Sarasota Fishing Report

Sarasota Fishing Report, weekly updates from Capt Jim

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. Fishing conditions change daily and seasonally, anglers can use this report to be more successful.

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

November 21

Weather was once again an issue this week, it was breezy with Small Craft Advisories Tues, Wednesday, and Thursday. When it wasn’t blowing, fishing was good! The best bite for my clients continued to be drifting the deep grass flats and casting jigs. Bluefish, Spanish mackerel, jacks, speckled trout, ladyfish and other species provided steady action. Stephen’s Point and the MIddlegrounds were the top spots. On Sunday there was a lot of bird activity with jacks and bluefish underneath, big fun chasing them around.

Sarasota Florida fishing report

Nov 14

Fishing was very good this week, despite some challenging weather. Strong winds started off the week, then a hurricane mid week!  Things settled back down by Saturday, where the bite was fast. Fast action on the deep grass flats continued, with anglers casting jigs catching cobia, spotted sea trout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, jacks, ladyfish, sea bass, grouper, and more. The flats on the east side were best, mostly due to the wind. Creeks and backwater areas also produced snook and jacks on jigs and plugs. The bite should resume out on the beach once the Gulf settles down.

Sarasota fishing report

Nov 7

Weather was an issue for anglers fishing in Sarasota of late. I was on vacation in North Carolina, and came home to stiff breezes around 25 mph out of the northeast. It did ease up a bit towards the end of this week. As has been the case, action on the deep grass flats was very geed. Anglers casting jigs and spoons caught trout, bluefish, jacks, ladyfish, grouper, small cobia, and more. Flats on the east side of the bay offered some protection from the wind. The Middlegrounds was probably the best spot this week. There has been some action on mackerel and false albacore just off the beaches, but it has been hit or miss. The weather does not look good at all for the first part of next week.

Florida bluefish

Oct 24

Wind was an issue for clients on Sarasota fishing charters this week. It blew steadily out of the north east at 15, with gusts to 30. It did subside a bit later in the week. Anglers casting jigs and free lining live bait fish did well on a variety of species. Catch of the week goes to Alissa Romas, with a nice cobia. Speckled trout were plentiful, with bluefish, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, jacks, sharks, snapper, grouper, sea bass, and other species mixed in. The wind pretty much limited us to flats on the east side of Sarasota Bay, with the Ringling flats being the top spot and Radio Tower being second. I heard reports of decent action in the inshore Gulf on mackerel, false albacore, and sharks, bit it was fairly choppy. I fished the braden River and Manatee River early in the week when the wind was really howling. The bite was fair, with anglers catching a few bass and snook on jigs and soft plastic baits, but it is just not cool enough yet. I am off to the North Carolina mountains for a week!

Sarasota fishing report

Oct 17

Action was very good on the deep grass flats this week. Just about every flat north of the Ringling Causeway produced fish, including Radio Tower, Middlegrounds, Stephen’s Pt., Bishop’s Pt, and Buttonwood. Anglers casting Bass Assassin baits and Gulp! Shrimp did well. I had fly anglers two days who caught a dozen or so fish each fish on Clouser patterns. Speckled trout were plentiful, with fish to 4 pounds being caught. Spanish mackerel, bluefish, jacks, sharks, ladyfish, grouper, snapper, sea bass and more took jigs and flies as well. I only fished with live bait one day, with anglers catching the same species.

sarasota fishing report

Oct 10

Fishing was very good once again this week as water temps dipped into the upper 70’s. Action on the deep grass flat was fast forr clients casting jigs, spoons, and live bait. On Thursday, George caught 14 different species including speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, jacks, grouper, snapper, sharks, ladyfish, sea bass, and more. Gulp Shrimp on a jig head and small silver spoons worked well early. A switch to live bait in the last hour kept the bite going. There was some action in the inshore Gulf of Mexico for mackerel and false albacore, but it slowed later in the week. The next decent front should get it cranked up again.

Spanish mackerel

October 3

Fishing picked up this week, especially just prior to the mid week front.  Speckled trout were plentiful on the deep grass flats, with mackerel, bluefish, jacks, ladyfish, and other species mixed in.  Gulp Shrimp on jig heads caught most of the fish.  Flats near New Pass were best.  Live bait fish produced snapper and grouper around structure near big Pass. Spanish mackerel and false albacore are just starting to show up off the area beaches.

Sarasota anglers

Sept 26

Fishing was steady this week, with clients catching a pretty even mix of speckled trout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, jacks, ladyfish, sea bass, snapper, and small grouper. For whatever reason the artificial lure bite slowed a bit, perhaps there is just too much bait.  Jigs and spoons caught fish, but the “enthusiasm” was down from the last two weeks. However, the solution was simple; net up some bait and chum them pretty heavily. The flats near the passes were better as the water was clearer and there was more bait present. Bird Key, Radio Tower, and Middlegrounds were the top spots.

fishing report Sarasota

9/19

Action was very good on the deep grass flats in Sarasota Bay this week. Tropical weather had the Gulf churned up, so the areas in the middle of the bait were best. Stephen’s Pt and Buttonwood were the top spots. Anglers did well casting Bass Assassin and Gulp Shrimp baits on a 1/4 ounce chartreuse jig head. Kastmaster spoons produced quite a few fish as well. Speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, jacks, ladyfish, grouper, snapper, sea bass, sharks, and other species kept the rods bent. Small fry bait was thick on the east side from the ramp up to Ringling, small Rapalas produced trout and ladyfish.

Sarasota fishing report

9/12

Fishing was very good once again this week.  The bite on the deep grass flats continued to be steady. Speckled trout were caught in good numbers with some fish over 20″. Bluefish and Spanish mackerel were caught as well as the water temperature slowly dropped. Ladyfish, snapper, grouper, jacks, sea bass, and other species also kept the rods bent. Most of the fish were caught on Gulp Shrimp on a jig head. On Thursday I put two of my long time regular guys together, John Englander and Steve Owen. Just for fun, Steve kept count and landed 73, and John was right there, so they landed around 125 fish. Most were caught on the flats just north of New Pass. John wanted a few snapper for the table, so we finished up doing a little chumming with bait.

Sarasota fishing report

9/5

The weather was more stable this week, though still quite warm, and the fishing was very steady. Decent sized bluefish were found on the deep grass flats, along with speckled trout, mackerel, ladyfish, sea bass, grouper, snapper, and other species. Jig heads with Bass Assassin baits and Gulp Shrimp produced through the morning, so I did not have to catch bait. Bird Key flats, Middlegrounds, Bishop’s Pt, and Buttonwood were all productive spots.

Sarasota fishing report

8/29

Fishing was decent this week, though weather was an issue. It was windy early in the week, with some Small Craft Advisories. The wind eased up later in the week. Clients casting jigs caught speckled trout, bluefish, ladyfish, grouper, sea bass, snapper, and other species. The water near the passes was dirty from the big storm swell. The flats in the middle of the bay, Bishop’s Pt., Buttonwood, and Stephen’s Pt., were best. Bait was scattered out in the dirty water, so we stuck with the jigs.

fishing for bluefish

8/22

Weather was an issue for clients on Sarasota fishing charters this week. Storms forced me to postpone a couple of trips. On days we did get out, mangrove snapper and juvenile grouper provided the best action. Not only are they around structure, but anglers caught plenty on the open flats as well. Most were caught on live bait. For whatever reason, the jig bite slowed a bit, though a couple nice trout were caught. Live bait definitely produced better action this week. Big Pass and the flats near New Pass were the best spots.

fishing report sarasota

8/15

The action on the deep grass flats continued to provide anglers with good action. Speckled trout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, jacks, sharks, snapper, gag and red grouper, sea bass and other species. Bass Assassin jigs and Gulp Shrimp produced early in the morning. The wind eased up after an hour or so most mornings, which makes jig fishing less effective. A nice little breeze really makes a huge difference when drifting the deep grass flats. So, we ended up switching to live bait a bit earlier. Mangrove snapper showed up in the chum in good numbers, along with the other species. Spots near the passes were the most productive.

best Sarasota fishing charter

8/8

Action was good on the deep grass flats again this week.  With no rain, the water temperature has eased up to the upper 80s.  The best bite was in fairly deep water, 8′ or so.  All of the fish this week were caught on jigs, mostly a red gold shiner 4″ Bass assassin Sea Shad, but a few Gulp Shrimp as well.  Speckled trout, bluefish, jacks, ladyfish, red and gag grouper, mangrove snapper, sharks, sea bass, catfish, and more were caught.  Middlegrounds and Radio Tower were the top spots.

I did a little bream fishing, hoping to find them on beds with the full moon.  The bite was fair, maybe the water is just too warm.  A few were caught at Benderson Lake and Evers reservoir on black Beetlespins and tiny twister tail jigs.

Sarasota fishing report

Sarasota fishing report Aug 1

As has been the case all summer, the fishing remains very good on the deep grass flats in Sarasota Bay. The water close to the passes has been the cleanest, with a fair amount of bait. Casting jigs at first light then switching to live bait mid morning continued to take advantage of the morning fishing window. Speckled trout fishing was very good, with both numbers and quality. Bluefish, ladyfish, sharks, grouper, sea bass and more were also caught. Mangrove snapper are seemingly everywhere, on the flats and in the passes, providing anglers seeking a meal some fine fillets along with a good fight.

Sarasota fishing report

7/25

Fishing was good once again this week for anglers fishing with Capt Jim on Sarasota fishing charters. The deep grass flats in the north bay were best early in the week. Anglers casting jigs and Clouser Minnow flies caught some nice trout along with bluefish, mackerel, ladyfish, sea bass, jacks, sharks, grouper, snapper, and more. Later in the week, the was got a little stirred up with rain and wind, and the flats closer to the passes were better. Live bait produced some good mangrove snapper along with spotted sea trout later in the mornings when the jig bite slowed.

Sarasota fishing report

7/18

Once again, the action on the deep grass flats continued to please anglers casting jigs and free lining live baits while chumming. The early jig bite improved later in the week as the wind finally turned out of the east. That resulted in more pleasant conditions and better fishing. Speckled trout were plentiful, with bluefish, jacks, grouper, ladyfish, and sharks mixed in. Mangrove sapper numbers and size improved this week, which is good for clients looking for a few fish tacos!

fishing report for Sarasota

7/11

It sounds like a broken record, but the fishing on the deep grass flats continues to be very good. Speckled trout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, jacks, sharks, ladyfish, grouper, snapper, sea bass and more kept the rods bent and Capt Jim busy!  The pattern of casting jigs at first light then catching bait when that bite slowed continued to be the best bet.  Chumming with live bait produced fast action later in the morning.  The flats near the passes, Marina Jack, Bird Key, Radio Tower, and Middlegrounds were best.

Sarasota fishing report

July 4 Sarasota fishing report

Fishing was excellent once again this week, despite the heat and water temperatures near 90. The best action was on the grass flats in 6′ to 8′ of water. Speckled trout were plentiful, with some nice fish over 20″ hitting jigs and live bait. The pattern of jigging early then switching to live bait worked well, though the jig bite has been slowing a bit earlier.  Bluefish, Spanish mackerel, jacks, sharks, grouper, snapper, sea bass, ladyfish, flounder, and catfish were also caught.  The flats closer to the passes were better this week, perhaps the water was a tad cleaner.  There certainly was a ton of bait as well!

