Big Sarasota Pass fishing charters
My name is Capt Jim Klopfer and I offer Big Sarasota Pass fishing charters to anglers. Big Sarasota Pass, or “Big Pass” as it is called locally, is a terrific fishing spot! To attract and hold game fish. These include current, deep water, structure, grass flats, and forage. Big Sarasota Pass will produce fish all year long and under almost all conditions.
Just to clarify, a pass is an inlet. The term pass is just used all along the gulf of Mexico coastline. These passes connect the Gulf of Mexico with the inshore bays, in this case Sarasota Bay. Due to the natural construction, current flows are stronger in the passes then and other spots. This swift water also gouges out holes, resulting in the deepest water in the area.
Structure is plentiful in Big Sarasota Pass. The entire north end of Siesta Key is littered with rocks, docks, seawalls, and ledges. Docks are also plentiful all-around Bird Key and and other residential canals. The bridge that connects Bird Key with St. Armand’s key is nearby.
Some of the best the grass flats in Sarasota Bay are in the area of Big Pass. The constant current flow is good for the aquatic vegetation and also brings in plenty of bait fish. This is particularly true in the summer months, when the flats and bars in and around the pass are loaded with bait fish. These flats are productive all year for a wide variety of species.
Big Sarasota Pass fishing charters
Big Sarasota Pass is a very diverse fishing spot. I use just about every angling technique on my Big Sarasota Pass fishing charters. The number one technique is to drift the pass with the current and wind while either casting lures or vertically jigging. This is a very efficient and productive technique as it keeps the lure in the strike zone the entire time. It is also an excellent choice when my clients are relatively inexperienced, as no casting is required.
I normally use jigs when drifting the pass. If the current is strong, I use small, denser jigs that are specifically designed for this type of fishing. Most refer to them as pompano jigs. The smaller profile and weight keeps them near the bottom. When the current is less strong, I will cast the same jig and grub lures that I use on the flats. Spoons and plugs are also productive. Ladyfish are usually present, often times in decent numbers. Pompano, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, and other species are caught quite often.
Trolling can also be productive on Big Sarasota Pass fishing charters. I primarily employ this technique when Spanish mackerel are in the area and are scattered about. It can sometimes be difficult to retrieve the lure fast enough and trolling rectifies this problem. I most often use a small Rapala as it mimics the bait fish. Bluefish and jacks will also be caught.
Bottom fishing is extremely productive and is a technique I use on Big Sarasota Pass fishing charters, especially in the winter. Sheepshead show up in large numbers around Christmas and stay until Easter. The pass also offers shelter from strong south winds that are common that time of year. Mangrove snapper and other bottom fish are available all year. Snook will school up in large numbers in the summer time.
Jigging in Big Sarasota Pass
My favorite technique on Big Sarasota Pass fishing charters is jigging. There are a couple different ways that I do this. If the tide is running hard, I use small dents pompano jigs. These get down to the bottom better as they have less surface area. My anglers definitely find these easier to use. If the water is dirty, I may tip the jig with a small piece of shrimp.
As the boat drifts along, anglers drop the jig down to the bottom, engage the real, then sharply twitch the rod tip about 12 inches or so. This results in the jig hopping up and down off the bottom, kicking up sand while it does so. This is a very realistic imitation of a crab or shrimp. This is how most pompano are caught. It is also an easy technique for novice anglers to use to catch ladyfish and other species, as no casting is required. I do this often on family fishing charters.
On days when the current is not so strong, or when fishing areas of the pass that are not quite as deep, I will have my anglers cast jigs out. In this situation, I usually use the same jig and grub combination that I use on the deep grass flats. This basically consists of a quarter ounce jig head with a soft plastic grub body. Anglers cast the lure out, allow it to sink a few seconds, then retrieve it in using fast, erratic jerks. This is extremely effective for ladyfish, bluefish, and Spanish mackerel when they get up on the shallow bars.
Grass flats near Big Sarasota Pass are productive
One of the techniques that I use quite often on my Sarasota fishing charters is drifting the deep grass flats. These are areas of varying size that have grass growing on the bottom. The grass attracts shrimp, crabs, and small fish. This then in turn attracts and holds game fish species. The most productive flats are those in water between 4 feet deep and 8 feet deep.
The flats directly east of Big Sarasota Pass are very productive. These extend all the way to the east side of Sarasota Bay, but I still consider the portion between the pass and the intracoastal waterway to be in the pass. There are also really nice grass flats in the branch of the pass that we call the yacht club. Not only are these great fishing spots, they are reliable areas to catch bait fish in the summer as well.
Most of the year, with the exception of the very warm months, I prefer to drift flats and cast artificial lures. My top lure is a quarter ounce jig with a soft plastic grub body. There are a couple different grubs that I use, the Bass Assassin Sea Shad and a Gulp Shrimp. The latter bait is scented and that can make a difference on a tough day. I will also cast plugs and spoons, especially if surface activity is seen.
In the summer months if fishing is tough, I will use my cast net and catch a bunch of small bait fish. Ideally, they are around 2 inches to 3 inches long, this is the perfect size. Once the well is fall, I will anchor on a likely flat and chum back with the current using the live bait fish. If any predator fish are around, they will quickly home in on the free bait. Once excited, they’re usually fairly easy to catch.
This type of fishing produces both action and variety, making it an excellent choice for any fishing charter in Sarasota, no matter what the experience level of my clients are. Anglers can expect to catch spotted sea trout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, pompano, ladyfish, jacks, snapper, sharks, catfish, and other species.
Bottom fishing in Big Sarasota Pass
To be perfectly frank, I do not do a ton of bottom fishing. However, in the winter that is often the most reliable bite and I will certainly employ that technique on my Big Sarasota Pass fishing charters. The two spots that I fish the most are the rocks at the north end of Siesta Key and the docks around Bird Key.
In the winter, the water on the grass flats can become cool enough to send game fish scurrying from the flats. Strong winds that often are present with fronts will also turn the water up, making it muddy. When this occurs, bottom fishing is often the best, and sometimes only, option. The deeper water in the pass along with the prevalence structure will usually provide some type of action.
The tide is my main determining factor when deciding where to fish. If the tide is running very hard, bottom fishing is difficult right in the pass itself. Anchoring can be tricky and heavyweights are required to hit the bottom. Therefore, I bottom fish in the pass when tides are slack or moderate. When the tides are running hard, it is time to hit the docks in the area.
I do the vast majority of bottom fishing on my Big Sarasota Pass fishing charters using live or frozen shrimp. Bait shops can be busy and February and March and so I will stock up on frozen shrimp ahead of time, saving the time and inconvenience of having to stop at the shop in the morning. Frozen shrimp works fine for sheepshead and snapper. In the warmer months, I will bottom fish with a combination of live shrimp and live bait fish. I seldom bottom fish with cut bait, as it attracts catfish and other undesirable species.