Sarasota Fishing Report, weekly updates from Capt Jim
Capt Jim will be posting his current Sarasota fishing report on this page. It will be updated every week or two as conditions and species change. It will include the baits or lures along with the species and locations. Fishing conditions change daily and seasonally, anglers can use this report to be more successful.
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.
Sarasota fishing report
These are Capt Jim Klopfer’s weekly Sarasota fishing reports. They are usually posted Saturday morning or afternoon.
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Fishing has been pretty good of late, for action, variety, and some quality fish. Ladyfish were thick in Big Pass, providing some great rod-bending action on jigs. Anglers casting Rapala X-Raps also caught snook along the sandy beach portions of the pass. Silver trout were reliable and provided some great meals along with a good fish. Speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, jacks, whiting, sharks, catfish, and other species also hit jigs and live bait fish on the deep flats.
Anglers had decent action this week, with the best bites being in Big Sarasota Pass for ladyfish and a few mackerel and the deep grass for speckled trout, bluefish, silver trout, big whiting, and ladyfish. Bass Assassin Sea Shad baits in chartreuse and Gulp Shrimp were both productive. Middlegrounds and Marina Jack were the top spots. We also did some shallow water fishing early on Friday, with my anglers catching a nice 20″ trout and a decent snook on a white Rapala X-Rap. Bait showed up in huge numbers in the bay this week, that often kicks off some great summer fishing!
Fishing was fair to steady this week, depending on the trip, with clients “earning” their fish on most trips. Anglers casting Bass Assassin jigs caught speckled trout, silver trout, bluefish, pompano, and ladyfish on the deep flats. Middlegrounds and Marina Jacks were the top spots, though Capt Jon had a client catch a nice trout up north. He also caught whiting on shrimp in some deeper holes. Action was steady on the deep grass on Friday and Capt Jim had a fly angler catch a nice snook on a Clouser Minnow Saturday morning on a shallow bar with bait on it.
Wind was once again a factor, it basically blew 15-20 all week. Fortunately, it was out of the east and northeast, which did give us a few spots to fish. Anglers casting jigs and live shrimp caught Spanish mackerel to 3 1/2 pounds, spotted sea trout to 19″, bluefish, ladyfish, jacks, and a shark. The Middlegrounds was productive, with Stephen’s Point giving up a few fish as well. Protected areas behing Bird Key yielded jacks, trout, and ladyfish. Ladyfish were plentiful in Big Pass, when the wind allowed a drift.
It sounds like a broken record, but wind and weather were once again a major factor, I had to cancel 4 days this week. The bite was good early in the week, with clients catching a bunch of big ladyfish with some nice trout mixed in. The Middlegrounds and Big Pass were top spots and all of the fish hit jigs. Bluefish and Spanish mackerel were caught as well. It started blowing Wed and did not stop the rest of the week, most of my trips were fly and it just is too difficult. The forecast looks better for the upcoming weeks.
Fishing was fair to steady early in the week. Anglers casting Bass Assassin jigs, tossing Clouser Minnow flies, and free lining live shrimp in the passes and the surrounding flats caught a fair amount of trout and ladyfish, with a few pompano, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, and jacks mixed in. The bite seemed off a bit from last week. I wandered north and the water was very clear and not a lot of activity. Once again, a severe front moved through mid week, shutting us down for a couple days. I am hoping the mackerel action kicks off in the inshore Gulf pretty soon,
Action was very good on the deeper grass flats early in the week! Clients fishing with Capt Jon and Capt Jim had fast action casting Bass Assassin Sea Shad baits on a 1/4 ounce jig head. There were a lot of ladyfish, doubles were common. Along with the hard-fighting ladies, anglers landed Spanish mackerel, bluefish, pompano, and numerous spotted sea trout. The flats north of New Pass were best. A severe mid week front shut down the fishing and we had to cancel Wednesday and Thursday. Capt Jim had a fly fishing trip on Fri, and in tough conditions caught trout, ladyfish, and small snook casting Clouser Moinnow patterns.
I did a 50/50 mix if sheepshead fishing and casting jigs on the flats and in the passes this week. The sheepshead were thick in both passes as we came up on the full moon. Many fish to 4 pounds were landed by anglers bottom fishing with shrimp around structure in both passes. Jigging the passes with pompano jigs produced a lot of ladyfish and a few Spanish mackerel. Anglers casting Bass Assassin jigs and Gulp Shrimp on jig heads had good action on the flats near the passes. Ladyfish, bluefish, speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, and other species were landed.
Fishing was good this week on the grass flats as well as the passes, particularly early in the week. Wind was a bit of an issue towards the end as a severe front approached. Fly anglers did well, catching numerous speckled trout, along with Spanish mackerel, pompano, bluefish, and ladyfish. Clients casting Bass Assassin jigs, plugs, and spoons experienced good action as well. Submerged grass beds in water between 4 feet and 6 feet were the most productive. Big Pass had mackerel and ladyfish, though the fish were scattered out quite a bit. Capt Jon had similar action on the flats, while also catching sheepshead and whiting fishing shrimp on the bottom.
