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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In the winter time I do three types of fishing; bottom fishing, River snook fishing, and on nice days drifting the deep grass flats. I use live shrimp to bottom fish for sheepshead, snapper, drum, and other species around docs and other structure. Local area rivers produce snook and bass for anglers casting plugs. When conditions are favorable on the open flats, we use jigs and live shrimp to catch a variety of species.
As it warms up fish move out of the deeper waters where they spend the winter. The flats and passes become alive with snook, redfish, speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, jacks, ladyfish, and other species. The passes and deep flats produce the most action while some anglers seek the challenge of catching snook in redfish in the back country.
When conditions are right, the fishing in the inshore Gulf of Mexico can be fantastic! East winds will result in clear water and plenty of baitfish. This will in turn attract Spanish mackerel, false albacore, sharks, cobia, and other species. Often times, the fish will be seen feeding aggressively on the surface. This is great fun as just about anything tossed into the feeding frenzy will draw strike.
For many anglers, the heat of summer means one thing; tarpon! The silver Kings invade our area in early May and stay until late July. This is very challenging fishing, and not for everyone. However the reward is the fish of a lifetime! Tarpon to 150 pounds are landed off of the area beaches every summer.
While I still do a little tarpon fishing, most of my summer trips are run in Sarasota Bay. With all the anglers out on the beach chasing tarpon, fishing pressure in the Bay is lighter. My normal approach is to cast lures or shrimp at first light then use my cast net to catch bait and chum mid morning. Either way, with the heat of summer, we are will off the water early.
You’ll see me mention “deep grass flats”often in my Sarasota fishing report. This is where the majority of fish on my fishing charters are landed. These areas are large with a mixture of grass and sand bottom. Shrimp, crabs, and bait fish all hide in the grass. That obviously makes it an attractive place for game fish to feed.
Speckled trout in particular are associated with these deeper grass flats. But anglers will also catch Spanish mackerel, Pompano, bluefish, jacks, a lot of ladyfish, snapper, grouper, cobia, sharks, catfish and more while fishing the deep grass at one time of year or another.
We primarily drift fish while working the deep grass flats. Anglers cast out lures, flies, or live bait as we drift across a productive areas in search of fish. Bass Assassin jigs, Rapala plugs, and spoons are effective artificial lures. The top live bait is a shrimp. These are fished either free line or under a noisy cork. In the summer time, live bait fish such as scaled sardines are used.
Both Big Sarasota Pass and New Pass produce a lot a fish for clients on Sarasota fishing charters. Anglers reading my Sarasota fishing report will see Big Pass in particular mentioned quite often. Sheepshead school up there thick and late winter and early spring. Mangrove snapper and snook are found in the rocks in the summer time. Ladyfish are often times thick right in the middle of the pass itself. Bluefish and mackerel can also be encountered as well.
Anglers drifting the passes cast jigs out and bounced them along the bottom. This is very effective and produces Pompano, bluefish, mackerel, and loads of ladyfish. Free lining a live shrimp with a split shot or fishing a live shrimp on a jig head can also be very productive. However, when the fish are biting jigs are more efficient as there is no need to stop and rebate the hook.
Sarasota Bay fishing report
There is a ton of structure in Big Pass as well. This is particularly true of the whole area along the north side of Siesta Key. The water is deep, there is good current flow, and abundant structure. This is a recipe for an excellent fishing spot, and it is! Bottom fishing with live shrimp and bait fish is very productive. Anglers do need to time this during periods of lesser current flow. It is difficult to anchor in fish when the tide is screaming.
Spinning tackle is used on the vast majority of my fishing charters. The reason is quite simple; it is effective and easy to use. Many freshwater anglers are experienced with close to faced reels. However, it usually only takes a few minutes before there casting like a pro with the spinning outfits. 10 pound spinning outfits are light enough that anglers enjoy the fight of even a smaller fish while still giving them a chance of the hook something larger.
Anglers seeking a bit more of a challenge will opt to targets snook, redfish, and jacks in the back country areas. This type of fishing is more of a “quality over quantity approach”. I use the trolling motor to ease the boat along a likely looking shoreline, while anglers cast lures towards the shoreline. I do use live bait occasionally as well.
River fishing charters
Visitors to my site will often see ”River snook fishing”in my Sarasota fishing report. This is a unique angling opportunity that I offer to clients. I am not aware of any other guide to do so. I use my 14 foot Alumacraft jon boat for this fishing. Shallow water and primitive ramps require this. However, this also results in less boat traffic and a quiet, serene angling adventure.
The Manatee River, Myakka River, and Braden River, are all within a 45 minute drive from the Sarasota beaches. Each has a distinct feel and personality. The Myakka River has some stunning scenery and big snook. The Manatee River is pretty as well but a bit more developed. It offers the most variety. The Braden River is the most developed but offers fantastic fishing for jack crevelle in the cooler months. Snook and redfish are available as well.
One unique aspect of fishing the rivers is the chance to catch freshwater species as well. The Manatee River and Myakka River are both brackish below the dams. This results in saltwater fish such as snuck, redfish, jacks, and juvenile tarpon being found in the same water as largemouth bass, sunshine bass, catfish, gar, and bream. These freshwater species will take the same lures meant for the saltwater fish.
In the spring and again in the fall we experience runs of pelagic species. This means that they spend most of their time in the middle of the water column and do not relate as much to bottom structure. Spanish mackerel and false albacore are prime examples. King mackerel show up here offer beaches as well. This fishing is dependent on conditions, the water needs to be clear and calm. When it is, fishing can be outstanding!
Inshore Gulf of Mexico
This type of fishing is very exciting in that it is visual. Often times we don’t even fish until we actually see the mackerel and false albacore busting baits on the surface. We will also look for big schools of bait fish which can be seen dimpling on the surface. Artificial lures work very well when the fish are breaking. We will also catch some of the live bait fish and cast them back into the school of bait.
On days when the fish cannot be seen working on the surface, trolling can be an effective technique. Trolling spoons and plugs is a great way to locate Spanish mackerel, false albacore, and even big King fish. It is also a great way to put a lot of fish in the boat quickly and is an easy technique for anglers with limited experience.
The “inshore artificial reefs”will be mentioned regularly in my Sarasota fishing report. I am referring to three man-made groups of structure that were placed between one and to miles off of Lido Key. The Gulf floor is for the most part flat and featureless. Therefore, any structure will attract fish and hold them there. Those three reefs provide excellent fishing for bottom fish such as sheepshead, snapper, and grouper along with pelagic species such as mackerel, King fish, cobia, and false albacore.
Fly fisherman are certainly not to be left out of the action! False albacore in Spanish mackerel will most certainly hit a well presented fly out in the Gulf of Mexico. This is terrific sport for anglers wielding a fly rod. Any inshore species that can be caught on a jig will also take a fly. Speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish, jacks, and more will hit a Clouser Minnow on the deep flats. Snook and jacks prefer 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 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.
Saltwater fishing articles
Florida fishing articles
Freshwater fishing articles
Sarasota fishing articles
Miscellaneous Fishing Articles
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
14 Essential Walleye Trolling Lures
Trolling is an extremely effective fishing technique. Walleye in particular are mostly caught by anglers trolling, particularly in the Great Lakes region. However, there are specific lures that are more productive for anglers trolling for walleye.