Sarasota fishing report

6/27

Fishing was good once again this week for clients on Sarasota fishing charters. I took a two-pronged approach to my trips this week. We got out on the water at first light, at around 6:30 AM and headed for the deep flats. Anglers casting jigs produced a ton of speckled trout and ladyfish. There were quite a few decent sized trout mixed in. Bluefish, mackerel, jacks, grouper, snapper, sharks, and catfish also kept the rods bent. This bite lasted for an hour or two, depending on the breeze and cloud cover. It did slow down a bit later in the week as water temperatures eased up to 88° and there was no wind and weak tides.
Once the jig bite eased up, I ran into the passes to catch bait and do some live bait chumming. This produced the same species as well along with nonstop action most mornings. I just like to take advantage of that first light bite casting lures instead of spend it searching for bait. Also, structure in both passes produced a ton of mangrove snapper along with some black sea bass and small grouper.
Sarasota fishing report

6/17

I was on vacation in the North Carolina mountains for a week. Upon returning, I found the fishing to be as good as it was when I left. The best bite has been for action and variety on the deep grass flats. Speckled trout were numerous and up to 23″. Anglers casting jigs caught them, along with bluefish, ladyfish, jacks, grouper, sea bass, snapper, sailcats, and more. I get a lot of families this time of year and this type of fishing is easy for even novice anglers to quickly learn. Drifting the flats in 6′ to 10′ of water is both productive and fun!

Sarasota fishing report

5/30

Fishing was very good this week for clients on Sarasota fishing charters.  I finished up the week with a family trip, catching around 100 fish!  Speckled trout, bluefish, jacks, ladyfish, sharks, sea bass and more kept the rods bent.   Bass Assassin jigs and Gulp Shrimp caught all the fish. On other charters, spin and fly anglers had similar results.  The Middlegrounds, Stephen’s Pt., Bishop’s Pt., and Buttonwood were all productive.  Big Pass produced a bunch of snapper and sea bass for clients bottom fishing with shrimp.  Nearby flats held a bunch of silver trout.  One client caught a sennett casting a Gulp Jerk Shad.

Sarasota 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

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

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.

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

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

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 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Top 14 Chesapeake Bay Game Fish

Inshore Saltwater Fishing, a Complete Guide

What is the Best Pompano Fishing Lure?

Fishing for False Albacore, Pro Tips and Techniques

Best Cobia Fishing Tackle and Lures

Best Speckled Trout Fishing Tackle

Surf Fishing Tackle and Techniques

Best Jerkbait for Saltwater Fishing

11 Valuable Tampa Bay Fishing Tips

Best 6 Topwater Plugs for Saltwater Fishing

Best 7 Saltwater Fishing Spoons

Best Sheepshead Fishing Tackle and Baits

Tarpon Fishing Tackle and Gear, an Angler’s Guide

Best Redfish Fishing Tackle and lures

Best 12 Spotted Sea Trout Fishing Lures

Best Flounder and Fluke Fishing Tackle and Techniques

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

Best 14 Tampa Bay Fishing Spots

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 11 Brook Trout Fishing Lures

What is the Best Fishing Bait for Blue Catfish?

What is the Best Fishing Bait for Channel Catfish

What is the best largemouth bass fishing lure?

What is the best crappie fishing lure?

9 Essential Smallmouth Bass Fishing Lures

14 Essential Walleye Trolling Lures

Top 6 Freshwater Fishing Lures

What is the Best Live Bait for Crappie Fishing?

Top 5 Freshwater Fishing Spinners

Best small Spinnerbait for Bass Fishing

Best Brook Trout Fishing tackle

Best Lake Trout Fishing Tackle and Gear

Best Musky Fishing Tackle

Northern Pike Fishing Tips and Tackle

Best Smallmouth Bass Fishing Tackle and lures

Rock Bass Fishing Tips and Tackle

Fishing for Crappie, Bluegill, and Panfish

Walleye Fishing Tackle and lures

Top 13 Freshwater Fishing Plugs

Best 11 topwater plugs for freshwater fishing

Top 11 Freshwater Fishing Spoons

Largemouth Bass Fishing in Creeks

Spinnerbait Fishing Tips and Techniques

Bass Fishing Tackle and Equipment

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

7 Essential Striped Bass Fishing Lures

What is the Best Striped Bass Fishing Lure?

What is the best fishing knot?

What is the Best Scented Soft Plastic Fishing Lure

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 11 Brook Trout Fishing Lures

Best 11 Brook Trout Fishing Lures

This article will list Capt Jim’s top 11 brook trout fishing lures. Brook trout are native to North America. They are the smallest of the big three trout species. However, many consider them the most beautiful and most challenging! While many anglers fly fish for them, brook trout will take a wide variety of artificial lures as well.

brook trout fishing lures

The top 11 brook trout fishing lures are;

  • Rooster tail spinner
  • Mepps Aglia spinner
  • Panther Martin spinner
  • Blue Fox spinners;
  • Kastmaster spoon
  • Phoebe spoon
  • Krocodile spoon
  • Flatfish
  • Rapala Original Floating Minnow
  • Mister Twister teeny
  • Gulp Alive jigs

This selection of artificial lures will catch brook trout in any situation that an angler may encounter.

Best brook trout fishing tackle

Most brook trout anglers casting artificial lures opt for spinning tackle. These outfits are affordable, durable, versatile, and easy to use. They really are the best tools for the job. Spin cast gear still has a place as well. It can be easier to manage for children and novice anglers. However, it does have it’s limitations.

brook trout fishing lures

Most brook trout are fairly small. A 4 pound fish is a trophy! Therefore, an ultralight spinning rod and reel is the best choice. A 5 1/2 foot light action rod matched to a 1000 series reel is a great all-round combo. Anglers can shop for other outfits as well.

Anglers can shop Amazon from this link for an ultralight rod and reel

“Fishing Lido Key is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. ”

brook trout fishing

Click to read more about the best brook trout fishing tackle

 Light line is very important when trout fishing!

Light line is very important when it comes to fishing for brook trout. This is especially true in very clear water, which is where most trout will be found. 4 lb test is a good all round choice. Some stream anglers go down to 2 lb line. 6 lb line can be used in stained water. Going higher that that will really reduce strikes.

trout fishing tackle

Anglers can shop Amazon from this link for 4 lb fishing line

List of top brook trout fishing lures

The top brook trout lures can be broken down into four categories: spinners, spoons, jigs and plugs. Most brook trout lures can be both cast and trolled effectively as well as covering the entire water column. All can be used in both rivers and lakes.

Top Spinners for brook trout fishing

Spinners are clever artificial lures that anglers have been using for decades to catch fish. They catch a wide variety of species and brook trout are certainly no exception. Spinners come in many different sizes and colors. A blade rotates around a shaft, putting out flash and vibration. There is a slender body and a hook that often comes with some type of dressing. Gold blades and bright colors seem to work best in most applications.

best trout tackle

Spinners are very easy to use. The angler casts it out and allows it to sink down a bit. A sharp twitch of the rod tip will get the blade turning. A slow, steady retrieve is used to bring the bait back in. In most cases, less action is better. This lure produces when very slowly trolled as well.

Spinners really shine when fishing for brook trout in streams and rivers. The current is used to keep the lure moving and the blade spinning. The best approach is to cast across the stream, 90 degrees to the current. The lure is reeled in very slowly as it sweeps down stream. Many takes occur at the end of the drift as the line gets tight and the spinner “swings” in the current. Fly casters are very familiar with “swinging a nymph”. This technique is very effective!

brook trout lures

Spinners come in a variety of sizes and colors. 1/16 ounce baits work best in most brook trout situations. Larger baits can be used in lakes and when trophy fish are a possibility. Silver blades and light colors work best in clear water with bright sun. Copper blades and darker colors work great on cloudy days. Anglers can read more about fishing with spinners in rivers and streams here.

1) Wordens Rooster tail spinner

rooster tail

The Worden’s Rooster tail is a terrific spinner for fishing streams and small rivers. It is Capt Jim’s favorite trout fishing lure! Rooster tails come in many different colors and sizes. It is also available with a single hook for areas that require them. The single hook also aids in a good, healthy release. This lure works best when retrieved VERY slowly! As long as the blade is rotating, it can’t be worked too slowly.

Anglers can shop Amazon from this link for Rooster Tail spinners

 

2) Mepps Aglia spinner

mepps

The Mepps Aglia is another classic spinner that produces a lot brook trout for anglers. It also comes in a very wide selection of sizes and colors. Mepps spinners works well in both streams and lakes. Many anglers prefer the larger sizes for trolling in lakes. Capt Jim prefers the versions with dressing on the tail. Gold blade with brown fur is the classic pattern.

Anglers can shop Amazon from this link for Mepps Aglia spinners

 

3) Panther Martin spinner

panther martin

The Panther Martin spinner is another excellent brook trout fishing lure. It is a tad heavier and more compact than Rooster tail and Mepps spinners. Therefore, they are a better choice in larger, deeper rivers and lakes. They will cast a long distance on light line.

Anglers can shop Amazon from this link for Panther Martin spinners

4) Blue Fox spinners

blue fox spinner

Blue Fox spinners certainly have their loyal fans. Some anglers believe that it puts out a very distinct, and effective, vibration. Like the Panther Martin, it is heavier and more compact. It works best in slightly deeper or swifter water with a faster retrieve. It is a great lure for trolling deeper in lakes as well.

Anglers can shop Amazon from this link for Blue Fox spinners

Best spoons for rainbow trout fishing

A spoon is basically a curved piece of metal with a hook at the rear. Spoons are simple, yet very effective on brook trout and just about every other species. They work well on brook trout from small streams to the largest of lakes. Spoons can also be presented in a vertical manner, making them the top lure for ice fishing for brook trout.

ice fishing for brook trout

Spoons are relatively heavy for their size and cast a long way. The best retrieve is usually a steady one with the occasional pause or twitch. Anglers should vary the retrieve until a productive pattern emerges. Spoons put out a LOT of flash and vibration. They will call fish in from a distance.

Like most lures, spoons come in different sizes and finishes. Silver and gold are the most popular, though painted versions catch plenty of trout as well. Silver is best on sunny days while gold is preferred on cloudy days. Smaller sizes work best in smaller waters while the larger spoons are a better choice in lakes and larger rivers. A swivel should be used to reduce line twist when using spoons.

5) Kastmaster spoon

kastmaster

The Kastmaster spoon is very compact and dense. It is quite heavy for it’s size. Kastmaster spoons are a great spoon for fishing deeper lakes from the shoreline. It works well in larger, deeper rivers as well. Finally, it produces well when trolled.

Anglers can shop Amazon from this link for Kastmaster spoons

6) Acme Phoebe spoon

phoebe spoon

The Acme Phoebe spoon has been around a long time. It is a small, delicate spoon that is the ideal choice for brook trout fishing in smaller streams. Many spoons are too heavy for small streams. The Phoebe spoon flutters seductively in the current and trout love it. Phoebe spoons come in gold and silver, most anglers prefer gold. Both the 1/8 ounce and 1/12 ounce sizes are effective.

