Sarasota Fishing Report

Sarasota Fishing Report

I will be posting my 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.

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 HERE on the PRODUCTS page.

Sarasota Bay fishing report 5/23

It sounds like a broken record, but the best bite in Sarasota continues to be drifting the deep grass flats. We have had some breezy days, so the wind dictated where we fished. On east wind, the Ringling flats produced and with a west wind Bishop’s Pt and Buttonwood were better. Clients casting Bass Assassin jigs, Gulp Shrimp, and chartreuse Clouser pattern flies caught some decent speckled trout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, jacks, and ladyfish. Speaking to other guide buddies, there are a few tarpon out on the beach, but it has been pretty tough.

Sarasota fishing report


May 9 fishing report for Sarasota

Once again, the best bite for clients on Sarasota fishing charters has been on the deep grass flats. Just about every flat in 5′ to 8′ has fish on it. I basically let the wind decide where we fished. Bass Assassin jigs and GULP! Shrimp caught them. Speckled trout to 22″, bluefish to 3 pounds, Spanish mackerel to 2 pounds, ladyfish, sea bass, jack crevalle, mangrove snapper, sailcats, and more were landed. Small snook, jacks, and some decent trout hit Rapala X-Raps near bars and mangrove shorelines. I went out to Evers Reservoir (Jiggs Landing) on a day off to chase some bluegill. I was disappointed to see that they had sprayed, killing all the weeds. The lake had really healthy weeds all along the shoreline. I really don’t understand it. Not surprisingly, fishing was slow, caught a few on Beetlespins.

Sarasota fishing report

May 2 Sarasota fishing report

Once again, weather made things a bit challenging this week as we have been experiencing some breezy days of late. Still, I was able to get out several times and clients experienced good action. Once again, the best bite was on the deeper grass flats on the incoming tide. Anglers casting Gulp Shrimp and Clouser Minnow flies caught speckled trout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, jacks, grouper, sea bass, whiting, ladyfish, and other species. Bird Key, Radio Tower, Middlegrounds, and Stephen’s Pt were all productive. We also caught a few fish in Big Pass, mostly ladyfish.

Sarasota fishing report

April 25 fishing report

Weather was once again an issue this week. Tuesday and Wednesday were nice and I was able to get trips in both days. On Tuesday I had my “regulars”, Bill, Doc, and John. We started off near Stephen’s Pt and found fish feeding on the surface.  Action was good for 3 hours as the boys caught a bunch of fish. Speckled trout were plentiful with some nice ones mixed in. Spanish mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish, and sharks kept them busy. 5″ white Gulp Jerk Shad was the hot bait. We finished up fishing docks, landing small reds and decent snapper, losing a big red that broke us off on the dock.

On Wednesday I took out fly angler Steve Schulmerich. The bite was a little slower, but still steady. There was no wind, which is not great for the flats. Still, Steve caught a bunch of bluefish, ladyfish, a mackerel, and a nice trout. He was casting chartreuse/white Clouser Minnow patterns on a 7 wt.

fishing report for Sarasota

Sarasota Fishing Report, April 18

Weather was definitely an issue for anglers this week. On days that we got out, the fishing was very good!  Just about every grass flat in 5′ of water and deeper held fish. The flats north of New Pass were best. The key was to let the wind determine where to fish and then find clean water. Anglers casting Bass Assassin jigs and Gulp Shrimp caught big bluefish, speckled trout to 22″, Spanish mackerel, jacks, ladyfish, small sharks, sea bass, whiting, catfish, and other species. Docks around Big Pass produced black drum and mangrove snapper for anglers fishing live shrimp.

Sarasota fishing report

April 11 fishing report

I got out three times this week, doing something different on each trip. On Sunday we went out on the beach in search of a king mackerel. It was cool, cloudy, and drizzling, not ideal conditions and the bite was slow. We caught a few mackerel and jacks. I had an excellent fly fishing charter on Tuesday! My angler caught several nice trout early at Bishop’s Pt., then finished up with a flurry of Spanish mackerel, bluefish, and ladyfish on the east side. On Thursday we went to the Myakka and it was pretty slow, though the gar did provide a little excitement.

mackerel on fly

Fishing report for Sarasota, April 4

Like most guides in Florida, most of my clients had to cancel their vacations. However, I did get out a couple of times this week with local “regulars”. Bill, Doc, and John fished with me on Monday. WE decided to do something different and fish the bars and mangrove shorelines between Stickney Pt and Blackburn Pt. The bite was steady with the fellas catching most of the fish on #8 Rapala X-Raps. Doc had the hot hand, catching a half dozen snook, some nice speckled trout, and a redfish to complete the “slam”. He also caught 3 keeper mangrove snapper, with one really nice 15″ fish. Bill lost a big red that ran under a dock. Jacks and ladyfish were also caught. Later in the week I fished the Manatee River.  It was after the front and the bite was pretty slow. We caught a few small snook and snapper on plugs.

Sarasota fishing report

Sarasota fishing report March 28

As with most Florida fishing guides, I was booked solid but had cancellations due to the health emergency.  I still got out three times this week. Early on, I had a fly/spin trip.  There was no wind and we headed out in the Gulf just off the Siesta Key beaches. Rapala X-Raps produced Spanish mackerel for the spin angler while the fly anglers scored using Clouser patterns.  After a bit we went back inside and caught ladyfish and trout on Gulp baits, the bite was slow for the fly guys.  Another inshore trip produced speckled and silver trout, ladyfish, and other species on jigs.  Bottom fishing produced a ton of action on snapper, grouper, sea bass, and sheepshead.  It looks like the run of sheepshead is winding down.  I ran a trip to the Myakka River as well.  It was a bit slow as the water temperature was in the upper 70’s.  However, we landed a nice snook on a white #10 Rapala.

Sarasota fishing report

March 21 fishing report for Sarasota

Fishing was very good this week for anglers going out on Sarasota fishing charters with Capt Jim Klopfer. The best bite was on the deep grass flats. Clients casting Bass Assassin Sea Shad baits and Gulp Shrimp on a 1/4 ounce jig head landed a variety of species.  Speckled trout and ladyfish were plentiful with Spanish mackerel, pompano, bluefish, grouper, jacks, sea bass, small sharks, and catfish also being landed. Middlegrounds, Radio Tower, Bishop’s Pt and Stephen’s Pt were the top spots. Sheepshead are still around docks and structure in the passes.  Bottom fishing with shrimp produced some nice sheepies along with tripletail, sea bass, grouper, and snapper. Rapala X-Raps worked along a mangrove shoreline produced a few small snook one morning.

Sarasota fishing report

March 14 Sarasota fishing report

Fishing was very good this week! Anglers on Sarasota fishing charters experienced good action and variety on a multitude of species. Big Pass was hot for several days. Pompano, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, and a lot of ladyfish hit Bass Assassin and Silly Willy jigs on the bar and in the channel. Sheepshead took shrimp fished on the bottom. The wind eased up, allowing us to fish the deep grass flats. Gulp Shrimp on a 1/4 ounce jig head produced speckled trout, pompano, jacks, mackerel, bluefish, and ladyfish. I finished up the week with a fly trip, where anglers caught trout anfd ladyfish inside, and Spanish mackerel out on the Fisher reef casting Clouser Minnow flies.

Sarasota fishing report

Sarasota fishing Report for March 7

Wind was a factor that clients on Sarasota fishing charters had to deal with this week. Strong breezes out of the south limited area that we were able to fish. Big Pass was fairly protected and provided good action. Bottom fishing with shrimp produced sheepshead, snapper, grouper, sea bass, and pompano. Drifting with jigs fooled pompano and ladyfish. I had two river trips, which is another option for experienced anglers to deal with the wind. Rapala plugs, Gulp Jerk Shad, and chartreuse/white Clouser Minnow flies produced snook to 32″, big jacks, snapper, bass, and gar.

Sarasota fishing report

Sarasota Fishing Report, 2/29

Weather was certainly an issue for clients on Sarasota fishing charters this week. Early in the week, action was very good both on the deep grass flats and in the passes. The cooler weather seemed to help the sheepshead bite fire up. Decent numbers of these feisty bottom dwellers were caught by anglers fishing shrimp on the bottom. A few pompano were landed as well. Speckled trout were numerous on the deeper grass flats at the Middlegrounds, Stephen’s Pt and Bishop’s Pt, hitting Bass Assassin and Gulp baits on a jig head. A severe front moved through Wednesday, bringing strong winds. I finished up the week with a fly angler in the Manatee River, who caught a few small snook.

Sarasota fishing report

February 22 fishing report for Sarasota

The best action for clients on Sarasota fishing charters this week was on the deep grass flats. Speckled trout were numerous, hitting jigs and live shrimp. Bluefish, Spanish mackerel, jacks, pompano, ladyfish, small sharks, big sailcats, and other species were also landed. The flats from New Pass north were best as the water cleared up the further from the passes we got. Sheepshead fishing in the passes was hit or miss.  We had a couple good days and a slow day as well.  There are a LOT of smaller snapper, sea bass, and pinfish which makes getting a shrimp to the sheepshead difficult.  Perhaps the cooler weather will help as the water temperature was a bit too high for mid February.  Anglers drifting with jigs in Big Pass caught a few pompano, mackerel, and ladyfish as well.

Sarasota fishing report

February 15 Sarasota fishing report

Fishing was good over the last couple weeks for clients on Sarasota fishing charters.  Sarasota Bay is a bit warmer than normal, resulting in good action on the deep grass flats.  Speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, pompano, bluefish, jacks, ladyfish, and more hit jigs cast while drifting the flats.  Anglers free lining shrimp around oyster bars found juvenile permit, snook, redfish, sheepshead, flounder, and snapper.  Sheepshead seem to be moving into the passes as anglers bottom fishing with shrimp caught some decent sheepies mixed in with a ton of small snapper and sea bass.  A fly angler scored his first couple jack crevalle up in a residential canal one breezy morning.  The warm water has not been good for river fishing, which has been a bit slow.  Persistent anglers caught snook and gar on Rapala plugs.

Sarasota fishing report

Sarasota fishing report for February 1

We have settled into our normal winter fishing patterns. Clients on Sarasota fishing charters caught a variety of species using multiple techniques. One key to success is to keep moving in search of fish, locations will change daily. Action on the deep grass flats was steady, with a very good bite on Friday afternoon as the front approached. Spanish mackerel, pompano, bluefish, trout, and ladyfish hit jigs, Rapala plugs, and live shrimp. Clients fly fishing scored using chartreuse/white Clouser patterns. Docks and oyster bars held redfish, sheepshead, snapper, grouper, black drum, and sea bass for anglers fishing with shrimp. Rapala X-Raps and jerk baits produced snook, jacks, and reds in creeks and canals. The pompano bite in the passes has slowed considerably.

Sarasota fishing report

January 25 Sarasota fishing report

Winter arrived in Sarasota this week!  Prior to the severe front, Mike Tyler landed a very nice snook in the Myakka River on a Rapala Jointed BX Minnow plug. Clients did well on Sunday morning on the flats and in the passes.  Monday was tough and Tuesday and Wednesday were blow-outs as the wind blew hard from the north and temperatures were in the 30’s in the morning.  After the front, clients fishing docks and bars with shrimp caught redfish, sheepshead, and jacks.  Jigs produced bluefish, Spanish mackerel, speckled trout, ladyfish, pompano, and jacks on deeper flats.  Pompano and small permit hit jigs in the passes.  Small snapper and sea bass were thick on bottom structure in the passes as well, with a few sheepshead mixed in.

Sarasota fishing report

January 18 fishing report for Sarasota and Myakka River

Pompano continued to please anglers on Sarasota fishing charters this week, both in the passes and on the flats.  Banana jigs, small pompano jigs, and Gulp Shrimp on a jig head caught them.  There are a ton of small bottom fish in the passes such as snapper, sea bass, and grouper that took the jigs as well.  A few Spanish mackerel, bluefish, and ladyfish were also caught.  In other words, a good way to keep the rods bent!  Early in the week, action on the deep grass flats was good, with a lot of speckled trout to 20″ being caught.  It is nice to see them rebounding!  Pompano, mackerel, blues, and ladies were also landed.  That bite slowed a bit later in the week, for whatever reason.

Sarasota fishing report

Trips to the Myakka River produced a few snook, largemouth bass, and several gar.  The water is really a bit too warm for ideal fishing, I think that is the reason clients caught so many gar.  Rapala plugs both cast and trolled caught the fish.

Sarasota fishing report

Jan 10 Sarasota fishing report

I spent all of my time fishing rivers, creeks, and canals this week. Two trips to the Manatee River produced small to medium sized snook for fly anglers casting chartreuse over white Clouser Minnow patterns. Later in the week I fished in Sarasota Bay, and it was quite breezy! We sought refuge in protected creeks, bayous, and residential canals. #8 Rapala X-Raps produced decent numbers of jacks with a few snook mixed in.

fishing report for Sarasota Florida

Good fishing in Sarasota to start 2020!

Fishing was good this first week of 2020! Clients on Sarasota fishing charters caught a variety of species using different techniques. The best bite in Sarasota Bay has been pompano in the passes and out on the flats. Small jigs produced the best, and color really did not seem to matter. Pompano in the passes were found near structure while those on the flats were located fairly shallow, in 3′ to 4′ on the bars. Action on the deep flats slowed a bit, with anglers catching trout, bluefish, pompano, ladyfish and more. Wind and dirty water hampered the bite.

Snook and jack crevalle were caught in Robert’s Bay along with residential canals by anglers casting and trolling #8 Rapala X-Raps. We found a school of very large jacks in a foot of water and landed a couple. Trips to the Myakka River produced snook and largemouth bass on larger #10 X-Raps.

Sarasota fishing report

Last fishing report of the year!  12/29/2019

Action on the deep grass flats was hot early in the week as a severe front approached. Trout to 22″, pompano, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, jacks, ladyfish, grouper, ladyfish, and other species hit jigs over grass in water between 4′ deep and 10 feet deep.  The flats north of New Pass were best.  Pompano were thick in the passes later in the week.  The bottom of the falling tide was best and there were plenty of ladyfish mixed in to keep the rods bent.  Action on the flats slowed later in the week as persistent wind had the water churned up a bit.  A trip to the Manatee River produced some nice jacks on Rapala X-Raps and white Gulp Jerk Shad on a jig head.  We missed a few snook as well.

Sarasota fishing report

December 21 Sarasota fishing report

Wind was a bit of an issue this week for clients on Sarasota fishing charters. The deep grass flats at Stephen’s Pt and Middlegrounds produced a wide variety of species. Speckled trout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, jacks, ladyfish, and more hit Gulp! Shrimp and Bass Assassin Sea Shad baits on 1/4 ounce jig heads. Stiff breezes made it a bit tough to fish as well as stirring up the water. The key was to keep moving and casting. Perhaps the best bite this week was in Big Pass. Ladyfish were plentiful, with a few pompano, Spanish mackerel, and bluefish mixed in. Small chartreuse pompano jigs worked best. We went up into canals to hide from the wind and landed jacks and snook trolling and casting #8 Rapala X-Raps.

Sarasota fishing report

December 14 Sarasota fishing report

The big news this week was the increase in pompano that showed up throughout the area. Pompano are one of the most desirable species, both for their hard fighting abilities and their incredible flavor. Pompano are fantastic eating! Small jigs bounced along the bottom in the passes and out on the flats work well as they mimic the crustaceans that pompano feed on. Anglers drifting in the passes caught pompano as well as bluefish, mackerel, and ladyfish. Pompano on the flats were found fairly shallow along the edges of bars. Speckled trout, jacks, bluefish, grouper, sea bass, ladyfish, and other species hit jigs and Gulp Shrimp on the deep flats north of New Pass.

Sarasota pompano

December 7 Sarasota fishing report

Action in Sarasota Bay has been very good! The deep grass flats north of New Pass provided clients casting jigs and flies with a variety of species. Spanish mackerel, speckled trout, pompano, bluefish, jacks, grouper, and ladyfish kept the rods bent.  Gulp Shrimp and Bass Assassin jigs produced for spin anglers while Clouser patterns worked well for those casting a fly. River trips produced snook and jack crevalle on Rapala plugs and flies.

Sarasota fishing report

November 25 Sarasota fishing report

The best bite the last two weeks has been on the deep grass flats. Bluefish to 5 pounds, Spanish mackerel to 3 pounds, pompano, speckled trout, grouper, sea bass, jacks, ladyfish, and other species hit Bass Assassin baits and Gulp Shrimp on a 1/4 ounce jig head. The flats north of New Pass were the most productive spots. Big Pass had ladyfish and a few mackerel, pompano, and small permit. Action on the beaches has slowed in regards to mackerel and kings, though patient anglers are finding some very large tripletail on the crab pot buoys.

Sarasota fishing report

November 11 Sarasota fishing report

Action in the Gulf of Mexico off of the Sarasota beaches has been outstanding the last two weeks! The water temperature is now in the low to mid 70s and bait fish are plentiful. Not a lot of the action was found on the surface. The best bet has been trolling spoons and planers and chumming with live bait. Clients did have a few casting opportunities. King and Spanish mackerel, sharks, bluefish, and the stray false albacore were caught. Sharks are plentiful and great fun on medium tackle. They tend to migrate with and feed on the mackerel. This bite is dependent on conditions; strong winds from any direction other than east shuts things down. Hopefully, this will continue until Christmas.