Fishing was fair this week, with anglers catching fish, but having to work a bit for them. The best bite for clients seeking action and a few to eat was whiting. They were schooled up in deeper holes and hit shrimp tipped jigs. Sheepshead were caught on shrimp in both passes. The weather really warmed up, and this seemed to improve the bite on the deep grass flats, hopefully, this will continue. Bass Assassin Sea Shad baits in chartreuse and glow worked well. The warming water did slow the action on jack crevalle as they seem to be moving out of the canals and creeks.
Anglers experienced a variety of action on Sarasota fishing charters this week with Capt Jon and Capt Jim. Sheepshead hit shrimp fished around structure near the passes. The deep grass action is starting to pick up, with trout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, and ladyfish being fooled on Bass assassin jigs and Gulp Shrimp. Expected temperatures in the low 80’s should really get this pattern going as the water on the flats warms up. Jacks were still steady in the creeks, being caught on Rapala X-Raps and Bass Assassin jigs. This bite will slow as the water warms up and the fish move out.
Fishing was tough this week as we are experiencing a “real” winter. Water temperature was in the upper 50’s in the morning. Anglers fishing the pass caught a few sheepshead and snapper on shrimp, but the sheepshead run is just getting started. Whiting in deeper holes provided a few meals. The best bite continued to be jack crevalle with a few small snook in area creeks on flies and Rapala X-Raps. I ran a Myakka River trip on Friday that only produced a small bass.
Clients caught two species this week, snook and jack crevalle. The only pattern that I had that was producing was casting lures and flies in rivers, creeks, and residential canals. Fly anglers caught snook and jacks on Clouser patterns. Spin anglers cast and trolled Rapala X-Raps and Bass Assassin jigs. It is important to keep moving and casting, the jacks in particular move around. Trolling is an excellent way to locate them. I fished the Myakka River on Friday and we caught a big jack trolling there as well.
Weather was a factor this week, it is winter even though it is Florida. It was cold and windy early in the week, improving later in the week. The bite was hot on Friday as we fished just before a severe front moved through. My best pattern is a typical winter one, jacks and snook in creeks, rivers, and residential canals. Jack crevalle in particular were numerous and pretty active. Fly anglers scored using Clouser Minnow patterns while spin anglers did well using Rapala X-Raps. The X-Raps are versatile and produce when both cast and trolled.
Fishing has fallen into traditional winter patterns after a couple of fronts dropped the water temperature quite a bit. Anglers casting 4″ chartreuse Bass Assassin Sea Shad baits and Rapala X-Raps caught decent numbers of jack crevalle to 6 pounds and snook to 25″. Trolling Rapala plugs produced a few fish as well. Fly anglers did well using chartreuse/white Clouser Minnow patterns. The fish have moved into secludes basins, residential canals, creeks, and bayous, where the water is a bit warmer. We spend a couple hours fishing the deeper flats with little to show for it.
Fishing was fair this week, a pretty strong front moved through Tuesday. Before the water got dirty in Big Pass, ladyfish were there in decent numbers and hitting jigs. The best bite for me this week was casting lures and flies for jacks and snook in area creeks and residential canals. Rapala X-Raps and Clouser Minnow flies were productive on jacks to 5 pounds and smaller snook. There are also a few smaller grass flats near the passes that produced slot trout and ladyfish, Bass Assassin jigs worked best. For whatever reason, the bite on the larger open flats has slowed down.
Fishing was pretty good this week for a variety of species in several locations using different techniques. Speckled trout average size was better this week, with quite a few “slot” fish being caught, and released, by anglers casting jigs and flies. I still think it is important to release these fish after the 2019 red tide. Some nice sized bluefish were caught by both spin and fly anglers as well. Big Pass had good numbers of ladyfish as well as a few bluefish. Jigs worked well. Jack crevalle and small snook also hit Rapala X-Raps, jigs, and flies in the Intracoastal waterway as well as creeks and canals.
Fishing during holiday seasons can be challenging. The boat traffic was insane as we had great weather and a lot of visitors. Also, we tend to get more families and inexperienced anglers. Bent rods is the goal. Speckled trout, mackerel, bluefish, jacks, and ladyfish hit jigs and flies on the deep flats. Ladyfish and mackerel were caught in Big Pass. Trolled and cast Rapala X-Raps fooled a few jack crevalle in area creeks and canals. A big weather change is coming and will hopefully get the river snook bite going.
Weather was an issue this week for clients on my fishing charters. A severe front moved through Monday, shutting down fishing for a couple days. Post front fishing can be tough, and it was. Still, persistent anglers caught ladyfish, bluefish, speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, and jacks on the deep flats and in Big Pass using Gulp Shrimp on a jig head. A fly angler caught a few jack crevalle casting Clouser Minnow patterns in area creeks. A river trip early in the week was slow, despite decent conditions.