Anglers can shop Amazon from this link for Phoebe spoons

7) Luhr-Jensen Krocodile spoon

Krocodile spoon

The Lurhr-Jensen Krocodile spoon is a terrific bait for anglers seeking larger brook trout. It is fairly large and heavy, offering trout a substantial meal. Krocodile spoons are best used in larger rivers and lakes. It is a terrific lure for trolling up a big brookie.

Anglers can shop Amazon from this link for Krocodile spoons

Fishing for brook trout with plugs

Many anglers ignore plugs when it comes to fishing for brook trout. However, that is a mistake. As trout get larger, they begin to feed more on minnows and less on insects. They are seeking a more substantial meal. Plugs closely mimic small, wounded bait fish. They generally do not produce as many trout, but they are almost always larger.

Brook trout fishing in Minnesota

Most plugs float on the surface then dive down to a determined depth when retrieved. The depth it dives is a result of the size and shape of the bill. Most plugs have this information on the package, though some are “optimistic”. Plugs should match the size and color of the local forage.

Shallow diving plugs are extremely effective in rivers and streams. Tiny plugs work great in smaller streams. They are best used in the deeper sections and at the head and tail of riffles. Deeper diving plugs are used in lakes for anglers casting and trolling.

8) Rapala Original Floating Minnow

Rapala Ultralight floating minnow

The Rapala Original Floating Minnow still has it’s loyal following, and for good reason! This is an old-school bait that still catches plenty of fish. It works well in both streams and lakes and is terrific when trolled. It comes in many sizes and colors. A lot of veteran brook trout anglers prefer the original silver finish.

Anglers can shop Amazon from this link for Rapala Floating Minnow plugs

9) Flatfish

flatfish

The Flatfish is another classic bait that has a ton of built in action. It can be cast out and retrieved but is often trolled. One unusual technique is to simply let the plug back in the current and hold it in place. The Flatfish will vibrate in place in the current. This drives trout crazy!

Anglers can shop Amazon from this link for Flatfish plugs

Fishing for brook trout with jigs

Most anglers do not associate trout fishing with jigs. However, they can be effective lures for brook trout and tend to catch larger fish. Jigs mimic both bait fish and crustaceans. Those are the preferred forage of larger trout. Jigs are also effective through the ice.

best brook trout lures

Most anglers fishing for trout with jigs use the jig and grub combination. This allows for easy changing of tails to adapt to conditions. White and chartreuse generally imitate bait fish. Darker colors such as olive and rootbeer look like crayfish and nymphs.

These baits work very well when drifted along with the current in riffles. They can also be used in slower, deeper holes. Anglers fishing in lakes will catch fish as well. They can be trolled if the jig heads are heavy enough.

12) Mister Twister Teeny grub

mister twister

The Mister Twister Teeny Grub is an excellent soft plastic lure for brook trout. It has a very life like action on the water, particularly in current. It works well in small streams on a very light jig head.

Anglers can shop Amazon from this link for Mister Twister Teeny grubs

13) Gulp Alive Minnow

gulp alive minnow

The Gulp Alive Minnow kind of bridges the gap between live bait and artificial lures. It is heavily scented and also has great action in the water. It is most often fished on a light jig head in a manner similar to other jigs. Brook trout will hold on to it longer due to the scent.

Anglers can shop Amazon from this link for Gulp! Alive Minnows

In conclusion, this article on the best 11brook trout fishing lures will help anglers catch more of these very popular freshwater game fish!

 

 

Fishing for False Albacore, Pro Tips and Techniques

Fishing for False Albacore, Pro Tips and Techniques

Many inshore saltwater anglers enjoy fishing for false albacore. They are a hard-fighting species that resemble tuna. There are techniques anglers will need to know in order to be successful.

best false albacore fishing tackle and lures

False albacore are a pelagic species and are a member of the Scombridae family. Pelagic species spend their life in open water and do not relate to bottom or shoreline structure. False albacore migrate along the entire coast of the United States from Texas to Maine. They are also found in the Mediterranean Sea. False albacore are also known locally as “bonita” and “little tunny”. They are a terrific game fish when hooked on light tackle!

False albacore are most often encountered in large schools. In many cases, they are seen feeding ferociously on the surface. This visual aspect of fishing for false albacore certainly adds to the excitement! They are also found over and around structure such as reeds, wrecks, and oil rigs.

inshore saltwater fishing

False albacore fishing tackle

Anglers fishing for false albacore will find that medium spinning tackle is the best choice in most situations. Anglers often need to cast fairly small lures at schools of feeding fish. Spinning tackle works very well in this situation. A 7′ to 7 ½’ medium rod with a fast action paired with a 4000 series reel is a good all-round combination.

Click this link to read a detailed article on false albacore fishing tackle

“Fishing Lido Key is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. ”

Anglers can certainly use conventional tackle as well. This is most often used when chunking with cut bait around structure. Basically, conventional gear works in situations when casting is not required. Saltwater baitcasting outfits are excellent for experienced anglers, especially when casting heavier lures.

inshore saltwater fishing

Anglers fishing for false albacore can certainly be caught by anglers fly fishing as well. In fact, when they are keyed in on tiny bait, flies can often be the most productive offering. 9 wt and 10 wt outfits with floating lines work best. A quality reel with a smooth drag and 200 yards of backing is required.

Click this link to shop Amazon for Penn spinning combos

Leaders

False albacore have excellent eyesight. They also feed on small bait at times. Combine that with the fact that they are often found in very clear water and anglers face a predicament. Lighter and longer leaders will produce more strikes. However, toothy game fish such as bluefish and Spanish mackerel are often feeding alongside the albies. Light leaders can result in a lot of cut-offs and expensive lures lost.

The best approach is to go with a 3′ to 4′ length of 20 lb flourocarbon leader. There will be times when dropping down to 15 lb leader will draw more strikes. However, 20 lb is a good all round strength, unless bluefish and mackerel become too much of a nuisance.

False albacore fishing techniques

As mentioned above, anglers fishing for false albacore often pursue them when they are feeding on the surface. However, by no means does this mean that they are easy to catch! While some species such as bluefish and mackerel will stay up on the surface for a long time, false albacore often pop up for a few seconds then move on several hundred yards.

Sarasota false albacore fishing

Patience will pay off when fishing for false albacore. It is better to sit quietly in a good area and wait for a productive shot than it is to tear around chasing fish every time they surface. Usually, the fish will move in a pattern and anglers can set up in front of them. Sitting on “bait balls” can also be an excellent strategy.

Anglers can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “Inshore Saltwater Fishing” for $5 by clicking on the title link. It is 23,000 words long and covers tackle, tactics, and species.

False albacore are most often found in open water, fairly close to the beach. The area from a mile to twenty miles out is usually best. Rarely will false albacore move into inshore bays. In most cases it is a “find the bait, find the fish” situation. As always, birds can be a great aid in locating feeding fish.

Top false albacore fishing lures

Most anglers fishing for false albacore do so using artificial lures and flies. It really is more practical as anglers are usually casting to breaking fish. The top artificial lures include spoons, metals, jigs, and plugs. For the most part, false albacore feed on bait fish and the most effective lures imitate wounded forage.

fishing in Sarasota

False albacore can be extremely fussy at times. They become keyed in on a certain bait fish, and lures that do not closely imitate that bait will usually be refused. This can be a challenge when they are feeding on tiny glass minnows as most lures are larger.

Small spoons that are dense and heavy work well. The Kastmaster is a prime example. Spoons are a great choice when fish are popping up for brief periods and moving fast. They cast well and can be allowed to sink deeper into the water column as fish drop deeper. They do an excellent job of imitating small bait fish. Metals such as Crippled Herring fall into the same category.

Plugs are excellent lures for false albacore fishing. They come in a wide variety of sizes and colors, making it fairly easy to “match the hatch”. These plugs have a lot of flash and an erratic action, which imitate wounded bait fish. Plugs are excellent trolling as well.

Siesta Key fishing charters

Jigs are another effective false albacore fishing lure. They are versatile and are a good choice when false albacore are lower in the water column. White is the most popular color, especially with some type of silver flash.

Fishing with live and cut bait

Anglers can certainly go fishing for false albacore with live bait. Bait fish are most often used, though false albacore will take a free lined live shrimp as well. Anglers fishing with bait fish use a cast net or Sibiki rig to catch fresh and frisky live bait. Shrimp can be purchased at local shops.

Sarasota fishing calendar

Live bait is usually free lined on a hook. Anglers simply float a live bait behind the boat, using the least amount of weight required to get the bait down and giving it a natural looking presentation. In most cases, a few split shot will get that done.

Anglers can also use fresh cut bait, especially when chumming. This is most often done when anchoring over structure. However, anglers can drift and chum as long as the wind and current are not too strong. Serious anglers will chum with live bait. This requires a lot of bait, but can be an extremely effective technique.

Where available, frozen glass minnows are used to chum false albacore as well. This is popular off of the Carolinas. Small jigs and even flies are drifted back with the chum as it disperses. This technique is used on tough days when the fish refuse to show on the surface.

Strategies for working breaking fish

As mentioned earlier, one of the most enjoyable and exciting aspects of fishing for false albacore is that it is often a visual experience. Novice anglers regularly make the mistake of charging around all over the place. This will occasionally pay off. However, in most cases a more patient approach works better.

The fish will be seen feeding on the surface. At times, they will stay up and in the same spot for a while. When this occurs, the boat is idled toward the fish, ideally upwind. The motor is cut and anglers cast in front of the feeding fish. A fast, erratic retrieve is generally the most productive. Hopefully, hookups ensue!

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This scenario is the exception rather than the rule. In most cases, albies will pop up, feed ferociously for several seconds, then disappear only to pop up a hundred yards away and repeat the process. False albacore are very fast! This can lead to frustration by the angler. The best approach is to sit in an area where fish are feeding or moving through and wait for a good shot. That patience is usually rewarded.

Another excellent approach is to find bait balls and sit near them. These bait schools are easily spotted mid day when the sun is up in clear water. At some point, false albacore and other species will find them and attack.

Trolling for false albacore

Many anglers catch false albacore by trolling for them. This works especially well in deeper water, further offshore. In shallow, near shore waters, anglers can simply idle around, trolling small plugs and spoons. Most fish will be fairly high in the water column and the lures do not need to get down very far.

Sarasota fishing trip

Trolling around bait balls can be very productive. Also, trolling can save the day when surface conditions are choppy and it is difficult to see or get on the fish. In deeper water, anglers use diving plugs or planers to get the lure down deeper. However, if fish are seen on the surface, flat lines will work fine.

Shrimp boats attract false albacore

Shrimp boats are false albacore magnets! They will attract tuna, king mackerel, and other species as well. The reason for this is that shrimp boats are basically chumming machines. As they sort through shrimp, smaller fish and other by-catch is shoveled overboard. This attracts the game fish.

fishing for false albacore

Every area is different and anglers need to know the local protocols as far as approaching and fishing around shrimp boats. In some areas, shrimpers will sell a bucket of bait fish cheaply. It never hurts to keep a case of beer on board! Anglers usually just drift chunks of bait in with the existing chum. Anglers can use lures and flies as well. False albacore can be so thick in this situation that anglers pursuing blackfin tuna consider them a nuisance.