Light tackle trolling in Saltwater

October 26 Sarasota fishing report

Weather has been an issue the last couple of weeks. A harsh rain storm, persistent east winds, and unusually warm temperatures made fishing a bit challenging. The best bite continued to be the deep grass flats. Spanish mackerel to 2 1/2 pounds, bluefish to 3 pounds, speckled trout to 20″, gag grouper, ladyfish, and more hit jigs and live baitfish on the grass flats in 6′ to 8′ of water. Snapper and small redfish took live shrimp under docks near the passes. I ran my first river trip this week. The water temperature was 81, which is too high for the snook to move in. Still, largemouth bass to 3 1/2 pounds and big gar made the trip fun.

Sarasota fishing report

October 13 Sarasota fishing report

Fishing has been steady over the last several weeks. Speckled trout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, and ladyfish hit Bass Assassin jigs cast over grass flats in 6′ to 10′ of water. The flats north of New Pass have been best. Spanish mackerel are showing up in the inshore Gulf of Mexico as well. This action should really take off and hopefully false albacore and king mackerel will join the party. Jacks are schooling up in Robert’s Bay and Little Sarasota Bay. Snook are moving into these areas from the passes and beaches.

Sarasota fishing report

September 17 Sarasota fishing report

This will be my last report for a couple of weeks as I am heading to the NC mountains to terrorize the smallmouth bass and trout!  LOL  I had a charter today with my local regular clients Doc and John.  Action was steady for the 6 hours we fishing with 17 species being landed.  With zero breeze, we started in Big Pass, bouncing pompano jigs on the bottom. We also saw some breaking fish and cast into them. The boys caught tons on ladyfish, jack crevalle, another type of jack, blue runners, and a small permit. A move to structure using live shrimp produced red and gag grouper and mangrove snapper. We finished up casting Gulp Shrimp on a 1/4 ounce jig head on the deep flats north of New Pass, catching Spanish mackerel, speckled trout, bluefish, catfish, and other species.

Sarasota fishing report

August 30 Sarasota fishing report

Between vacation and some rain, it has been a while since I posted a Sarasota fishing report. Action continued to be very good on the deep grass flats in Sarasota Bay. The water is a bit less murky north of New Pass. Anglers casting Bass Assassin Sea Shad baits, Gulp shrimp, Rapala X-Raps, and chartreuse over white Clouser Minnow flies did well. Speckled trout (several were between 20″ and 23″), bluefish, jacks, gag grouper, mangrove snapper, ladyfish, mackerel, and a cobia were landed in recent weeks. Stephen’s Point, Middlegrounds, Bishop’s Pt., and Buttonwood were all productive spots. Fishing will probably shut down for a week or so due to the hurricane.

Sarasota fishing report

August 10 Sarasota Fishing Report

Fishing continued to be good on the deep grass flats in north Sarasota Bay, though we did have to deal with storms early in the week. The flats north of New Pass were the most productive. Clients on Sarasota fishing charters caught bluefish, speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle, ladyfish, grouper, and catfish casting Bass Assassin jigs and Gulp Shrimp. The Middlegrounds, Stephen’s Pt., Buttonwood, and Long Bar were all productive spots. Snook are in the passes and starting to move back inshore. Spanish mackerel were schooling in the inshore Gulf of Mexico before the wind turned west.

Fishing report for Sarasota

August 3 Sarasota Fishing Report

Anglers on Sarasota fishing charters experienced good action on a variety of species this week. Once again, the best bite was on the deep grass flats. Afternoon showers have the water temperature around 85 degrees, which is good for this time of year. Spanish mackerel showed up in decent numbers and were found feeding on small bait on the surface. Speckled trout, bluefish, jacks, grouper, snapper, ladyfish, and catfish were also caught. Bass Assassin Sea Shad baits and Gulp Shrimp caught all of the fish. Stephen’s Pt. and Buttonwood were the top spots. Structure in the bay is loaded with snapper and grouper, though most of the fish are small. Live bait fished on the bottom worked well.

Sarasota fishing report

July 26 Sarasota fishing report

The best bite continues to be working the deep grass flats in North Sarasota Bay with jigs. Bass assassin Sea Shad baits and Gulp Shrimp were very productive. Both were fished on a 1/4 ounce jig head. Speckled trout numbers were on the rise and bluefish, jacks, ladyfish, grouper, snapper, catfish, and other species were landed. Stephen’s Pt. and Buttonwood were the top spots, though the Middlegrounds produced a few fish as well. Weather was an issue late in the week and I had to cancel a couple of trips.

Sarasota fishing report

July 16 Sarasota Fishing Report

Weather was an issues last week as Tropical Storm Berry shirted the area, bringing some rain and wind. As it passed, fishing rebounded quickly. The Gulf of Mexico is churned up a bit, bringing dirty water in through the passes. The best fishing spots have been in north Sarasota Bay where the water is clearer. One great sign is the dramatic increase in speckled trout. The season is closed to harvest as they bounce back from last year’s red tide. Along with trout, anglers landed bluefish, jack crevalle, mangrove snapper, gag grouper, ladyfish, catfish, and other species. Bass Assassin jigs and Gulp Shrimp caught all of the fish.  Stephen’s Pt. and Buttonwood were the top spots.

fishing report for Sarasota, Florida

July 5 Sarasota fishing report

I took the end of the week off as the 4Th of July festivities kind of take over the town.  Action was steady this week, though we had one morning that was breezy and the fishing a bit slow.  The best spots this week were Stephen’s Pt. and Big Sarasota Pass.  Clients on Sarasota fishing charters caught Spanish mackerel and ladyfish in the pass on jigs and live minnows.  Spephen’s Pt. and the Middlegrounds held bluefish, speckled trout, jacks, snapper, grouper, sharks, ladyfish, catfish, and other species.  Most of the fish were caught on Bass Assassin jigs and Gulp Shrimp.

Sarasota fishing report

June 29 Sarasota fishing report

Despite water temperatures in the upper 80’s, fishing was very good this week.  The deep grass flats yielded speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, pompano, bluefish, jacks, grouper, snapper, and ladyfish.  Most of the fish hit Bass Assassin jigs, but free lined shrimp produced a few fish as well.  Bait is plentiful on most of the flats and that attracts the game fish.  Stephen’s Pt., Middlegrounds, Bishop’s Pt., and Buttonwood were the top spots this week.

Sarasota fishing report

June 22 Sarasota fishing report

Once again, the best bite has been on the deep grass flats in north Sarasota Bay. Just about every flat with submerged grass in 6′ to 8′ of water held fish. There was a lot of bait fish that accounted for the good fishing. Anglers casting Bass Assassin jigs and Gulp Shrimp caught some decent sized bluefish, speckled trout, jack crevalle, ladyfish, catfish, and more. Middlegrounds, Bishop’s Point, and Buttonwood were the top spots. There are a lot of snook in the passes and off the beaches. However, west winds have hampered that fishing.

inshore saltwater fishing

June 15 Sarasota fishing report

Clients on Sarasota fishing charters experienced good action on the deep grass flats in Sarasota Bay.  Bass Assassin Sea Shad baits and Gulp Shrimp on a 1/4 ounce jig head caught most of the fish.  Southwest wind had the Gulf churned up a bit, so the flats that were a bit away from the passes produced best.  Middlegrounds, Buttonwood, and Bishop’s Pt. were the top spots.  Bluefish, speckled trout, jacks, flounder, mangrove snapper, sail cats, and loads of ladyfish were caught.

Sarasota fishing report

June 8 Sarasota fishing report

Anglers experienced good action this week. The best bite was on the beach, in the passes, and on the flats close to the passes. Jigs with a Gulp Shrimp produced most of the fish. Spanish mackerel, bluefish, jacks, speckled trout, catfish, and a bunch of ladyfish and a little shark kept the rods bent. Spanish mackerel were found in the Gulf, just off of New Pass, although they were scattered out and a bit fussy. Small Rapala plugs fooled a dozen or so. Ladyfish were schooled up heavily on the New Pass bar, feeding on the surface.  Middlegrounds and Marker #5 were the best flats.

Sarasota fishing report

June 1 Sarasota fishing report

Fishing was good this week on the flats, passes, and off the beach.  Clients on Sarasota fishing charters caught a ton of Spanish mackerel off of the Lido Key beaches.  Schools of aggressively feeding mackerel were seen between Big Pass and New Pass.  The top producing bait was a #8 white Rapala X-Rap slash bait.  Jigs and spoons fooled fish as well.  Large ladyfish, bluefish, whiting, catfish, and mackerel were caught in both passes on jigs and X-Raps.  Gulp Shrimp on a 1/4 ounce jig head produced ladyfish, jacks, bluefish, and speckled trout on the flats near the passes.

May 25 Sarasota fishing report

The best bite this week for anglers on Sarasota fishing charters was Spanish mackerel out on the beaches. Schools of mackerel were plentiful as there is a ton of bait. Silver spoons, plugs, and jigs cast into the fish produced strikes. A lot of the fish were on the small side, but there were some decent ones mixed in, too. Both Big Sarasota Pass and New Pass also had breaking fish, along with ladyfish and a few bluefish. The flats at Marker # 5 and Middlegrounds produced a couple of speckled trout, ladyfish, and sailcats.

Sarasota fishing report

May 19 Outer Banks fishing report

I was up in North Carolina in Kill Devil Hills this week for a little vacation. Of course, I did some fishing along with some great seafood meals and adult beverages.  Whiting, known locally as “surf mullet”, and skates hit shrimp fished on the bottom. One of the whiting went 18″, which is a good one.  On calmer days, I cast Gulp Shrimp on jig heads from the surf and landed spotted sea trout and bluefish.  The trout were tough to land in the surf with their soft mouths, but most were going to be released anyway.  We saved enough whiting and a couple of trout for a little fish fry, great fun!

fishing report

May 11 Sarasota Fishing Report

Fishing was decent this week, with the highlight being schools of breaking jack crevalle. We encounters schools of jacks feeding on the surface in several locations throughout Sarasota Bay and Roberts Bay. They hit Bass Assassin jigs and Rapala X-Raps. Ladyfish were caught in Big Pass, the nearby flats, and up in the north bay. Snook hit plugs early in the morning and speckled trout and bluefish were caught on jigs on the deep grass flats.  I am headed to the Outer Banks for some surf fishing and R&R, next report will be in two weeks.

Sarasota fishing report

May 4 Sarasota fishing report

Once again, ladyfish on the deep grass flats provided the majority of the action for clients this week.  Most of the fish were caught by anglers casting Bass Assassin jigs, but live shrimp caught fish, too.  It was good to see that some very healthy speckled trout were caught as well.  This is a good sign as Sarasota Bay bounces back from the red tide.  The FWC has just passed a law that speckled trout, reds, and snook are catch and release for the next year.  Some anglers look down on ladyfish, but they really are a lot of fun and put up a good fight for their size.  They are a great little fish for kids and novice anglers to practice on and gain experience.

fishing report for Sarasota, Florida

April 27 Sarasota fishing report

With sheepshead pretty much done, the best action this week was on the grass flats.  Ladyfish provided most of the action, keeping rods bent for clients.  Bass Assassin jigs and live shrimp worked well.  A few bluefish, mackerel, speckled trout, and sailcats were caught as well.  It was tough on Monday as a severe front had moved through.  However, the bite picked up each day, with Thursday being very good early in the morning.  Another front moved in on Friday.  Bait is showing up on a lot of the flats, which is a good sign for our summer fishing.

Florida bluefish

April 20 Sarasota fishing report

Clients on Sarasota fishing charters had decent action tis week, although weather was an issue early and late in the week.  Wind not only makes it difficult to fish, it stirs up the water.  Finding “clean” water was important.   Every spot that was dirty only produced catfish.  Flats that were better produced a lot of ladyfish with a few jack crevalle and bluefish mixed in.  Most of the fish hit Bass Assassin jigs, but shrimp caught some fish as well.  We had an excellent fly fishing trip on Thursday morning.  The grass flats north on New Pass were very clear with a lot of bait.  Fish were busting on the surface and chartreuse/white Clouser MInnow patters were very productive.

Sarasota fishing report

April 13 Sarasota fishing report

It is all about bending the rods with a lot of family trips this time of year.  Action was decent this week for clients going out on Sarasota fishing charters.  Big Sarasota Pass, Marina Jack flat, and Middlegrounds had good numbers of hard-fighting ladyfish along with bluefish, Spanish mackerel, and speckled trout.  Bass Assassin jigs (glow/chartreuse), Rapala X-Raps were all productive.  Friday was the best day, as we encountered large schools of ladyfish with bluefish and mackerel mixed in terrorizing bait in shallow water on the Big Pass sand bar.  Then, later in the morning, we caught Spanish mackerel and blue runners trolling spoons near Siesta Key Beach.  Sheepshead are really thinning out, though there are still a few around, mostly smaller males.

fishing report for Sarasota, Florida

April 6 Sarasota fishing report

Anglers on Sarasota fishing charters this week experienced decent action on the grass flats near Big Pass.  Ladyfish were fairly plentiful with a few other species mixed in.  Speckled trout to 18″, Spanish mackerel and bluefish to 2 pounds, jacks and sail cats hit Bass Assassin jigs, live shrimp, and threadfin herring.  Brian caught the fish of the week as he wrestled a nice redfish out from under a Siesta Key dock using live shrimp.  Ladyfish were also caught in Big Pass on jigs.  I only targeted sheepshead one day, but the bite was still strong in the rocks in the pass.

fishing report for Sarasota, Florida

March 30 Sarasota fishing report

Fishing was decent this week, though clients on Sarasota fishing charters had to battle some wind and a little rain.  The sheepshead bite continued to be very good.  Live shrimp fished on the bottom near structure and docks in both Big Sarasota Pass and New Pass produced plenty of nice sized fish.  Though the spawning run is winding down, there are plenty of fish that are still around.  Anglers seeking action found it by casting Bass Assassin jigs on the grass flats on the east side of the bay.  A couple of speckled trout were caught as well, which is a great sign.

fishing report Sarasota

March 23 Sarasota fishing report

Fishing was steady once again this week, though anglers did have to battle some breezy conditions.  The sheepshead bite was very good, with most of the fishing being in the 2 pound range.  Rocks, docks, and other structure, particularly in the passes, held plenty of fish.  Live shrimp was the best bait.  Ladyfish hit Bass Assassin jigs in Robert’s Bay on the incoming tide.  Anglers casting flies hooked them as well as a snook up in a residential canal.  One young angler sight cast to a couple of tripletail in the bay and caught one on a live shrimp.

Sarasota fishing report

March 16 Sarasota fishing report

The sheepshead bite remains strong in both Big Sarasota Pass, New Pass, and surrounding docks and bridges.  Live or frozen shrimp fished on the bottom worked well.  Most of the fish were in the 2lb range, with some larger ones mixed in.  Small Spanish mackerel hit Rapala plugs trolled and cast in the passes and inshore Gulf of Mexico.  Ladyfish and the occasional Spanish mackerel and speckled trout hit jigs and shrimp on the deeper flats.  We had perfect conditions on Tuesday and caught a half dozen king mackerel trolling spoons in the Gulf of Mexico just off off the inshore artificial reefs.

fishing report for Sarasota

March 2 Sarasota fishing report

Sheepshead were caught around structure in Sarasota Bay and on the artificial reefs in the inshore Gulf of Mexico. This has been the most consistent bite for the last few weeks. Live shrimp caught them along with a few mangrove snapper. Docks and structure in both passes were the top spots. Also, there is a ton of tiny fry bait in Robert’s Bay which has attracted good numbers of ladyfish. Clients caught them using Bass Assassin jigs and live shrimp. Dolphins were aggressive and shut down the bite several times. A few speckled trout were landed as well.

Sarasota fishing report


February 23 Sarasota fishing report

Action really picked up this week in Sarasota Bay!  Water temperatures were in the mid 70’s and small fry bait is plentiful on the flats.  Anglers casting jigs experienced fast action on large ladyfish and a couple of speckled trout.  Snook and jack crevelle hit live shrimp and Rapala plugs in creeks and residential canals.  The sheepshead bite remains strong.  Very few of the fish are under the 12″ minimum.  Some decent mangrove snapper were landed as well.  Live shrimp worked well fished on the bottom.

Sarasota fishing report

February 16 Sarasota fishing report

The best bite in Sarasota Bay right now is sheepshead.  These tasty saltwater panfish are hitting live and freshly frozen shrimp under docks, bridges and around submerged structure.  Most of the fish were decent sized, over 14″ or so.  Mangrove snapper to 14″ were also taken in the same areas.  In addition, a few snook and jacks were caught on Rapala X-Raps in creeks and canals.