I experienced an interesting and diverse variety of fishing charters this week. 4 of my trips were fly anglers, two in the bay, two in the rivers. I also ran a spin trip inshore. Speckled trout were plentiful, though many were small. The fly trip on Monday was very good, with a relatively inexperienced angler landing 9 species on Closer patterns, including pompano, trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, jacks, and ladyfish. Anglers casting jigs caught a lot of trout along with a few jacks, bluefish, and ladyfish. We hit a couple docks with shrimp and landed a few nice black drum, sheepshead, snapper, and a small redfish. Two trips to the Myakka and Braden Rivers resulted in big gar, a very nice bass, snook, jacks, and ladyfish on fly, though unseasonably warm weather slowed the bite a bit.
Spanish mackerel showed up in Sarasota this week! My clients encountered them in the middle of Sarasota Bay near New Pass on Mon and Tuesday. We went in the afternoon to avoid the fog and very low tides in the morning. Spin anglers caught them on Rapala X-Raps and spoons while a fly angler did well using a white D.T. Special and Clouser patterns. I also heard reports of them out on the inshore reefs. Jacks and snook provided action early in the week, but that slowed up as the water warmed up. I finished up later in the week fishing the Myakka River. Action was fair with several snook and bass being caught on #10 X-Raps. Again, the warmer weather probably did not help that bite.
Once again, the best bite was fishing creeks and residential canals. Jack crevalle were plentiful, with a few snook also being caught. Clouser Minnow flies and #8 Rapala X-Raps fooled them. The action in the passes slowed a bit, but there were still enough ladyfish hitting jigs to be fun. A few drifts on the flats produced trout, jacks, ladyfish, flounder, and more casting Gulp Shrimp and flies.
Fish are definitely transitioning into their cool season patterns. Fish tend to concentrate more into spots, it is important to keep moving if the bite is slow. Anglers casting Rapala X-Raps caught snook and jacks in creeks and residential canals. Most of the snook were small, but still fun. Ladyfish were plentiful in the passes and hit jigs bounced along the bottom and also reeled in fast. The deep grass bite was slow, but better in Saturday, with my anglers catching trout, big ladyfish, and a very nice Spanish mackerel.
I mixed it up a bit this week on my Sarasota fishing charters. My clients spent most of the time casting Rapala X-Raps and flies for snook, jacks, and other species. A )* white (Ghost) X-Rap did well on snook and jacks in area creeks and residential canals. I had an excellent fly fishing trip on Thursday, with my angler catching snook and jacks in the same spots, Spanish mackerel and big ladyfish in Big Pass, and trout and mackerel on the deep flats. All hit a white Clouser. I finished up the week with a trip to the Myakka River. My angler caught 4 snoook (small) and a nice chunky bass on a (10) gold Rapala X-Rap.
Fishing was decent this week, though clients did not catch anything particularly large. The best bite was in the passes and at the Middlegrounds. In both passes, Spanish mackerel averaging a pound and a half hit jigs and spoons. There were plenty of ladyfish mixed in as well. The Middlegrounds and other deep grass flats produced a couple of pompano, speckled trout, mackerel, jacks, and ladyfish. Again, nothing big and the trout were on the small side as well. Jigs caught most of the fish. Clear water and no wind made conditions tough on the flats, finding moving water in the passes was the best approach. I made a scouting trip to the Myakka and it was slow, maybe the next front or two will get them fired up.
I am heading out on vacation, this will be the last report for a few weeks!
I ran 4 fishing charters once again this week, which is really what I try to limit it to as I get a bit older. Fishing was decent, though unspectacular. The best action was on several “jack attacks” as schools of ravenous jack crevalle were encountered on the shallow flats, they will hit almost anything in that situation. Spanish mackerel have thinned out, though clients caught a nice one or two each trip. A lot of speckled trout were landed, though many were small. Ladyfish, jacks, bluefish, and other species were landed as well. Jigs caught most of the fish, but Rapala X-Raps caught a few as well. I also did a little chumming to end the morning on a couple of trips. The flats north of New Pass were best.
I ran four trips this week, and all were a bit different. Jigs and Rapala X-Raps produced Spanish mackerel, speckled trout, jacks, sharks, ladyfish, and other species on the deep grass flats. Several times we ran across jack crevalle schooling in shallow and caught them on the same lures.I had a family charter with young kids, so I caught bait and we had fast action on mackerel and trout. I finished up one morning fishing bait in Robert’s Bay, catching some jacks and schoolie snook and lost a large fish that we could not stop. The week ended with a talented fly angler doing well on nice trout to 20″, ladyfish, and jacks casting chartreuse/white Clouser Minnow patterns.
Fishing was good this week, with clients experiencing both action and variety. Virtually all the fish were caught on artificial lures, other than the last hour on a trip early in the week. Schools of “breaking fish”, (fish that are feeding aggressively on the surface) were encountered in both deep and shallow water. The best action was on the flats north of New Pass. Spanish mackerel to 4 pounds, speckled trout to 23″, a ton of jacks, ladyfish, sharks, snapper, bluefish, and other species kept the rods bent. Jigs caught most of the fish while a #10 Rapala X-Rap caught a few of the larger mackerel.
