Bradenton Florida Fishing Forecast

Bradenton Florida Fishing Forecast

My Bradenton Florida fishing forecast will give visiting anglers an idea of what they can expect when they come down to fish. While every year is different, most seasonal patterns hold up over time. This forecast is based on over 25 years experience as a full-time fishing guide running fishing charters. Hopefully, it will help you catch more fish!

Capt Jim has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. Anglers who are interested in purchasing the equipment that he uses and writes about in his articles and reports can do so on the PRODUCTS page.

Bradenton Florida winter fishing forecast

Bradenton fishing forecast

Winter fishing in Bradenton is all about the weather, pure and simple. The severity of our winter has a huge impact on the fishing. Unseasonably warm winters will result in fish maintaining their fall patterns. Conversely, a severe winter will accentuate the winter patterns.

So, let’s look at an average Florida winter. As it cools off, snook will move up into the creeks and canals. Snook are very temperature sensitive and cannot tolerate water temperature in the mid 50s for very long. Jack crevelle and other species will move into the same areas.

There are several techniques anglers can use in these creeks and canals to catch snook, jack crevalle, and other species. Trolling shallow diving plugs is a great technique to locate fish. Casting the same plugs to docks and other fish holding structure will produce as well. A large, live shrimp is always a great bait. Sheepshead, snapper, drum, and flounder will also be taken using shrimp.

Look for clean water

The primary influence that anglers must take into account is the effect that strong front side. Strong fronts will have high winds which will churn up the Gulf of Mexico. This will result in dirty water, (that means silty and muddy) which fish do not like. Incoming tides will bring this water into the passes and out onto the flats.

When this occurs, anglers will need to look for clean water. This generally means flats and bays a bit away from the passes. After the front passes, wins will settle down in the Gulf will clear up. This will result in good fishing in the passes and on the productive flats near the passes.

The best technique to use when fishing the passes and grass flats is to drift. Anglers drift along with the tide and wind, casting lures or live baits out in search of fish. A 1/4 ounce jig and grub combo is an excellent lore in both the passes and on the flats. A live shrimp either free line and over the flats or hooked on a jig head in the passes is also very productive. Speckled trout, bluefish, Pompano, jacks, ladyfish, and Spanish mackerel are all available.

Sheepshead are a much targeted species in the winter and Bradenton. Bridges, docks, oyster bars, and Rocky shorelines will all hold these tasty saltwater panfish. A live, fresh dead, or frozen shrimp is a great all round bait. Some anglers do prefer sand fleas and fiddler crabs, though these are a bit more difficult to obtain. This is simple bottom fishing with a hook and just enough weight to hold the bottom. Mangrove snapper and other species will be taken as well.

Spring fishing forecast for Bradenton

Bradenton fishing forecast

Spring is a fantastic time to be fishing in Bradenton, Florida. Just about every species is available at this time of year. Cold fronts are less frequent and the water temperature is rising. Flats fishing is very good and snook are moving out of their winter hunts. By the end of spring, even tarpon will be showing up.

As the water temperature rises, snook move out of the creeks and canals and scatter out onto the flats. This is a great time to fish for them as they are in a mood to feed. Shallow flats on the east side of Sarasota Bay and at the North and of Bradenton and South Tampa Bay are terrific spots to fish. The spots have a nice mixture of deep grass which holds speckled trout, mackerel, bluefish, Pompano and other species.

Anglers can also choose to fish shallow water for snook and redfish. Shallow flats with potholes, oyster bars, and mangrove shorelines with a little bit of depth will hold these fish. Low tides will concentrate the fish into potholes on the flats. These are small depressions that are slightly deeper than the surrounding grass. Oyster bars and mangrove shorelines produce well on the higher tide stages.

Both lures and live bait produce in Bradenton

Both live bait and artificial lures produce on the flats and springtime. Lures are a good choice for anglers, allowing them to cover a lot of water and eliminate unproductive spots. Top water plugs, weedless spoons, and light jig heads with a soft plastic bait are good choices in the shallow water. Jigs, silver spoons, and suspending plugs work well in the deeper water.