Sarasota sheepshead fishing


February 2 Sarasota fishing report

The big jack bite was hot for another week, but then slowed down after the cold front.  Water temperatures in the mid 50’s sent the fish seeking warmer water. Before the front, jacks to 12 pounds, snook, and redfish hit Rapala plugs in the Manatee River.  Hopefully the upcoming warm weather will get them biting again.  The best action in Sarasota Bay was sheepshead hitting live shrimp around structure.  The fish are spread out and it seems like their numbers are increasing each week.  Small snook hit lures in creeks and residential canals.

Sarasota fishing report

January 19 Sarasota fishing report

Winter fishing patterns continue in Sarasota.  The best two patterns have been fishing docks with live shrimp for sheepshead and black drum and casting plugs and jigs in creeks and rivers for jack crevalle and snook.  Docks in 8′ to 10′ of water near Big Pass produced sheepshead and drum.  Most of them were solid fish in the 14″ to 16″ range.  Anglers casting Rapala plugs in Phillippi Creek fooled snook and jacks.  The Manatee River has some VERY big jacks that were breaking on the surface and hit jigs and plugs.

Sarasota fishing report

January 5 Sarasota fishing report

Fishing has been fair over the last two weeks.  Fishing pressure was high due to the Christmas traffic and we are still rebounding from the red tide.  Sheepshead showed up under docks and around structure near the passes.  We caught them and mangrove snapper using live shrimp fished on the bottom.  Big jacks were found on the flats and in the channel and hit plugs, jigs, and flies.  Ladyfish were caught in deeper areas using jigs.

Sarasota fishing report

December 22 Sarasota fishing report

Weather was an issue over the last two weeks.  However, the forecast is good for the holiday week. Ladyfish hit jigs on drop-offs in 7′ to 10′ of water.  Sheepshead were present in good numbers under docks near Big Pass.  Snook and jacks have moved up into residential canals and creeks.  Anglers fishing the Myakka River hooked snook and gar casting plugs.

Sarasota fishing report

December 8 Sarasota fishing report

Weather has been an issue the last two weeks. Several severe fronts moved through and I had to cancel several trips due to wind around 20 knots. It does seem to have helped the rd tide, though. Ladyfish and small Spanish mackerel were breaking on the surface off of Siesta Key. Sheepshead and snapper took shrimp fished under docks and along rocky channel edges, especially south of Siesta Drive Bridge. Cooler water has snook and jacks moving up into area cheeks and rivers.

Sarasota fishing report

November 24 Sarasota fishing report

Fishing remained steady, though unspectacular, over the last two weeks.  Red tide still persists off the beaches and in Sarasota Bay, from the passes north.  The best fishing has been in the area from Siesta Drive south to Blackburn Point.  Sheepshead moved into the area and were caught under docks by clients using shrimp.  Mangrove snapper were caught in the same spots as well.  Jack crevelle hit plugs in residential canals and creeks.  Ladyfish were caught on jigs on the open flats.

Sarasota fishing report

November 10 Sarasota fishing report

I ran both Myakka River charters and Sarasota Bay charters this week.  Anglers casting Bass Assassin baits and Gulp! Shrimp on jig heads experienced fast action on ladyfish.  With the persistent red tide, the area between Siesta Drive and Blackburn Point were the most consistent areas.  A few speckled trout were caught as well.  Pilchards fished under docks fooled jacks, snook, and snapper.

Action in the Myakka River was fair this week.  It got VERY warm by the end of the week, and that slowed the bite.  Still, anglers casting Rapala plugs hooked a couple large snook and landed fish to 24″.  The approaching cold front should improve the fishing.

Sarasota fishing report

November 3 Sarasota fishing report

I did most of my fishing in the area rivers.  Anglers had good success on snook, jack crevelle, and largemouth bass casting Rapala plugs.  Snook ranged from 15″ to 15 pounds.  We landed fish to 35″ and lost two larger ones.  #10 gold Rapala X-Raps and BX Minnow plugs fooled all of the fish.  The Braden River, Myakka River, and Manatee River were all productive.  Charters in Sarasota Bay were a bit slower, with jack crevelle to 4 pounds and mangrove snapper hitting pilchards fished under docks and along shorelines.

Sarasota fishing report

October 20 Sarasota fishing report

Sarasota fishing report

Fishing was fantastic this week! I got out four days, taking a mixture of clients and friends. The snook bite was on fire all along Siesta Key. Snook to 34 inches were landed this week and several were hooked that we could not handle. A few the fish were caught on white #8 Rapala X-Raps first thing in the morning. Speckled trout to 16 inches, ladyfish, mangrove snapper to 14 inches, and jacks also hit the plugs early in the morning.

However, most of the fish hit live pilchards. Redfish to 24 inches, jack crevelle to 4 pounds, and mangrove snapper to 15 inches were also caught on the live bait. I like the combination of taking an advantage of the early morning bite with lures than switching over to live bait when that action slows.

Action from this week!


Regular clients Doc and John had a great day on Thursday. They caught snapper, jacks, snook, ladyfish, and a trout casting Rapalas. A switch to live bait resulted in over 40 snook along with several other species. Doc finished up with an inshore slam, catching snook, trout, and redfish all in one trip.

Bait fish were plentiful in Sarasota Bay this week. At the end of my charter on Thursday, we saw a dozen large schools of bait on the flats near Marina jacks. This is a great indication of quality water. It can also mean that the mackerel, false albacore, and other migratory fall species will be arriving soon. They are generally right on the heels of the bait. Hopefully the approaching front will kick start the inshore Gulf fishing.

October 13 Sarasota fishing report

The area south of Siesta Drive down to Blackburn Point provided steady action for clients on Sarasota fishing charters this week.  I got out a couple of times after Hurricane Michael moved through.  The water was a bit stirred up, but the fish did not mind.  We had outgoing tides in the morning this week.  The best spots were creek and canal mouths along with docks on points.  Rapala X-Raps produced a few fish at first light, but most of the fish were caught using live pilchards.  Bait was present on the flats in several spots near Big Pass.  Chumming docks, shorelines, oyster bars, and creek mouths produced snook (mostly schoolies), jack crevelle to 4 pounds, and mangrove snapper to 15″.  Action should improve as it cools off.  Great to see the bay clearing and the fish biting!

Sarasota fishing report

October 7 Sarasota fishing report

I am back from a long road trip up to New Hampshire and Maine. Red tide was pretty bad when I left around Labor Day. It is still present, though the effects have eased off a bit. Persistent anglers can find juvenile snook, jacks, and mangrove snapper’s in the area at the south end of Siesta Key. A few schools of ladyfish are showing up in the flats around the passes and out on the beach. This is a good sign of things clearing up!

Sarasota fishing report

I have been doing a little freshwater fishing and local lakes. Bluegill and other panfish along with a few crappie are caught using jigs and small spinner baits. This fishing, like our saltwater fishing, will pick up as it cools off and the water temperature drops.

Sarasota fishing report information

There are many factors that go into fishing success. My Sarasota fishing report page will reflect this. Seasonal patterns are one of the primary factors influencing fishing success. Anglers can view my complete Sarasota fishing forecast.

Fishing in the cooler months is all about the weather. We start receiving serious cold fronts here in Sarasota, Florida around November. They usually persist until mid-March. Unseasonably pleasant winters will result in fish maintaining their spring and fall patterns. Conversely, an unusually cold winter will keep fish in their winter pattern.

Sarasota fishing report

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.

Sarasota fishing charters

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.

Sarasota fishing

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 fishing

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 whiteCrystal 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.

Fishing Articles

Fishing Articles from Capt Jim Klopfer

This post is the list of fishing articles written by Capt Jim Klopfer. These articles will be broken down into several categories. These include Sarasota fishing articles, Florida fishing articles, freshwater fishing articles, and miscellaneous fishing articles. Simply click on the article title to read the article.

fishing articles

Saltwater fishing articles

Inshore Saltwater Fishing, a Complete Guide

Best Grouper Fishing Tackle and Lures

Best False Albacore Fishing Tackle and Lures

Best Live Baits for Saltwater Fishing in Florida

Best 7 Fishing Lures for Redfish

Top 9 speckled trout fishing lures

Top 6 Spanish mackerel fishing lures

Jack Crevalle Fishing, a Complete Guide

Light Tackle Bottom Fishing Tips

What is the Best Saltwater Fishing Fly

How to Catch Saltwater Fish with Jigs

Spotted Sea Trout Fishing, Tips to Succeed

Spanish Mackerel and False Albacore Fishing Tips

Fishing for Redfish and Speckled Trout

Fishing for Bluefish, Tips and Techniques

Top 15 Sheepshead Fishing Tips

Best 6 Saltwater Fishing Lures

Fly Fishing for Jack Crevalle

Top 6 Spanish mackerel fishing lures

Florida fishing articles

Fishing for Snook, a Complete Guide

Florida Inshore Fishing Tips

Florida Offshore Fishing Tips

Florida Pompano Fishing

Florida Bluefish

Freshwater Fly Fishing in Florida

Fly Fishing in Florida, Gulf Coast Tips

Tarpon Fishing in Florida, an Anglers Guide

Light Tackle Trolling in Saltwater

Jacksonville Florida Fishing Tips

Best Snook Fishing Tackle and Lures

Florida King Mackerel Fishing, Tips and Techniques

Top 21 Florida Saltwater Game Fish

What is the Best Bait for Shark Fishing?

Fishing for Florida Panfish and Crappie

Top 25 Florida Game Fish

Florida Saltwater Fishing in Winter

Fishing for Ladyfish in Florida

Freshwater fishing articles

Best Catfish Fishing Tackle and Gear

Best 13 Brown Trout Fishing Lures

Freshwater Fishing Tackle and Lures, a Beginners Guide

Ice Fishing Tackle and Gear

Top 10 Northern Pike Fishing Lures

Top 11 Musky Fishing Lures

What is the best Northern Pike Fishing Lure

Best 13 Largemouth Bass Fishing Lures for Beginners

Best River Trout Fishing Lure

What is the best live bait for freshwater fishing?

Fly Fishing for Bluegill and Panfish

Fishing with Spinners in Rivers and Streams

Top 13 Rainbow Trout Fishing Lures

What is the best live bait for smallmouth bass?

Best 9 Fishing Lures for Streams and Small Rivers

Ice Fishing for Crappie, a Beginners Guide

Crappie Fishing Tackle and Lures, a Complete Guide

Best 9 fishing lures for bluegill and panfish

How to Catch Catfish, a Comprehensive Guide

Walleye Fishing, a Beginners Guide

Fishing for River Catfish, Tips and Techniques

Smallmouth Bass Fishing for Beginners

Best 7 River Smallmouth Fishing Lures

Fishing Franklin North Carolina

Top 27 Freshwater Game Fish Species

Minnesota Walleye and Pike Fishing

Trout Fishing in Blue Ridge, Georgia

Manitoba and Alberta Fishing Tips

Women Bass Fishing, Tournament Tips

Fishing Texas Lakes and Rivers

River Fishing Tips and Techniques

Fishing the North Shore of Minnesota

Sarasota fishing articles

Fishing Sarasota Bay, Pro Tips!

Fishing Siesta Key

Sarasota Fishing Calendar

Sarasota Bottom Fishing

Best 11 Sarasota Fishing Reefs

Sarasota Offshore Fishing

Sarasota Redfish

Sarasota Chumming Techniques

River Snook Fishing Charters

Sarasota Bass Fishing

Sarasota Snook Fishing

Sarasota False Albacore

Sarasota Fishing Forecast

Sarasota Crappie Fishing

Sarasota Sheepshead Fishing

Sarasota Mangrove Snapper Fishing

Sarasota Speckled Trout Fishing

Longboat Key Fishing Charters

Sarasota Freshwater Fishing

Best 6 Sarasota Fishing Lures

Fly Fishing Sarasota Rivers

Best Sarasota Fishing Charter

35 Best Sarasota Fishing Spots

Sarasota Jig Fishing

Sarasota Trolling Techniques

Siesta Key Snook Fishing

Best 7 Lido Key Fishing Spots

17 Best Bradenton Fishing Spots

Fishing Charters in Sarasota

Miscellaneous Fishing Articles

Best Striped Bass Fishing Tackle and Lures

Top 12 Texas Game Fish

Striped Bass Fishing Tips and Spots

A Guide to Kayak Fishing for Beginners

Best Striped Bass Fishing Tackle and Lures

Best Striped Bass Fishing Tackle and Lures

This article will cover the best striped bass fishing tackle and lures. Striped bass are arguably the most popular inshore saltwater species in the northeast part of the United States. They grow very large, with the world record being a tad over 80 pounds. They are a terrific game fish that hits artificial lures and flies as well as live and cut bait. As an added bonus, most anglers consider striped bass very good eating.

best striped bass fishing tackle and lures

Striped bass are a unique species. They thrive in both absolute salt water and absolute freshwater. In the spring, striped bass migrate up into tributary rivers to spawn. For the most part, these include the Hudson River and larger tributaries of Chesapeake Bay. There is a healthy striped bass population on the West Coast in California as well. The Sacramento River sees a good striped bass spawning run

The transplanting of striped bass into freshwater lakes has been a monumental fish management success! With the addition of herring and shad as forage, striped bass have thrived throughout the country. This is particularly true in the southern half of the country in the TVA lakes as well as many reservoirs out west.

striped bass fishing tips

In most of these lakes, striped bass are not able to spawn. The reason for this is that dams often block their route up the river. However, there are a few free-flowing rivers that do see a striped bass spawning migration. In addition, many lakes offer anglers the chance to catch a hybrid striped bass. This is a striped bass and white bass mix. While smaller than striped bass, their habits are very similar and they put up an excellent fight on light tackle. The same lures, and smaller sizes will work well for them.

best striped bass lures

Similarities when striped bass fishing in freshwater and saltwater

For the most part, the tackle, lures, baits, and tactics used to catch striped bass are very similar in both freshwater and saltwater. The one exception would be surf fishing, which really does not exist in lakes. Obviously, the live bait fish that are used will be different as well. For the most part, the same artificial lures that produce and saltwater will produce in freshwater as well.

striped bass fishing tips and spots

The main consideration for anglers choosing striped bass fishing tackle really is the size of the fish being sought. This is true in both freshwater and saltwater. There are times when anglers will be chasing smaller schooling fish on the surface. This is great fun and will require medium light spinning tackle. Conversely, anglers trolling in deep water or free lining large live baits or chunks will certainly require heavier tackle. Angler surf fishing have their own specialized rods and reels.

Striped bass fishing rods and reels

top freshwater fish species

As mentioned above, the tackle that an angler requires when striped bass fishing depends greatly on the environment that he or she is fishing as well as the size of the fish being pursued. Serious striped bass anglers will have a medium light spinning outfit, heavier spinning outfit, as well as light and medium conventional outfits. Surf fisherman, for the most part choose heavy spinning surf fishing outfits.

Light spinning outfit for striped bass

A medium light spinning outfit is a very versatile combination that every striped bass fishing angler should own. A 7 foot medium rod with a fast action works best. Fast action means that the rod is fairly stout at the butt section but limber at the tip. This allows for casting a fairly light lures while having the ability to handle a larger fish. In reality, many anglers already own and outfit similar to this which will work fine.

Oklahome striped bass

These are very versatile outfits that can cover a lot of fishing situations. Anglers can catch striped bass casting lures and bait from jetties, docks, piers, beaches, and boats. When fishing open water, anglers can land a large fish on fairly light spinning tackle.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge striped bass

Heavy spinning outfit for striped bass

A heavy spinning outfit is used in several applications when fishing for striped bass. Anglers can use these to drift chunks of cut bait or large live baits back into the current. They can also be used for vertically jigging with heavy spoons and jigs over submerged structure. For the most part, these rigs are too heavy to effectively cast all but the largest artificial lures. However, there are times when schools of very large fish will be encountered and anglers will be glad to have this heavier tackle.

fishing inlets

Light conventional striped bass outfit

A light conventional, or bait casting, and outfit is a very versatile rig. Most experienced saltwater anglers and even many freshwater anglers already own such an outfit. A 6 foot to 6 1/2 foot rod with a medium action and a matching real is a great all round combination. Anglers can use these for trolling, live and cut bait fishing, bottom fishing, and vertically fishing lures.

striped bass fishing tackle

Heavy conventional outfits

A heavy conventional outfit is really only required by serious striped bass anglers doing heavy duty trolling or fishing with very large live baits. For the most part, they are mostly used and saltwater fishing. However, some trophy hunters and larger lakes we use them as well.

Surf fishing combo

Anglers surf fishing for striped bass use special rods that are quite long. They range in length from 8 to 14 feet. Longer, heavier rods are usually used to cast heavy sinkers and but bait a long way. Anglers casting lures use a shorter rod, with ten feet beoing a good length.

Fishing line

Anglers have two choices when it comes to fishing line, monofilament and braided line. Most anglers opt for braid. It is thinner, stronger, more sensitive, and has no stretch. It is a bit more expensive. Some anglers still prefer to use monofilament line, and it works fine. It really is just a personal choice.

Leaders for striped bass fishing

Leaders are usually used when fishing for striped bass in both freshwater and saltwater. Just about all anglers these days use fluorocarbon leader. 50 pound test is a good all-around size. However, anglers may need to go lighter in clear water and bump it up heavier when fishing for larger fish around structure.

