Sarasota Fishing Guide

Sarasota fishing guide

Sarasota Fishing Guide

My name is Capt. Jim Klopfer and I am a Sarasota fishing guide. I was born in Washington DC and grew up fishing the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay. I made the move to Sarasota, Florida in 1986 and earned my United States Coast Guard Masters license in 1991. Running fishing charters in Sarasota has been my only business since then!

The waters around Sarasota offer visiting anglers a wide variety of angling opportunities. While it really isn’t a fishing destination in the classic sense, more people come here and fish then come here to fish, the area can still offer some outstanding fishing when conditions are right. It does get a lot of pressure, as the state of Florida is growing very fast.

As a Sarasota fishing guide, my primary task is to match the goals of my clients, their abilities, and the current conditions. This can be challenging at times, especially pertaining to whether and conditions as well as what type of fish are in the area at the time. Also, as Sarasota and the beaches are a family destination, I get a lot of novice anglers and children. I use light tackle on my fishing charters in Sarasota.

My approach for a day of fishing will certainly change depending on the type of anglers I have. If I have two experienced bass anglers from the Midwest, I am likely to try throwing plugs and other lures up against shorelines in search of snook, redfish or jacks. Conversely, if I have a couple kids who have rarely finished, bending the rod will be the goal and will go for action and variety.

Sarasota fishing guide

As mentioned above, there are wide variety of species and anglers can catch in Sarasota. Also, there are multiple techniques that can be used to target these fish. Again, as a Sarasota fishing guide my job is to blend all these together into a fun and memorable day of fishing.

There are several techniques that I use on most of my Sarasota fishing charters. These are fishing the deep grass flats, fishing the passes, fishing the back bays and creeks, and fishing the inshore Gulf of Mexico. One of these four situations will produce pompano strips, unless conditions are just terrible.

Fishing the deep grass flats in Sarasota

Fishing the deep grass flats in Sarasota is something I do quite often is a Sarasota fishing guide on my fishing. The reason for this is simple deep grass flats provide both action and variety. This is something that most anglers are looking for. There is not a lot of structure in Sarasota, especially natural structure. Submerged aquatic vegetation is the primary cover for bait fish and crustaceans. Therefore, that is where the game fish will be found.

Sarasota family fishing charters

By deep grass flats, I am referring to large areas of submerged vegetation and water between 4 feet deep and 10 feet deep. Due to the clarity of the water in Sarasota Bay, the grass will not grow much deeper than that. These flats that are adjacent to the area passes, Big Sarasota Pass and New Pass, are particularly productive as game fish migrate back and forth between Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

I fish the spots in a couple different ways. My preferred method is to drift the flats using the wind and tide to cover a large area. My clients will cast lures, usually a jig with a soft plastic grub body but also plugs and spoons, as the boat drifts along. In search of fish. This is an excellent way to cover water and locate fish and it keeps anglers busy as they are constantly doing something. Anglers can expect to catch speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, pompano, jacks, sharks, bluefish, snapper, grouper, catfish, and other species doing this.

I will certainly use live baits as a Sarasota fishing guide as well. Shrimp are by far the number one live bait as a are available year-round at every tackle shop. Also, every fish that swims loves to eat them! In the warmer months I will use more live bait fish as they are readily available and easy to catch. Chumming with live bait fish on the deep grass flats is an incredibly productive technique when the bait is available and conditions are right.

Fishing the Sarasota passes

Passes are basically inlets, it is the same thing with just a different term. Pass is a term used on the Gulf Coast for a body of water that connects the Gulf of Mexico with the in land bays, in this case Sarasota Bay. The two passes in Sarasota are Big Sarasota Pass and New Pass. Both offer a lot a fish holding structure, deep water, strong current flow, and bait. These are all elements that make up an excellent fishing spot!

Big Sarasota Pass fishing charters

One of my favorite things to do on Sarasota fishing charters when working the passes to drift with the current and either cast jigs or vertically present them. If the tide is low to moderate, I will have my clients cast jigs out, allow them to say, them work them back to the boat. If the tide is running hard, I will use heavier jigs and fish them vertically, otherwise they do not get down close to the bottom and in the strike so. Pompano, loads of ladyfish, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, sharks, and other species are often using this technique.

Structure in both passes attracts a variety of game and bottom fish. Some of the deepest water to be found in the area exists in the passes. Snook will school up in large numbers in the passes in the summer time. Live bait works best. Sheepshead are thick in the same areas Christmas to Easter. Bottom fishing with shrimp is productive and this makes for great family fishing as anyone can. Mangrove snapper, juvenile grouper, and other species will be caught as well.

Fishing the back bays and creeks in Sarasota

Probably my favorite type of angling as a Sarasota fishing guide is casting lures in the back Bay areas as well as the creeks. This is more of an advanced type of fishing and is better suited for experienced anglers. It is very similar to fishing for largemouth bass as I use a trolling motor to work down a shoreline or other area while my anglers cast lures out in search of fish.

Sarasota fishing report

This type of fish is more about quality than it is about quantity. I most often use a Rapala jerk bait as it allows cover a lot of water in search of fish. These lures also match the locally available bait fish and run at the proper depth where they do not get snagged on the bottom. If I want to slow down a bit, which to a soft plastic floor on a jig head, especially if redfish.

In the winter, snook and jacks move up into area creeks and residential canals. Bowlees Creek to the north and Phillippi Creek to the south are two my favorite spots. Big jacks in particular are very reliable in these areas in the cooler months. They will move up into these creeks to escape the colder weather on the exposed flats. This is great fun and also offers protection from the wind. It is an excellent option on any trip with experienced anglers but especially so for those fly fishing.

Inshore Gulf of Mexico fishing charter

Another of my favorite trips as a Sarasota fishing guide is working the inshore Gulf of Mexico in the spring and the fall for pelagic species such as Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, false albacore, sharks, tarpon, and cobia. This type of fishing offers anglers to catch a very big still only be a mile or two from shore.

king mackerel fishing

This type of fishing is very dependent on conditions. We need to have a couple days of East when which will have the waters of the Gulf of Mexico calm and clear. This will attract eight fish in large numbers. The predatory fish will be right behind. The key to this fishing is the massive amount of bait fish such as threadfin herring, blue runners, cigar minnows, glass minnows, and scaled sardines that are found just off the beaches.

One aspect of this type of fishing that makes it so much fun is that it is visual at times. Fish will often be found feeding on the surface and this activity can be seen from quite a distance on a calm day. The drill is to then get up but and casting distance and toss a lure or fly into the mix. I hookup is almost a certainty! I do this most often with false albacore and Spanish mackerel.

These bait fish can be caught using a special rig. They can then be floated out behind the boat in hopes that a shark, king mackerel, cobia, or even a tarpon will take it. Sharks in particular can be so plentiful that anglers will be worn out after a couple of hours. Trolling around these schools of bait fish will also produce some large king mackerel.

In conclusion, this article about my Sarasota fishing guide services will better help visiting anglers understand the options available to them!

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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