The 14 essential walleye trolling lures are;
- Reef Runner 800 Series Deep Diver
- Rapala Shad Rap
- Bandit Walleye Deep Diver
- Michigan Stinger Spoon
- Bomber Long A
- Storm Thunderstick
- Rapala Husky Jerk
- Moonshine Walleye Spoon
- Cotton Cordell Wally Diver
- Storm Hot N Tot
- Erie Dearie
- Yo Zuri Crystal Minnow Deep Diver Walleye
- Northland Whistler
- Hammer Time Walleye Spinner
Trolling is the act of slowly moving the boat while pulling lures behind. However, there is much more to it than that. Special equipment can be required, depending on the depth being fished. Speed, technique, and presentation are very important. Having the best lures is the first place to start.
The main advantage in trolling is the ability to cover so much more water than anglers can casting or drifting. Also, multiple lures can be presented at one time in varying depths, colors, and sizes. This makes trolling a very productive and effective technique for a nomadic, bottom feeding species such as walleye.
Walleye feed extensively on bait fish. Therefore, most of the lures designed for walleye trolling mimic this forage. Lures are available in many sizes and colors. Successful anglers choose a bait that resembles the forage that walleye are feeding on in their specific waters. Of course, there are days when a gaudy color and size will draw a strike.
14 Essential walleye trolling lures
The three basic types of walleye trolling lures are plugs, spinners, and spoons. Plugs are by far the most popular for a couple of reasons. Plugs can be purchased with lip sizes that result in them diving down to a determined depth. This means that anglers do not have to use other hardware such as downriggers and sinkers. Plugs are also available in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and colors.
Spoons and spinners do have their place and are effective walleye trolling lures as well. Both require a method in which to get the lure down in the water column and down to the desired depth. This is most often accomplished using in-line weights, a downrigger, or a Dipsey Diver. One advantage of spoons and spinners when trolling for walleye is that other species, especially trout and salmon, are often taken on these lures.
Reef Runner 800 Series Deep Diver
Number one on the list of the 14 essential walleye trolling lures is the Reef Runner 800 Series Deep Diver. Reef Runner 800 Series Deep Divers are popular casting and deep-diving trolling lures. These Deep Divers are rattling minnow imitators designed to deliver a wide erratic swimming action. Reef Runner 800 Series Deep Divers have a long slender design with a rounded lip. This bait will dive down to 30 feet. They are available in a wide variety of color patterns.
Rapala Shad Rap
The Rapala Shad Rap is second on the list of 14 essential walleye trolling lures. This is a legendary bait that has been around for a very long time. It has a wider body than does many of the long slender banana style plugs such as the one listed above. This is an excellent lure to use when walleye are feeding on shad and other larger, wide profile forage species, including yellow perch.
These baits are available in multiple sizes to cover the depths at which anglers will troll for walleye. The smaller #5 Shad Raps are excellent for trolling in shallow water between 4 feet deep and 8 feet deep in the spring. Larger models, all the way up to the #14 size, are used to get the bait down deeper in the summer. Anglers should match the color and size to the forage in the body of water being fished.
Bandit Walleye Deep Diver
The next bait on the list of 14 essential walleye trolling lures is the Bandit Walleye Deep Diver. This lure is long and slender and will exceed 30 feet in depth when trolled properly. It is four and three-quarter inches long and 5/8 of an ounce. This is a very effective bait with a dedicated following among anglers, and for good reason. They have been producing excellent catches of walleye for decades.
Michigan Stinger Spoon
The Michigan Stinger Spoon is the first spoon on the list of the 14 essential walleye trolling lures. It is the “go to” spoon for anglers trolling for walleye and other freshwater game fish species. It is by far the most popular trolling spoon used in the Great Lakes region. These spoons are available in several sizes and a wide variety of colors and finishes.
Spoons do require some method of getting them down into the water column. Trolling sinkers and downriggers are generally used. One benefit of trolling with spoons is that they are extremely effective lures for salmon and trout. Therefore, anglers trolling for walleye in waters that have these other game fish will often be happily interrupted by these other species.
Bomber Long A
The Bomber Long A is a very versatile lure that has been around for a long time. It is fifth on the list of 14 essential walleye trolling lures. The Bomber Long A is a legendary slender minnow jerkbait. It mimics a minnow’s lifelike swimming action when trolled at a constant pace. They are available in many different color patterns.
These lures also are available with a deep diving lip and a shallow diving lip. Anglers can troll the shallow diving lipped baits behind a downrigger ball or trolling sinkers while the deep diving lip will reach the desired depth on its own.
The Storm ThunderStick is another very popular ineffective stick bait used to troll for walleye. Storm Original Deep ThunderSticks are a true classic lure, used by anglers around the world. These baits feature designs from the original ThunderStick molds and are outfitted with premium VMC hooks for sure holding power. The injured baitfish swimming action of these lures attract walleye and other species. It weighs 5/8 of an ounce and will dive down to 25 feet. Like the Bomber Long A, it is available with a smaller lip to troll behind a downrigger or in very shallow water.
Rapala Husky Jerk
The Rapala Husky Jerk is number seven on the list of 14 essential walleye trolling lures. This is been a very popular jerk bait for freshwater anglers for decades. It will catch a variety of species, including a walleye. Like several of the other plugs listed above, it is available in both a deep diving and shallow diving model. The deep diving version will go down 20 feet or so and they are well known for running true right out-of-the-box.
The second spoon on the list of top walleye trolling lures is the Moonshine Walleye Spoon. The Moonshine Walleye Spoon is a high-quality trolling spoon and is one the brightest UV glowing products offered by Moonshine. This durable 3-inch spoon features proven patterns for success that are painted with eye-popping colors. The amazing UV colors are best used in low light scenarios but the Walleye Spoons will even excel in daylight use!
Cotton Cordell Wally Diver
The Cotton Cordell Walleye Diver is another very effective plug. It is legendary among both recreational and charter anglers throughout the Great Lakes region. It has a slightly larger head and a long slender body resulting in a terrific tight wiggling action. It is available in two different sizes and is perfect when trolling for walleye in water depths between 10 feet deep and 20 feet deep.
Storm Hot N Tot
The Storm Hot-N-Tot is another effective walleye trolling lure that has been around for a very long time. It has changed very little since its inception. It still has the original metal lip. It is a smaller bait with a wider profile that has a very erratic side-to-side action it is 2 inches long, weighs 3/16 of an ounce, and will troll down to 15 feet or so. Is an excellent lure to use when trolling for walleye in water between 10 and 20 feet deep or when the fish are a bit finicky.
Number 11 on the list of 14 essential walleye trolling lures is the Erie Dearie. Many anglers have used this interesting looking lure over the years. It is basically a weight forward spinner that is designed to bounce right off of the bottom where walleye feed. The Erie Dearie is used in conjunction with live bait. It is an extremely effective way to slow troll and present a live nightcrawler to bottom feeding walleye.