Susquehanna River striped bass

Best striped bass fishing lures

Many anglers fish for striped bass using artificial lures. Most are made to imitate bait fish, which is the primary forage of striped bass. However, others do mimic crabs and crustaceans. The top striped bass fishing lures fall into four basic categories; top water plugs, diving plugs, jigs, and spoons. These four families of lures will cover most fishing situations.

Sacramento River striped bass

The size of the lure being used by anglers will vary greatly depending on several conditions. The primary factor when choosing a plug is to hopefully match the locally available forage. This includes shad, herring, pogies, sand eels, and other bait fish. Generally speaking, anglers fishing in freshwater will use slightly smaller size baits than those fishing in saltwater. But, this is not always the case.

There are endless color patterns to choose from. However, generally speaking, lighter colors such as white and silver are generally the best bet, especially when the water is clear. Chartreuse is a popular color that works well in a variety of conditions. Darker colors often produce better when the water is stained or a bit murky.

inshore saltwater fishing

Topwater plugs for striped bass fishing

Topwater lures float on the surface. They are designed to mimic a bait fish which is dying or wounded up on the surface of the water. Topwater baits come in several variations including poppers, propeller baits, and surface swimmers. They are great fun to fish as anglers get to visually see the strike.

Cordell Pencil Popper

The pencil popper is a popular surface plug. It is long and slender and casts very well into the wind. This makes it a favorite of surf casters in search of striped bass. The lure has a concave face. When twitched sharply, it puts out a lot of commotion and splash, simulating a wounded bait fish. Pencil poppers are mostly used in saltwater.

Atom Popper

The Atom Popper is another top water popper style hard body plug. It is similar to a pencil popper, however has a wider profile. They are worked the same as other poppers. It is a good choice when cast around jetties and other structure. It can be used from the beach on days with less wind. These baits are effective in both fresh and saltwater.

Rebel Jumpin’ Minnow

The Rebel Jumpin’ Minnow is a topwater bait. Unlike poppers, these lures have very little built in action. The angler must impart the action using the rod tip. This is what is termed a “walk the dog” type lure. The angler keeps the rod tip low and rhythmically reels while twitch and the rod tip. This makes the bait dance from side to side. It is effective in both fresh and saltwater.

Rapala Skitter Prop

The Rapala Skitter Prop is another effective top water plug for catching striped bass. It has a conical nose with a propeller on the rear. When twitched sharply, it puts out a lot of commotion while sitting relatively still. For the most part, this lure is used by anglers fishing in freshwater lakes. It is extremely effective when shad are working near the surface.

Gibb’s Surface Swimmer

The Gibbs Surface Swimmer is a unique top water plug. It has a bill which causes the lure to swim erratically from side to side on the surface. It works best using a slow steady retrieve. Striped bass will rise up from the depths to take this lure. It is mainly used in salt water, but will catch them trophies in lakes as well.

Subsurface plugs

There are also many effective plugs that dive down below the surface. Freshwater anglers term these as “jerk baits” in many instances. In most cases, the lure floats on the surface and that dives down to a determined depth when retrieved. The size and shape of the lip on the plug for the most part determines the depth that which it will run. These are extremely effective lures for both casting and trolling in fresh and saltwater.

Striper fishing in California

Saltwater Rapala X-Rap Extreme Action Slashbait

The Rapala X-Rap family of lures are excellent striped bass fishing baits. They come in a handful of sizes and just about every color pattern imaginable. The shallow diving X-Raps dive down between six and 10 feet. These are most often used by anglers casting to striped bass. They are also available as deeper diving baits, which can be cast as well. However, many anglers use these to troll with. They are very effective for catching stripers in both freshwater and saltwater. Anglers should always buy the saltwater versions as they have stronger hooks and hardware.

Bomber Long A

The Bomber Long A is another long slender jerk bait. It has been around a long time and has a great reputation among striped bass anglers. The Saltwater grade Magnum Long A is 7 inches long and is a durable and productive bait. It is a shallow diving bait that only goes down three or 4 feet. Due to its long slender design, it has a very enticing and unique action in the water. It produces well in both saltwater and freshwater applications.

Rapala Shad Rap

The Rapala Shad Rap is a favored bait among freshwater striped bass anglers. Shad are a primary forage in most lakes, along with herring. The wide profile of this bait mimics these forage species closely. This bait comes in a variety of sizes and finishes. Again, lighter colors with the dark back are generally preferred. They are also available and models that dive from near the surface to 20 feet or more. They are excellent when cast and are terrific baits to troll when trying to locate scattered schools of fish.

Yo-Zuri mag Darter

The Yo-Zuri Mag Darter is another excellent striped bass fishing lure. It has a unique weight transfer system which allows for long casts. This makes it a favorite among surf casting anglers. At first glance, it appears to be a top water bait. However it is not. The design of the face gives it a unique darting and rolling action striped bass find irresistible at times. It dives down a bit deeper than he shallow diving jerk baits, making it an excellent choice when fish are a bit deeper. It is effective in both fresh and saltwater.


Spoons are outstanding lures for catching striped bass! A spoon is basically a curved piece of metal with a hook in it. This simple design is incredibly effective. Spoons put out a ton of flash and vibration as they wobble through the water. This will call striped bass in from a long way as they realistically mimic a wounded bait fish. Spoons come in a variety of sizes and colors which can be used to match the locally available forage. Most anglers opt for silver finishes. However, gold can be an excellent choice in stained water and it very low light conditions.

striped bass fishing tackle

Acme Kastmaster Spoon

The Acme Kastmaster is a legendary spoon which is caught just about every freshwater and saltwater species on the planet. They cast well, making them in excellent choice for anglers fishing from the surf, as well as from jetties and boats. The combination of silver and blue or chartreuse prism finish is very popular among striped bass anglers. Anglers should keep a few gold Kastmaster spoons in the box as well.

Tailwater fishing for bass and catfish

They are extremely effective when both cast and trolled and freshwater and saltwater. The many sizes available make it very easy to match the lure to the size of the bait. There are times when striped bass are feeding on very small fry and can be fussy and difficult to hook. When this happens, the smaller sized Kastmaster spoons can save the day.

Hopkins Spoon

Hopkins spoons have been around a long time as well. They are productive when cast out towards striped bass that are working on the surface. However, they are most known for being incredibly productive when vertically jigged over schools of fish or structure. This lure is quite heavy and sinks quickly. Once down to the desired depth, the rod tip is jerked sharply and then the bait is allowed to flutter down. Most strikes occur on the fall. This is a fantastic bait to use in both fresh and saltwater striped bass are schooled up over deeper structure.

Drone Spoon

Drone spoons are very effective lures used for trolling for striped bass. Seldom are they used as casting lures. They come in several sizes, up to 6 inches long. They work well when trolled around and through schools of bunker in saltwater. Anglers fishing in lakes catch them around pods of shad as well. The long, cylindrical design gives it a very tight wiggle. These lures can be trolled fairly quickly. They are used behind sinkers, planers, and downriggers.

Deadly Dick

The Deadly Dick is a spoon-like lure that is quite effective on striped bass as well as other species. It is similar to a Kastmaster, though more slender. The heavier versions of these lures can be cast out towards feeding fish. Smaller, lighter versions are generally vertically jigged or trolled. These slender, low-profile baits can save the day and striped bass are feeding on sand deals and other small forage.

Tony Maja Bunker Spoon

These spoons are wider than most other trolling spoons. They were designed to mimic butter fish, bunker, and herring. Anglers must troll a bit slower with these or they will roll in the water. For the most part, this is a New England saltwater fishing lure.


Jigs were probably the first ever artificial lures designed to fool a fish. These are very simple baits, consisting of a hook with a weight, usually lead, molded in near the eye. Either a natural or synthetic hair dressing is tied on or a soft plastic grub body attached. Jigs are extremely versatile and effective lures for striped bass and just about every other fish that swims. They mimic both bait fish and crustaceans.

light tackle trolling in saltwater

Spro Jigs

White buck tail jigs have been catching striped bass for many decades. Spro makes a fine product that is durable and effective. While they are available in many colors, white is the standard. Second choice would be white with chartreuse mixed in. Spro jigs are available in different sizes, water depth and current and bait fish size should determine which one is used. Jigs can be cast, trolled, and vertically jigged. They are effective in both fresh and saltwater

Bass Assassin Sea Shad

The jig and grub combination is another extremely effective striped bass fishing lure. This basically consists of a jig head with a soft plastic grub body. Bass Assassin Sea Shad Bates are 4 inches long and come in a myriad of color patterns. They work best when cast out towards feeding fish or worked over submerge structure. The jig and grub can also be trolled, but anglers must go slowly or they will spin and roll. They are equally effective in both fresh and saltwater.

Gulp SwimmingMullet

Gulp baits changed the fishing world when they hit the scene. They really are like fishing with both live bait and artificial lures at the same time. The Gulp Swimming Mullet has a tail that puts out great action and vibration and realistically mimics many of the forage species that striped bass feed on. Combined with the scent, this makes a deadly combination! It is fished on a jig head and is effective when cast towards feeding fish or bounced on the bottom in fresh and saltwater.

Parachute lures

The parachute lure is an odd looking bait that we will put into the jig family. For the most part, it is a specialized lure that is fished in conjunction with and umbrella rig. It is very popular in the Chesapeake Bay region and is also used extensively in lakes as well. It is almost always used when trolling.

Storm Wild Eye Swim Shad

The Storm WildEye Swim Shad is a favorite among striped bass anglers. It is a soft bodied swim bait that has excellent action in the water. A slow, steady retrieve usually works best. It does an excellent job of imitating shad, herring, pogies, and other forage species. It is a fairly durable bait with a razor-sharp hook. Storm Shad Bates are also manufactured with a built-in salt impregnated scent.

Umbrella rig

Umbrella rigs are very popular among anglers who troll for striped bass in both freshwater and saltwater. They consist of a wire frame with several arms, resembling and umbrella a short leader followed by a lure is tied off of each arm. In most instances, anglers use a jig and grub combination. This makes it easier to avoid tangles. Smaller versions called “Alabama rigs” have become popular among bass anglers who cast to fish.

trolling for striped bass

The idea behind umbrella rigs is fairly simple. They are designed to mimic a small school of bait fish that is swimming by. They do work very well. However, it does take a bit of practice to learn how to troll several of these without fouling the lines. A medium conventional outfit works best when trolling with umbrella rigs for striped bass.

In conclusion, this article on the best striped bass fishing tackle and lures will help anglers catch more fish!


Best Grouper fishing Tackle and Lures

Best Grouper fishing Tackle and Lures

This post will cover the best grouper fishing tackle and lures. Grouper are a highly coveted bottom dwelling species. They are found in the warmer waters of the Atlantic Ocean, gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, and points south. While they are a powerful fish that puts up a strong battle, grouper are prized by many anglers for their flaky white fillets!

There are many different species of grouper. The most popular species in the United States are gag grouper, red grouper, goliath grouper, and black grouper. There are quite a few other species of grouper that are found in deeper waters and throughout the Bahamas and other locations. For the most part, their habits are very similar and will be treated all the same when it comes to tackle and techniques.

The one thing that all groupers have in common is that they are bottom dwelling, structure oriented fish. Seldom will one be found high up in the water column or on sandy bottom with no structure. Reefs, wrecks, artificial reefs, areas of rocky bottom, and ledges are the top spots were anglers catch grouper in open water. They are also caught in inshore waters around the same structure as well as docks and bridges.

Best grouper fishing rods and reels

Spinning tackle can be used for anglers grouper fishing. However, in the vast majority of applications, conventional tackle is a better choice. Grouper fishing is not about finesse. It is about hooking the fish, and getting its head turned before it can get down into the structure and free itself. Therefore, stout tackle is required. The rods and reels need to be durable. However, anglers do not need to spend a ton of money. Also, most can be used in other types of fishing. Penn is THE name in saltwater tackle and makes some excellent equipment at reasonable prices.

Conventional tackle works best for grouper fishing

offshore fishing in Florida

A 6 1/2 foot to 7 foot medium heavy rod with a 30 series real is a good all-around and versatile grouper fishing outfit. This can handle most the bottom fishing situations as well as some light trolling. Most grouper fishing is done bottom fishing. Casting is not required.

Anglers using conventional tackle for grouper fishing can choose a real with a level wind or one without. Level winds are nice and that the line is spooled up evenly as it is retrieved. However, some anglers look at that is just one more piece to break or go bad. Many old school grouper fishing reels such as the venerable Penn 4/0 do not have a level wind. The angler uses his or her thumb to evenly dispersed the line on the spool.

Not all grouper fishing is the same. Grouper very greatly in size. In some locations, a 5 pound grouper is a decent fish. In other places, fish pushing 50 pounds are not uncommon. Goliath grouper grow hundreds of pounds and requires special tackle. Anglers need to tailor the tackle to the size of the fish being sought as well as the depth of the water being fished. Anglers fishing and hundreds of feet of water and Atlantic Ocean with heavy lead will need a stouter outfit than those fishing in 40 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico.

Spinning tackle options for grouper fishing

While conventional tackle is the best choice in most grouper fishing situations, spinning tackle certainly has its place. Anglers fishing in shallow, clear water sometimes find that lighter spinning tackle makes a more natural presentation. Grouper can be a little bit line shy in very clear water. Some anglers simply prefer the comfort and feel of a spinning outfit.

There are also occasions were anglers can cast to grouper. This mostly occurs in the shallow waters of the Bahamas and the Gulf of Mexico north of Tampa. In water as shallow as 10 feet, the boat will scare the fish. Therefore, anglers anchor or drift a decent distance from the spot and cast live baits or lures in towards the structure.

The best spinning outfit for grouper fish and is still fairly stout. A 7 foot heavy action rod with a 6000 series real is a good all-around combination. With this outfit, anglers can cast lures and live baits towards structure as well as have a decent chance of landing a big fish that might be hooked when bottom fishing. And water much deeper than 50 feet, conventional outfits are simply a better choice.

Line choices for grouper fishing

Anglers shopping for grouper fishing tackle and lures will have quite a few choices when it comes to fishing line. Line is basically broken down into two categories; monofilament line in braided line. Monofilament line is cheaper. However, it is not as durable, has some stretch, and is of a larger diameter. 50 lb monofilament line and 80 pound braided line are good choices.

Most anglers grouper fishing have gone to braided lines. While the initial cost is higher, braided line last much longer than monofilament. It also has zero stretch and incredible sensitivity. This is very important when grouper fishing as it allows anglers to feel the take as well is get the grouper away from the structure. Braided line is also thinner in diameter, which allows it to sink better when fishing in deep water.


Most anglers fishing for grouper use some type of leader. This is certainly true of braided line. Most anglers use a strong black swivel to connect the leader to the mainline. A sliding sinker is often placed on the mainline and then the swivel stops it from going any further. Leader length and strength varies greatly, depending on the fishing situation.

Many anglers fishing and deep water use a very long leaders, up to 20 feet and even longer. Generally speaking, the shallower the water, the shorter the leader. Anglers fishing and 50 or 60 feet of water will only need 3 to 4 feet of leader. Fluorocarbon leader is almost always used these days. It is strong, abrasion resistant, and very close to being invisible in the water.

Grouper fishing hooks

Hooks are really a matter of personal choice. Anglers grouper fishing in the Gulf of Mexico are required to use circle hooks. Many anglers use them wherever they are grouper fishing. When properly used, circle hooks almost always hook the fish in the corner of the mouth. This aids in a live release and reduces fish mortality.

It is very important when using circle hooks to not set the hook. Setting the hook will generally result in a missed fish. Instead, when a bite is felt with the rod tip held low near the water surface, the slack is taken up with the reel and then the rod gently lifted. As the hook is being full through the fishes mouth, it rotates and turns almost like a can opener, hooking the fish in the mouth all the way out.

It is important when using circle hooks to use the proper size. The hook may look huge, but the important part is the distance between the tip and the shank. That area needs to be large enough to easily bait the hook as well as for it to work when a fish takes the bait. 8/0 to 10/0 circle hooks are a good all-around size.

Standard short shank live bait hooks are also popular for grouper fishing as well. These hooks need to be stout and strong! Many experienced grouper anglers still prefer these hooks as they allow them to set the hook. In very deep water, just reeling incoming tide as is done with circle hooks works best anyway. 5/0 is a good all-around size live bait hook. Anglers can go up or down in size, depending on the size of the bait being used and the fish being targeted.

Bottom fishing weights

Weights are required to get the bait down to the bottom. The two most popular types of weight used by anglers bottom fishing for grouper and other species are sliding egg sinkers and bank sinkers. Sliding egg sinkers are popular because they allow the grouper to pick up the bait and move off a bit, without feeling the weight of the sinker. The weight is generally placed on the running line ahead of the swivel that attaches the leader.