The best bite this week for my clients was nice-sized Spanish mackerel. They were landed on the deep grass flats, in the passes, and out on the beach over the inshore reefs and around bait schools. Most of them were caught on bait fish while chumming, but blind casting Rapala X-Raps and jigs caught some fish as well. A Spanish mackerel pushing 5 pounds is a beautiful fish that puts up a terrific battle. Along with the mackerel, anglers fishing the flats caught trout, bluefish, jacks, snapper, and ladyfish.
The best action for me on charters this week was the mouth of the passes and in the inshore Gulf of Mexico. The jig bite was fair first thing in the morning on the deeper flats north of New Pass. Jigs produce a few trout, bluefish, ladyfish, big sailcats, and other species. Jacks and ladyfish hit live bait fish and jigs on the edges of bars at the mouth of both passes. Chumming with live bait over structure and 30 feet of water off the beach produced fast action on Spanish mackerel to 3 pound. I think we just need for the water temperature to drop a bit for our fall fishing to kick in.
Fishing was not quite as good for me this week, for whatever reason. Jigs produced some trout, jacks, bluefish, and ladyfish, but not in big numbers. Bait was easy to catch, however heavy chumming at the normal spots around both passes never got the fish going. We did land a couple of nice Spanish mackerel and a few snapper. Rain was an issue in the morning for the last part of the week.
Fishing was steady this week for clients fishing the deep grass flats in Sarasota Bay. Jigs provided most of the action, producing speckled trout to 22”, mackerel, ladyfish, bluefish, quite a few jacks, grouper, sharks, and other species. Bait was plentiful and I finished up doing some chumming. While that did not produce the fast action that it normally does, but did result in some very large Spanish mackerel, around 5 pounds.
The red tide has completely cleared out and the fishing is returning to normal. All of the grass flats and bait on them and the water quality is good. Speckled trout continued to be the most plentiful species, with fish to 21” being landed. Jacks, bluefish, mangrove snapper, sharks, ladyfish, and other species were also caught. Jigs caught most of the fish, along with a few on suspending jerkbaits.
8/28/2021: The red tide has pretty much cleared out and fishing has dramatically improved. With east winds, I concentrated on the deep flats on the east side of the bay. Bait was plentiful, which is always a good sign. The action was steady, with some very nice trout being caught, up to 25″. Ladyfish, jacks, bluefish, sharks, and other species were caught as well. Jigs caught the most, but a #10 Rapala X-Rap caught most of the larger fish. I replace the treble hooks with special single hooks that are safer and easier on the fish. It is important to quickly release those big trout! I also did a little bluegill fishing, it was steady though the fish are more scattered after the moon.
It has been hot and humid in Sarasota this week! The lack of wind made the bite a little bit spotty. Also, there is still some patchy red tide around, especially near the passes. However, persistent anglers caught fish casting Gulp Shrimp on a jig head, including speckled trout to 23″, bluefish, jacks, and ladyfish. The best spots were up north in Sarasota Bay, away from the passes. Also, I did a little freshwater fishing and found some nice sized bluegill on the beds. I caught a bunch on a 1/16 ounce Beetle spin.
Fishing picked up this week as the red tide seemed to ease up a bit. I had a fly fishing trip that produced a couple of decent snook, several nice trout, jacks, snapper, and ladyfish. Anglers casting jigs with a Gulp Shrimp experienced steady action, though by no means did we wreck them. Still, it was good to see improving conditions along with schools of bait in Sarasota Bay.
Unfortunately, conditions have not been good of late in Sarasota. We had strong thunderstorms most of the week and the red tide is still pretty bad. I did not run any trips due to those conditions. The wind is switching east, hopefully the situation will improve next week.
Fishing was slow this week with morning thunderstorms cancelling most of my trips. Friday was nice, though hot, but red tide shut down most of Sarasota Bay. There is an area of cleaner water to the south, and bottom fishing produced some snapper. There are a few fish on the bars between Stickney Point and Blackburn Point, but it has been inconsistent. The heat (water temperature was in the upper 80’s) and lack of wind did not help. Hopefully, the red tide will clear out and the spots near the passes will become productive again.
The red tide once again adversely affected fishing this week, it got worse for me as the week went on. Fishing was pretty good on Monday, with long time client Norm Shade hooking a 75 lb tarpon on a jig along with decent trout, jacks, bluefish, ladyfish, and other species. We got 3 nice jumps before it spit the hook. As the week progressed, it got tougher to find fish. The red tide isn’t terrible, but it just seemed to really shut down the bite. Dead rotting fish are scattered throughout the north bay. I even caught bait and chummed with little effect. Also, with no rain the water temperature hit 88 degrees, which is not helping. Hopefully we will get some rain, cool things off, and the red tide situation will improve.
Unfortunately, the red tide that has been plaguing Tampa Bay moved into our area this week. There was not a huge fish kill, but it certainly slowed the bite. It also makes fishing with live bait difficult as and red tide that gets in the well will kill most of it. On Monday and Tuesday I was able to fish bait near the passes and caught a few nice snapper. The rest of the week jigs were used. Anglers caught a decent amount of species, though action was far from fast and furious. Areas of clean water produced trout to 21″, flounder, bluefish to 3 pounds, Spanish mackerel, jacks, sea bass, ladyfish, and other species.