Yo Zuri Crystal Minnow Deep Diver Walleye
The Yo Zuri Crystal Minnow Deep Diver Walleye is next on the list of 14 essential walleye trolling lures. Yo Zuri is world renowned for the finishes on their baits. Their addition into the realm of deep diving trolling lures for walleye is no exception. These baits are available in three different sizes, with the largest reaching depths of 15 feet to 18 feet. They are available in a wide variety of colors as well.
The Northland Whistler is an unusual looking lure that is really a combination of a jig and a spinner. While some anglers may not consider it a true trolling lure as it is often used when casting or vertically jigging, it is very effective when slow trolling for walleye. It is used in conjunction with live bait, either a nightcrawler, minnow, or leech. It is an excellent choice in cold water when walleye are less active as well as in situations where fish are found in a small confined area.
Hammer Time Spinner
Last, but certainly not least, on the list of best walleye trolling lures is the Hammer Time Walleye Spinner. It is a harness rig to slowly troll a nightcrawler. Give walleye an even greater edge in low-light conditions. The Hammer Time Walleye Spinner Rig expands the strike zone in clear water and helps walleye home in on your bait in dark, stained, or dingy water. Rigged with Glo beads and a hammered Colorado blade with a UV finish, the Hammer Time Spinner maximizes both sonic and visible attraction. This premium 2-hook crawler harness is hand-snelled on a nearly-invisible 60″L, 15-lb. fluorocarbon leader with 2 perfectly-spaced octopus hooks and a quick-change clevis.
In conclusion, this list of the 14 essential walleye trolling lures will help anglers choose the correct baits for their angling situations, and therefore catch more fish!
What is the Best Pompano Fishing Lure?
Pompano are a very popular inshore saltwater species. Anglers prize them for both their strong fight and their incredible fillets. Pompano can be caught on a variety of baits and lures. However, there is one artificial lure that is the best for pompano fishing.
The best pompano fishing lure is a jig. A jig is basically a weighted hook that usually has some type of dressing. Pompano feed right on the bottom, rooting out shrimp, crabs, and other crustaceans. A jig bounced and along a sandy bottom very realistically mimics this fleeing prey. Jigs can be presented right where pompano, feed. This makes them incredibly effective pompano fishing lures.
A jig is just a natural lure when it comes to pompano fishing. Pompano are often times found in inlets and passes, especially in deeper water. This generally requires a vertical presentation. A jig that is just heavy enough to reach the bottom can be bounced along as the boat drifts with the current. This is an extremely effective pompano fishing technique.
Jigs can also be cast out and retrieved back in. This technique is most often employed on shallower flats and sandbars. Anglers surf fishing do this as well. The same principle applies as the jig is allowed to hit the bottom and is retrieved back in using a series of sharp twitches. Unless grass is present, the best approach is to let the jig hit the bottom and kick up a little puff of sand between each twitch.
Capt. Jim Klopfer is a professional saltwater fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida. Pompano are one of his favorite species to catch. In this article, he will share his favorite pompano fishing jigs and techniques.
Anglers can read more about “Inshore Saltwater Fishing” in Capt Jim’s E-book.
While the standard lead head jig with a soft plastic trailer will catch pompano, anglers specifically targeting these tasty and hard fighting fish will use specialized lures. Pompano have small mouths and the best jigs are small and compact. They also have smaller hooks and the dressing often ends just behind the bend of the hook. This is a bit different from any other saltwater jigs where the tail provides the action. With pompano jigs, it is all about quick and erratic movements.
The most effective pompano fishing jigs are usually those with contrasting colors. This usually includes white or silver and bright colors such as pink, yellow, red, or chartreuse. Pompano can be fussy, however usually locating them is the most difficult part. It is definitely suggested to have a selection of different sizes, styles, and colors on board for the days when pompano are more selective.
Anglers fishing shallow water and casting jigs out in search of pompano usually opt for ¼ ounce to 1/2 ounce jigs. Jigs of this size are easily cast out with light to medium light spinning tackle, which is the best choice for most anglers when pompano fishing. The same sized jigs will work fine when drifting passes and inlets as well. The best approach when drifting is to use the lightest jig that will reach the bottom. Successful anglers will constantly adjust the weight of the jig to the ever changing current conditions.
Jigs are often quite productive on their own. However, some anglers prefer to tip the jig with a tiny pea-sized piece of shrimp. This is especially effective on days where the bite is tough or when the water is stirred up and dirty. A taste of the real thing will help pompano find the jig and hold onto it a bit longer.
Rigging for pompano
As mentioned above, in most applications the best choice when it comes to rod and reel is a light or medium light spinning outfit. A 7 foot rod with a fast action and a limber tip paired with a 2500 to 3000 series reel is a great all round combination. Most saltwater anglers already own and outfit such as this that they use for spotted sea trout and redfish. The reel can be spooled up with 10 pound monofilament or braided fishing line.
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Most anglers use some type of leader between the running line and the jig. While pompano do not have teeth, they are often caught around structure. Also, other species that do have teeth or raspy jaws such as bluefish, Spanish mackerel, jacks, and ladyfish are often caught in the same areas where pompano are found. In clear water, a 2 foot section of 20 pound fluorocarbon leader is a good choice. Anglers can bump it up to 30 pound test in stained water or when other species are plentiful.
Styles of pompano jigs
There are several different jig styles which have proven themselves to be very effective pompano fishing lures. The pompano jig, banana jig, and standard jig and grub combination with a short trailer are the most effective lures for these feisty little game fish.
Best pompano jigs
There are a couple of pompano jigs that Capt. Jim has found particularly effective. His personal favorite is the Bomber Nylure jig. This bait comes with a shiny lead nose that has a conical shape. It is dressed with a nylon skirt that is available and several bright colors. Green and pink are two productive colors.
The Sea Striker pompano jig is another very effective Pompano jig. It is more of the conventional style with a round head and a short thick skirt along with a fairly small hook. This jig in the smaller sizes is extremely effective in clear water or when pompano are being especially fussy. Tipping it with a tiny piece of shrimp can often make the difference. This little jig will catch just about every species in any pass or inlet.
Wahoo pompano jigs are similar to the Sea Striker jigs are are equally effective.
The other type of jig that is proven itself to be extremely productive for Capt. Jim and just about every other experienced pompano fisherman is the banana style jig. There are several manufacturers who offer this lure to anglers. It is an odd shape and at first glance does not seem like it would catch fish. However, it has a very erratic action in the water.
This type of jig is a tad more difficult for some anglers to learn to use. It requires a sharp twitch of the rod tip and a bit of tots to feel the bite. Many of these lures come with a little fly or teaser as an added attract. Many pompano are caught under the chin on this little teaser. Bright colors such as pink and white and yellow and white are the most productive.
The traditional jig and grub combination will certainly catch pompano as well. In fact, many are caught by accident as anglers drift the grass flats in search of spotted sea trout and other species. However, anglers who are specifically targeting pompano will do better by scaling down their offerings. A 1/8 ounce jig head with a small hook in a small soft plastic grub works best. Grub bodies with a flat tail tend to be more effective.