Sarasota bottom fishing

However, there is another rig that works very well for grouper fishing, particularly in water shallower than 100 feet. It is called a “knocker rig”. With this rig, the sinker slides on the leader and rest right on the eye of the hook. To some anglers it looks a bit silly, but it actually works very well. One advantage to this rig is that when the sinker is on the bottom, the hook is right on the bottom. Also, when snagged up, the sinker jerking up on the line then banging the eye of the hook will often free it. This is how it gets its name.

Bank sinkers are also used by anglers when bottom fishing. They are most often used with what is termed a high low rig or a chicken rig. With this rig, multiple hooks are tied off of dropper loops on the main line. This allows anglers to present several baits at multiple levels off of the bottom. This is often done when drifting in deeper water. The bank sinker works well as it tends to walk and bounce off of rocks and other snags.

Top grouper fishing lures

While most grouper are caught on live or natural bait, there are a few situations when they can be taken on artificial lures as well. For the most part, this means trolling. Trolling with deep diving plugs is an incredibly effective technique when grouper are in fairly shallow water. It allows anglers to cover a lot of water over a piece of structure in search of fish.

Trolling for grouper

Trolling is defective anywhere that there is submerged structure in the 50 feet deep or shallower range. In very clear water, grouper will come up out of deeper water to hit a plug running above. The maximum depth of even the largest plugs is about 50 feet. The shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico, channel edges and large bays such as Tampa Bay, and coral reefs of the Caribbean are prime spots to troll for grouper.

When it comes to deep diving plugs, the Mann’s Stretch series of plugs was the original innovator. They are available in several sizes which allow anglers to troll up to 50 feet deep. The large lips determines the depth that which they will run. They are categorized by size, giving anglers a good idea of how deep they will go. For example, a Stretch 30 will generally run about 30 feet deep. Rapala and several other lure manufacturers also make quality deep diving plugs for grouper fishing.

These plugs are very easy to use. A 6 foot long section of 80 pound to 100 pound leader is used between the running line in the plug. The line is then let out a good distance behind the boat and the rod placed in a rod holder. With the boat idling along at 425 kn, the plug will dig down to the maximum depth, putting out a lot of flash and vibration. When a grouper hits, there is no mistaking it! This works mostly on gag grouper.

Trolling with downriggers

Anglers can also troll with downrigger’s as well. This is a bit more complicated. A downrigger is a device with a cable and a heavy ball which takes the lure down deep. A clip secures the line to the ball. When a fish strikes, it pulls the line out of the clip and the angler can fight the fish. Plugs, spoons, and jigs can all be used when trolling for grouper behind downriggers. This technique is used extensively in the Great Lakes region for walleye and salmon.

Casting lures for grouper

Grouper can also be caught by anglers casting artificial lures, though there are limited situations where this can occur. Basically, when grouper are holding over structure in fairly shallow water, usually 10 feet deep or shallower, casting lures over the structure and retrieving them back in can produce jarring strikes from grouper. This is most often done on the West Coast of Florida and over coral reefs in the Bahamas.

The two lures that are most often used for casting to grouper are diving plugs and a jigs. Plugs will dive down to a determined depth, while jigs can be worked through the entire water column but are extremely effective when bounced on the bottom right on top of the structure. White buck tail jigs are often used and can be tipped with a strip of squid or cut fish. A jig with a soft plastic grub tail can be effective as well.

Top 4 grouper species

There are basically four types of grouper that are found in good numbers in the United States. They are the gag grouper, red grouper, black grouper, and Goliath grouper. There are other grouper such as yellowfin grouper, Nassar grouper, and scamp that are found in the Bahamas in in deeper water.

Gag grouper

Sarasota fishing charter

Gag grouper are perhaps the most abundant of the grouper species found in the United States. They are also found in shallow water around structure more often than the other species. Gag grouper are very aggressive and are the species most often targeted by anglers fishing with artificial lures. They have a tendency to move shallow in the cooler months. This makes them quite accessible to anglers who prefer to troll. In the warmer months, they move back out to deeper water.

Red grouper

Red grouper are quite plentiful, especially in the Gulf of Mexico. While they will occasionally be caught inshore, the vast majority of red grouper are caught in water 50 feet or deeper. They are not quite as aggressive as gag grouper. They are often found on smaller breaks and areas of hard bottom, also known as Swiss cheese bottom. Red grouper often prefer cut bait over live bait, as it is easier to track down.

Black grouper

Many anglers call gag grouper black grouper. When in fact, black grouper are a separate species. They are similar in markings to gag grouper. However, once one is: or when they are laid side-by-side, it is easy to tell the difference. Black grouper are normally found in the deeper waters of the Atlantic Ocean and down around the Florida Keys. They are probably the hardest fighting member of the grouper family. They are not as prevalent as either gag grouper or red grouper.

Goliath grouper

Goliath grouper are by far the largest member of the grouper family that are commonly found in the United States. Surprisingly, they are often encountered in the inshore waters, as shallow as five or 6 feet deep. Many a large Goliath grouper has surprised an angler casting to the mangroves for snook or redfish. Anglers targeting giant Goliath grouper use 5 pound jacks as bait in 200 pound conventional tackle. This is not a game for the meek! They are also found offshore as well. It is not at all uncommon for an angler to lose a 5 pound snapper or grouper to a big, hungry Goliath grouper.

In conclusion, this article on the best trooper fishing tackle and lures should help anglers catch more of these hard fighting and fantastic eating bottom fish!

Best False Albacore fishing Tackle and Lures

Best False Albacore fishing Tackle and Lures

This article will outline the best false albacore fishing tackle and lures. False albacore are a terrific saltwater game fish. They are found in the inshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean. They are in the family of tuna fish. False albacore feet and large schools and are an extremely fast fish. They readily hit both artificial lures and flies.

best false albacore fishing tackle and lures

Capt. Jim Klopfer has been a full-time fishing charter captain in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. He caters to anglers of all skill levels. One of his favorite ways to fish is to target false albacore in the inshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The following tackle and lure recommendations come from his decades of guiding experience.

The one aspect of false albacore fishing that makes it so popular among anglers is the manner in which they feed. Often times, false albacore are encountered feeding ferociously on the surface. In these feeding frenzies, they are devouring helpless bait fish that they have trapped at the surface. The water literally boils as the fish feed with birds diving and bait fish fleeing.

However, despite this aggressive feeding, there are times when false albacore can be fussy and difficult to hook. The reason for this is that in many instances they have focused on smaller prey. Glass minnows are only and inch or two long and are one of their favorite types of forage. Smaller sardines, herring, finger mullet, menhaden, and sand deals are also favorite foods of false albacore.

Best rods and reels for false albacore fishing

False albacore average 5 to 7 pounds and grow to 15 pounds regularly. They also make a blistering run when hooked. This means that tackle used when false albacore fishing needs to be of good quality and an excellent working condition. This is especially true of the drag system.

inshore saltwater fishing

As mentioned above, often times false albacore feed on small bait fish. This results in spinning tackle often times being the best choice to cast these smaller lures. However, the rod needs to be stout enough to handle a big fish in the real has to have plenty of line capacity as well. A 7 foot medium rod with a fast action paired with a 3000 series real is an excellent all round combination. Here is a link to a Penn Conflict combo that will work well.

False albacore are prime candidates for anglers who enjoy casting a fly rod as well. In fact, this is a species that was made for fly fishing. The combination of them feeding visually on the surface along with the small size of the forage results in fly fishing being an effective technique. Anglers use between 7wt and 10wt outfits, depending on the size of the fish being sought. A 9wt is a good all-around outfit.

Sarasota fishing calendar

Conventional tackle does have its place and false albacore fishing as well. For the most part, this involves trolling and chunking with cut bait. A light conventional outfit is perfect for trolling spoons and small plugs in search of false albacore. They also work well when drifting with cut or live bait. Anglers also anchor up over reefs and other structure and free line baits as well. A medium conventional outfit with a limber tip is perfect for false albacore fishing.

Fishing line options

Most anglers opt for braided line these days. The small diameter of braided line results in much more line capacity on the reel as opposed to monofilament or fluorocarbon line. However, some anglers actually prefer having the stretch in the line that monofilament provides. False albacore strike so hard and make such a fast initial run that the non-stretching of braided line can actually be an issue. Most anglers compensate for this with slightly less drag pressure. 10 pound monofilament and 15 pound braided line are good options.

Leaders for false albacore fishing

False albacore can be fussy when it comes to leaders. In most cases, a 2 foot to 3 foot section of 20 pound fluorocarbon leader works very well. False albacore do not have teeth. However, often times Spanish mackerel are mixed in with the false albacore. It is not at all uncommon for a mackerel to dash in and take a lure or fly meant for false albacore.

Sarasota inshore Gulf fishing

If this becomes a nuisance, anglers can bump up the leader size to 30 pounds or 40 pounds. However, if this results in a decrease in strikes, anglers will have to go back down to 20 edges deal with the mackerel. Many anglers attach the leader to the running line by using a small black swivel. This is an excellent option when using a spoon as it will reduce line twist. Line to line knots can be used as well.

Top artificial lures for false albacore

While live and cut bait produces plenty of false albacore, many anglers prefer to fish with them using artificial lures. It is great fun and sport to cast a lure into a school of feeding false albacore than feeling the bone jarring strikes! All of the most productive false albacore lures mimic bait fish, since this is the primary forage. They all put out flash and vibration, mimicking wounded bait fish.

Sarasota false albacore fishing

Most of these top false albacore fishing lures will catch a lot of other saltwater species as well. Depending on the geographical location, anglers fishing for false albacore may run into striped bass, bluefish, bonito, jacks, king mackerel, and other species. Many anglers are not fussy about what bends their rod. However dedicated false albacore anglers find many of these other species a nuisance!


Hard bodied plugs are excellent false albacore fishing lures. They very realistically imitate did bait fish. Capt Jim’s favorite lure when pursuing false albacore is the #8 Rapala Saltwater X-Rap Extreme Action Slashbait. This bait is a little less than 3 inches long and closely mimics in size and action the forage that false albacore most often feed on. This is basically a jerk bait, as the Bass anglers like to call them. It floats on the surface, then dive down several feet upon retrieve. It has a very erratic action with a lot a flash and vibration.

The X-Rap is fairly light, but can still be cast a reasonable distance with the spinning tackle recommended above. It does help considerably to try to put the boat upwind of the fish. X-Raps come in a variety of colors. In most instances, lighter colors which naturally imitate the local bait fish are most effective. Capt. Jim’s to favorite colors are Olive and ghost (white). It is important to by the saltwater version, as it has stronger hooks and hardware.

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This is a versatile lure that can be both cast and trolled. Anglers casting this lure try to place the boat ahead of a school of false albacore in hopes of intercepting it. The lure is then cast out ahead of the fish and worked back with hard, aggressive jerks and a pause in between. Often times, the strike occurs on the pause.

Trolling the X-Rap can save the day during those times when false albacore are difficult to cast a bait in front of. As veteran false albacore anglers are keenly aware, there are days when the fish are on the surface for a very brief period of time before moving on. When this occurs, trolling can save the day in the X rap is an excellent lure to use.

Jig and grub combo

Soft plastic baits will catch plenty of false albacore. Capt. Jim likes the Bass Assassin line of jig heads and soft plastic baits. With all of the variations of jig head size and soft plastic body combinations, anglers can “match the hatch” to the forage that the false albacore are feeding on. A 1/4 ounce jig head with a 4 inch Sea Shad soft plastic grub body is a good and versatile all round combination.

inshore saltwater fishing

It is important to go with the quality jig head with a stout hook. The Bass Assassin Pro Jig head fits the bill. It is available and several sizes from 1/16 ounce and heavier. When combined with the 4 inch Sea Shad bait, it is a proven false albacore producer. Just as with most false albacore fishing lures, lighter colors and knows with flash work best. Glow, red gold shiner, silver, and chartreuse are all good colors.

For the most part, these jigs are cast out in front of feeding fish. And aggressive retrieve normally works best. However, sometimes just burning it back in as fast as the handle can be turned will produce. They really are not effective when trolled as they tend to roll at the higher speeds which produce false albacore. However, they are very effective when the fish go down and are marked on the sonar. Anglers can drop the jig down and vertically presented to the fish.


Spoons are a natural when it comes to false albacore fishing lures. A spoon is basically a curved, shaped, and polished piece of metal with a hook in it. Acme Kastmaster spoons have been catching just about every species of freshwater and saltwater fish for decades. False albacore are no exception. This lure cast well and puts out a ton of flash and vibration. Anglers should try to match the spoon to the size of the forage. However, sometimes the best approach is just going with a heavy bait as it can be cast a long way.

false albacore fishing

These baits are extremely effective when both cast or trolled. When false albacore are up and down a difficult to get on, the extra casting distance that this heavier bait provides can make the difference between a been rod and not. They are also effective when jig vertically on schools of fish and that have gone deep. Finally, they can trolled using just a spoon, trolling sinkers, or planers to get the bait down a bit.

White bucktail jig

A white buck tail jig has been a staple in most saltwater anglers tackle boxes for decades. They are still effective to this day and will certainly produce false albacore. White is a most popular color, often times with some silver flash tide it. Capt. Jim likes Spro lures when casting a buck tail jig. It is a quality product that is fairly durable with a strong hook.

false albacore fishing tips

Just as with most lures, these work very well when cast in front of feeding fish. Capt. Jim does tend to like to work this bait a bit slower than some of the other lures. The natural buck tail will undulate seductively in the water, usually drawing a strike. 1/2 ounce to 1 ounce jigs will get the job done in most situations. It can certainly be trolled as well, in some anglers at a belly strip or strip of cut squid to sweeten the bait.


The Hogy Epoxy Jig is an example of what false albacore anglers call a “metal” style bait. These are kind of a combination between a spoon and a jig. They are outstanding lures that closely mimic bait fish. They come in a wide variety of sizes and finishes. The 1 ounce size is an excellent choice, unless the bait fish are running especially small. It is fished a very similarly to a spoon. Epoxy jigs can be cast, trolled, or vertically fished.

Diamond Jig

A Diamond Jig is a fairly plain looking piece of metal with a hook in. However, do not let the looks for you! This unassuming bait has saved the day for Capt. Jim on many occasions. On days when the false albacore are fussy and seemingly refuse everything in the tackle box, they will often hit this tiny jig. This is especially true when false albacore are feeding on very small bait.

Often times, it is difficult to get close enough to the false albacore to cast lighter lures into them. Small Diamond jigs do not weigh very much at all. In most cases, the best approach is to slowly troll around the edge of a school of fish while rhythmically jerking the rod tip. The key to the effectiveness of this bait is its subtlety, do not overdo the action.


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Anglers who enjoy fly fishing find that false albacore are terrific sport. Fly fishing for false albacore has all of the best elements of fly fishing. Most of the action is visual is anglers primarily cast their flies in front of feeding fish. They grow fairly large, a 10 pound fish on a fly rod is a handful. The strike is jarring and the angler is into the backing in seconds. Finally, false albacore never quit, even up to the end.

While just about any bait fish pattern will fool a false albacore, Capt. Jim finds the Clouser Minnow to be the best all round fly. He likes to tie it on a #1 or #1/0 hook with medium eyes. All white and white over chartreuse are his two favorite color patterns. A D.T. Special is his second choice. When false albacore are feeding on tiny bait fish, it is not at all uncommon for flies to outproduce artificial lures.

Fishing for false albacore with bait

Anglers can certainly catch false albacore using live and cut bait as well. This is fairly uncomplicated fishing. Instead of tying on and artificial lure, and angler simply uses a # 1 or #1/0 short shank live bait hook. In most instances, the angler is fishing from a drifting or anchored boat. The live or cut bait is allowed to free line back behind the boat. This is a very natural presentation and is extremely effective, especially when fishing over a specific piece of structure.

Just about any live bait or cut bait can be used to catch false albacore in this situation. Anglers can cut fish into strips or into chunks and float them back. Often times, chum is used to get the false albacore right up behind the boat and in a feeding mood. When this occurs, the angler can actually watch the fish take the bait.

In conclusion, this article on the best false albacore fishing tackle and lures will help anglers catch more of these terrific inshore saltwater game fish!


Best Live Baits for Saltwater Fishing in Florida

Best Live Baits for Saltwater Fishing in Florida

This article will cover the best live baits for saltwater fishing in Florida. While artificial lures certainly produce plenty of fish, many anglers saltwater fishing in Florida do so using live bait. This is understandable, why use an imitation when you can use the real thing? The top live baits for saltwater fishing in Florida are shrimp, shiners, pin fish and grunts, mullet, crabs, and sand fleas.

live bait fishing in Florida

Some of these live baits are available for purchase at Florida bait and tackle shops. Live shrimp are a good example of this. Other baits such as shiners need to be caught by the angler. There are even “bait boats” which will go out and catch live bait fish and sell them to anglers right from their boat. Anglers can keep up to date on Florida recreational fishing regulations on the FWC site.

Live shrimp is the #1 Florida fishing bait

A live shrimp is undoubtedly the number one saltwater fishing bait in Florida. Shrimp are available at every bait and tackle shop along the coast. They are the “nightcrawler” of saltwater; every species that swims will eat one. Shrimp can be caught by anglers using a cast net. However, the vast majority of shrimp used for bait are purchased at shops.