Live shrimp are a great all round bait on the flats as well. They can be fished under a float or free line doubt with no weight. Large schools of small bait fish, locally known as shiners, white bait, or greenbacks, show up in the spring. The sunshine Skyway bridge is usually loaded with bait. Anglers fill their well with live bait, then use it to chum the fish into range. This is an incredibly productive technique on both the shallow and deep flats.

The inshore Gulf of Mexico off of the Bradenton beaches comes alive this time of year. Schools of Spanish mackerel and false albacore migrate north following the forage bait fish. This is great fun is there is often surface action! These fish can be taken trolling fast-moving lures such as spoons jigs and plugs, on fly, and will certainly hit a live bait.

Summer Bradenton Florida fishing forecast

fishing in Bradenton Florida

Many Bradenton anglers associate summer with tarpon fishing. The silver king moves into the area and late spring and by summer they are here and large numbers. There are several ways to fish for tarpon. Anglers can sight cast for them off the beaches, anchor up and fish live and dead baits, and drift the channels on the outgoing tides. This is truly world-class fishing.

Snook move out of the flats and into the passes and out on the beaches and summer. They do this as part of their spawning ritual. Structure and Longboat pass including the bridge, along with the small jetties and peers on the beaches will hold snook all summer long. Anglers can also cite cast to snook while walking the surf line.

Live bait and heavy tackle is the way to go when fishing bridges and other heavy structure for summertime snook. These are large fish and heavy tackle is required to get them out of the structure. A large live shrimp or hand sized live pin fish are grunt are the top baits. Anglers walking the beach do well the small white Lures such as a quarter ounce buck tail jig, small plug, or on fly.

Fish the flats early in the morning

Flats fishing can still be good in the summer the tactics need to change. It is very hot and it is usually an early bite. Water temperatures on the flats can often reach 90° by mid day. Artificial lures can be used at first light, but the most consistent fishing will be had by anglers using live bait. White bait is thick and easy to obtain. Chumming the edges of deep flats will produce both action and variety.

Many anglers choose to fish at night during the summer. This is a great strategy as it is much cooler at night and many species of fish feed heavily in the dark hours. Snook in particular are notorious night feeders, lighted docks and area bridges are top spots. A live shrimp is a great bait choice and will catch mangrove snapper and other species as well.

Fall Bradenton Florida fishing forecast

Bradenton fishing forecast

Fall is probably my favorite time to fish and Bradenton, Florida. The weather is stable and very comfortable, and the bays and beaches uncrowded. The fishing pattern basically reverses itself from spring. Snook move back into the inland bays. Action on the deep flats as good as the water cools off. Spanish mackerel and false albacore move back through on their way south.

When conditions are right, I spend a lot of my time in the fall out on the beach. The surface action for Spanish mackerel and false albacore is generally more reliable in the fall as weather patterns are more stable. This action can often last from mid-October up through Christmas. Casting lures and flies into schools of breaking fish is very exciting!

Action on the deep flats will be very good for speckled trout and other species. Both lures and live baits will be productive. Shallow water fishing for snook in redfish should be very good as well. Redfish school up in late summer and early fall. These are large schools of fish in the 30 inch range. They can be caught in shallow water as they feed before moving out into the Gulf of Mexico. Snook will be caught in the same spots as well.

I hope anglers reading this found my Bradenton fishing forecast useful and helpful! Feel free to call or email me for reports or other information.

Jim Klopfer

Capt Jim Klopfer has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. He grew up in Maryland, fishing the Chesapeake Bay waters. Capt Jim has been creating an writing articles about fishing for decades, contributing to many regional and national publications. He also lives part time in the North Carolina mountains where he fishes for trout and other species. Capt Jim Klopfer is a wel rounded angler with 50 years fishing experience, and he loves to share what he has learned with other anglers!

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