One excellent option when using the jig and grub combination is to use a small scented grub on the jig head. Capt. Jim’s favorite scented soft plastic bait by far is the Gulp Shrimp. The 2 inch version on a small jig head does not cast a long way but is an extremely effective pompano fishing lure. Anglers can bump up to a 1/4 ounce jig head with the 3 inch shrimp. White with a chartreuse tail is a top producer.
In conclusion, this article on the best pompano fishing lure will help anglers catch more of these very hard fighting an incredibly tasty saltwater game fish species!
Best Speckled Trout Fishing Tackle
This article will thoroughly cover the best speckled trout fishing tackle. Speckled trout are a very popular saltwater inshore game fish. In order to be successful fishing for speckled trout, anglers will need the proper tackle and equipment.
The best speckled trout fishing tackle includes a 7 foot medium light rod and reel, hooks, floats, leader, and a selection of artificial lures. The top lures will consist of jig heads and soft plastic baits, spoons, and plugs. This is the tackle that anglers will need in order to consistently produce speckled trout.
Best fishing rods and reels for speckled trout
Anglers fishing for speckled trout can choose between spinning and baitcasting tackle. Spinning tackle is more popular as it is a bit easier to use, especially for novice anglers. It is also best for smaller fish and for casting light lures free lining light baits. Baitcasting tackle is popular along the upper Gulf Coast, where anglers use heavier corks and lures for larger fish.
The Rod and Reel are arguably the most important components. The best route for speckled trout fishing is a 7 foot to 7 1/2 foot medium light rod with a fast action. Fast action refers to the strength and taper of the rod. Fast action rods are stout in the butt section but very limber at the tip. This allows anglers to cast light baits and lures a reasonable distance while providing the strength to fight a decent fish.
Speckled trout are also famous for the very thin membrane in their mouth. It is very easy for a speckled trout to shake its head and throw the hook. A rod such as the one outlined above with a nice limber tip will help facilitate landing more speckled trout. The rod should be matched with a 2500 or 3000 series spinning reel or appropriate baitcasting reel. Capt. Jim likes the Penn conflict combo, it is a quality outfit for around $200. Lew’s sells some quality baitcasting combos at a very affordable price.
Anglers can click these links to shop Amazon for Penn Conflict spinning and Lew’s baitcasting combos.
“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. ”
Fishing line options
Anglers have two basic choices when it comes to fishing line; monofilament line in braided line. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Monofilament line is much less expensive. However, it does not last as long and does have some stretch. Some anglers actually prefer the stretch when fish and force speckled trout, which have those tender mouth mentioned above. Braided line is more expensive but last a long time. It also facilitates longer casts and has excellent sensitivity with no stretch. It really is just a matter of personal preference.
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Leaders are used when saltwater fishing
Anglers fishing and saltwater almost always use some type of leader. This is true with speckled trout fishing as well. Speckled trout did not have a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth, such as is the case with bluefish and Spanish mackerel. However, they do have raspy teeth and anglers will encounter other species when chasing speckled trout. Therefore, a leader is required.
Most anglers opt for a 24 inch to 30 inch piece of 25lb or 30lb fluorocarbon leader. This is an excellent all round choice for most situations anglers will encounter. An extremely clear water, anglers can drop down to 20 pound or even 15 pound test. Conversely, and muddy water or went fishing around heavy structure, anglers can go up to 40 pound test. The leader can be attached with a line to line not such as a double Uni-knot or by using a small black swivel.
Hooks and floats
Live bait is extremely effective when fishing for speckled trout. In fact, more trout have probably been landed by anglers fishing a live shrimp under a popping cork and by all other methods combined. A few different hook sizes will cover most speckled trout fishing situations.
As mentioned above, speckled trout have a thin membrane in their mouth. This requires the use of a fairly light and fine wire hook as opposed to sturdy live bait hooks that are often used and saltwater for other species. Anglers will definitely land more trout using a lighter hook. A #1/0 short shank live bait hook will cover the vast majority of situations speckled trout anglers will find themselves in. Some anglers do prefer the long shank Aberdeen style hook, though this may straighten out on a larger redfish or other game fish.
Speckled trout are often caught over submerged vegetation. These are most often referred to as grass flats. In these situations, anglers use a float of some sort to suspend the shrimp or other live bait just above the top of the grass. There are two types of floats that anglers use; popping corks and a larger, noisy clacking style float.
Popping corks have a slot that runs down the length of them and a pin to hold them in place. When twitched sharply, the concave surface of the float digs into the water producing a popping sound which attracts game fish. The larger clack are style floats accomplish the same thing, only they are larger and put out a lot more noise.
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Popping corks have the advantage of being easily added or removed, while the clack are style floats require a leader between the hook in the float. Both are very effective when fishing for speckled trout.
Top artificial lures for speckled trout fishing
Speckled trout will certainly hit artificial lures. Jigs, spoons, and plugs are all effective artificial lures for speckled trout and most other inshore saltwater species.
Jigs are productive speckled trout fishing lures
Without a doubt, the most popular artificial lure when fishing for speckled trout is the jig and grub combination. This consists of a jig head and in some type of soft plastic grub or tail added. The weight of the jig head will vary depending on fishing conditions such as depth and current. One quarter ounce is a very popular jig head size.
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.
Anglers have endless choices when it comes to the soft plastic body that they add to the jig head. These come in a myriad of sizes, shapes, and colors that mimic just about every forage that’s tackle trout feed on. Most imitate either a crustacean such as a crab or shrimp or a bait fish. 3 inch to 4 inch baits are most effective in the majority of fishing applications. Capt. Jim’s two favorite soft plastic baits are the 4” Bass Assassin Sea Shad and the 3 inch gulp shrimp.
Click these links to shop Amazon for Bass Assassin baits and Gulp Shrimp
Fishing for speckled trout with spoons
Spoons are another very effective artificial lure for speckled trout and other species. There are two basic types of spoons, weedless spoons and open water spoons. Weedless spoons have a single hook in a weed guard in the spoon runs through the grass with the hook up, reducing snags. Open water spoons have a single treble hook instead. The Johnson Silver minnow and Johnson sprite are two examples of very effective weedless and open water spoons.
Click these links to shop Amazon for Johnson Silver Minnow and Sprite spoons.
Plugs catch speckled trout, too
Plugs are very effective speckled trout fishing lures as well. Plugs either work on the surface, these are called top water plugs, or they dive down into the water and work different parts of the water column. Some plugs float on the surface and a lip causes the plug to dive down. Others sink slowly and suspend in a certain depth.
Capt. Jim’s favorite top water plug is the Rapala Skitter Prop. It has a conical nose and a single propeller on the rear. When twitched sharply, it puts out a very enticing fish attracting noise. It is also a fairly easy bait for novice anglers to use as it has a lot of built in action. Top water plugs work best early and late in the day and on days with cloud cover.
Capt. Jim’s favorite shallow diving plug is the Rapala X-Rap slashbait. He most often uses the #8 size as it closely imitates sardines, herring, and finger mullet which speckled trout often feed on. Anglers can certainly go up in size to mimic larger bait fish. Olive and white are excellent all round colors. These are very versatile lures which can be cast out towards shoreline cover, over bars and flats, and even trolled effectively.