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Shrimp are fairly easy to keep alive. In the cooler months, they are very easy to keep alive. Often times, an angler can keep a couple dozen in a bucket of cool water without even using an aerator. However, in the warmer months with the water much over 70°, shrimp will become listless without some aeration. Anglers with boats usually have some type of bait well with either an aerator or a pump that recirculates the water and aerates it. Anglers without a boat use small battery-powered aerators to keep their shrimp alive.

Using live shrimp for bait in Florida

Shrimp can be hooked in a variety of fashions and fished using multiple rigs. A live shrimp under a popping cork is an extremely effective combination for catching speckled trout and other species on the grass flats. The cork not only suspends the shrimp at the desired depth, it actually helps attract the fish when twitched sharply. Shrimp can be free lined on the flats as well. This involves simply hooking the shrimp and letting it swim naturally in the current.

fishing with live bait in florida

Shrimp are also the number one choice for anglers bottom fishing. Many of the species in Florida are found around submerged structure such as docks, rocks, seawalls, bridges, and wrecks. A live shrimp fished on the bottom will fool sheepshead, snapper, grouper, flounder, and just about every other inshore species. This is very basic fishing. Anglers use various rigs and some type of weight to keep the bait on the bottom near the structure.

Live shiners are a terrific live bait for Florida saltwater anglers

Shiners is a generic Florida term for several families of small silvery baitfish. These include scaled sardines, also known as pilchards, threadfin herring, and Spanish sardines. Shiners, or white bait, are a terrific bait for a wide variety of species. These bait fish are found in large schools either on the flats or just offshore around markers and other structure. Anglers seeking a lot of bait catch them with a cast net. Those who only need a few baits can jig them up using a Sibiki rig.

Florida Spanish mackerel fishing

In most cases, anglers catch their own shiners. There is a technique called “live bait chumming” were anglers use these live fish to attract game fish to the boat. This requires a lot of bait, and purchasing it would not be practical. Therefore, anglers catch their own. Shiners will die quickly if not properly taken care of. They need a constant re-changing of the water supply. This makes it impractical to fish with large numbers of shiners from the shoreline, though a dozen or two can be kept in a bucket for a little while.

When the bait is easy, anglers can put close to 1000 baits in the well in fairly short order. In some parts of Florida, guys go out early and catch a bunch of bait and sell them right from the boat. Prices and availability vary by location. Most sell the bait by the scoop. Considering the time saved, this can be a viable option.

Shiner fishing techniques

Shiners are most often free lined. This means that they are allowed to swim with just a hook in them and no other weight to hinder their movements. A split shot or two can be used to get them down in current. They are terrific baits for catching snook, redfish, jacks, trout, Spanish mackerel, and other species along mangrove shorelines and on the inshore grass flats.

mangrove snapper fishing in Florida

Shiners are very productive on bottom species such as grouper and snapper as well. Offshore anglers use them to chum up tuna and other species off of area reefs and wrecks. In this application, they are generally fished on basic Carolina rig style bottom rigs.

Fishing with live pinfish and grunts

Pinfish and grunts will be covered in one section, as they are quite similar. Both are small baitfish that kind of resemble freshwater sunfish. Pinfish are a bit rounder while grunts are a tad more elongated. Pin fish have a row of needle sharp dorsal fins, this is how they get their name. Grunts are aptly named as they make a grunting sound when in distress. Of the two, grunts are generally more desirable and pin fish are more readily available.

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Some bait shops sell live pin fish and grunts, it just depends upon the area and the demand. Both pinfish and grunts do need some type of aeration or water exchanged in order to stay a live and active. Pinfish and grunts can be caught on the shallow grass flats using small hooks and pieces of shrimp or squid. They can also be caught and cast nets using canned cat food to chum them up behind the boat.

Smaller pinfish and grunts from the size of a quarter up to about 3 inches along are excellent when used in the inshore waters. They can be free lined or fished under a cork and will catch speckled trout in a variety of species. Larger pinfish and grunts are used when targeting larger fish. Snook, grouper, cobia, amberjack, tarpon, sharks, and other species will take a hand sized bait.

best shark bait

Live mullet are productive live baits in Florida

Mullet are a very popular live bait for anglers fishing in Florida. Like other bait fish, they are sometimes available at local bait and tackle shops but in most instances anglers catch their own. Most often, anglers use a cast net to procure them. Small mullet are called “finger mullet” and are terrific baits when fishing for inshore species such as trout, redfish, flounder, snook, and more. Larger mullet are used for big snook, tarpon, and even billfish offshore.

Top Florida saltwater game fish

Mullet are not always easy to catch or keep alive. They are bit of a specialty bait for some serious anglers. However, there are times when finger mullet are relatively easy to find and catch. They are seen scurrying about in the shallows most often. The East Coast of Florida experiences a unique phenomenon called the “mullet run”. Huge numbers of finger mullet will hang up into bait balls and migrate down the coast. Game fish will be found ravaging the schools of bait.

Live crabs produce permit and tarpon

Live crabs are another popular live bait used by saltwater anglers in Florida. There are several types of crabs that are used, and all are effective. Once again, in some areas anglers can purchase these at bait shops while in some cases anglers catch their own. In most cases, crabs are fairly easy to keep alive as most only really need to be In a little bit of water.

Sarasota fishing guide

3” blue crabs are used extensively as live bait for tarpon on both coasts of Florida. With the pictures usually removed, the bait is hooked through the corner of the shell and cast out towards schools of rolling fish. They are certainly the number one bait on the West Coast of Florida from Naples to Tampa. Pass crabs are caught by anglers on the outgoing tide and used as tarpon baits as well.

Blue crabs are also used by inshore anglers fishing for redfish and black drum. In most cases, the crabs should be fresh but are not used as live bait. Instead, they are cut in half’s or quarters depending on the size and fished on the bottom. This technique is used extensively in the mosquito Lagoon and banana River areas for trophy redfish.

Jacksonville Florida fishing tips

Crabs are a top bait in the Florida Keys

Anglers fishing in the Florida Keys are quite familiar with crabs. Small crabs are used for anglers chasing permit on both the flats and the offshore wrecks. They are by far the number one bait for permit. Larger crabs are used for tarpon and other game fish.

Anglers bottom fishing for sheepshead and snapper will catch oyster crabs around the rocks on low tide. Bait shops seldom sell these crabs. However, anglers who use them swear by their effectiveness.

Sand fleas produce in the surf

Sand fleas are a bit of a specialized bait. They are most often used by anglers surf fishing sand fleas, also known as mole crabs. Are caught in the surf line. Using special rakes, anglers dredge the sand right at the surf line and sift through hoping to catch some sand fleas. They are mostly associated with Pompano, however they will fool snook, sheepshead and many other species as well. Some bait shops sell them frozen, though very few sell them as live baits.

saltwater fishing in Florida with live bait

Sand fleas are terrific bait for sheepshead as well. Anglers bottom fish with them around the normal structure such as docks, bridges, rock piles, jetties, and more. Sand fleas are most often hooked by running the hook from the underside and out through the shell. The shell is delicate. Therefore, anglers should use a thin hook if possible.

Live bait fishing techniques

The three main techniques when fishing with live bait in Florida are freelining the bait, fishing the bait under a float, and bottom fishing. These three presentations will cover most angling situations. In all presentations, the hook should match the size of the bait being used, but the fish being pursued.

Freelining baits

Freelining a bait is simply hooking it and allowing it to swim naturally. The bait is relatively free to swim about. However, the hook will cause it to swim in distress and erratically. A small split shot can be used if required. This technique can be used in any water depth, from the inshore flats to offshore reefs.

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Inshore, anglers cast the freelined bait toward structure such as mangrove shorelines, oyster bars, docks, sea walls, and bridges. To some degree, anglers can control or even “swim” the bait, sort of like an artificial lure. Usually, the bait fighting against the hook will trigger a strike.

Fishing baits under a float or cork

Floats, also termed corks or bobbers are simple devices. They suspend a bait at a desired depth. This is usually done on the flats, but is used offshore as well. The float supplies casting weight as well. Finally, the float gives anglers a visual reference for when a fish takes the bait.

fishing with live bait in Florida

In Florida, anglers use “popping corks”. These are floats that not only suspend the bait, they are part of the system that attracts fish. The corks have a concave face that when twitched sharply, “produces a “popping” sound. This simulates feeding fish and attracts other fish to the bait. A live shrimp under a popping cork has resulted in countless speckled trout being caught. Noisy floats such as the “Cajun Thunder” with rattles are used the same way.

Bottom fishing with live bait

Many anglers fish with live bait on the bottom and near structure. This is a very basic form of fishing that will always be productive. Many fish species feed on the bottom, especially if some type of structure is present. This can be done from a boat, pier, bridge, or shore. There are several different rigs that anglers use to present their baits on the bottom.

The Carolina Rig is very popular and effective. With this rig the line runs through a hole in an egg sinker. A swivel stops it from going further. A leader runs between the swivel and the hook. This allows fish to pick up a bait and move off with it without feeling any resistance.

High low rigs or chicken rigs are usually used for bottom fish. It is usually used in a vertical presentation. This rig allows anglers to present several baits at different depths. It is very effective for fish such as grouper, snapper, sheepshead, drum, flounder, and other species.

In conclusion, this article on the best live baits for saltwater fishing in Florida will help anglers catch more fish using bait!

Best Catfish Fishing Tackle and Gear

Best Catfish Fishing Tackle and Gear

This article will thoroughly cover the best catfish fishing tackle and gear. Fishing for catfish is very popular and perhaps the fastest growing aspect of freshwater fishing. There are several reasons for this. Catfish are widely distributed. Most anglers have a catfish hole pretty close to their home. Catfish are less fussy than some other species. They are also terrific eating!

best catfish fishing tackle and gear

For many anglers, the attraction of fishing for catfish is the chance to catch a really big fish. Both blue and flathead catfish can grow over 100 pounds. Blue cats have been introduced into large lake and river systems to provide anglers with a trophy fishery. Obviously, heavy tackle is required for these beasts.

Catfish fishing tackle

The tackle required to go catch catfish is really not complicated. While anglers occasionally catch them on lures, the vast majority are caught on natural or prepared bait. This makes tackle selection easy for several reasons. Unlike other forms of fishing, anglers do not need to spend a bunch of money on artificial lures. Also, the rods and reels do not need to be suitable for casting these lures all day long. This simplifies things greatly.

catfish fishing tackle

Spinning tackle is a good choice for anglers fishing for channel catfish as well as anglers casting from shore for larger fish. The primary benefit of spinning tackle is the ability to cast a bait out a decent distance. Many anglers opt for saltwater gear as it is tough and durable, yet still affordable.

Most serious catfish anglers opt for conventional, also known as baitcasting, tackle. This is especially true for anglers that fish from a boat. There are several benefits of this type of equipment. They hold a lot of line. Conventional reels have excellent drag systems. They also provide more power since the line does not turn 90 degrees as it does with spinning gear. The downside is the limited casting ability.

best catfish fishing tackle and gear

Catfish species

The catfish tackle that an angler needs will depend on the type and size of catfish that is being sought. Unlike other forms of fishing, catfish vary greatly in size, from 2 pound “eaters” to one hundred pound monsters. Obviously, the tackle requirements will need to match the application.

The three primary catfish species found in North America are the channel catfish, blue catfish, and flathead (also know as yellow cat) catfish. There are many species of bullhead and smaller catfish species. However, since for the most part they are small, the focus will be on the main three species.

fishing for channel catfish

Channel catfish

Channel catfish are the most widely distributed catfish species in North America. They are found in most freshwater creeks, ponds, lakes, and rivers, as long as the water does not get too cold. Channel catfish are opportunistic feeders. The list of things they won’t eat is much shorter than what they will eat. Channel catfish do like a bit more current than the other species and are caught in flowing rivers.

channel catfish fishing

The world record channel catfish is 58 pounds. However, fish over 20 pounds are not at all common. Most will run between two and ten pounds. In fact, most anglers looking for a few fish to eat prefer fish in the two to five pound range. Top channel catfish baits include nightcrawlers, chicken livers, crayfish, cut bait, and prepared baits. However, they are caught on many more baits that that.

Best tackle for channel catfish fishing

Since channel catfish are of moderate size, medium spinning tackle is well suited to catching catfish. Most anglers already own a suitable outfit. Spinning tackle allows anglers fishing from shore to make longer casts out into the lake or river. A 7 foot medium action rod with a 3000 series reel will work fine. It can be spooled with 12 pound monofilament or 20 pound braided line. Here is a Penn Battle 5000 combo for $100, nice versatile outfit.

Light conventional tackle is perfect for anglers fishing from a boat and targeting larger catfish. With a little practice, anglers can learn to cast these rigs effectively. They are quite versatile and affordable. A 7 ½ foot medium to medium heavy outfit spooled up with 20 pound braid is a good all round set up. Here is a nice specifically designed catfish outfit from Abu Garcia for $100.

Blue catfish

Blue catfish get big! The record blue cat is a 130 pound monster. Blue catfish are mostly found in larger bodies of water. They have been successfully introduced into many large lake and river systems to provide anglers with a trophy fishery.

fishing for blue catfish

Blue catfish feed primarily on larger bait fish such as shad and herring. That is one of the reasons they do so well in larger lakes and reservoirs. The best bait is usually fresh cut shad and herring that is found in the body of water being fished.

Best blue catfish fishing tackle

Anglers targeting blue catfish will require stout gear. While heavy spinning gear can be used, medium heavy to heavy conventional tackle is a better choice. Catching a trophy blue catfish will require a heavy outfit spooled up with 60 pound braided line.

Flathead catfish

flathead catfish fishing

Flathead catfish, or “yellow cats” prefer slow moving rivers. These are perhaps the most difficult of the three species to catch. They are less widely distributed and are also loners, they rarely school up. Flathead catfish feed primarily on live bait fish and do not scavenge as the other species do. Where legal, live sunfish are a prime bait.

Best flathead catfish fishing tackle

The world record flathead catfish is 123 pounds. The average fish is quite large. Also, since large, live baits are often used, stout tackle is needed. Flathead catfish are also usually found near fallen trees and other structures. Heavy conventional tackle spooled up with 60-80 pound braided line works best.

Line choices for catfish

In most cases, braided line is the best choice for anglers fishing for catfish. The combination of big fish and heavy cover dictates this choice. 40-60 pound braid works well in most applications. However, anglers targeting pan sized channel catfish can certainly do fine using 12-15 pound monofilament line.

Catfish hooks

Anglers seeking the best catfish fishing tackle have a lot of choices when it comes to hooks. Where legal, many anglers choose treble hooks, especially for channel catfish. #6 is a good all round size. Special hooks are designed with a coil to hold prepared dough baits and similar baits on the hook.

Most anglers fishing with cut bait opt for circle hooks. They rotate in the fish’s mouth and usually hook them in the corner of the mouth. This also reduces fish mortality and facilitates an easier release. It is important to just come tight and NOT set the hook when using circle hooks.

Larger circle hooks are required for these hooks to work properly, especially when using larger baits. 8/0 to 10/0 circle hooks are often used. This seems large, but the gap is what is important.

Anglers need strong hooks when fishing for catfish. Hook strength is listed as “x”. For example, a 4x hook is stronger than a 2x hook. Anglers fishing for catfish should choose 4x or 6x hooks. Stout, short shank bait hooks are still used successfully by many anglers.

Catfish sinkers

fishing for catfish

Sinkers, or weights, are simply heavy weights which both allow for the bait to be cast and to get and keep the bait on the bottom where catfish feed. The basic rule of thumb is to use the least amount of weight required to accomplish this. Heavy currents and deeper water will require the use of more weight.

No roll sinkers are very effective and are quite popular among catfish anglers. They lie flat on the bottom and hold their position well. The sinker has a hole in it, the line slides through it. A swivel then stops the sinker. A short leader and hook finishes off the rig. Bank sinkers are used when drifting and also to keep a bait a little bit off the bottom. One ounce to three ounce sinkers will cover most situations.

Other catfish gear

There are a few other items of equipment that catfish anglers should consider. These include a pair of pliers, fish lip gripper, landing net, scissors, scale, and a fillet knife. Most anglers already own tackle boxes, though a dedicated box for catfish can be put together.


A good pair of pliers are an essential device for every angler. They cut line, pull knots tight, and safely remove hooks from the mouth of a fish. Some have holsters and many sport a lanyard to keep them from falling in the water.

Fish gripper

A lip gripper can really make handling a decent sized catfish much easier! Anglers can control a fish, remove the hook, and hold it up for a picture much easier. Here is a kit with both pliers and a gripper for $24.

Landing net

Anglers fishing for catfish will find a big landing net to be an important part of the best catfish fishing tackle and gear. These will help land larger catfish instead of lifting or wrestling them over the gunnel or bank.


Scissors are very helpful when fishing for catfish in a couple of instances. Braided line is often easier to cut with scissors than with pliers. Also, they make cutting bait into chunks or strips easier and safer as well. Some anglers have both small scissors and game shears.


