true in the cooler months. Redfish will be caught in the same locations as sheepshead, black drum, snook, and other species.
Many anglers prefer the challenge of site casting to redfish in shallow water. This requires stealth, patience, and determination. Redfish in shallow water are very spooky. It can be quite frustrating to cast over and over to fish that will not take the bait. But, as that is part of the challenge, it is also part of the reward when a fish is caught. Most anglers use artificial lures such as we list spoons and soft plastic baits. They allow anglers to cover a lot of water in search of redfish.
Sarasota Spanish mackerel
Spanish mackerel are a terrific and underrated game fish! Mackerel fight hard, make blistering runs, hit artificial lures, flies, and live baits with reckless abandon, and when eaten fresh are terrific eating. Some years Spanish mackerel can be caught all season long. But, generally speaking, spring and fall are the best times to catch them.
Spanish mackerel will be caught and both passes and on the deeper grass flats near those passes. Mackerel will oftentimes be encountered in water slightly deeper than trout and other species. Grass flats and 8 foot to 10 or 12 foot of water are prime spots. Spanish mackerel will often be seen working on the surface. This is true on both the flats and in the passes.
The best Spanish mackerel action in Sarasota usually occurs in the inshore Gulf of Mexico. Clients on Sarasota Florida fishing charters experience fantastic action when conditions are right. When the water is calm and clear, bait fish will be thick several hundred yards off the beaches. This in turn will attract Spanish mackerel, false albacore, ladyfish, and other species. Anglers casting lures, flies, and baits into the schools of bait or to schools of breaking fish will have success. Trolling works well on days when the fish are not seen on the surface.
Pompano are a hard fighting and very desirable little fish that resembles the permit. Pompano are found in Sarasota Bay, though they are an intermittent catch. They put up a tremendous fight for their size, however they are prized for their delicious flesh. Pompano are one of the finest eating fish that swims.
Pompano are caught in the passes, on the deep flats, and off the beaches. Anglers targeting pompano use special jigs called “pompano jigs”. These are small, compact little lures that mimic the small crabs that Pompano feed on. They have a smaller hook and shorter dressing than the larger jigs used for trout on the deep flats. Anglers cast them while drifting over the grass flats or vertically jig them while drifting in the passes. Surf anglers catch them casting jigs and using live shrimp and sand fleas.
Sarasota jack crevelle
Jack crevelle, or “jacks” for short are one of the hardest fighting fish in Sarasota. Jacks are the bar room brawlers of inshore fishing. They are mean and nasty! Jacks user broadsides and large Fort tails to pull incredibly hard. Jacks readily take artificial lures and flies along with live bait. They are not good to eat.
Jacks oftentimes school up in large numbers. This is a factor in their aggressiveness, as competition among the other fish takes hold. Jacks will be seen foraging on the surface. Anglers will sometimes find them milling just below the surface as well. Anglers blind casting for snook regularly hook jack crevelle.
Capt. Jim loves throwing plugs when targeting jacks. The take can almost jerked the rod out of the anglers hand! Shallow diving plugs work very well when targeting jacks and rivers and canals. The jig and grub combo falls plenty of jacks on the open flats as well is when they feeding aggressively on the surface. Some of the largest jacks caught on Sarasota Florida fishing charters are done so on River snook trips.
Northern anglers are quite familiar with bluefish. They inhabit the entire East Coast from Maine down to Florida and around to Texas. The bluefish that we have in Sarasota Bay average 2 pounds and a 5 pound bluefish is a nice one. However, they are great sport on light tackle. Blues are very aggressive and pull extremely hard for their size. Smaller ones are decent eating when bled out, immediately put on ice, and eaten that day.
Most of the bluefish caught by Sarasota anglers are done so accidentally while targeting other species. Like pompano, bluefish tend to favor the deeper grass flats. Submerge grass and 10 feet of water is ideal. Jigs are effective bait for catching bluefish as a can be cast a long way and will sink down in that depth of water. Most bluefish are taken by anglers casting artificial lures, though they will certainly take a live bait as well. The deep flats near the passes and the passes themselves are the prime spots.
Ladyfish are disparaged by some anglers because they are not good to eat. This is a shame, as ladyfish put up a great fight on light tackle. They are aggressive, pretty, take lures flies and baits, and leap high into the air when hooked. Ladyfish are often targeted on Sarasota Florida fishing charters when children and novice anglers are on board.
Ladyfish school up, often times in huge numbers. It is not uncommon when encountering a school of ladyfish to have every angler hooked up at once. It gets a bit exciting when for anglers are fighting for fish at the same time! The deep grass flats throughout Sarasota Bay along with both Big Sarasota Pass and New Pass are prime spots. Ladyfish will often be found schooling out on the beach as well.
Sheepshead are a member of the porgy family. They are a structure oriented species that is found under docks, on rocky bottom, around seawalls, and on oyster bars. They are rarely taken on artificial lures. Sheepshead are crustacean feeders and are caught by anglers using live shrimp, fiddler crabs, oyster crabs, and sand fleas. These saltwater panfish are very good eating but the large rib cage can make them difficult to clean.