Click these links to shop Amazon for Rapala Skitter Prop and X-Rap plugs
MirrOlure manufacturers several extremely effective suspending lures for speckled trout. These are time-tested baits that are legendary among saltwater anglers. The MirrOdine very realistically emulates a sardine. The 52 M series is better for larger fish as it imitates pin fish, grunts, and mullet. Both baits are slow sinking and when twitched sharply will suspend at that depth.
Click these links to shop Amazon for MirrOlure plugs
In conclusion, this article on the best speckled trout fishing tackle will help anglers acquire the correct gear in order to be successful catching these popular and great tasting inshore game fish!
Top 6 Freshwater Fishing Lures
Many anglers that enjoy freshwater fishing do so using artificial lures. While live bait is certainly productive, lures have advantages as well. They are more convenient, versatile, and will elicit strikes when fish are not hungry. Lures are also a lot of fun to fish! However, anglers can be confused by the vast amount of lure choices. Capt Jim will list the top 6 freshwater fishing lures in this article.
The top 6 freshwater fishing lures are:
- Inline spinners
- soft plastic baits
These lures will cover every fishing situation that a freshwater angler will encounter.
Capt Jim Klopfer is a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida. He grew up in Maryland and has fished extensively in freshwater throughout the country. He will break down each lure type along with his personal favorite lures.
One advantage lures have over live bait is the ability to cover water much more quickly in search of fish. Lures will also cause fish to bite out of reflex, angler, excitement, curiosity, and more. Artificial lures are also more convenient; no need to keep bait alive. It can also be easier to release fish when using lures, especially those with a single hook.
Inline spinners were one of the first freshwater fishing lures. They consist of a metal shaft with a blade that rotates around a body. At the rear of the spinner is a hook, most often a treble hook, that can be dressed with hair or fur and is sometimes plain. Spinners put out a lot of flash and vibration and are very easy for novice anglers to use. In most cases, a slow steady retrieve is best.
Spinners work extremely well in rivers. The current alone will usually cause the spinner blade to rotate and flash. Anglers simply cast the spinner across the stream or river and allow it to drift down stream on a tight line, retrieving it just fast enough to keep the blade turning. In-line spinners also work very well in lakes, they can be cast out and retrieved but are also very productive when trolled.
Spinners catch a wide variety of freshwater species, from small panfish up to giant pike and musky. This versatility is one of the attributes that makes spinners one of the top 6 freshwater fishing lures! Capt. Jim’s personal favorite in-line spinner is the Wordens Rooster Tail spinner. It is very light which makes it an excellent choice when fishing in streams and small rivers as it will not sink down and get hung up on the bottom.
Mepps spinners are another favorite lure of freshwater anglers. They have been around a long time and have caught countless fish over the decades. While Mepps offer several varieties, the Aglia spinner is there best seller. The combination of the gold blade and brown tail is an excellent all round color combination.
As mentioned above, in-line spinners will catch large fish as well. The best in-line spinner for larger game fish, especially musky and pike, is the Mepps Musky Killer spinner. It is a large lure with sturdy hardware, which makes it a good choice when fishing for powerful fish with a mouth full of teeth such as musky and pike. Generally speaking, bright color combinations work best.
The jig is an extremely versatile fishing lure that produces fish in freshwater as well as saltwater and catches just about every species that swims. They are number two on the list of the top 6 freshwater fishing lures. Jigs are available in a wide variety of styles, sizes, and colors. They can be cast out and retrieved as well as presented vertically. Jigs can mimic bait fish, crayfish, and other popular freshwater forage. Jigs are most often cast out or fished vertically, however there are instances where trolling with jigs can be effective as well.
Jig and grub
One of the most popular jigs is the jig and grub combo. This consists of a jig head, which is a hook with some lead molded at the front near the eye. This offset weight causes the jig to have its erratic action. Some type of soft plastic body is then threaded onto the jig head.
One of the advantages of the jig and grub combination is the versatility. Anglers can easily change the grub body to match the conditions and the locally available forage. They are also quite economical as the grub body can be replaced once a fish tears it up. The same applies to anglers fishing in areas where snags are common, the jig and grub usually costs less than one dollar.
Grub bodies are available in a myriad of styles, shapes, and colors. They can mimic crayfish, leeches, bait fish, and even come in styles that do not look like anything found in freshwater. While they all catch fish, Capt. Jim’s personal favorite is a chartreuse curly tail grub on a jig head. The size of the lure is matched to the fish being pursued. Tiny 1 inch jigs are deadly on panfish while 3 inch to 4 inch versions work well on bass, walleye, and larger game fish.
Jigs are also available with some type of natural or synthetic care tied onto the jig head. These are often referred to as bucktail jigs or marabou jigs. They are extremely effective lures for a variety of species. Tiny marabou jigs are extremely effective on crappie and panfish. Large bucktail jigs are very effective lures for striped bass and other larger game fish.
While very effective freshwater fishing lures, these hair jigs do have a couple of disadvantages; primarily being cost and durability. Unlike the jig and grub, once the hair dressing is torn up, it cannot be easily replaced. Also, these jigs are more expensive to fish than a jig with a soft plastic body.
There are several different styles of bass jigs available to anglers freshwater fishing. Most of these have a fairly heavy head, a sturdy hook, and some type of rubber legs for dressing. The rubber legs undulate naturally in the water and are very effective. Anglers often add some type of soft plastic trailer to add bulk and even more action. These are generally used around weeds and heavy cover. Capt Jim likes the Booyah Boo jig in dark colors.
Soft plastic baits
Third on the list of the top 6 freshwater fishing lures are soft plastic baits. Soft plastic baits are extremely effective freshwater fishing lures. Plastic worms were introduced in the late 60s and revolutionized bass fishing. The soft plastic baits available today are much more sophisticated and effective. Anglers can purchase a soft plastic lure that resembles just about anything in the water, including worms, salamanders, crayfish, leeches, bait fish, and more.
Soft plastic baits can be fished several different ways. Anglers can thread them on a jig head as mentioned above. They can be rigged on special hooks which allow anglers to present these baits in an almost weedless manner. Soft plastic baits can also be fished on hooks either in a drop shot presentation or wacky rigged. The combinations are really endless.
Capt. Jim’s favorite soft plastic bait is the Yamamoto Senko worm in green pumpkin. This is a fairly unassuming bait that does not look like much, however it really catches fish. It can be fished drop shot style, wacky rigged, Texas rigged, and on a shaky head jig. All of these are effective presentations. In most cases, a subtle action works best. These are finesse style baits and fish often respond with little or even no action by the angler.
Spinnerbaits are extremely effective freshwater fishing lures. They are next on the list of the top 6 freshwater fishing lures. Spinnerbaits consist of a wire frame that resembles a safety pin with a blade or blades at the top and some type of body with a hook at the bottom. The weighted hook can come with a rubber skirt or some type of soft plastic trailer, and sometimes both.
Spinner baits are very easy for novice anglers to use. The lure is simply cast out and retrieved back in in a steady pace. They are fairly weedless and will bounce over submerged timber and other structure. While they really do not look like anything that is in the water, spinner baits put out a ton of flash and vibration, which attracts game fish. In most cases, they resemble bait fish. However, they are available in darker patterns which can be bounced along the bottom to mimic crayfish as well.