Some anglers like to know exactly how heavy their catfish is. For this, they require a portable scale. This is more of a luxury item as opposed to a required piece of equipment.

Fillet knife

Anglers desiring to keep a fish or two for dinner will need a knife to clean it. Many prefer electric knives, though manual blades work fine as well. The knife needs to be large and stout for cleaning a decent sized catfish.

Catfish fishing tips and techniques

Catfish can be caught in a wide variety of environments. They are landed by anglers fishing in the smallest of creeks as well as the largest lakes in the country. Slow-moving, mid-sized rivers are prime habitat. Tailwaters are fantastic spots to target catfish as well.

River fishing for catfish

Rivers are great waters to target catfish. Anglers fishing in rivers have an advantage over those fishing and lakes; there is simply much less water in which to search for fish. Small rivers in particular are excellent spots to target catfish, especially for novice anglers.

fishing in tailwaters for catfish

Outside bends in rivers are the top spots in most cases. The current flow gouges out and undercut bank as well is a deep hole on the outside bends of river channels. This results in these areas often times being the deepest portions of the river. Additionally, current deposits debris such as fallen trees and other cover which then accumulates in these holes. This is perfect catfish habitat.

Anglers can have great success by simply moving from one outside corner or bend to the next. Generally speaking, the straight portions of rivers tend to be less attractive to fish. There is nothing of interest to hold them, unless there is a significant depth change or other feature that will attract fish.

Larger rivers are a completely different situation. These rivers can be dangerous and angler should always put safety first! Strong currents and eddies along with unseen hazards can create a very dangerous situation. Commercial barge traffic is often present. However, some of the largest catfish in the world are caught in large rivers.

fishing for river catfish

Outside bends are less of an issue in large rivers as they are in small rivers. Catfish will relate more to underwater bars, sunken debris and other structure, holes, ledges, points, bridges, and anything else that will break up the current and give them a good ambush location.

River conditions affect catfish

Conditions are an important factor when river fishing for catfish and other species. Water height and flow will have an impact on fish movements as well as being a safety consideration. During periods of high water, which is often times in the spring, fish will move out of the main river channels to escape the strong current. Sloughs and backwater areas off of the main channel will be better spots to fish. This can also be a dangerous time to be out an angler should be extra careful!

Conversely, during periods of low water catfish will congregate in the deeper areas of rivers. There simply will not be enough water on the shallow bars and flats to hold them. This often occurs in summer when the water is warm. The deeper holes will be cooler, which is another factor that will attract and hold fish.

Bait presentation is important in rivers, whether anglers or fishing from a boat or from shore. In most cases, the best technique is to approach the structure or area to be fished from the up current side. The bait is then presented downstream to the fish, with the bait being placed just ahead of the structure. This will result in the current taking the scent of the bait downstream to the fish and hopefully pulling it out away from the structure. Presenting the bait right in the structure will often result in a snag.

How to catch catfish in lakes

Lakes throughout North America offer anglers excellent opportunities to catch all three major species of catfish. Targeting catfish and large lakes can be overwhelming as there is so much area to be covered. However, lakes often produce the largest catfish. The primary reason for this is simple, forage.

Many lakes, particularly Southern impoundments, are full of shad and herring that were stocked as forage for striped bass. This has resulted in an outstanding environment for catfish to thrive in.

fishing for blue catfish

Catfish are similar to other game fish in that they have the same basic needs. They prefer some type of structure that they can relate to. Cover and structure offer fish a feeling of safety along with a spot from which to ambush prey. While catfish are fairly tolerant to a wide range of water temperature, water that is either very warm or very cold will affect their movements and behavior.

The same types of spots that produce striped bass, largemouth bass, and other game fish species will hold catfish as well. These include bends in the sunken river channel, long sloping points, bluff banks, flats, bridges, docks, artificial reefs or fish attractors, the mouths of creeks are rivers entering the lakes, and deeper holes.

Catfish migrations in lakes

Catfish do have a seasonal migration in most lakes. As it warms up in the spring, they move up into the rivers, creeks, and tributaries in order to spawn. Areas with gravel or rocky bottom are prime spots. Once the spawning process is completed, catfish will scatter out into the main lake areas. During summer, catfish will often be found in the deepest portions of the lake, particularly near the dam. This area of the lake is often the deepest, coolest, and will attract the most bait.

As it cools off in the fall, catfish will once again move shallow as the water temperatures drop. Large flats in 10 feet of water to 15 feet of water adjacent to deep channel edges are great spots to try. Tributary mouths along with sloping points are also high percentage catfish spots in the fall. Striped bass often times will be seen schooling on the surface this time of year. Catfish can often times be found under the schools of feeding fish, gorging on the easy scraps.

Anglers targeting catfish in lakes have one advantage over river anglers; they can put out multiple lines behind the boat and off to the sides in search of fish. Often times, anglers fishing and rivers can only put out a couple of lines due to the current. However, this is not to case and lakes. Depending on local laws, anglers can put out quite a spread and cover a large area of water from a single location. This will help the catfish angler dial in the depth, presentation, and bait that is most effective on that outing.

How to catch catfish in tailwaters

Tailwaters are fantastic spots to fish for catfish as well as just about every other freshwater species. Fish just naturally are attracted to current, and catfish are no exception. Flowing water gives game fish an advantage over bait fish. The water flowing through and/or over a dam can be quite swift. Catfish are well adapted to maneuver in this environment and they will feed heavily on the available forage.

Often times, bait fish such as shad, herring, bluegill, and other species can get chopped up going through the turbines of a hydroelectric dam. This provides an easy meal for catfish and other species as they lie in the current at the base of the dam and wait for the buffet to begin.

Boating in tailwaters can be dangerous! Anglers should always heed warnings and never anchor the boat from the stern. In many cases, these areas are accessible from shore. This is an excellent opportunity for anglers without a boat to have the chance to catch a big fish. Any lake or river system that has a decent population of catfish should have excellent fishing in the tail water area below the dam.

In conclusion, this article on the best catfish fishing tackle and gear will help anglers all over North America have more success!







Best 13 Brown Trout Fishing Lures

Best 13 Brown Trout Fishing Lures

This post will list the best 13 brown trout fishing lures. Brown trout are a favorite of many trout anglers for a variety of reasons. Brownies are a gorgeous fish that fights hard. They can tolerate warmer water than other trout. This makes them more widely distributed. Brown trout grow fairly large. They will hit a wide variety of lures, flies, and baits.

Brown trout have a varied dies. This is one of the factors that results in so many lures being effective. Smaller brown trout feed on insects, flies, larvae, bait fish, and small crustaceans. As they grow larger, they shift to seeking more substantial meals. This mostly means larger bait fish and larger crustaceans.

best 13 brown trout fishing lures

The best 13 brown trout fishing lures all mimic bait fish or crayfish. These include spinners, spoons, plugs, and soft plastic baits. The great thing about all of these lures is that they catch brown trout of all sizes. Anglers choose the size lure based on available forage and size of the fish being sought. Big lures do catch big fish!

Brown trout can be found in a variety of environments and a fairly wide range of water temperatures. This results in brown trout being the most widely distributed trout in North America. They are found from tiny streams to large rivers. Some of the largest brown trout are landed by anglers fishing in lakes.

Top 13 brown trout fishing lures

Here is the list of the top 13 brown trout fishing lures. These are all proven baits which have been catching trout for a long time. All of them can be both cast or trolled. Trolling is a great way to locate fish in larger lakes.

  • Worden’s Original Rooster Tail Spinner
  • Rapala X-Rap Extreme Action Slashbait
  • Little Cleo Spoon
  • Panther Martin Spinner
  • Sweedish Pimple Spoon
  • Luhr Jensen Krocodile Spoon
  • Mepps Aglia Spinner
  • Rebel Jointed Minnow
  • Flatfish
  • Acme Kastmaster Spoon
  • Mister Twister Grub
  • Rebel Wee Craw
  • Rapala Jointed Minnow

These brown trout fishing lures will catch fish in any situation. As an added bonus, they will fool most other trout species as well. Rainbow trout, brook trout, small lake trout, and other species can all be taken on these extremely effective lures!

brown trout fishing lures

1)  Wordens Original Rooster Tail Spinner

The Worden’s Original Rooster Tail is an excellent brown trout fishing lure. In fact, it is a very productive lure for every trout species as well. This is your basic in-line spinner. Rooster Tails come in a variety of sizes and many different color patterns. The 1/16 ounce is ideal for streams and small rivers. Larger lures are better suited for trolling and lakes and for fishing larger rivers with stronger current.

Most anglers brown trout fishing choose a brightly colored Rooster Tail spinner with the gold blade finish. Gold is a excellent all-around color in a variety of conditions. Silver bladed spinners with light colored bodies are a good choice in bright sunny conditions in the middle of the day. They are even available with a single hook for waters that require that.

trout fishing

Rooster Tails are very easy baits to use. They can be cast as well as trolled and both rivers and lakes. One excellent aspect of this lure is that it is very light and sinks quite slowly. This makes it a good choice in shallow streams. The blade will rotate with just the slightest movement, putting out flash and vibration.

2)  Rapala X-Rap

The Rapala X-Rap Extreme Action Slashbait is second on the list of top 13 brown trout fishing lures. It is in the family of what anglers call “jerk baits”. These are hard bodied plugs that float at rest and then dive down a few feet below the surface upon retrieve. They come in a wide variety of sizes and color patterns. The smaller 04 and 06 sizes are perfect for streams of small rivers. The larger 08 and 10 sizes work well when trolling or casting in lakes.

brown trout fishing

The best retrieve when using one of these baits is a hard twitch followed by a pause. This pause is very important as it simulates a wounded bait fish. Often times, strike occurs as the bait just hangs there motionless. Anglers in the Great Lakes and other larger lakes troll the number 10 and number 12 size X Raps to catch large brown trout.

3)  Little Cleo Spoon

The Little Cleo spoon by Acme is a proven brown trout fishing lure. Spoons are really simple lures, just a curved piece of metal with a hook in. Like all spoons, this one puts out a ton of flash and vibration. Smaller versions are excellent for casting in streams and rivers with pools and more quiet water. They are fairly heavy and will sink down to the bottom quickly when not retrieved. They are excellent ice fishing lures as well.

brown trout fishing

Little Cleo spoons are very versatile baits. They can be cast out and retrieved in both rivers and lakes. Anglers trolling with these spoons do very well behind downrigger’s and other devices. They can also be presented vertically in both open water and ice fishing conditions. Silver and gold are popular finishes along with the many variations of painted patterns.

4)  Panther Martin Spinner

Panther Martin spinners are legendary among trout anglers. They are number four on the list of top 13 brown trout fishing lures. Panther Martin spinners are heavier than some other in-line spinners. This makes them an excellent choice in larger streams and rivers with deeper pools and runs. They will hang up on the bottom in shallow streams.

brown trout fishing lures


Anglers fishing with Panther Martin spinners catch trout both trolling and casting in lakes. They are available and several sizes and quite a few different color pattern finishes. Once again, gold is a great all round blade color while silver works best under the bright sun. Many seasoned anglers are convinced that these lures put out a unique, fish calling vibration.

5)  Sweedish Pimple Spoon

The Sweedish Pimple spoon is another bait with a long and storied reputation. It is a favorite among anglers ice fishing for brown trout as well. Smaller versions are productive when cast across the current and streams and rivers. Larger baits are used by anglers trolling for big brown trout in open water in the deeper rivers. It can be used in a vertical presentation over deep water structure and through the ice.

best trout lures

6)  Luhr Jensen Krocodile Spoon

The Luhr Jensen Krocodile spoon is another effective and proven brown trout fishing lure. As with the other spoons, it is a very versatile lure that can be presented in a variety of fashions. They produce brown trout when cast in streams and rivers, cast and trolled and lakes in deeper rivers, and vertically fished through the ice and over submerge structure. It is available in a wide variety of color patterns and in several sizes.

brown trout fishing lures

7)  Mepps Aglia Spinner

Mepps is well known for their in-line spinners. The Mepps Aglia spinner is number seven on the list of the best 13 brown trout fishing lures. This bait has been around a very long time. It comes in multiple configurations, giving anglers a wide choice and colors and styles. The bait with the gold blade and brown dressed tail is one of the all-time favorites and still produces plenty of brown trout to this day. It is a fairly light spinner and works very well in streams and rivers.

8)  Rebel Jointed Minnow

The Rebel Jointed Minnow is an excellent brown trout fishing lure, especially for larger fish. It is a hard body plug that, as the name implies, is jointed in the center. This gives it a very realistic action as it swims through the water. Gold with a black back and silver are two of the most popular color patterns. Anglers should match the size of the lure to the size of the fish being sought as well as the available forage. For the most part, this bait is used in larger rivers and lakes for anglers who are seeking brown trout that are larger than average.

9)  Flatfish

These odd looking plugs are extremely productive for anglers brown trout fishing, especially in larger rivers. While they can be cast, the majority of anglers using them do so by trolling. There is also a special technique where they drop the plug back on a three-way sinker line into strong current. As the boat sits motionless, the Flatfish is played back downstream. The strength of the current causes the lure to dance seductively in one spot. This will trigger strikes from brown trout as they migrate up the river system.

10)  Acme Kastmaster Spoon

The Acme Kastmaster spoon looks a little different than the other spoons on this list of the best 13 brown trout fishing lures. However, the unique design gives it a tantalizing flash and wiggle in the water. The gold finish is by far the most popular for trout. However, silver with the prism finish is gaining in popularity. The tiniest sizes are extremely effective on trout and small streams. Larger versions can be cast or trolled in larger bodies of water.

11)  Mister Twister Grub

Mister Twister grubs are well known among veteran freshwater anglers. However, not many associate them with brown trout fishing. This can be a mistake! This is especially true and water said get a lot of pressure. Often times, anglers casting a different bait will draw strike. Mister Twister grubs are fished on a jig head. The size and weight of the jig had will be determined by the current and the water depth. These lures will mimic bait fish as well as crustaceans and insects when bounced along the bottom.

12) Rebel Wee Craw

The Rebel Wee Craw is a legendary River fishing lure. However, like the Mister Twister above, most anglers associate it with smallmouth bass fishing. It is an extremely effective bait when used in pool sections between riffles. The Wee Craw will oftentimes catch larger trout. It is most effective when it is digging along the bottom, bouncing off of rocks and boulders. These plugs will turn sideways when used in heavy current. It slightly warmer waters that hold both brown trout and smallmouth bass, it is an excellent lure choice.

13)  Rapala Jointed Minnow

The old school Rapala Jointed Minnow is the last, but not least, selection on the list of best 13 brown trout fishing lures. It is similar to the Rebel plug, however it does have a different action. This bait can be used in larger streams, rivers, and lakes. It is an excellent lore when slowly trolled behind the boat. Gold with the white belly and black back is by far the most popular color pattern.

In conclusion, this article on the best 13 brown trout fishing lures will help anglers catch more trout in streams, rivers, and lakes!






Top 10 Northern Pike Fishing Lures

Top 10 Northern Pike Fishing Lures

This post will list the top 10 northern pike fishing lures. Northern pike are apex predators. They are among the largest and most sought after freshwater game fish. Northern pike grow very large. The world record is 55 pounds! Fish to 20 pounds are caught regularly. Pike are aggressive and most are caught by anglers using artificial lures. They want a substantial meal and feed on smaller fish, amphibians, birds, and mammals!

top 10 northern pike fishing lures

Northern pike are ambush predators. One close look at them reveals how they feed. Pike blend in perfectly around weeds and submerged vegetation. They are long and easily slither through grass and weeds. Using their large mouth and sharp teeth, pike pounce on yellow perch, suckers, panfish, and other small fish. Pike also feed on small mammals and amphibians on the surface. They will hold on rocks and other structure in deeper water.

pike fishing lures

Northern pike are a cold water species. They are found in the northern part of the United States, much of Canada, and colder regions in Europe. Northern pike do not get affected by cold water and feed all winter long. This makes them prime candidates for anglers fishing through the ice. Anglers can read more about ice fishing for northern pike in this article.

Best northern pike fishing tackle

Anglers fishing for northern pike use both spinning and bait casting tackle. Heavy spinning tackle and bait casting tackle is best as the lures used are fairly heavy. Also, as mentioned about, pike grow quite large. Finally, northern pike are usually caught around some type of structure. All of these factors result in anglers using heavier tackle.

pike fishing

A good spinning combination would be a 7 foot or 7 ½ foot medium heavy rod with a fast action. This means that the rod has a stiff butt section but a limber tip. This allows anglers to cast the lures a long way, but still has the ability to fight a big fish. It can be paired with a 5000 series reel. Baitcasting combinations are similar.

Most anglers opt for braided line when pike fishing. It has a smaller diameter, resulting in longer casts. It also offers more abrasion resistance. Braided line has no stretch, resulting in a firm hook set. Most anglers use a 12” steel leader to prevent norther pike from cutting the line with their sharp teeth. These leaders also have swivels, which are required when using spoons.