Fly fishing for false albacore

Many anglers who enjoy fly fishing consider false albacore to be the ultimate sport. They fight harder and make longer runs that almost any other species. They are also accessible to anglers with skiffs and smaller boats. All of the same strategies apply to fly fishing as it does to casting lures. The obvious difference is that flies will be cast instead.

Sarasota fly fishing charters

Boat positioning is more important when fly fishing for false albacore. Most anglers can not cast a fly as far as a spinning rod with a heavy spoon. Also, it is very important to try and position the boat up-wind of the fish, for the same reason. All this means is that fly anglers need to be more patient.

Small bait fish patterns work well when fly fishing for these game fish. A #1 or #2 white Clouser Minnow is tough to beat. Epoxy flies such as glass minnows and surf candy are popular as well. Local fly shops will usually steer visiting anglers in the right direction. Fast, aggressive strips usually work best, but anglers should experiment is takes are tough. Sometimes no movement at all will draw a strike when nothing else will.

In conclusion, this article on fishing for false albacore will help anglers catch more of these terrific game fish!

7 Essential Striped Bass Fishing Lures

7 Essential Striped Bass Fishing Lures

This post will list the 7 essential striped bass fishing lures. Striped bass are a very popular game fish. While anglers certainly catch plenty of fish using live and cut bait, many anglers prefer to use artificial lures.

striped bass fishing lures

The 7 essential striped bass fishing lures are:

  • Spro bucktail jig
  • Kastmaster spoon
  • Rapala X-Rap Extreme Action Slashbait
  • Atom Popper
  • Gulp
  • Diamond jig
  • Bunker spoon

Striped bass are a bit unusual in that they thrive in both freshwater and saltwater. In the oceans and bays, striped bass migrate up rivers to spawn. In many cases, they go way upriver to where it is totally fresh water. Consequently, striped bass have been stocked in large reservoirs with great success!

Striped bass feed mainly on bait fish, though they certainly happily devour crustaceans such as crabs and shrimp as well. Most striped bass fishing lures imitate bait fish. The main lure types are plugs, spoons, jigs, metals, and soft plastic baits. All of them will produce fish when properly presented.

striped bass fishing tips

One of the most confusing aspects of using artificial lures in the selection. In this article, Capt Jim will list his favorite lures in each category. These are time proven striped bass fishing lures that will catch fish anywhere. This will help simplify the process of stocking the tackle box while having a striped bass fishing lure for every situation than an angler will face.

Striped bass tackle

The tackle required for striped bass fishing varies greatly depending on the size of the fish, water depth, current, and bait size. Both spinning tackle and conventional tackle are used successfully.

Anglers can click this link to read a comprehensive article by Capt Jim on striped bass fishing tackle

Spro bucktail jig

bucktail jig

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Jigs are the oldest artificial lure used by humans to catch fish. A jig is a hook with aq piece of metal, usually lead, molded near the head. This weight provides for casting distance, depth control, and it gives the lure it’s erratic action. Jigs can be bare with a soft plastic tail or can have some synthetic or natural hair tied on.

The Spro bucktail jig is number one on the list of seven essential striped bass fishing lures. In fact, it is Capt. Jim’s favorite. The main reason for this is the versatility of this lure. Bucktail jigs can be fished effectively throughout the entire water column, from the surface all the way to the bottom. It can be cast, trolled, or vertically jig.

light tackle trolling in saltwater

White bucktail jigs have been very effective striped bass fishing lures for decades. They are simple yet very productive. White is the most popular color as it matches most saltwater forage species. However, often times the jig is tied with a contrasting darker color such as olive or purple. Many bait fish species are silvery or white on the bottom and dark along the top.

The Spro bucktail jig is available in a wide variety of sizes in several colors. As mentioned, is hard to go wrong with all white. Anglers should match the weight of the jig to the depth of the water, current, and size of the locally available forage. This bait is made from quality components which will hold up under harsh saltwater fishing conditions.

Kastmaster spoon

kastmaster

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Spoons are another simple yet extremely effective striped bass fishing lure. A spoon is basically a curved piece of metal with a hook in it. The size and shape of the metal will determine the action in the water. Slender spoons have a tight wiggle and are generally work quickly. Wider spoons are worked more slowly and have a more distinct wobble.

The Kastmaster spoon is second on Capt. Jim’s list of seven essential striped bass fishing lures. Once again, a key to its effectiveness is the versatility of this bait. The cast master spoon is a bit more slender and has an excellent action in the water when trolled, cast, or fished vertically over structure. It is a dense bait that cast a long way, making it a favorite of surf anglers and those fishing from other shore locations.

inshore saltwater fishing

The spoon puts out a lot of flash and vibration as it is worked through the water. As with jigs, this type of spoon can be worked throughout the entire water column. It is extremely effective when striped bass are found feeding on the surface. Long casts are often required in this situation. It is also very effective when trolled and is often heavy enough to be trolled without any additional weight. When striped bass are holding over deep structure, the Kastmaster spoon is an excellent choice.

The Kastmaster spoon is available in several sizes and many different color patterns. The all silver with a white bucktail dressing on the hook is an extremely popular and effective combination. The spoon is available with a single hook which facilitates an easier release. The silver with a neon blue finish is also an excellent color choice.

Rapaa X-Rap Extreme Action Slashbait

Rapala x-rap

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Hard bodied plugs are extremely effective lures for striped bass and just about every other game fish species. These lures come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. However, they all basically fish the same. The size and shape of the body along with the size and shape of the lip will determine the action and the depth that which the lore will dive.

Plugs put out a lot a flash and vibration. Bass fishing circles, they are known as jerk baits. These lures can be cast out and retrieved back in using an erratic stop and go action. Many strikes occur on the pause, as the bait sits there motionless. Wounded baitfish wobble from side to side and put out flash and vibration, which these lures imitate very realistically.

Susquehanna River striped bass

The Rapala X-Rap Extreme Action Slashbait is Capt. Jim’s favorite jerk bait. It is a must have lure for every serious striped bass angler in both freshwater and saltwater. They come in a wide variety of color patterns and several sizes. The number 10 and number 12 sizes are excellent choices for most situations. White and olive are excellent all round color combinations.

These lures are extremely effective when trolled as well. The Rapala X Rap comes in a deep diving version which has a larger lip. This makes it very easy to present a bait in the 15 foot to 20 foot deep area of the water column. The standard version with the shallow diving lip is excellent when fish are feeding on or near the surface or when casting to shoreline structure.

Atom Popper

atom popper

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Some plugs are fished entirely on the surface. These are known as top water plugs. They come in different variations with a concave face which is known as a Popper, conical plugs, and those with propellers. Poppers work very well and are easy to use for even novice anglers. It is very exciting to see a big striped bass take a top water plug.

The Atom Popper is number four on Capt. Jim’s list of seven essential striped bass fishing lures. It is an established lure that has been around a long time. It is a favorite of surf anglers as well as those fishing from jetties and other shoreline spots. It is fairly heavy and cast a long way.

striped bass fishing spots

Top water lures are an excellent choice whenever striped bass and other species are seen feeding on the surface. The lure is worked fairly aggressively with hard jerks of the rod tip which results in a splash and commotion emitting from the lure. It is then allowed to set still for a moment. This is often when the strike occurs. Striped bass will rise up a surprising distance in order to attack a top water plug, especially when the water is clear.

Gulp baits

Soft plastic baits have revolutionized both freshwater and saltwater fishing since they were first introduced in the mid-1970s. There are several reasons for their effectiveness. Soft plastic lures come in many different sizes, shapes, and colors which allow anglers to easily and quickly match the locally available forage. They mimic both bait fish and crustaceans.

striped bass fishing tackle

Most anglers fishing for striped bass and using soft plastics opt for swim baits or shad style tales. This is a bait that resembles a bait fish and has a paddle tail on the rear. When worked through the water, it puts out a very realistic action and vibration. As with all artificial lures, the best approach is to try and match the size and color of the soft plastic bait to the locally available forage.

Capt. Jim’s favorite soft plastic lure by far is the gulp line of products. These have a revolutionary design that has an incredible sent factor included. There are several different gulp baits which work very well for striped bass and every other freshwater and saltwater species. These soft plastic baits are most often fished on a bear jig head, which provides both casting weight and a hook in one tidy unit.

Gulp Jerk Shad

gulp jerk shad

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The Gulp Jerk Shad is a long slender bait that has a terrific action and the water. Like all of these baits, it is fished on a jig head, the size of which is determined by the depth of the water and current speed. White is an excellent all round color. The best retrieve is one where the lure is allowed to sink and then jerked back to the boat and in erratic manner.

Gulp Paddle Shad

paddleshad

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The newest member of the Gulp line up is the paddle Shad. What makes this a bit different is the fact that it is offered in several sizes between 3 inches and 6 inches long. It is available and several very lifelike color combinations to match shad, herring, menhaden, and just about anything else a striped bass will feed on. Often times a slow steady retrieve works best to let the action of the tail attract the fish. It can be trolled as well.

Gulp Swimming Mullet

swimming mullet

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The Gulp Swimming Mullet has a curly tail or twister tail. This puts out a terrific, though more subtle action in the water. Is an excellent choice and just about any watercolor or fishing condition. The twister tale is very effective when jig off the bottom as in helicopters back down.

Gulp eel

gulp eel

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Eels are a favorite live bait in forage of striped bass. The Gulp Eel is a terrific bait for striped bass and were present cobia. Both of these species are known to have an affinity for eels. It is most effective when fished slowly on the bottom which is where eels live. This is more of a “big fish” bait for anglers seeking a trophy striped bass.

Diamond jig

diamond jig

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The Diamond Jig is a relatively unassuming little lure, but don’t let that fool you. It is an extremely effective striped bass fishing lure that is been catching fish for a long time. It is a long and slender shiny piece of metal, usually led, with a hook in the rear. It can be cast out, trolled, or used in a vertical presentation.

The Diamond jig really shines when fish are a bit fussy and more reluctant to bite. It is number six on Capt. Jim’s list of seven essential striped bass fishing lures. Anglers are often faced with clear water this bait has a much more subtle action. In ways, it really is a bit of a finesse presentation. When worked through the water, it does not put out a lot of flash or action. However, it is just enough to resemble a wounded bait fish.

This lure works best when striped bass are feeding on small, slender forage such as glass minnows, anchovies, and sand eels. While it can be cast out, it’s design works better for trolling and vertically jigging, especially while drifting over structure. Heavier models in the 2 ounce to 3 ounce range can certainly be cast out effectively by anglers using spinning tackle. Silver is the predominant finish.

Bunker spoon

bunker spoon

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The Bunker spoon is a larger and wider spoon with a very distinctive action. It is a bit of a specialty bait which was really designed for striped bass fishing in the Northeast off of the New England coast. Striped bass there feed heavily on menhaden. These are a wide bait fish species in the Bunker spoon does an excellent job of mimicking this forage.

In conclusion, this article on the 7 essential striped bass fishing lures will help anglers catch more fish!