Capt. Jim’s favorite spinner bait is the Johnson Beetle Spin. This is a fairly plain looking lure, however it is extremely effective on a variety of species. The 1/16 ounce versions are deadly on panfish. The larger one quarter ounce model is extremely effective for bass and other species in lakes and ponds. His favorite color combination is a black body with a silver blade.
Strike King offers anglers a wide variety of spinner bait options. The KVD finesse spinner bait is an excellent choice when anglers are trying to imitate smaller shad or other bait fish. It also works well when fish are a bit finicky. The larger versions work very well in larger bodies of water where shad are present. They will catch largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, striped bass, walleye, pike, and other game fish.
Spoons have been catching freshwater fish for anglers for many decades. A spoon is a very simple yet effective fishing lure. It consists of a curved piece of metal with a hook in it. In most cases, the spoon comes with a treble hook that swings freely on the rear. The shape and curve of the spoon will dictate the action. Long slender spoons have a tight wiggle and are best worked quickly. Wider spoons have a slow deliberate wobble and produce better when slowly retrieved.
Spoons are very effective fishing lures that can be presented in a variety of ways. Spoons can be cast out and retrieved back in. They are also very effective when vertically fished over structure. Anglers ice fishing you spoons extensively for walleye, lake trout, and other species. Finally, spoons are extremely effective when trolled for salmon, trout, walleye, and other species.
The discussion of freshwater fishing spoons starts with the venerable Eppinger Daredevil spoon. This simple fishing lure has been around for decades and has probably accounted for more northern pike than any other lure. It is also effective on just about every other freshwater species. It comes in a wide variety of sizes and colors. The 1/4 ounce red and white daredevil spoon is Capt. Jim’s favorite.
The list of effective and productive freshwater fishing spoons is very long. Johnson offers anglers a couple of very effective spoons. The Johnson Silver Minnow is a weedless spoon which is a very effective lure for bass and pike that can be used when the fish are in heavy vegetation. The spoon wobbles with the hook writing up in a weed guard, making the lure fairly weedless. Anglers will often add some type of soft plastic trailer to add more action and bulk. The 1/4 ounce spoon in the gold finish is Capt. Jim’s favorite.
Johnson also offers anglers a casting spoon, called the sprite spoon. This is more of an open water lure as it has a single treble hook on the rear. It comes in a variety of sizes and both the silver and gold finishes are very productive.
Another excellent spoon that Capt. Jim likes is the Acme Kastmaster spoon. It has a bit of an unusual shape and design. The cast master is a dense spoon which casts very well. It works best when using a fast, erratic retrieve. Anglers can also troll with it or presented vertically. The chrome spoon with a blue prism finish works very well, as does gold.
Last on the list of top 6 freshwater fishing lures are plugs. Plugs are hard bodied baits, usually made of plastic, that for the most part mimic bait fish. Some plugs do scour the bottom and are designed to mimic crayfish. Some plugs float on the surface, these are called top water plugs. However, most plugs work below the surface.
Plugs are generally float and then dive down to a determined depth upon retrieve. The depth that they achieve is mostly dictated by the plastic bill on the front of the plug. Some plugs do sink on their own. Other plugs, known as suspending plugs, will slowly sink down and then can be worked at a certain depth in the middle of the water column.
Topwater plugs are great fun to fish! It is very exciting to see a largemouth bass or other game fish attack a plug as it is being worked on the surface. There are numerous effective top water fishing plugs that will catch a variety of species. They come in several styles including poppers, propeller baits, and walk the dog baits.
Capt. Jim’s favorite top water plug is the Rapala Skitter Prop. This lure has a conical nose and a single rear propeller. When twitched sharply, it puts out excellent action and commotion on the surface of the water. Like most top water plugs, it is best fished close to a weed line or other type of structure.
Jerkbaits are long slender plugs that have a very erratic action and the water. They are worked by using short twitches of the rod tip followed by a pause, thus the name, jerk bait. The hard jerk in flash will attract the game fish and the pause simulates easy prey and is usually when the fish strikes. There are many manufacturers of quality jerk baits that come in many different sizes and colors.
Capt. Jim’s favorite jerk bait is the Rapala X-Rap Extreme Action Slash Bait. This lure comes in many different sizes small versions that will fool crappie and panfish to six-inch models that will catch pike, musky, and lake trout. The #10 X-Rap in ghost (white) is a very effective and versatile lure. When the forage is running a little smaller, anglers can drop down to the number eight size.
Crankbaits generally refer to plugs that dive down deeper in the water column. For the most part, they have a larger profile which resembles shad or bluegill. 2 inch to 3 inch long models are the most productive. Capt. Jim’s favorite crank baits is the rapid a shad rap in the number 5 size and silver finish. Crank baits are often cast out and retrieved but they are extremely effective lures for trolling as well.
Lipless cranbaits are another type of plug. These do not float nor do they have a lip. They are cast out, allowed to sink, then retrieved back in using a fairly steady pace. These lures put out a tremendous amount of vibration and are excellent lures for covering a lot of water quickly. The discussion of lipless crank baits really starts and ends with the Bill Lewis rattletrap. The half ounce model in chrome with a blue back is Capt. Jim’s top choice.Anglers can troll them as well.
In conclusion, this article on the top 6 freshwater fishing lures will help anglers understand which lures they need and to ultimately catch more fish!
What is the Best Live Bait for Crappie Fishing?
Crappie are one of the most popular freshwater game fish in North America. While they can be caught by anglers using artificial lures, a lot of crappie are caught on live bait. There are several effective live baits for crappie fishing. However, there is one live bait that stands out above the rest.
Live minnows are the best live bait for crappie fishing. While crappie feed on crustaceans and insects, the majority of their diet consists of smaller fish. Crappie have a fairly large mouth relative to their size which enables them to easily inhale a small minnow. There are a wide variety of live minnows available for anglers to use that can be either caught locally or purchased at bait shops.
Crappie fishing minnows
Anglers have two choices when it comes to using live minnows, they can purchase them at a bait shop or catch their own. Most anglers choose to purchase live minnows at a local bait shop, as they are reasonably priced and it is quite convenient. Each region has minnows that are popular for that particular area. Missouri minnows are famous for being extremely hardy and easy to keep alive. Emerald shiners are popular for northern anglers fishing both in open water and when ice fishing for crappie.
Some anglers prefer to catch their own live minnows, and are of the opinion that the local forage is more desirable to game fish species. Live minnows are caught in baited minnow traps as well is in seines and in dip nets. For some, this is just part of the fun and adds to the adventure of crappie fishing. Anglers should check local regulations to make sure they are in compliance.
The best live minnows for crappie fishing are between 1 inches long and 2 inches long. Anglers who specifically target the largest crappie may go up to 3 inches long. Modern fishing boats have live wells that easily keep bait fresh and lively all day long. However, a simple bucket with a battery operated aerator works fine as well.