Fishing was good this week, despite tropical storm Elsa moving through. I did not fish Tuesday or Wednesday, but was back out on Thursday to find minimal effects from the storm. The jig bite did slow a bit this week and the best action was had by catching bait and chumming. Bait fish were thick on all of the flats near both passes. Speckled trout to 22″, bluefish to 4 pounds, Spanish mackerel, mangrove snapper to 15″, flounder, grouper, jacks, ladyfish, and other species were landed. The key after the storm was finding areas of clean water, there were pockets of darker fresh water from the rain.
Anglers experienced both action and variety on fishing charters this week. The strategy of casting lures early then switching to chumming with bait worked well. Jigs caught plenty of fish in the first hour or two. The bait is small, but just large enough to net and use. Speckled trout, silver trout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, jacks, snapper, grouper, flounder, ladyfish, and other species were caught. We finished up the week with a very good trip. The boat say in one spot for two hours as I had them boiling ten feet behind us. There were hundreds of mangrove snapper mixed in with the other species, it was a bite on every cast!
Sarasota fishing report June 26
I have eased into my summer strategy of casting jigs early, then switching over to chumming with live bait. This is very effective as anglers take advantage of the low light feeding, when fish are generally active. When that slows, it is time to catch bait. We had very light winds this week, which is not great for drifting the flats, switching to live bait kept the rods bent. Speckled trout, silver trout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, jacks, snapper, ladyfish, flounder, sea bass, and other species were landed. Stephen’s Point and MIddleground were the top spots.
Action was steady this week, with clients catching a good variety of species. The numbers of fish were down a tad, we did have some unstable weather and weak tides. Still, anglers casting jigs caught speckled trout to 20″, bluefish, silver trout, Spanish mackerel, flounder, jacks, sea bass, snapper, grouper, ladyfish, and more. Middlegrounds was the top spot. I did cast net bait and chum on one trip, the bait is a couple weeks away from being perfect for chumming the deep flats for trout and other species.
Fishing was steady on the deep grass flats this week. Wind was an issue early in the week, but really did not hinder the bite. Speckled trout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, sharks, ladyfish, jacks, flounder, grouper, snapper, sea bass, and catfish were caught by anglers casting Gulp Shrimp on jig heads. A few fish were caught on live shrimp and Rapala X-Raps as well. Small bait fish showed up in the passes at the end of the week, and I finished up my Friday trip chumming up ladyfish and trout on the flats. I will do that more as the bait gets larger and easier to catch.
I was back out on the water this week after my surgery and a little vacation. The bite on the deep grass was steady, with clients catching a decent amount of speckled trout. Most of the fish were average, with the largest going close to 24″. Some hard-fighting bluefish were also landed, along with jacks, ladyfish, sea bass, grouper, and snapper. Gulp baits on a jig head caught most of the fish, though #10 Rapala X-Raps produced a few as well. The flats on the west side from Middlegrounds north to Buttonwood were best for me.
Note: This will be my last report for 5 weeks or so. I am getting a little “maintenance” done along with a vacation.
Once again, I spent all of my time fishing the deep grass flats. The action was steady, improving each day as we came off the full moon. Speckled trout were plentiful, with fish to 22″ being caught. Silver trout were also landed, with several up to 16′, which is a nice silver trout! A few Spanish mackerel, bluefish, jacks, grouper, small sharks, sea bass, and ladyfish hit jigs and flies as well. All of the flats from Siesta Drive north held fish and I saw no evidence of red tide.
Weather was an issue early in the week. Severe thunderstorms shut us down Monday and Tuesday. I was not sure what to expect on Wednesday, sometimes an infusion of fresh water can slow down the bite, but that was not the case. Action on the deep grass from New Pass north to Buttonwood was very good on a variety of species. Anglers casting Bass Assassin and Gulp baits on a 1/4 ounce jig head caught speckled trout to 4 pounds, silver trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, pompano, jacks, flounder, ladyfish, sharks, catfish, and more.
April 17 Report
I spend the majority of the week drifting the deep grass flats casting lures and flies. Speckled trout were plentiful with some decent fish to 22″. Spanish mackerel, pompano, bluefish, jacks, small sharks, ladyfish, silver trout and other species were also caught. A variety of baits produced, in all honesty it really did not seem to matter. Bass Assassin and Gulp baits were used. Fly anglers did well casting Clouser patterns. We also did a little bottom fishing one breezy morning, catching a bunch of whiting and silver trout on frozen shrimp.
The bite on the deep grass flats continues to provide clients on Sarasota fishing charters with steady action. Bass Assassin split tail shad baits and Gulp Shrimp on jig heads fooled a lot of speckled trout along with Spanish mackerel, bluefish, pompano, ladyfish, jacks, sharks, sea bass, and more. There are still quite a few silver trout on the flats and in the deeper basins, with whiting mixed in. One morning was spent casting Rapala X-Raps in search of snook, but jacks, trout, snapper, and grouper were caught instead.