Sheepshead show up in Sarasota Bay around Thanksgiving. However, their numbers increased dramatically around the end of January, when they begin their spawning run. They are generally sick in the passes, on the inshore artificial reefs, and around docs and bridges near the passes until late March.
Sheepshead are great fun and provide both action and meals for clients on Sarasota Florida fishing charters. One great aspect of this fishery is that anglers do not need to be great casters in order to achieve success. This is particularly true when they are schooled up in the passes. A hook baited with a shrimp and drop to the bottom will fool them.
Sarasota mangrove snapper
Mangrove snapper are often considered and offshore species. However, they are plentiful in Sarasota Bay and on the inshore artificial reefs. Snapper are taken all year long. Mangrove snapper are delicious eating and are prized by both local and visiting anglers. Most the snapper are taken by anglers using live bait or frozen bait. However, anglers fishing with Capt. Jim have caught many snappers casting artificial lures as well.
Mangrove snapper are caught around structure in Sarasota Bay all year long docs, bridges, oyster bars, and other structures will attract and hold them. Mangrove snapper also school up on the deep grass flats in the summer. They respond well to live bait chumming. Some of the snapper caught on the open flats are very nice ones, up to 18 inches. July and August are the top times to catch the flats snappers.
Ledges and areas of hard bottom in the inshore Gulf of Mexico hold a lot a snappers as well. This includes the artificial reefs just off of Lido Key. There is an area of coral bottom to miles off of old Midnight Pass as well. Anglers using light tackle, light leaders, lightweights, and small hooks will have more success is mangrove snapper can oftentimes be line shy.
Grouper are another species most anglers associate with offshore fishing. However, quite a few gag grouper are caught inshore as well. Red grouper are less common inshore. Gag grouper are caught in the cooler months by anglers fishing for sheepshead. It is not unusual to hook a large grouper that the angler cannot control. Structure such as seawalls, docks, and bridges will hold gag grouper inshore. Most grouper in the cooler months are caught by anglers using live bait.
Gag grouper are caught on the open grass flats as well in the late summer. This is part of an annual migration as grouper in the 10 inch to 16 inch range migrate into the Gulf of Mexico. These fish can be caught quite plentiful on the grass flats near the passes. They are caught on live bait but will readily take a jig and grub as well as other artificial lures.
Tarpon, also known as the Silver King, are the ultimate game fish. Anglers have very few opportunities in the entire world to sight cast to fish of 150 pounds using spinning tackle or fly rods. Most fish of that size are caught by anglers trolling or bottom fishing with heavy tackle. Experienced anglers are best to target tarpon on Sarasota Florida fishing charters.
The run of giant tarpon begins in Sarasota in early May and peaks in mid June. Tarpon will be around until late July, though angling pressure thins out dramatically after the Fourth of July weekend. By that point it is also awfully hot. The week before the full moon in May and the full moon in June are the peak times to target tarpon.
This is not a game for the faint of heart. Tarpon will test both the tackle and the angler. Anglers sit several hundred yards off the beach and scan the water for signs of fish. Tarpon will be seen in groups rolling and milling about on the surface. The direction and speed of the fish are judged and hopefully the boat is put in position for an opportunity. This is as much hunting as it is fishing. It is not easy as everything must come together.
Sarasota false albacore
False albacore are a pelagic species that are found off of the Sarasota beaches in the spring and again in the fall. They are a terrific game fish! They are basically small tuna fish and are extremely fast. False albacore will make a long initial run. Often times, anglers will need to fire the boat up and chase it down.
One of the most exciting aspects of false albacore fishing is that so often it is visual. The fish are targeted as they forage aggressively on the surface. Small plugs, jigs, and flies cast into the melee will fool them. False albacore can be fussy at times, patience is required. They are not considered good to eat.
Cobia are a migratory species that cruise the coast lines. Anglers can often sight fish them in clear, calm water. They will also congregate over artificial reefs and ledges. Cobia to come into Sarasota Bay and will put up a great fish on light tackle. Cobia grow very large, up to 100 pounds. They are fantastic eating.
Most cobia landed in Sarasota Bay are accidental catches. Jigs produce plenty of cobia, but they will certainly take a live shrimp or bait fish. Pinfish in particular are great baits. Anglers targeting them in the inshore Gulf catch them trolling and bottom fishing with live bait.
Flounder are in incidental catch for most anglers on Sarasota Florida fishing charters. They are caught near structure such as docks, bridges, bars, and ledges. In these locations, most fish are caught by anglers using live bait. Flounder are caught on jigs when drifting the flats as well. Flounder are fantastic eating!
in conclusion, anglers thinking about taking out Sarasota Florida fishing charters can expect action, variety, and a great day out on the water with Capt Jim Klopfer.