 

Top 13 Chesapeake Bay Game Fish

Top 14 Chesapeake Bay Game Fish

This post will list the top 14 Chesapeake Bay Game fish. Chesapeake Bay and it’s tributaries make up an amazing estuary that supports many game fish species. As salinity levels drop up and the waters become more brackish, freshwater game fish become more plentiful.

striped bass

The top 14 Chesapeake Bay game fish are:

  • Striped bass (rockfish)
  • cobia
  • flounder
  • red drum
  • back drum
  • speckled trout
  • Spanish mackerel
  • Bluefish
  • white perch
  • croaker
  • smallmouth bass
  • largemouth bass
  • blue catfish
  • channel catfish

Top 13 Cheasapeake Bay game fish species

Capt Jim Klopfer runs fishing charters in Sarasota Florida. However, he was born in Washington D.C. And grew up fishing the waters of the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay. Here is his list of the top 13 Chesapeake Bay game fish, in no particular order.

Anglers can read about the tackle Capt Jim uses for inshore fishing

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Striped bass

The undisputed king of Chesapeake Bay is the striped bass. It is known locally as “rockfish” or just “rock”. Chesapeake Bay is the primary spawning grounds for most of the striped bass on the east coast of the United States. It is a perfect environment with many tributary rivers and brackish water.

top 13 Chesapeake Bay game fish

Striped bass feed on both crustaceans and bait fish. Chesapeake Bay is famous for it’s blue crabs, which striped bass enjoy every bit as much as humans do! Large striped bass make a seasonal migration throughout Chesapeake Bay. Striped bass populations have seen their ups and downs. In the early 80’s, anglers could hardly catch one. Now, they are the top predator species in Chesapeake Bay. Striped bass are excellent to eat, but anglers should be responsible in their fishing.

Read more about striped bass fishing tackle and lures

Spring will find striped bass moving up into rivers to spawn. All major tributaries will see a run of fish. One unusual aspect of this large fishery is that there are no man made dams to stop fish movements, other than Cowingo on the Susquehanna, at the top of the bay. This allows for the fish to move quite a way up the rivers. At the northern end of Chesapeake Bay is the Susquehanna flats. This area offers anglers the chance to catch huge striped bass in shallow water.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge striped bass

By mid summer, striped bass are found throughout the bay. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge is a hot spot, as are the Choptank, and mouth of the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers. Really, all of the middle bay area should have fish.

By fall, the striped bass have moved south to the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. There is one last flurry at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel before the season winds down. Some very big fish are caught here in late fall!

inshore saltwater fishing

Cobia

Cobia are a terrific game fish that have become more plentiful in recent years. However, there is a danger of over fishing them, as they are fantastic to eat. Cobia used to be found at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. However, they can be caught almost anywhere in the warmer months.

cobia fishing tackle and lures

Cobia have an interesting behavior of cruising right along the surface. This results in anglers having the ability to sight cast to them using lures and live bait. This is very exciting as cobia can grow to 100 pounds!

Click to read more about cobia fishing tackle and lures

Cobia also love structure. Anglers can bottom fish for them on ledges and dropoffs, around bridges, jetties, rock piles, and channel markers. Jigs are the top lure while live eels are the best live bait.

Flounder

Flounder put up a nice little fight when hooked, but they are prized by anglers for their incredible fillets. They are in the “flatfish” family, all of which are terrific on a dinner plate.

Chesapeake Bay fish species

Flounder are predator fish that hide in the bottom and attach prey as it comes by in the current. Anglers target flounder by presenting their offering on or very close to the bottom. Most anglers use live or fresh cut bait, but jigs will produce as well. The fish will most often be found in the sandy areas adjacent to structure such as rocks or bridges.

Read more about flounder and fluke fishing

Flounder numbers are not what they once were. This is mostly due to their high quality fillets. However, management strategies are helping and flounder are rebounding in Chesapeake Bay.

Red Drum

Red drum are another species that are doing well in Chesapeake Bay. Smaller versions are known as “puppy drum”. In the southern states they are “redfish” or “reds”, it is all the same fish.

best Chesapeake Bay game fish

Red drum grow very large, well over 50 pounds. They feed primarily on crustaceans, and the abundance of crabs is certainly an attraction. The schools of big fish are often found in the deeper water, though they will move shallow to feed as well. They are also caught by anglers surf fishing the beaches of Assateague and Chincoteague.They are less tolerant of fresh water are are rarely caught north of the Bay Bridge.

Read more about fishing for red drum

Smaller drum will also be found in schools, often times in shallow water. They are great fun on light tackle and will readily take a jig and grub. Most anglers looking for a meal will do best to keep a couple smaller fish and release the large ones, they can be wormy and those big fish are mostly breeder females, which are best left to reproduce.

Black Drum

Black drum are a cousin to the red drum. They school up in large numbers in late summer and grow quite large. The area around Smith Island at the Maryland Virginia border is a top spot. They are usually found in deep water.

Chesapeake Bay game fish

Black drum are less likely to be caught by anglers using lures. The vast majority are caught on natural bait, with crab being the top choice. As with red drum, the smaller fish are much better to eat, larger drum tend to get wormy. They are great fun to catch, though!

Smaller black drum are found in the same types are areas as red drum. Oyster bars are top spots as drum feed primarily on crustaceans. Man made structure including docks, bridges, seawalls, and jetties will attract black drum as well.

Speckled Trout

Speckled trout, also known as “specks” or spotted sea trout, are another recent visitor to Chesapeake Bay. They have become more numerous in recent years. Back in the day, weakfish, a similar species, were abundant, not so any more. The improving water quality and abundance of bait are probably reasons for this.

Chesapeake Bay speckled trout

Speckled trout have a very diverse diet. They feed on both crustaceans and bait fish. They are often found on large flats in 5′ to 10′ of water. Drifting and casting jigs or bouncing a live or cut bait on the bottom will catch them. A lead head jig with a grub body works very well. In cooler water, speckled trout can be found schooled up in deeper water.

Get more spotted sea trout fishing tips here!

Speckled trout are fantastic eating! They are the most popular inshore species from Texas around to the Carolinas. As with most fish, the medium sized fish are best to keep while the big girls should be released to spawn. Most trout will be found from the Choptank River south to the mouth of the bay.

Spanish mackerel

Spanish mackerel are another southern species that has ranged up into the southern portion of Chesapeake Bay. They are primarily found in the summer and early fall. Spanish mackerel school up in big numbers and feed aggressively. They are very good to eat, though should be prepared within a day or two of catching them. Mackerel do not freeze well.

Spanish mackerel fishing in Florida

It is very exciting to encounter schools of Spanish mackerel feeding on the surface. On a calm day, this can be seen from a long way off. Just about any fast moving shiny lure will catch them. If the fish go down, anglers can usually mark them on the bottom machine and get them to bite a spoon or jig.

Trolling is another excellent technique used to catch Spanish mackerel. It will also produce bluefish, striped bass and other species. Anglers use planers and sinkers to get the lure down in the water column. Mackerel respond to fast moving lures, 5-6 knots works well.

Bluefish

Bluefish one ruled Chesapeake Bay, not so anymore. When Capt Jim was a youngster (late 70’s) big bluefish terrorized the bay. 10 pound blues were not uncommon. The resurgence of striped bass in the mid 80s seems to have displaced the bluefish. They have always been a cyclical species. Bluefish are found in the saltier portions of Chesapeake Bay.

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Bluefish are voracious predators. They feed in packs and are very aggressive. They can be caught by anglers casting and drifting lures as well as on cut bait. Surf casters catch them all along the Atlantic coast. Bluefish have a strong meat, and though decent when eaten right away, few anglers prize them for their fillets.

White perch

Some anglers may not consider white perch a game fish, but Capt. Jim does. When caught on ultralight spinning tackle or a light fly rod, these little saltwater panfish put up an excellent fight. They are also one of the best eating fish found in Chesapeake Bay. They do not grow large, with 12 inches being a very nice fish. However, when the larger “black backs” as they are locally called move in, it is great fun.

white perch

Most anglers target white perch in the spring when they move into the smaller creeks to spawn. Deeper holes and outside bends can hold large concentrations of fish. It is not uncommon to sit in one good spot and catch as many fish as an angler needs. Live bait is most often use, with blood worms, nightcrawlers, and razor clams being the top baits. They will certainly hit small artificial lures such as a jig or spoon.

Croaker

Atlantic croaker are another very popular bottom fish found in Chesapeake Bay. Locally known as “hard heads”, croaker grow to 20 inches and put up a very good fight for their size. They are especially known for how hard they strike a bait. Most croaker are found in schools and slightly deeper water. Areas of rocky bottom, oyster, and ledges are prime spots.

Chesapeake Bay fish species

The vast majority of croaker are landed by anglers bottom fishing with live or cut bait. Peeler crab, nightcrawlers, blood worms, razor clams, strips of cut bait, and even live minnows will fool them. Croaker are outstanding eating, but do have a lot a bones in a fairly large rib cage. They are not as abundant as in years past.

Smallmouth bass

Not a lot of anglers associate smallmouth bass with Chesapeake Bay. However, the upper reaches of the Chesapeake Bay along with the upper reaches of many of the tributary rivers, especially on the west side, offer anglers excellent smallmouth bass fishing. They are a little less tolerant of saltwater than are their largemouth bass cousins.

smallmouth bass fishing tackle and lures

The Susquehanna River is a terrific smallmouth bass fishery. Plenty of them find their way into the brackish portion of the river below Cowingo dam. Anglers target them with artificial lures such as spinner baits and jerk baits, just as they would and most other freshwater lakes. The upper reaches of the Rappahannock River, James River, and Potomac River also have plenty of smallmouth bass. While smallmouth bass are good to eat, most anglers practice catch and release.

Largemouth Bass

Largemouth bass are much more tolerant of brackish water than are smallmouth bass. In fact, some of the best bass fishing in the United States occurs in these areas where freshwater and saltwater mix. The reason for this is the abundance of forage; there is just so much for the fish to eat. Most of largemouth bass caught in the Chesapeake Bay estuary are very healthy, chunky fish.

Chesapeake Bay bass

The eastern shore rivers in particular are noted for excellent smallmouth bass fishing. The Chopank River, Sassafras River, Nanticoke River, Wicomico River, and Pocomoke River all offer excellent fishing for largemouth bass. The same is true for the large shallow Susquehanna flats at the headwaters of Chesapeake Bay.

Blue catfish

There is a lot of controversy surrounding blue catfish in the Chesapeake Bay system. These are apex predators which grow in excess of 100 pounds. They have been stocked and several of the larger reservoirs to offer anglers an opportunity for a very large freshwater fish to target. Some have escaped into the rivers and have thrown off the natural balance, especially affecting smallmouth bass in rivers such as the James and Rappahannock.

chesapeake Bay blue catfish

Some anglers are actually targeting blue catfish in Chesapeake Bay. As mentioned, they grow very large and put up a terrific fight. Also, the fillets are snow white and flaky. Many consider blue Is to be the best eating fish of all the catfish species. Time will tell how they affect the fishery, but as of now they are here to stay.