I spent most of my time casting Bass Assassin jigs and Gulp Shrimp on the grass flats throughout the area. Speckled trout were numerous, with fish up to 22″ being landed. A few Spanish mackerel, bluefish, jacks, ladyfish, sharks and other species were mixed in as well. The best spots were between New Pass and Buttonwood. Vertical jigging in and around Big Pass produced silver trout, whiting, mackerel, and ladyfish. The sheepshead numbers declined drastically. Anglers casting Rapala X-Raps one morning hooked a few small snook. I ran out in the Gulf one morning and there was bait everywhere, but very few game fish around.
Speckled trout were the name of the game this week for clients on Sarasota fishing charters. Just about every grass flat in 4′ to 8′ of water from Big Pass north to Long Bar held trout. Most were caught on Bass Assassin jigs and jerk worms along with Gulp baits. Live shrimp fooled a few as well. Silver trout showed up in decent numbers along with the occasional mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish, jack, shark, and catfish. Hoping for the action out on the beach to fire up this coming week!
Sarasota fishing report March 20
There were two solid bites for anglers on Sarasota fishing charters this week; trout hitting jigs on the flats and sheepshead taking shrimp in the passes. Just about every submerged grass flat in 5′ to 8′ of water held speckled trout. Bass assassin jigs and Gulp Shrimp worked well. Silver trout, mackerel, bluefish, jacks, small sharks, ladyfish, and more were also caught. Just about every piece of structure in either pass has sheepshead around it. Live or frozen shrimp fished on the bottom will catch them up!
March 13 Sarasota fishing report
Fishing was decent this week, though wind was certainly an issue early in the week. Conditions improved daily after Tuesday. Still, the bite was steady, though the fish were not quite as active as last week. Every trip produced a few decent Spanish mackerel and decent numbers of spotted sea trout along with pompano, bluefish, jacks, and ladyfish. Jigs, Clouser Minnow flies, and live shrimp were used. Sheepshead are stacked up in large numbers in both passes. Anglers seeking a fillet or two can catch these saltwater panfish by fishing live or frozen shrimp near any type of structure in either New pass or Big Pass.
March 6 fishing report
Fishing in Sarasota Bay was good again this week. The best action was on the deeper grass flats throughout the area. Pompano, speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish, and other species hit Bass Assassin baits and Gulp Shrimp on a 1/4 ounce jig head. Speckled trout in particular were quite plentiful on the flats, their numbers are clearly rebounding. Anglers seeking a fillet or two can hit the passes with shrimp. Sheepshead are stacked in in big numbers as they prepare to spawn. I ran a couple river trips (probably the last ones this season) and it was pretty slow.
Fishing continued to be very good this week. The action in the passes was outstanding, despite the water being fairly murky. Big numbers of sheepshead seemed to have moved in over the full moon and are being caught on shrimp near most structure including rocks, bridges, and docks. Snapper and sea bass were mixed in as well. Jigging the passes while drifting with the tide produced both action and variety for clients this week. Pompano, Spanish mackerel, jacks, ladyfish, and other species were landed. Speckled trout were numerous on the deep grass flats and hit Gulp Shrimp on a jig head. Mackerel, bluefish, and ladyfish were also caught. A couple of river trips were a bit slow, with some jacks and small snook being caught, along with a bunch of big ladyfish. The water is 72 degrees and with this very warm weather coming up, the river fishing may be done for the season.
Fishing was very good this week for clients on Sarasota fishing charters. A variety of species were caught using several techniques. The best bite was probably in the passes. Anglers drifting while bouncing jigs on the bottom caught permit, pompano, jacks, mackerel, small sharks, and ladyfish. Bottom fishing near structure with shrimp fooled sheepshead, snapper, small grouper, and sea bass. The deep grass flats held plenty of trout, which hit Bass Assassin Sea Shad baits and Gulp Shrimp. A few mackerel, pompano, silver trout, ladyfish, and whiting were landed as well. A river trip produced a pair of 24″ snook, a jack, and a couple of gar for anglers casting Rapala X-Raps.
Fishing was excellent in Sarasota this week! The weather fantastic with temperatures near 80 degrees. Clients caught a variety of species using multiple techniques. Big Pass produced sheepshead, snapper, grouper, and sea bass for those bottom fishing with shrimp. Drifting jigs in the pass resulted in pompano, jacks, and ladyfish. Anglers drifting the deep grass and casting Bass Assassin jigs and Clouser Minnow and D.T. Special flies caught a lot of speckled trout with some Spanish mackerel, bluefish, and pompano mixed in. A trip to a nearby river saw anglers casting Rapala plugs catching a bunch of big ladyfish with a few jacks and a nice redfish.
The week started off cool and quite breezy, with temperatures dipping into the upper 30’s. It was Thursday before it was nice enough to get out. The bite was steady, despite water temperatures of 58. Sheepshead hit shrimp around structure, permit and pompano took jigs in Big Pass, and jigs produced trout and Spanish mackerel on the deep flats. A river trip on Friday was slow, the water was 59 degrees, but we did catch one decent snook on a Gulp jerk bait.