Anglers have several choices when it comes to the tackle they use for crappie fishing with live minnows. Most anglers opt for spinning tackle these days. It is very versatile, reasonably priced, and easy to use. The old push button spin cast reels still work fine for anglers that prefer them. Some anglers keep it simple and just use a cane pole with a hook in a float. Conversely, serious crappie anglers use specially designed rods up to 14 feet long called “spider rods”. These allow anglers to troll several rods at one time.
Crappie seasonal migrations
Crappie are a schooling fish and once located, anglers can usually catch quite a few in one spot. They have a fairly reliable seasonal migration. In the cool and warm months, crappie school up in deeper water, normally over offshore structure. This can be channel edges, submerged islands, deep weed beds, and even bridges.
In the spring time, crappie move into shallow waters to spawn. This is the time of year that many anglers pursue them, as they are aggressive and relatively easy to find. Just about any type of cover will hold the crappie in the spring time. Fallen trees are particularly attractive to crappie. Some serious crappie anglers even create their own artificial structure using tree limbs, cinder blocks and Christmas trees.
Presentations for crappie fishing
One of the great advantages of fishing for crappie with live minnows is the simplicity. Anglers basically present live minnows to crappie in one of two ways; under a float or on some type of bottom rig. Some anglers will add a live minnow to and artificial lure, particularly a jig. This can be the best of both worlds as it combines the action of the lure with the smell and taste of a live bait.
Shallow water crappie fishing
Most freshwater anglers have fished for panfish using a worm or other live bait under a float. This is a very simple technique which continues to be effective to this day. Obviously, fishing with a live minnow under a float for crappie works best in shallow water. This usually occurs in the spring time when crappie move in close to the bank or on shallow bars and flats to spawn.
The rig for fishing a live minnow under a float for crappie in shallow water is very simple. It begins with simply tying a hook onto the end of the running line. Many anglers opt for thin wire hooks with a long shank. Crappie have a very thin membrane in their mouth and a thick heavy hook will often create a large hole, enabling the hook to fall out.
The hook size should be matched to the size of the minnow being used. In most cases, 1 inch long to 2 inch long minnows are best for crappie fishing. Therefore, hooks and sizes from #6 down to #2 work best. The float is then attached to the line 2 feet to 3 feet above the hook. If required, a tiny split shot can be added near the hook to keep the minnow down.
Deep water crappie fishing
While fishing for crappie in shallow water is relatively easy, pursuing them in deeper water is a bit more difficult. However, it can be very rewarding as once a school is located a bunch of fish can be caught in short order. Also, and some fisheries, the larger fish are caught in deeper water. Prime spots are point drop-offs, flat drop-offs, main River and tributary Creek channel edges, submerged rock piles, submerged weed beds, sunken islands, and bridges.
Most anglers fishing in deep water with live minnows for crappie use a two hook spreader rig. This consists of two hooks projecting out from the side of the main running line a foot or so apart. This allows anglers to present multiple baits at multiple depths. A sinker is used to get the baits down to the desired depth. The same hooks used in the above section 4 shallow water fishing work fine when fishing for crappie and deep water as well. Anglers should use the minimum amount of weight required to get the rig to the desired depth.
One very easy technique used by anglers to fish for crappie with minnows and deep water is to simply add a live minnow to a jig. This is an extremely effective way to present a live minnow in deeper water without the hindrance of sinkers and special rigs. Small marabou jigs are perfect for this. The angler simply hooks the minnow through both lips up from the bottom that fish is the jig the same way he or she would without the minnow.
Anglers can also fish in deep water for crappie using a float. This is done so with a sliding float or slip float. The running line passes through the float and then a hook is tied on. A small split shot is added 1 foot to 18 inches above the hook. A special stop is used on the running line at the desired depth. This is usually a piece of yarn or a rubber band or some other clever device that is small enough to pass through the rod tip, allowing anglers to make a long cast. Once cast out, the line slides through the float and then stops at the desired spot.
Crappie fishing with lures
While live minnows are the best live bait for crappie fishing, there are many effective crappie lures which will catch plenty of fish as well. Just about all of these lures imitate live minnows, which is the primary forage of crappie. Jigs are by far the most popular crappie fishing lure. Small spoons and tiny plugs are also effective as well.
More live baits for crappie fishing
While live minnows are the best live bait for crappie fishing, there are other baits that will produce as well. Nightcrawlers and worms are traditional freshwater fishing baits. Both will produce crappie when presented under a float or on a bottom rig in the right location. Grass shrimp are a terrific live bait for crappie, but can be difficult to obtain. Crickets and grasshoppers will catch a few crappie as well.
In conclusion, this article on the best live bait for crappie fishing will help anglers catch more of these terrific freshwater fish!
Best Cobia Fishing Tackle and Lures
Cobia are a popular saltwater game fish. They grow quite large, reaching weights of over 100 pounds. Anglers pursuing cobia will need to have the correct fishing tackle in order to be successful.
The best cobia fishing tackle consist of a heavy spinning or medium conventional outfit and a good selection of hooks and artificial lures. Cobia are a pelagic saltwater species. They are found on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, both inshore along the coast and in offshore waters. In the United States, cobisa are found along the eastern United States coast from Texas to Maine. The world record cobia is 105 pounds. These large fish will put an angler’s tackle to the test. Therefore, stout fishing tackle is required.
Cobia vary greatly in size. This makes it difficult for one rod and reel to cover every cobia fishing situation. Smaller fish, averaging under 10 pounds, are commonly caught in the inshore bays and passes. Occasionally, larger cobia are caught in these waters as well. Generally speaking, most large cobia are are caught along the beaches close to shore and near offshore structure such as wrecks, reefs, oil rigs, and hard bottom.
Cobia fishing techniques
Cobia are caught by anglers using several different techniques. Sight casting to cobia is fantastic sport! Cobia have a unique habit of swimming right on the surface of the water. This allows anglers to visually spot the fish and then present a lure or bait in front of it. This type of fishing can occur all along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastline. In this situation, heavy spinning tackle is usually the best choice, though anglers who are proficient with bait casting tackle can use those outfits as well.
While cobia are often seen cruising in open water, they are quite often caught by anglers fishing structure. Very large cobia are caught by anglers in the Gulf of Mexico fishing the numerous oil rigs as these attract bait and provide cover for cobia and many other game fish species. Hard bottom areas, natural ledges and sunken wrecks and artificial reefs will hold cobia as well. These cobia will often hold close to the bottom structure.
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.
Chumming is a very effective technique used by anglers fishing structure. Chum will pull fish out away from the heavy cover and give anglers a chance to land them. Chumming also gets fish excited and in a mood to feed. Since cobia like to come to the surface, chum works especially well for them. Frozen chum will work, but live bait fish used as chum is extremely effective.
Cobia are often seen in small groups, referred to as pods. It is not uncommon at all to see a group of six or eight cobia swim right up to the transom of the boat. They are a curious fish, and this habit has led to many a cobia’s demise. Cobia are also less fussy than many other game fish. In most cases, locating them is the most difficult part. Cobia will usually take a well presented lure or live bait.