Channel catfish

Channel catfish are native to all of the tributary rivers of Chesapeake Bay. They are found in both the freshwater and brackish portions of most of the rivers. They are quite plentiful in the upper Chesapeake Bay as well. Channel catfish average 3 to 5 pounds and put up a nice little tussle on light to medium tackle. They are very good eating!

fishing for freshwater catfish

Channel catfish have a wide and varied diet. While most anglers fish for them using live or cut bait, channel catfish will most certainly take and artificial lure. They get a bit of a bad reputation as being a bottom feeder the prefer some kind of rotting, stinking bait. This is far from the truth. Many a bass fisherman has been surprised when a channel catfish has taken the lure and convince the angler that a trophy bass was hooked.

In conclusion, this article on the top 14 Chesapeake Bay game fish will help anglers identify the species and better understand how and where to catch them.

Best 14 Tampa Bay Fishing Spots

Best 14 Tampa Bay Fishing Spots

This post will list the 14 best Tampa Bay fishing spots. Tampa Bay is an incredible fishery located on the west coast of Florida. It offers anglers a chance to catch just about every inshore saltwater species in Florida.

The top 14 Tampa Bay fishing sports are;

  1. Bean Point
  2. The Bulkhead
  3. Emerson Point
  4. Manatee River
  5. Terra Ceia Bay
  6. Sunshine Skyway Fishing Pier and bridge
  7. Fort Desota Park
  8. Egmont Key
  9. Tampa Bay shipping channel
  10. Skyway Fishing Pier State Park
  11. Bishop’s Harbor
  12. Port Manatee
  13. Cockroach Bay and Apollo Beach
  14. Weedon Island

Capt Jim Klopfer runs fishing charters in Sarasota, Florida, just a bit to the south. He gets up to Tampa Bay on a regular basis. The spots are mostly larger areas. Detail will be given as to species, tides, seasons, and techniques for each Tampa Bay fishing spot.

Tampa Bay fishing spots

Best 14 Tampa Bay fishing spots

Here are Capt Jim’s top 14 fishing spots in Tampa Bay. Most of them are in the southern portion of Tampa Bay. Fishing is good in the northern part of the bay, particularly in the cooler months. Year round, this part of Tampa Bay offers the best fishing.

1)  Bean Point

Bean Point is in a very strategic location, right at the southern mouth of Tampa Bay. Obviously, it gets excellent current flow. The long shallow bar extending north of Bean Point is an excellent spot to fish for snook in the summer when they move out onto the beaches. Anglers can sight fish for tarpon there as well. Schools of permit will also be seen moving across the bar.

11 fantastic Tampa Bay fishing tips

The deeper water off of Bean Point is an excellent area for a variety of species including pompano, Spanish mackerel, tarpon, ladyfish, and more. Anglers can cast to schools of breaking fish on the surface as well as drift through the area while bouncing jigs off of the bottom. Flats on the inside and Anna Maria sound hold speckled trout, snook, and redfish.

Anglers can watch this video or click on this link to read more about the tackle that Capt Jim uses on his fishing charters

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There are two fishing piers on the north end of Anna Maria Island right near Bean Point that offer access to anglers without a boat. Due to the current flow and abundance of bait, these are two of the better fishing piers in the area. Spanish mackerel runs can be legendary! Bottom fish such as sheepshead and snapper are caught in the cooler months. Monster snook will hang out under the piers as well. The Kingfish boat ramp is a short distance away to the south just off of Manatee Avenue.

2)  The Bulkhead

The Bulkhead is a legendary fishing spot in South Tampa Bay. It is basically a shallow sandbar area that lies between the mouth of Anna Maria Sound and the mouth of the Manatee River. With deeper water on all sides an excellent current flow along with a nice mixture of grass and sand, it makes for an ideal fishing spot for just about every species available in Tampa Bay.

Tampa Bay redfish

This is also a very popular spot for both guides and recreational anglers to catch bait in the warmer months. Once again, the same factors that attract game fish attract the bait fish. Clean salty water coming in from the Gulf of Mexico along with the nice mixture of grass and sand make this an excellent spot to load up on bait in the morning.

Anglers can read more Tampa Bay fishing tips in this article by Capt Jim

The deeper grass flats and edges that drop off into slightly deeper water will hold speckled trout, mackerel, pompano, jacks, bluefish, cobia, ladyfish, and more. Drifting these areas while casting jigs or live bait works very well. The shallow flats to the east are excellent for finding schools of redfish and snook. A low incoming tide is preferred.

3)  Emerson Point

Emerson Point is another excellent and strategically located fishing spot. It is on a point that lies between the mouth of the Manatee River to the south in the mouth of Terra Ceia Bay to the north. There is a great park at Emerson Point with excellent access to anglers who like to wade. There is also a nice canoe and kayak launch as well.

Tampa Bay fishing tips

The best fishing is right off of the point into Tampa Bay and then around to the east and north. Massive areas of shallow grass mixed with deeper potholes offer outstanding fishing for redfish, snook, speckled trout, and jacks. Anglers do well casting weedless spoons and soft plastic baits in the shallow water. Top water plugs can be fun as well.

Anglers can click this link to read a comprehensive article on fishing for snook

Chumming with live bait is certainly a very productive and reliable method, especially in the warmer months. Anglers anchor the boat up tide of a slightly deeper hole in the grass or a nice mangrove shoreline with deeper water. A few minutes of chumming with live bait will let anglers know whether there are game fish in the area.

4)  Manatee River

The Manatee River offers excellent fishing from the mouth at Tampa Bay at Snead Island all the way up river to the dam at Lake Manatee. DeSoto National Memorial Park on the Bradenton side offers access for anglers wading and using kayaks and canoes. Expansive shallow flats are excellent for chasing redfish and snook.

fishing for snook in Tampa Bay

Docks, bridges, and other man-made structure from this point up river to the I 75 bridge offer excellent fishing for just about every species. Snook are plentiful, with some of the fish growing quite large. Redfish, trout, jacks, flounder, snapper, drum, and more will also be caught. Casting a live shrimp on a jig head is a very effective technique. Shallow diving plugs are also productive and allow anglers to cover a lot of water.

In the wintertime, snook and jack crevalle will move up river seeking warmer water. There is a new boat ramp and park a few miles east of I 75 at Ft. Hamer. The ramp is very nice and can accommodate a fairly large boat. The stretch of water between Fort Hamer and the I 75 bridge can be very good in the winter. The river does get quite shallow a few miles east of the Fort Hamer ramp.

river snook fishing

5)  Terra Ceia Bay

Terra Ceia Bay is an excellent little estuary that offers fine fishing, though it is mostly suited to anglers with boats. There is some access for waders and kayaks at the SR 19 bridge. The west and north parts of the bay are best as there are miles of shallow flats with small islands and mangrove shorelines mixed in. This can be a good spot to fish when wind is an issue.

fishing for sea trout

Terra Ciea Bay offers anglers the classic Florida shallow water experience. Those who prefer to use artificial lures will do well with weedless spoons and soft plastic lures on weedless swim bait hooks. Much of the water is shallow with grassy bottom. Topwater plugs can be effective as well, particularly at high tide.

Read more about spotted sea trout fishing

Anglers using live bait will do well fishing a live shrimp under a popping cork on the deeper grass flats as well as chumming with live bait. Speckled trout will normally be found in slightly deeper grass, from 4 feet deep to 6 feet deep. Snook and redfish are more apt to be caught on the bars, along mangrove shorelines, and in the potholes.

6)  Sunshine Skyway Fishing Pier and bridge

The Sunshine Skyway fishing pier is the longest fishing pier in the world. It extends out on both sides of Tampa Bay from the Palmetto side on the south end the St. Petersburg side on the north. It is the remnants of the original sunshine Skyway bridge which was damaged in an accident in the early 1980s.

Tampa Bay fishing tips

This pier offers anglers without a boat outstanding fishing! The pier itself creates abundant structure which attracts massive schools of baitfish which then in turn attracts game fish. Just about every species can be caught here, including snook, redfish, Spanish mackerel, gag grouper, mangrove snapper, sheepshead, flounder, drum, ladyfish, and more. Trophy cobia and the king mackerel are even caught on occasion.

One great aspect of this fishing pier is that it is very convenient. Anglers can fish a few steps from their vehicle and bait is readily available to either be purchased or caught. There are artificial reefs off of the ends of both peers which can be accessed by both anglers fishing from the pier and in boats. Anglers fishing from boats should give the pier anglers plenty of room to fish.

top 8 Sarasota fish species

Anglers with boats will have similar fishing around and under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge as well. It is not legal to tie up to or anchor under the bridge, but anglers can drift and work the bottom structure for snapper, grouper, and more. Giant tarpon are caught at night in the shadow line. Mackerel can be thick at times.

7)  Fort Desoto State Park

Fort Desoto Park is one of the coolest and most unique fishing spots in Florida. It covers a large area and offers anglers just about every type of fishing environment. Huge backwater areas are excellent for redfish and snook. Many of these areas prohibit any type of gas propulsion, which means less fishing pressure and disturbances. The normal shallow water lures and baits work well in this situation.

Anglers do very well fishing from the beach for a variety of species from the mouth of Tampa Bay around to the north and into Bunces Pass. Sight fishing for snook is very productive in the summer time and offers great sport along with the chance to catch a truly large fish on light tackle. Spanish mackerel are available in the spring and fall. Whiting can be plentiful in the wintertime.

fishing in Tampa Bay

There are two fishing piers and Fort Desoto Park as well. One extends out into the Gulf of Mexico and the other into Tampa Bay. Both can be productive, though the Gulf fishing pier is generally more reliable. Runs of Spanish mackerel are legendary and when they occur every angler on the pier gets bit. Sheepshead and other bottom fish are plentiful in the winter.

The big shallow bar just off of Fort Desoto Park is a terrific Tampa Bay fishing spot for tarpon in the summer. Anglers in skiffs will sit patiently while waiting for a shot at the Silver King. In the spring and the fall Spanish mackerel and false albacore are fairly reliable. Anglers can troll, cast lures into breaking fish, or drift with live bait.

8)  Egmont Key 

Egmont Key sits right in the middle of the mouth of Tampa Bay. There is excellent current flow and Steve drop-offs on both sides of the key. Flats to the west of Egmont Key are good for tarpon in the summer. Deeper edges and drop-offs hold bottom fish such as snapper and grouper along with pelagic species including Spanish and king mackerel.

Spanish mackerel fishing in Florida

An artificial reef was constructed a bit east of Egmont Key in around 10 feet of water, near the drop off into the main channel. The coordinates are,

N 27-35 W 82-44.6 Anglers can find a list of Tampa Bay artificial reefs in this link.

This structure attracts bottom fish, mostly mangrove snapper but some grouper as well along with sheepshead in the winter. It is an excellent spot to anchor and chum for Spanish mackerel in the spring and the fall.

9) Tampa Bay shipping channel

The Tampa Bay shipping channel is a terrific fishing spot! This is especially true in the winter and early spring, but fall can be good as well. Dredging efforts resulted in steep drop-offs and rocky ledges. The most productive areas are where the flat drops off sharply into the deeper shipping channel. This area holds huge gag grouper along with mangrove snapper and sheepshead on the bottom.