Jan 30 Sarasota fishing report
We experienced a warming trend this week and the fishing improved in several areas, though morning fog was a minor issue. Action on the deep grass flats was good with a lot of speckled trout and some decent Spanish mackerel. The mackerel numbers decreased later in the week, but there were still some being caught along with an occasional bluefish and ladyfish. Jigs caught most of the fish, but spoons produced as well. The other bite that produced for clients was vertically jigging in Big Pass with banana jigs. Pompano, bluefish, mackerel, jacks, and ladyfish were landed. Bottom fishing did slow a bit.
Early in the week, bottom fishing with shrimp near structure in water between 10 feet and 20 feet deep produced sheepshead, snapper, grouper, sea bass, and jack crevalle. By the end of the week, the water had both warmed up and cleared up and action on the deep grass flats really picked up. Speckled trout and Spanish mackerel were plentiful, with a few bluefish and ladyfish mixed in. Jigs, plugs, spoons, and live shrimp were all productive.
Fishing was a bit tough this week as clients had to deal with cool water and breezy conditions. Bottom fishing was fair, with most of the fish being caught around oyster bars as opposed to docks. Sheepshead numbers are starting to increase and took live shrimp. The best action was on Thursday with anglers casting Rapala plugs and Gulp Jerk Shad in canals and creeks. Jack crevalle and snook were fairly active.
Winter fishing patterns are consistent and fishing was steady for a variety of species using several tactics. Free lining live shrimp into holes and channels, especially those dropping off sharply from grass flats, produced a bunch of nice “slot” trout along with a few ladyfish and flounder. Bottom fishing near structure produced sheepshead, gag and red grouper, mangrove and mutton snapper, and sea bass. Trolling plugs in canals fooled a couple of big jack crevalle.
Jan 2, 2021
Fish have definitely moved to their winter locations and successful anglers change strategies with them. The bite on the grass flats has slowed. On Monday a fly fishing trip produced jacks and snook in area canals and creeks on Clouser patterns. Plenty of trout were found in deeper holes and on steeper drop offs. Free lined shrimp worked well. Bottom fishing with shrimp near structure was very effective. Snapper, sheepshead, grouper, sea bass, and flounder were caught. Drifting jigs in the pass produced a few permit.
Sarasota and Siesta Key fishing charters
In the winter time I do three types of fishing; bottom fishing, River snook fishing, and on nice days drifting the deep grass flats. I use live shrimp to bottom fish for sheepshead, snapper, drum, and other species around docs and other structure. Local area rivers produce snook and bass for anglers casting plugs. When conditions are favorable on the open flats, we use jigs and live shrimp to catch a variety of species.
As it warms up fish move out of the deeper waters where they spend the winter. The flats and passes become alive with snook, redfish, speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, jacks, ladyfish, and other species. The passes and deep flats produce the most action while some anglers seek the challenge of catching snook in redfish in the back country.
When conditions are right, the fishing in the inshore Gulf of Mexico can be fantastic! East winds will result in clear water and plenty of baitfish. This will in turn attract Spanish mackerel, false albacore, sharks, cobia, and other species. Often times, the fish will be seen feeding aggressively on the surface. This is great fun as just about anything tossed into the feeding frenzy will draw strike.
For many anglers, the heat of summer means one thing; tarpon! The silver Kings invade our area in early May and stay until late July. This is very challenging fishing, and not for everyone. However the reward is the fish of a lifetime! Tarpon to 150 pounds are landed off of the area beaches every summer.
While I still do a little tarpon fishing, most of my summer trips are run in Sarasota Bay. With all the anglers out on the beach chasing tarpon, fishing pressure in the Bay is lighter. My normal approach is to cast lures or shrimp at first light then use my cast net to catch bait and chum mid morning. Either way, with the heat of summer, we are will off the water early.
You’ll see me mention “deep grass flats”often in my Sarasota fishing report. This is where the majority of fish on my fishing charters are landed. These areas are large with a mixture of grass and sand bottom. Shrimp, crabs, and bait fish all hide in the grass. That obviously makes it an attractive place for game fish to feed.
Speckled trout in particular are associated with these deeper grass flats. But anglers will also catch Spanish mackerel, Pompano, bluefish, jacks, a lot of ladyfish, snapper, grouper, cobia, sharks, catfish and more while fishing the deep grass at one time of year or another.
We primarily drift fish while working the deep grass flats. Anglers cast out lures, flies, or live bait as we drift across a productive areas in search of fish. Bass Assassin jigs, Rapala plugs, and spoons are effective artificial lures. The top live bait is a shrimp. These are fished either free line or under a noisy cork. In the summer time, live bait fish such as scaled sardines are used.
Both Big Sarasota Pass and New Pass produce a lot a fish for clients on Sarasota fishing charters. Anglers reading my Sarasota fishing report will see Big Pass in particular mentioned quite often. Sheepshead school up there thick and late winter and early spring. Mangrove snapper and snook are found in the rocks in the summer time. Ladyfish are often times thick right in the middle of the pass itself. Bluefish and mackerel can also be encountered as well.