Best rods and reels for cobia fishing
The best all round cobia fishing rod and reel is a medium heavy spinning outfit. A 7 foot to 8 foot medium heavy rod works well. Spinning tackle is very versatile. This type of rod has a heavy butt section which allows anglers to land a large cobia, while tapering to a fairly limber tip. This tip is important as it aids in casting lighter lures and live baits a fair distance.
The rod is matched with a 6000 to 8000 series spinning reel. This real will have a lot of line capacity, which is important when chasing large game fish such as cobia. It will also have a substantial drag which will be needed to turn a large cobia went fishing around structure.
There are places where anglers catch small cobia, in the 5 lb to 10 lb range. For the most part, this occurs in the shallow, inshore waters. In these instances, the same inshore tackle used for schoolie stripers and bluefish, speckled trout, and redfish will work fine.
There are situations where conventional tackle will be a better choice when cobia fishing. For the most part, this is when casting is not required. Anglers bottom fishing near heavy structure such as oil rigs and sunken wrecks will need stout tackle to pull a fish away from this heavy cover. A heavy conventional outfit does a better job in this application than spinning tackle will.
Some experienced anglers do prefer baitcasting outfits. These are conventional reels that allow for casting. Freshwater bass anglers use them extensively. It does take more practice, but in a skilled angler’s hands, they are an excellent choice. Baitcasting reels have more power than spinning reels and in most cases a faster retrieve ratio.
Best fishing line
Anglers have two choices when it comes to fishing line; monofilament line in braided line. Most anglers fishing for cobia opt for braided line. It is more expensive, however it will last a very long time. The main advantages of braided line are that the thin diameter allows for more line to be wound on the spool as well as longer casting distances. Braided line also has almost no stretch, which is advantageous when fishing near heavy structure. 50 pound test 280 pound test braided line is used on both spinning and conventional outfits, depending on the size of the fish being pursued and the area being fished.
Saltwater anglers are very familiar with the use of a shock leader. This is a section of heavier line that is used between the running line and the hook or lure. Fluorocarbon leader is preferred as it is less visible in the water. While cobia do not have teeth, they do have raspy jaws which will fray lighter line. Most anglers use a swivel to connect the leader to the running line. In most cases, 50 pound to 80 pounds leader is used for larger cobia.
Anglers cobia fishing with live bait will obviously need hooks. Since cobia grow fairly large, larger live baits are usually used. These basically include any locally available forage species such as threadfin herring, pogies, mullet, sardines, blue runners, and more. In some areas, live eels are a top bait as well.
Cobia have a special affinity for crustaceans! Large live shrimp and medium-size live crabs are top baits. Anglers will do well with large, heavy live bait hooks. 4/0 to 8/0 conventional “j” hooks and 6/0 to 10/0 circle hooks will usually get the job done.
Fishing for cobia with artificial lures
While many anglers fish with live bait, cobia are curious fish and will readily take artificial lures. The top cobia lure is without a doubt a white buck tail jig with a soft plastic trailer. The jig provides casting weight as well is a stout hook and the trailer adds bulk and action to the lure. It is also a versatile bait in that it can be used to cast to fish seen cruising on the surface as well as fishing the entire water column from the bottom to the surface.
Lures are used for both sight casting and when vertically fishing wrecks and other structure. Another very effective cobia fishing lore is a butterfly jig. These are quite heavy and sink down to the bottom quickly, which is an advantage when fishing in deeper water. Once the lore gets to the desired depth or the bottom, it is jig very sharply and allowed to fall. Most strikes occur on the fall as the lure flutters, mimicking a helpless bait fish.
Plugs will certainly fool cobia as well. Larger diving and suspending baits are usually best as cobia prefer a larger meat. However, plugs have the disadvantage in that they make handling and releasing the fish much more difficult. Many cobia will be under-sized. A thrashing cobia and treble hooks are not a great combination.
Cobia fishing tips
Cobia are really not all that difficult to full once they are located. Therefore, finding them is of prime importance. Cobia are very temperature sensitive and are constantly on the move. Below are listed some cobia fishing tips which will help anglers achieve more success.
- 70° is the magic number. Cobia are very temperature sensitive and are constantly seeking the ideal water temperature. Not coincidental, this is also an excellent all round water temperature for bait fish. Sometimes just a few degrees of water temperature will make a huge difference.
- Look for rays. Cobia will often times be found feeding under stingrays. This is particularly true on the shallow flats. As rays move about flapping their wings, they kick up but and sand off the bottom, which often dislodges crustaceans and other prey. However, cobia will be found feeding under rays offshore as well.
- Cobia are often targets of opportunity. Anglers who are fishing offshore wrecks for other species such as bottom fish will do well to keep a rod rigged up and ready for cobia. This can be a live bait rig or a buck tail jig with a soft plastic trailer. Cobia are notorious for just appearing and anglers who are ready to take advantage of this opportunity will be more successful.
- Use a net not a gaff. In most states, cobia need to be fairly large to keep. They are fantastic eating, so they are a desirable species. However, it is easy to overestimate the length. It is better to net the fish to ensure a healthy release.
- Try jigs first, then use live baits if needed. This will result in the more active and aggressive cobia being caught first. Also, releasing the fish is usually easier.
- Don’t land a “green” cobia. Cobia are famous for kind of coming to the boat before they are really tired. The last thing an angler needs is for a 50 pound fish to be thrashing around on the deck.
- Chum the wrecks. Chum will bring cobia up off of the bottom where anglers can sight cast to them as opposed to catching them off the bottom.
- Cobia are primarily sight feeders. Therefore, most are caught during daylight hours, though disk and dawn can be great times to fish for them, as with most species.
Top cobia fishing spots
Cobia are found all along the coast line in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean. However, there are certain areas where cobia will be found in better numbers. Cobia are a pelagic species. That means they constantly migrate and are found throughout the water column.
The mouths and waters just inside of large bays are terrific Cobia spots. This includes but is not limited to Galveston Bay, Mobile Bay, Tampa Bay, and Charlotte Harbor are top spots on the Gulf Coast. On the Atlantic side, Biscayne Bay, Georgia and South Carolina tidal river mouths, Pamlico Sound, Chesapeake Bay, Delaware Bay, and Long Island Sound attract and hold fish.
For whatever reason, some stretches of beach are extremely productive cobia fishing spots for sight fishing. Two of the best are the Destin, Florida area and Virginia Beach and points north and south at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel is a cobia magnet. Any large bridge has the potential to hold cobia.
Anglers also run channel markers in search of cobia. They will lie right on the surface on the down current side of any type of marker post or buoy, waiting to ambush unsuspecting prey.
Pier fishing for cobia
There are very few fishing situations where a very large fish can be caught without using a boat. Cobia can be caught by anglers fishing from piers, due to their habits. Cobia cruise coastal waters several hundred yards off the beach. This is usually where fishing piers are located. Also, the height of the pier aids greatly in sighting a fish or small pod of cobia.
Most anglers use heavy spinning tackle when fishing for cobia from piers and even bridges. It can be difficult to handle a big fish near the pilings. Also, long casts are often required. Anglers can use lures, but in this situation live bait usually works best. Suspending a live bait under a cork is a good presentation.
In conclusion, this article on the best cobia fishing tackle and lures will help anglers catch more of these terrific game fish!