One technique that is very effective when fishing for large grouper in the Tampa Bay shipping channel in the winter is trolling with large plugs. Several companies manufacture plugs that are designed to get down 30 feet deep or more. The Mann’s Stretch 30 really started this type of fishing and still remains an excellent lure. The best approach is to zigzag back and forth across the drop off between 20 and 50 feet of water.

saltwater fishing spoons

Tides are very important when fishing the Tampa Bay shipping channel. It is virtually impossible to anchor and bottom fish when the tide is running hard. Therefore, the best times to try to anchor and bottom fish are during slack tides. Mangrove snapper, sheepshead, flounder, grouper, and other species will be caught.

Large king mackerel are caught in the shipping channel as well in the spring and the fall. This is mostly done by anglers using a specialized technique where they slowly troll large live bait fish, with blue runners being the top choice. Trolling spoons with planers will also produce smaller king mackerel and plenty of Spanish mackerel.

10)  Skyway Fishing Pier State Park

The causeway that runs through the Skyway fishing pier State Park gives anglers without a boat a ton of access to the shallow flats in this area. Wading is very effective at and is easily done as there are plenty of spots to pull over to enter the water. Also, due to the geography, anglers can always find a protected area to fish. Anglers can also launch kayaks and canoes in the spots.

best live baits for saltwater fishing in Florida

Anglers with boats can certainly do well fishing this area. The shallow flats will hold redfish while the deeper flats will have spotted sea trout, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, and other species. Several bridges offer excellent bottom fishing sheepshead in the winter and mangrove snapper all year long. Larger fish such as big snook and tarpon will be found under these bridges, particularly at night.

11)  Bishop’s Harbor

Bishop’s Harbor is a protected small bay on the southeast part of Tampa Bay. It is a bit of a mini Tampa Bay, offering anglers the chance to catch all of the primary game fish species found in this area. Mangrove shorelines and potholes will hold snook and redfish. Speckled trout will be found in the slightly deeper areas as well as along the bars.

Florida saltwater fishing in winter

There is a large area for kayaks, canoes and small skiffs at 8701 Bishop Harbor Rd., Palmetto, FL, 34221. This is a fairly primitive ramp. Anglers can certainly enter Bishop’s Harbor from the main Tampa Bay itself. This is an excellent spots to try on a breezy day when the open and exposed waters are difficult to fish.

12)  Port Manatee 

The Port Manatee area is another excellent Tampa Bay fishing spot. There are a lot of spoil islands which were the result of dredging to create the channel into the port. These bars that drop off into deeper water are excellent spots for trout, jacks, snook, and redfish. There are also many miles of mangrove shorelines and acres of shallow grass flats, especially south of the harbor to the mouth of Bishop’s Harbor.

top texas game fish

Man-made structure including docks and an artificial reef will hold game fish species along with bottom fish such as flounder, drum, sheepshead, and snapper. The artificial reef coordinates are N 27 39.79 and W 82 34.74

13)  Cockroach Bay and Apollo Beach

Cockroach Bay is an excellent spot for winter snook and redfish. It is a small little backwater area and outboard motors are prohibited. Anglers in small boats using electric motors and kayaks and canoes can find some excellent action as these fish do not see a ton of pressure. Tides are important and it can be difficult launching and fishing when the tide is running against the angler really hard. There is a decent boat ramp right at the mouth of Cockroach Bay at 5299 Cockroach Bay Road Ruskin, Florida 33570.

Sarasota fly fishing charters

Apollo Beach lies a bit to the north of Cockroach Bay and is just off of this map. The little Manatee River dumps into Tampa Bay just to the south of Apollo Beach. All of this offers excellent fishing for every species and Tampa Bay. Snook will be found along the mangrove shorelines and bars and will move up into the river in the cooler months. Redfish will be found in the same areas. Speckled trout, jacks, mackerel, and other species are found on the outside edges of the bars and on the deeper grass flats. There is a very nice boat ramp at E.G. Simmons Park.

The entire east side of Tampa Bay offers very good fishing in this area from Apollo Beach South to Cockroach Bay and North to the power plant. On low tide the fish will stage on the outside bars then move up to the mangrove shorelines as the tide comes in. There is also an artificial reef, the coordinates are N 27 44.89 and W 82 32.92.

14)  Weedon Island and Tampa Bay Bridges

Weedon Island Preserve offers anglers a refuge right in the middle of the city. This area sits just to the south of the Gandy bridge and is conveniently located, just to the north off of this map. Anglers can wade as well as there is access for kayaks and canoes. This is pretty much your standard shallow water fishing for snook, redfish, and trout. It does get a lot of pressure due to its convenient location. However, patient and persistent anglers will do well. The spot is generally best from fall through spring as fish migrate up into this portion of Tampa Bay.

In conclusion, this article on the best 14 Tampa Bay fishing spots will help anglers catch more fish!

 

What is the Best Striped Bass Fishing Lure?

The Best Striped Bass Fishing Lure is a White Bucktail Jig

Striped bass are a very popular game fish. They thrive in both fresh and salt water. Many striped bass are caught by anglers using live bait. However, many anglers pursue them using artificial lures. There are many effective striped bass fishing lures, but there is one bait that exceeds all others.

best striped bass lure

The best striped bass fishing lure is a white bucktail jig. There are several reasons for their success and productivity. Bucktail jigs are very versatile. They can be cast, trolled, and vertically presented. Bucktail jigs can effectively mimic bait fish and crustaceans. They are available in many sizes to cover every angling situation.

There is evidence to support the claim that a jig was the first fishing lure used by humans. A jig is basically a hook with weight, usually lead, molded in near the eye. This weight gives the lute it’s action and name. The hook is then dressed with some type of hair, synthetic or natural. Soft plastic tails are also used and are quite effective.

light tackle trolling in saltwater

White is a natural color for a fishing lure. Most bait fish are silvery or white in color. At the very least, almost all of them have a white belly. Some darker colors can be included to add contrast and a darker back. Of course, bucktail jigs are available in a wide variety of color patterns.

Best striped bass fishing lure

As mentioned above, the reason that the best striped bass fishing lure is a bucktail jig is the versatility of the bait. These lures can be used throughout the entire water column. Anglers can cast a bucktail jig to breaking fish on the surface, work the mid-depths by trolling or casting, and fish the bottom either by vertically jigging or drifting.

striped bass fishing tips and spots

As in most fishing situations, anglers who match the size of the bucktail jig to the available forage will usually have more success. Fortunately white bucktail jigs are available and just about every size and weight imaginable. Again, white bucktail jigs with some darker green or other natural color tide in will effectively mimic a pogy, sardine, herring, or other common forage of striped bass.

The weight of the bucktail jig is also an important consideration. There are several factors which will determine the best weight of jig to be used. The primary concerns are water depth and current speed. A 1/2 ounce jig may be fine for casting or drifting and water that is fairly shallow with little current flow. Conversely, anglers fishing in deep water with a strong current can go up as high as 6 ounces or more.

striped bass fishing tips

White bucktail jigs are just as effective for striped bass when freshwater fishing as they are in saltwater. Stocking of striped bass into freshwater reservoirs has been a huge success for fishery management officials. Most of these lakes and rivers were also stocked with forage species such as blueback herring. White bucktail jigs effectively imitate these species.

Best bucktail jigs for striped bass

Anglers have quite a selection when it comes to choosing the best white buck tail jig. There are many manufacturers who offer a quality lure. Capt. Jim Klopfer has been a fishing charter captain in Sarasota Florida since 1991. He also grew up fishing in Chesapeake Bay.

Spro jigs

bucktail jig

Capt. Jim’s favorite bucktail jig is the Spro jig. It is available in many different sizes and is a quality jig that will hold up to the rigors of saltwater fishing. While white is primarily used, there are many other color choices and combinations of the Spro jig to choose from.

Click here to shop Amazon for Spro jigs

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Sea Striker jigs

Sea Striker makes excellent bucktail jigs for striped bass. They are made from quality components and are quire durable. Sea Striker jigs come in a great variety of colors and sizes.

Click here to shop Amazon for Sea Striker jigs

VMC jigs

VMC jigs are a great choice for freshwater and saltwater anglers requiring a smaller jig.

Click to shop Amazon for VMC jigs

Adding a trailer to a bucktail jig

best striped bass fishing lure

As has been previously mentioned, one of the aspects of the bucktail jigs that makes it so effective is its versatility. One extremely effective technique is to add a soft plastic trailer on to the jig. Swim bait tales and yield tails are most commonly used in both can be extremely productive. These add both bulk and action to the bucktail jig. In fact, many anglers rarely fish this lure on its own.

Both live bait and cut bait can also be used in conjunction with a bucktail jig when fishing for striped bass. Live minnows and bait fish along with live eels can be hooked through the lips and fished effectively. Long, slender strips of cut bait that tapered to a point work extremely well on a bucktail jig, too.

Best striped bass rods and reels

There is no single rod and reel outfit that works best when fishing for striped bass with bucktail jigs. The size of the fish being pursued is the primary consideration. The size of the bucktail jig being used as a secondary factor, though it is tied to the size of the fish as well.

Oklahome striped bass

A medium action conventional or bait casting rod around 7 feet long with a matching real is an excellent all round combination when fishing with bucktail jigs for striped bass. This outfit will work very well for drift fishing, light trolling, and vertically jigging. Anglers can spool the real with 20 pound to 30 pound braided or monofilament fishing line.

Read a comprehensive article on striped bass tackle in this article

Spinning tackle certainly has its place when casting jigs for striped bass as well. This is particularly true when chasing schools of striped bass that are feeding on the surface. Anglers will often have to make a slightly longer cast while keeping the boat away from the feeding fish. Most anglers surf fishing you spinning tackle as well. The best all round spinning outfit for striped bass would be a 7 foot to 8 foot medium action rod with a 5000-6000 series reel.

Tailwater fishing for bass and catfish

Bucktail jig fishing techniques for striped bass.

There are several techniques that work very well when fishing a bucktail jigs for striped bass. These primarily are casting, drifting, and trolling. All three of these techniques will produce striped bass for anglers fishing in both freshwater and saltwater.

Casting bucktail jigs for striped bass

Bucktail jigs can be cast out and retrieved to catch striped bass in a variety of situations. Perhaps the most fun and exciting condition is when striped bass are feeding on the surface. The bucktail jig is cast to the edge of the school and worked back in an erratic manner. This will almost always elicit a strike from actively feeding fish.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge striped bass

Bucktail jigs can also be cast out towards shoreline structure and cover. Flats that are in 5 to 10 feet of water and then drop off sharply are prime spots. Striped bass will often stage on the edge of this drop in wait for the current to bring food to them. Any type of cover such as submerged or fallen timber, rocks and seawalls, docks, and bridges can all be prime spots to cast a jig for striped bass.

Drift fishing with bucktail jigs for striped bass

Drifting is an extremely effective technique that is used more when saltwater fishing manner freshwater. The reason for this is the strength of the tide. Tides will often move the boat along at 45 knots. Anglers simply bounce a jig off the bottom or work it in the mid-depths in search of fish. The main benefit in this type of fishing is that anglers can cover a lot of water in a relatively short period of time. Inlets are prime spots to drift fish for striped bass.

Trolling bucktail jigs for striped bass

Trolling catches a lot of striped bass for anglers fishing in both freshwater and saltwater. Once again, it allows anglers to cover a lot of water in a fairly short amount of time. Trolling also offers the advantage of being able to present multiple lures at various depths in search of fish. This can be a huge advantage when fish are scattered out throughout a large area or in different depths.