Anglers drifting the passes cast jigs out and bounced them along the bottom. This is very effective and produces Pompano, bluefish, mackerel, and loads of ladyfish. Free lining a live shrimp with a split shot or fishing a live shrimp on a jig head can also be very productive. However, when the fish are biting jigs are more efficient as there is no need to stop and rebate the hook.
Sarasota Bay fishing report
There is a ton of structure in Big Pass as well. This is particularly true of the whole area along the north side of Siesta Key. The water is deep, there is good current flow, and abundant structure. This is a recipe for an excellent fishing spot, and it is! Bottom fishing with live shrimp and bait fish is very productive. Anglers do need to time this during periods of lesser current flow. It is difficult to anchor in fish when the tide is screaming.
Spinning tackle is used on the vast majority of my fishing charters. The reason is quite simple; it is effective and easy to use. Many freshwater anglers are experienced with close to faced reels. However, it usually only takes a few minutes before there casting like a pro with the spinning outfits. 10 pound spinning outfits are light enough that anglers enjoy the fight of even a smaller fish while still giving them a chance of the hook something larger.
Anglers seeking a bit more of a challenge will opt to targets snook, redfish, and jacks in the back country areas. This type of fishing is more of a “quality over quantity approach”. I use the trolling motor to ease the boat along a likely looking shoreline, while anglers cast lures towards the shoreline. I do use live bait occasionally as well.
River fishing charters
Visitors to my site will often see ”River snook fishing”in my Sarasota fishing report. This is a unique angling opportunity that I offer to clients. I am not aware of any other guide to do so. I use my 14 foot Alumacraft jon boat for this fishing. Shallow water and primitive ramps require this. However, this also results in less boat traffic and a quiet, serene angling adventure.
The Manatee River, Myakka River, and Braden River, are all within a 45 minute drive from the Sarasota beaches. Each has a distinct feel and personality. The Myakka River has some stunning scenery and big snook. The Manatee River is pretty as well but a bit more developed. It offers the most variety. The Braden River is the most developed but offers fantastic fishing for jack crevelle in the cooler months. Snook and redfish are available as well.
One unique aspect of fishing the rivers is the chance to catch freshwater species as well. The Manatee River and Myakka River are both brackish below the dams. This results in saltwater fish such as snuck, redfish, jacks, and juvenile tarpon being found in the same water as largemouth bass, sunshine bass, catfish, gar, and bream. These freshwater species will take the same lures meant for the saltwater fish.
In the spring and again in the fall we experience runs of pelagic species. This means that they spend most of their time in the middle of the water column and do not relate as much to bottom structure. Spanish mackerel and false albacore are prime examples. King mackerel show up here offer beaches as well. This fishing is dependent on conditions, the water needs to be clear and calm. When it is, fishing can be outstanding!
Inshore Gulf of Mexico
This type of fishing is very exciting in that it is visual. Often times we don’t even fish until we actually see the mackerel and false albacore busting baits on the surface. We will also look for big schools of bait fish which can be seen dimpling on the surface. Artificial lures work very well when the fish are breaking. We will also catch some of the live bait fish and cast them back into the school of bait.
On days when the fish cannot be seen working on the surface, trolling can be an effective technique. Trolling spoons and plugs is a great way to locate Spanish mackerel, false albacore, and even big King fish. It is also a great way to put a lot of fish in the boat quickly and is an easy technique for anglers with limited experience.
The “inshore artificial reefs”will be mentioned regularly in my Sarasota fishing report. I am referring to three man-made groups of structure that were placed between one and to miles off of Lido Key. The Gulf floor is for the most part flat and featureless. Therefore, any structure will attract fish and hold them there. Those three reefs provide excellent fishing for bottom fish such as sheepshead, snapper, and grouper along with pelagic species such as mackerel, King fish, cobia, and false albacore.
Fly fisherman are certainly not to be left out of the action! False albacore in Spanish mackerel will most certainly hit a well presented fly out in the Gulf of Mexico. This is terrific sport for anglers wielding a fly rod. Any inshore species that can be caught on a jig will also take a fly. Speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish, jacks, and more will hit a Clouser Minnow on the deep flats. Snook and jacks prefer white Crystal Minnow patterns in the back bays.
An 8wt outfit is a good all-around choice for fly fishing in Sarasota. It might be a tad light if the false albacore are running large. Otherwise, it is a good choice for the water and species that Sarasota offers. An intermediate sink tip line and then 9 foot tapered leader with a 24 inch piece of 30 pound bite tippet finishes off the outfit.
Readers will see a lot a families including children and my Sarasota fishing report. I really enjoy taking families out, it has become a big part of my Sarasota fishing charters. Many of these anglers have limited experience. One great thing about fishing here is that there are many species that do not require a great deal of skill or patience to catch. This is a good thing!
Also, while I don’t mind if clients keep a couple fish for dinner, I strongly encourage catch and release. Sarasota gets a lot a visitors and thus a lot of fishing pressure. It is important that the focus of the fishing trip beyond catching fish and enjoying quality time with families. I will certainly filet and bag up your catch at the end of the trip. Current Florida fishing regulations and license requirements can be found HERE.