Best northern pike fishing lures

The most productive norther pike fishing lures fall into several categories. They include hard body plugs, spoons, inline spinners, spinnerbaits, and soft plastic lures. The top 10 northern pike lures are;

  • Eppinger Daredevil Spoon
  • Booyah Pikee Spinnerbait
  • Rapala #14 Shad Rap
  • Mepps Musky Killer Spinner
  • Livetarget frog
  • Rapala Stitter Prop
  • Johnson Silver Minnow Spoon
  • Acme Kastmaster Spoon
  • #14 Rapala Husky Jerk
  • Bass Assassin Did Dapper Swim Bait

1) Eppinger Daredevil Spoon

The Eppinger Daredevil spoon is a legendary bait. It tops the list of the top 10 northern pike fishing lures. A spoon is basically a curved piece of metal with a hook in it. Spoons are heavy and cast well. They put out a lot of flash and vibration. The one ounce size is excellent for northern pike fishing. The time tested red and white and “five of diamonds” are excellent choices.

best northern pike fishing lure

Spoons are easy to use, making them and excellent choice for novice anglers. The Daredevil spoon is cast out, allowed to sink, then retrieved back in. A steady retrieve usually produces, though anglers can mix it up with some twitches and pauses. It has an exposed hook and works great fished over submerged weeds and along weed edges. It can be both cast and trolled.

2) Booyah Pikee Spinnerbait

The best spinnerbait on the marker for northern pike is by far the Booyah Pikee Spinnerbait. It is large, puts out a ton of flash and vibration, and is quite durable. Chartreuse is a good color choice, but every anglers has his or her favorite pattern. Spinnerbaits are fairly weedless and can be fished through fairly heavy weeds and cover.

northern pike

The Pikee spinnerbait can be fished through the entire water column. It works well buzzed just under the surface or slow rolled close to the bottom. In most cases, a steady retrieve works best. However, anglers should vary that retrieve until a productive one emerges. Pike can be very aggressive,m but sometimes a slower retrieve works best.

3) #14 Rapala Shad Rap

The Rapala Shad Rap in the #14 size is a terrific northern pike fishing lure, hitting number three on the list. It is a versatile bait that can be cast as well as trolled. It is probably the top bait used by anglers trolling for pike. Sexy shad and yellow perch are top patterns.

top pike lures

This bait floats at rest and dives down eight feet or so on the retrieve. It has a wider profile and runs deeper than other jerk baits. It is a great choice for fishiung deeper grass beds and areas of rocky bottom. The Shad Rap allows anglers to cover a lot of water whether casting or trolling.

4) Mepps Musky Killer Spinner

While named the “musky Killer”, this inline spinner by Mepps is a terrific northern pike lure. Mepps is THE name when it comes to spinners. This bait is large and will attract large pike. It is very easy to use, anglers simply cast it out and reel it back in. The blade puts out a lot of flash and vibration.

pike fishing

These baits come in a variety of colors. The most popular lure in the gold blade with a brown and orange tail dressing. This has been proven over decades to be an effective lure. It may fool any musky that might be in the area as well. Frogs can be worked through sparse vegetation, but will hang up in heavy weeds. It can be trolled slowly in open water as well.

5) LiveTarget Floating Frog

Northern pike feed on amphibians as well, mostly frogs. The Livetarget Floating frog is an excellent frog bait. It can be worked on the surfaced through very thick vegetation. It puts up a fair commotion which will draw pike up from deeper water. In most cases, expansive shallow weed beds in the warmer months are the best places and times to fish it.

northern pike lures

The LiveTarget Frog is an exciting bait to fish! Strikes are explosive and often times the fish will miss it. The bait can be worked off of the tops of lily pads and other vegetation. Most strikes will occur in the open spots. It also works well when algae covers the surface. For the most part, this bait works best in the warmer months.

6) Rapala Skitter Prop

The Rapala Skitter Prop is a topwater plug. It is number 6 on the list of top 10 northern pike fishing lures. Since northern pike are fairly aggressive, noisy topwater baits work best. The Skitter Prop has a propeller on the rear that puts out a lot of commotion. It comes in a variety of colors, with frog being a good pattern for northern pike.

pike fishing in Minnesota

The lure is cast out towards shoreline cover, weed edges, or over submerged vegetation. It is allowed to settle, then is twitched sharply. It is again allowed to sit and then the process is repeated. At times, a fast, steady retrieve will produce. It is important to wait until the fish is felt on the line as opposed to striking on the visual strike. This can be difficult as strikes are often explosive!

7) Johnson Silver Minnow Spoon

The Johnson Silver Minnow is a weedless spoon with decades of tradition as a productive fishing lure. It will fool northern pike and most other freshwater species as well. While termed “Silver Minnow”, most pike anglers choose the ¾ ounce spoon I a gold finish. It is weedless and an excellent choice in heavy vegetation.

Minnesota walleys and pike fishing

This bait is virtually weedless, though it will load up with moss. It is very easy to use. Most anglers cast it out and reel it back in. It has a great built in wobbling action. It can be hopped on the top of pads as well. Many anglers add a plastic trailer to increase the action and profile of the bait.

8) Acme Kastmaster Spoon

The Acme Kastmaster Spoon is another time-proven northern pike fishing bait. It is number 8 on the list of top 10 northern pike fishing lures. This is a versatile spoon that can be cast or trolled. Kastmaster spoons work well when pike are in deep water when presented vertically. It is also one of the top ice fishing lures as well.The one ounce size works well for pike fishing.

The Kastmaster can be cast out and retrieved, just like all spoons. They come in many new colors, but the silver or gold finish with a little strip on neon works great. It is a great choice in cooler weather when pike move deeper. Vertically jigging, both in open water and through the ice will produce pike.

9) #14 Rapala Husky Jerk

The Rapala Husky Jerk in the #14 size is an excellent northern pike fishing lure. It is a large, heavy bait. It floats on the surface and dives down a few feet upon the retrieve. This is a “jerk bait” and is worked in an aggressive manner. Yellow perch, gold, and firetiger are top color patterns for pike.

The bait is cast out and then retrieved back in using sharp, aggressive twitches. However, it is very important to put slack in the line after a hard twitch. This will cause the bait to hang there in the water column, motionless. This drives fish crazy and is often times when they strike.

10) Bass Assassin Die Dapper Swim Bait

Northern pike will certainly hit a swim bait as well. The Bass Assassin Die Dapper has a large profile. The paddle tail puts out a steady thump and vibration. These baits can be rigged weedless to work through heavy weeds. Colors vary, but bright colors that match perch often work well.

In most cases, the Bass Assassin Die Dapper works best using a slow, steady retrieve. It is an excellent choice when pike are not as active and respond to a more subtle presentation. Winter and post cold front conditions are great examples of this.

In conclusion, this article on the top 10 northern pike fishing lures will help anglers catch more fish!

Top 11 Musky Fishing Lures

Top 11 Musky Fishing Lures

In this post we will list the top 11 musky fishing lures. Muskellunge, or musky as they are known to most anglers, are apex predators. They are one of the largest growing freshwater fish. They lie in ambush, often times and weeds, and dart out and devour their helpless prey. However, musky are not at all easy to catch. They did not earn their nickname, “a fish of 10,000 casts” for no reason!

top 11 musky fishing lures

While musky can be taken by anglers using live bait, the majority do so using artificial lures. There are several reasons for this. Lures allow anglers to cover a lot of water. Conversely, anglers fishing with live bait sit in one spot for a fairly long period of time. Also, artificial lures will draw strike for reasons other than hunger. The musky may be aggravated, excited, annoyed, or even just curious and take a bait.

Musky prefer a substantial meal. They do not feed often, and when they do they want enough to satisfy their hunger. Therefore, most of the best musky fishing lures are quite large. For the most part, musky feed on live bait fish such as suckers and yellow perch. Most lures are designed to mimic these bait fish. However some really just put out flash and vibration to attract musky.

Best musky fishing tackle

Anglers fishing for musky must use heavy tackle, there really is no alternative. There are a couple of reasons for this. First and foremost, musky get very large. Fish in the 40 inch to 50 inch range are not uncommon. Second, the lures that are used to catch them are large, bulky, and heavy. This requires stout tackle to efficiently cast them for hours at a time.

musky fishing

Most anglers opt for two-handed bait casting tackle. This really is the most effective rod and reel combination to use when casting heavy musky lures. These rigs also give the angler plenty of power when setting the hook and fighting a large fish. Heavy spinning tackle can certainly be used effectively, and many do so.

Heavy braided line in the 60 pound test class is generally spooled onto the reels. The heavy lures used will cast a long way, even with this heavier line. Braided line has no stretch, excellent sensitivity, and is more abrasion resistant than monofilament. Due to the mouthful of sharp teeth, anglers use a 12 inch steel leader in most situations.

Here is a link to an excellent Lew’s bait casting combo.

Top 11 musky fishing lures

The list of top 11 musky fishing lures is given in no particular order. They fall into several categories, including spoons, spinners, jerk baits, soft plastic baits, and swim baits. All have proven themselves to be excellent musky fishing lures over the years. Most of these lures can be both cast and trolled.

1)  Mepps Musky Killer

The Mepps Musky Killer is aptly named! It is number one on our list of top X musky fishing lures. In terms of musky Lures, it is fairly light, coming in at a little less than an ounce. It is 7 inches long. The Mepps Musky Killer is a legend amongst veteran musky anglers. It will catch fish and just about every situation and in any location. It is large enough to attract trophy musky while being light enough to cast for hours at a time.

This is a very versatile lure. It can be fished on or near the surface or as deep as 10 feet. The Musky Killer can be cast or trolled. It will catch fish in all seasons as well. They come in a wide variety of color patterns to match the local forage. In the waning light of late afternoon, a gold blade with a brown and orange tail is a good all-around combination.

One great thing about the Musky Killer is that it is very easy to use. The blades rotate easily, putting out a lot of flash and vibration. All the angler does is cast out, allow it to sink to the desired depth, then reel it back in using a steady rhythmic retrieve. As with all fishing, angler should vary the speed until a productive pattern emerges.

2)  Eppinger Daredevil

The Eppinger Daredevil is another iconic fishing lure. While most anglers associate it with northern pike, is extremely effective on musky as well. Most anglers go with the 1 ounce size, which is about 3 3/4 inches long. Like the Mepps lure above, it is relatively light in terms of a musky lure. This makes it fairly easy to cast for a long period of time. Some may consider it a nuisance, but as an added bonus it will catch plenty of northern pike along the way.

best river fishing lures

These spoons have a lot of built in action, making them easy to use for most anglers. The lure is cast out and allowed to sink a few seconds, then reeled back in using a steady retrieve, with some twitches and pauses in between. Again, the retrieve should be varied until a bite occurs. It is fairly versatile, and can be used over submerged weed beds, along weed lines, and even deeper around structure breaks such as channel edges and points.

The old school red and white daredevil spoon has caught a lot of fish over the decades. It is still a good choice for musky today. However, some anglers have gone to some of the more modern colors and finishes. Silver is a good choice on sunny days while gold works best on cloudy days and under other low light conditions. It is a versatile and durable bait that should be in every musky anglers tackle box!

3)  Booyah Pikee Spinnerbait

The Booyah Pikee Spinnerbait is another very productive musky fishing lure. Again, this is a fairly light baits coming in at just over one half an ounce. This makes it a great choice for anglers who prefer to use spinning tackle or don’t have the stamina to cast a heavy lure all day long. Don’t let the size for you, it will catch plenty of trophy musky!

Most anglers choose models with bright colors. It has large blades which put out a lot of flash and vibration. This bait is specifically designed by Booyah for musky fishing, therefore it is a bit more durable than other baits made for bass and pike. It is a fairly easy lure to use with a ton of built in action. Steady retrieve’s work best in a can be worked throughout the entire water column. Spinner baits are also a bit more weedless than spoons and in line spinners, making them an excellent choice and heavier weeds.

4)  Musky Double Cowgirl

This bait made by Musky Mayhem is another excellent musky lure with a proven track record. It is very durable and built to last and is one of the best spinners for musky. It is number four on the list of top X musky fishing lures. This is an excellent bait for novice anglers as it has a ton of built in action and all that is required to catch fish is a slow steady retrieve.

top 11 musky fishing lures

This is a larger bait, coming in at around 10 inches long and weighing close to 3 ounces. The pair of blades put out a ton of flash and vibration, even at slower speeds. It is an excellent lure to try when the sun is out and the musky are a bit less aggressive. It is excellent when fished over and through submerged weed beds as well is around other cover such as sunken trees and submerged rock piles.

5)  Whopper Plopper

The Whopper Plopper is a relative newcomer to the fishing game, compared to some of these other old-school baits. However, it is extremely effective. This is a top water lure. It puts out a ton of commotion on the surface due to its concave face along with the action of the tail.

Best fishing lures in rivers

These baits are very effective at pulling fish out of deeper weed beds. It is an excellent choice in the summer time when water temperatures are a bit higher. The commotion of this bait will draw some heart stopping strikes! If there is one drawback to this lure, it is that it is not as durable as some others. However, this will not be an issue when a trophy musky grabs!

6)  Suick Thriller

The Suick Thriller has been around almost a century. It truly is one of the original musky fishing lures and belongs in every serious musky anglers tackle box. It is a proven veteran still catches plenty of fish to this day. The Suick Thriller comes in several different sizes, ranging from 7 inches long to 10 inches long. Unlike some other lures, the Suick Thriller does not have much built in action, the angler must impart it to the lure.

This is basically a jerk bait. It is very effective when ripped through weed beds and is a very durable bait as well. It is perhaps not the best choice for novice anglers, as it does take a bit of practice to master the rhythmic retrieve that is required to catch fish. However, the effort put in to learn how to use this bait will pay off with trophy musky.

7)  Reef Hawg

The Reef Hawg is in the family of glide baits. They are not as popular as they used to be, but are still very effective. This lure is made to work deeper than some of the other lures listed above. They can be used for both casting and trolling and are a good choice in cooler months when there is less weed growth and the fish have moved a bit deeper.

8)  Lixada swimbait

This segmented, multi-jointed lure is a bit of a combination between a crank bait in a swim bait. These segments cause a to swim in a very lifelike manner. The bait sinks slow enough that it can be worked both near the surface and at deeper depths. It is a very durable bait with large, quality treble hooks.

In most instances, a slow steady retrieve a few feet below the surface works best. This is particularly true over submerged weed beds. The flash in action are astounding and this is a proven musky lure. This is a big bait, coming in at a full foot long and almost half a pound. Smaller versions of this lure are available, too.

9)  #14 Rapala Shad Rap

This large crank bait is a very productive musky fishing lure that is popular with many anglers. It is a heavy bait and is effective when both cast and trolled. The yellow perch and fire tiger patterns work well. It has a lot of built in action. A slow steady retrieve with some hard jerks and pauses generally works best. Slow trolling with this bait is very effective in the wintertime.

10) Blitz Bite Jointed Minnow

The Blitz Bite Jointed Minnow is another very lifelike swim bait style lure. Anglers can tell from the first glance at it is a quality bait. It is 8 inches long and weighs 3 ounces. Like most of these lures in this family, a slow steady retrieve works best. The lure will swim through the water in a very natural manner. The bait is made from plastic and is fairly durable, all things considered.

11)  #14 Rapala Husky Jerk

Rapala is the name in the industry when it comes to jerk baits. It is no exception when it comes to musky fishing as well. That is why the #14 Husky Jerk finishes off the list of the top 11 musky fishing lures. This is a long and slender bait that is fairly easy to cast and work all day. It comes in a variety of colors, with gold and fire tiger being proven finishes.

The key to the effectiveness of this lure is its ability to suspend in the water column. The angler retrieves the bait for a few feet then twitch is it hard followed by a pause. During this pause, the bait hangs there, seemingly motionless and helpless. This is often times when the fish attacks! It works well when either cast or troll. It also has a rattle and it as well.

Musky fishing tips

While musky are certainly not easy to catch, there are a few tips which will help anglers be more successful. Part of the allure and satisfaction of musky fish and is understanding how difficult and challenging they are to catch. It was easy, anyone could do it! Most anglers consider musky fish in the pinnacle of cold water freshwater fishing.

Most anglers with any experience musky fishing know about the “figure 8” technique. Musky are famous for following a lure all the way to the boat but not eating. At the end of each cast, anglers put their rod tip in the water and with the lure a few feet behind do several figure eights in the water. It is amazing how many musky have been hooked right at the boat using this technique.

Another helpful tip is to concentrate musky fishing on the prime times. For whatever reason, musky do not seem to feed well in the morning. Therefore, there is no need to get up at the crack of dawn and cast for an extra six hours. It is best to concentrate musky fishing in the afternoon hours as the light wanes. Cloudy, drizzly days are good as well.

Many anglers combine musky fishing with some other type of fishing. For example, they might get up at first light and through top water plugs for bass, then switch to jigging the bottom for walleye mid-day. After a good lunch and a nap, they can then hit the water hard for musky. Most anglers simply can’t cast these big heavy lures all day long. Therefore, it is best to maximize the opportunity and concentrate on the prime fishing times.

In conclusion, this article on the top 11 musky fishing lures will help anglers catch more of these incredible freshwater game fish!