In conclusion, this article on the best striped bass fishing lure will encourage anglers to add a white buck tail jig to their tackle boxes!

 

What is the Best Fishing Bait for Channel Catfish?

The Best Fishing Bait for Channel Catfish are Nightcrawlers!

Catfish are very popular among freshwater anglers. Channel catfish are the most plentiful and widespread of the species. While channel catfish will occasionally take and artificial lure, the vast majority of them are caught by anglers using bait. There are many baits that are effective. However, there is one bait that is the best when fishing for channel catfish.

best fishing bait for channel catfish

The best fishing bait for channel catfish are live nightcrawlers. There are several reasons for this. First and foremost, channel catfish devour them greedily. Nightcrawlers are very economical to use. They are widely available and are sold at just about every bait shop and even department stores. Nightcrawlers are very easy to store and keep alive. Finally, nightcrawlers stay on the hook very well and catch just about every freshwater fish that swims.

Anglers have been fishing successfully with live worms for a very long time. There is evidence to support that they were the first live bait used on a hook. While worms are not really all that abundant in the water, for whatever reason just about every freshwater game fish species will readily take them.

best live bait for freshwater fishing

Nightcrawlers are even better than regular worms due to their size. A large live nightcrawler puts out a lot of scent as well as action as it wiggles seductively on the hook. Nightcrawlers represent a substantial meal as well. So, in conclusion, nightcrawlers have excellent action along with a great scent and taste. It is no wonder that they are the best fishing bait for channel catfish!

Best fishing tackle for channel catfish

The tackle that anglers fishing for channel catfish will use is dependent on a couple of factors. The primary factor is the size of the fish being pursued. Channel catfish are the most numerous of the catfish species, but there also the smallest. In general, channel catfish average 3 to 5 pounds. However, larger specimens are certainly a possibility.

best channel catfish bait

Water depth and current are the other two primary factors when it comes to choosing the best channel catfish fishing tackle. Many anglers pursue channel catfish and rivers, and for good reason. Rivers are a primary habitat for channel catfish. Obviously, deeper swifter rivers will require heavier tackle then will rivers that are more shallow with less current flow.

Click this link to read a comprehensive article on catfish tackle and gear

Both medium spinning tackle and bait casting tackle are both excellent choices when it comes to fishing for channel catfish. Anglers fishing from shore who need to make long cast will probably do better with spinning outfit. However, skilled anglers can certainly do well with conventional tackle. The best spinning outfit would be a 7 foot to 8 foot rod with a medium action and a 4002 5000 series real. Most anglers opt for braided line due to its thin diameter and strength. 20 pound to 30 pound braid works well.

Click this link to shop Amazon for a medium action spinning rod and reel

“Fishing Lido Key is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. ”

best catfish fishing tackle and gear

Anglers choosing to fish with a conventional or bait casting outfit will do well to to something similar. A 7 foot to 8 foot rod with a stout butt section and a limber tip and matching real spooled up with 20 pound to 30 pound braided line is an excellent all round choice. This works especially well for anglers fishing from boats, were long casts are not a requirement. Bait casting tackle is also a better choice were larger fish are a possibility.

Click to shop Amazon for a medium conventional outfit

Channel catfish hooks and rigs

There are many different choices when it comes to hooks when fishing with live bait for catfish. Many anglers have turned to circle hooks as they tend to end up in the mouth of the fish, thus reducing mortality rates. Other anglers still prefer to use “J” hooks. There really is no wrong answer, it is just a matter of angler preference. 2/0 “J” hooks and 5/0 circle hooks are good all-around size is when fishing for average sized channel catfish.

channel catfish fishing bait

While channel catfish are most often found on or near the bottom, there are several different ways to present a live nightcrawler to them. The most commonly used rig would be the sliding sinker rig, also known as a Carolina rig. This consists of a sinker with a hole in the center, which the running line slides through. A swivel is then tied on, which not only stops the sinker but facilitates use of a leader. A short leader is used between the swivel and the hook.

This rig allows catfish to pick up the bait and move off a bit without feeling the weight of the sinker. Is a very effective rig for catfish and just about any other bottom feeding species. Many anglers opt for special flat catfish sinkers which sit on the bottom and do not roll. These are also known as “no roll” sinkers, for obvious reasons.

fishing for river catfish

More channel catfish rigs

Channel catfish will also feed a bit above the bottom. In these situations, anglers do well with a high low rig, also known as a spreader rig or chicken rig. With this rig anglers can present multiple baits at varying depths above the bottom. Most anglers limit this to two or three hooks at most, as it becomes cumbersome after that. A couple of hooks are tied on the mainline a foot or so apart with a sinker at the bottom. Bank sinkers are most often used. This is a very popular rigs for anglers fishing for catfish in rivers from shore as well as docks and bridges.

fishing for river catfish

Channel catfish will be found quite shallow at times, which surprises some anglers. This is especially true at night. Fallen trees and other structure as well as flats and drop-offs will be prime spots to catch channel catfish. Fishing a nightcrawler under a float can be a very effective presentation during these times. This is a simple as adding a float or bomber three or 4 feet above the hook. Often times a small split shot is used just above the hook to get the nightcrawler down into the water column. When the float disappears, it is fish on!

fishing for channel catfish

Other channel catfish baits

While the best fishing bait for channel catfish is a nightcrawler, there are plenty of other effective baits as well. These include shrimp, fresh cut bait, livers, live minnows, prepared baits, and more. Some anglers swear by soap as bait! Channel catfish will eat just about anything at one time or another.

Fresh cut bait

channel catfish bait

Fresh cut bait is a very effective bait for channel catfish and other catfish species. It is best to use a bait fish that has just been caught in the local waters. These include shad, herring, suckers, pin fish, and more. These baits can be cut into fillets, but are more often used as chunks. These chunks, or plugs, tend to stay on the hook a little longer. It is important to check local regulations before using any fresh caught fish to as bait.

Shrimp

fishing in tailwaters for catfish

Shrimp are another very effective bait for channel catfish. Fresh or frozen shrimp are easy to obtain at any grocery store. They stay on the hook pretty well and put out a lot of scent in the water. The one downfall to using shrimp is bait is the cost, it is a bit more than most other baits. However, some experienced channel catfish anglers swear by them. Fresh grass shrimp are terrific, but are a bit more involved to catch and use.

Livers

Lake Murray catfish

Chicken livers are another inexpensive and easy to obtain bait when fishing for channel catfish. They are available at just about any grocery store. One downside to using chicken livers is that they do not stay on the hook all that well. Pork liver can actually be a better choice as it is a bit fattier and stays on the hook longer. This is particularly important for anglers making long casts from the banks of rivers and lakes.

Minnows

channel catfish fishing

There is a misconception the channel catfish are just scavengers who feet off the bottom. This is not true! Catfish are predators and will just assume prefer a nice lively bait such as a nightcrawler over a rotting piece of fish on the bottom. For this reason, live minnows are another good catfish bait. Minnows are a bit more difficult to keep alive as anglers have to use a bucket with an aerator. Also, anglers may have to catch their own live minnows. However, they are very effective bait for channel catfish fished on the bottom or under a float.

Prepared baits

catfish bubblegum

There are many different commercially prepared baits available to catfish anglers. These are very effective and also quite convenient. Most of them can be stored and tackle boxes for an extended period of time. This makes an impromptu catfish fishing trip much easier. In most cases, they are some type of paste a can be formed into a ball around the hook. The one drawback is that some of these baits do not stay on the hook as long, especially when River fishing in current.

In conclusion, this article on the best fishing bait for channel catfish will help anglers catch more of these hard fighting and tasty game fish!

What is the best fishing knot?

The Best Fishing Knot is the Uni Knot

Strong, well tied knots are very important when it comes to fishing. They keep the fish connected to the angler. There are many excellent fishing knots that can be chosen. However, there is one fishing knot that is the best knot to use.

The best fishing not is the Uni knot. This is true for several reasons. Uni knots are very strong. They are also one of the easiest and quickest knots to tie. Finally, the Uni knot is quite versatile and can be used in variation to match every fishing situation that an anglers will encounter.

Capt Jim Klopfer has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. He has tried just about every fishing knot out there. As a charter boat captain, he requires a knot that is strong and fast and easy to tie. The Uni knot meets those requirements and is the only knot that Capt Jim uses.

Anglers can see the tackle and lures that Capt Jim uses in this link to his article

Most fishing knots are a variation of the same principle. The line goes through the eye of the hook or lower, is wrapped around the running line several times, then goes back through and is cinched tight. The Uni knot is no exception. However, there are a couple of distinctions that make the Uni not the best fishing not.

Reasons why the uni knot is the best fishing knot

First and foremost, the Uni knot is quick and very easy to tie. This is important for charter boat captains who have to re-rig quickly and efficiently. It also comes into play for anglers fishing in low light conditions where the line is more difficult to see. Finally, when a blitz is on, anglers can confidently and quickly tie a Uni knot.

Strength is extremely important when it comes to fishing knots. The Uni knot is one of the strongest ones out there, when properly tied. It works well with both monofilament and braided line, which is not true of every fishing knot.

Uni knots are also quite versatile. By pulling the tag line tight instead of the running line, anglers can make a very effective loop knot. Uni knots are also a very easy way to tie multiple hooks on some type of dropper rig for bottom fishing or any other situation where more than one hook or lure is used. Finally, a double Uni knot is an excellent way to tie a piece of leader to the main line without having to use a swivel.

Tying the uni knot

what is the best fishing knot

The Uni knot is very easy to tie. The first step is to pass the line through the eye of the hook with about 6 inches of excess line to use to tie the knot. The angler then makes a loop pinching all three portions of the line between the thumb and forefinger. The tag end is then passed through the open loop 3 to 5 times when using monofilament line and 8 to 10 times when using braided line. The tag end is then slowly pulled snug. When properly done, the line will wrap over itself in a figure 8 manner. It does not hurt to wet monofilament line before pulling it tight. Once the knot is snug, the angler pulls on the running line to slide the knot down to the eye of the hook or lure. The tag end can then be trimmed. If a loop not is desired, the angler can finish up the knot by pulling tight on the tag and and trimming that end of the knot.

Variations of the uni knot

One variation of the Uni knot is to tie a double Uni knot. This is an excellent line to line knot, used to attach two pieces of fishing line without the use of a swivel. This can include a fluorocarbon leader to monofilament, two pieces of monofilament, two pieces of braid, or a monofilament leader attaching to braided line.

double uni knot

The double uni-knot is tied very similarly, with a little bit of difference. Both lines are laid over top of each other, with the tag end facing in different directions. A Uni knot is tied on one and, then the line flipped over and another one tied on the other end. The two knots are then pulled snug, resulting in a nice compact and strong knot.

Uni knots also work very well when tying dropper rigs when bottom fishing or when using multiple lures on one rig. The line is passed through the eye of the hook or lure, then a Uni not is tied. Once the size of the loop is the desired size, the tag end is pulled tight. This can then be repeated as many times as needed.

In conclusion, this article on the best fishing knot will help anglers land more fish!