Sarasota Fishing Report

Sarasota Fishing Report

I will be posting my current Sarasota fishing report on this page. It will be updated every week or two as conditions and species change. It will include the baits or lures along with the species and locations.

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

7/11 Sarasota fishing report

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

Sarasota fishing report

July 4 Sarasota fishing report

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

Sarasota fishing report

Sarasota Fishing Report 6/27

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

Fishing report for Sarasota, 6/17

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

Sarasota fishing report

Sarasota Fishing Report 5/30

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

Sarasota fishing report

Sarasota Bay fishing report 5/23

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

Sarasota fishing report


May 9 fishing report for Sarasota

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

Sarasota fishing report

May 2 Sarasota fishing report

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

Sarasota fishing report

April 25 fishing report

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

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

fishing report for Sarasota

Sarasota Fishing Report, April 18

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

Sarasota fishing report

April 11 fishing report

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

mackerel on fly

Fishing report for Sarasota, April 4

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

Sarasota fishing report

Sarasota fishing report March 28

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

Sarasota fishing report

March 21 fishing report for Sarasota

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

Sarasota fishing report

March 14 Sarasota fishing report

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

Sarasota fishing report

Sarasota fishing Report for March 7

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

Sarasota fishing report

Sarasota Fishing Report, 2/29

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

Sarasota fishing report

February 22 fishing report for Sarasota

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

Sarasota fishing report

February 15 Sarasota fishing report

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

Sarasota fishing report

Sarasota fishing report for February 1

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

Sarasota fishing report

January 25 Sarasota fishing report

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

Sarasota fishing report

January 18 fishing report for Sarasota and Myakka River

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

Sarasota fishing report

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

Sarasota fishing report

Jan 10 Sarasota fishing report

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

fishing report for Sarasota Florida

Good fishing in Sarasota to start 2020!

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

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

Sarasota fishing report

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

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

Sarasota fishing report

December 21 Sarasota fishing report

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

Sarasota fishing report

December 14 Sarasota fishing report

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

Sarasota pompano

December 7 Sarasota fishing report

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

Sarasota fishing report

November 25 Sarasota fishing report

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

Sarasota fishing report

November 11 Sarasota fishing report

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

Light tackle trolling in Saltwater

October 26 Sarasota fishing report

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

Sarasota fishing report

October 13 Sarasota fishing report

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

Sarasota fishing report

September 17 Sarasota fishing report

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

Sarasota fishing report

August 30 Sarasota fishing report

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

Sarasota fishing report

August 10 Sarasota Fishing Report

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

Fishing report for Sarasota

August 3 Sarasota Fishing Report

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

Sarasota fishing report

July 26 Sarasota fishing report

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

Sarasota fishing report

July 16 Sarasota Fishing Report

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

fishing report for Sarasota, Florida

July 5 Sarasota fishing report

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

Sarasota fishing report

June 29 Sarasota fishing report

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

Sarasota fishing report

June 22 Sarasota fishing report

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

inshore saltwater fishing

June 15 Sarasota fishing report

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

Sarasota fishing report

June 8 Sarasota fishing report

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

Sarasota fishing report

June 1 Sarasota fishing report

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

May 25 Sarasota fishing report

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

Sarasota fishing report

May 19 Outer Banks fishing report

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

fishing report

May 11 Sarasota Fishing Report

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

Sarasota fishing report

May 4 Sarasota fishing report

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

fishing report for Sarasota, Florida

April 27 Sarasota fishing report

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

Florida bluefish

April 20 Sarasota fishing report

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

Sarasota fishing report

April 13 Sarasota fishing report

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

fishing report for Sarasota, Florida

April 6 Sarasota fishing report

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

fishing report for Sarasota, Florida

March 30 Sarasota fishing report

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

fishing report Sarasota

March 23 Sarasota fishing report

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

Sarasota fishing report

March 16 Sarasota fishing report

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

fishing report for Sarasota

March 2 Sarasota fishing report

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

Sarasota fishing report


February 23 Sarasota fishing report

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

Sarasota fishing report

February 16 Sarasota fishing report

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

Sarasota sheepshead fishing


February 2 Sarasota fishing report

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

Sarasota fishing report

January 19 Sarasota fishing report

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

Sarasota fishing report

January 5 Sarasota fishing report

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

Sarasota fishing report

December 22 Sarasota fishing report

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

Sarasota fishing report

December 8 Sarasota fishing report

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

Sarasota fishing report

November 24 Sarasota fishing report

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

Sarasota fishing report

November 10 Sarasota fishing report

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

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

Sarasota fishing report

November 3 Sarasota fishing report

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

Sarasota fishing report

October 20 Sarasota fishing report

Sarasota fishing report

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

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

Action from this week!


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

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

October 13 Sarasota fishing report

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

Sarasota fishing report

October 7 Sarasota fishing report

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

Sarasota fishing report

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

Sarasota fishing report information

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

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

Sarasota fishing report

In the winter time I do three types of fishing; bottom fishing, River snook fishing, and on nice days drifting the deep grass flats. I use live shrimp to bottom fish for sheepshead, snapper, drum, and other species around docs and other structure. Local area rivers produce snook and bass for anglers casting plugs. When conditions are favorable on the open flats, we use jigs and live shrimp to catch a variety of species.

As it warms up fish move out of the deeper waters where they spend the winter. The flats and passes become alive with snook, redfish, speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, jacks, ladyfish, and other species. The passes and deep flats produce the most action while some anglers seek the challenge of catching snook in redfish in the back country.

When conditions are right, the fishing in the inshore Gulf of Mexico can be fantastic! East winds will result in clear water and plenty of baitfish. This will in turn attract Spanish mackerel, false albacore, sharks, cobia, and other species. Often times, the fish will be seen feeding aggressively on the surface. This is great fun as just about anything tossed into the feeding frenzy will draw strike.

Sarasota fishing charters

For many anglers, the heat of summer means one thing; tarpon! The silver Kings invade our area in early May and stay until late July. This is very challenging fishing, and not for everyone. However the reward is the fish of a lifetime! Tarpon to 150 pounds are landed off of the area beaches every summer.

While I still do a little tarpon fishing, most of my summer trips are run in Sarasota Bay. With all the anglers out on the beach chasing tarpon, fishing pressure in the Bay is lighter. My normal approach is to cast lures or shrimp at first light then use my cast net to catch bait and chum mid morning. Either way, with the heat of summer, we are will off the water early.

You’ll see me mention “deep grass flats”often in my Sarasota fishing report. This is where the majority of fish on my fishing charters are landed. These areas are large with a mixture of grass and sand bottom. Shrimp, crabs, and bait fish all hide in the grass. That obviously makes it an attractive place for game fish to feed.

Speckled trout in particular are associated with these deeper grass flats. But anglers will also catch Spanish mackerel, Pompano, bluefish, jacks, a lot of ladyfish, snapper, grouper, cobia, sharks, catfish and more while fishing the deep grass at one time of year or another.

Sarasota fishing

We primarily drift fish while working the deep grass flats. Anglers cast out lures, flies, or live bait as we drift across a productive areas in search of fish. Bass Assassin jigs, Rapala plugs, and spoons are effective artificial lures. The top live bait is a shrimp. These are fished either free line or under a noisy cork. In the summer time, live bait fish such as scaled sardines are used.

Both Big Sarasota Pass and New Pass produce a lot a fish for clients on Sarasota fishing charters. Anglers reading my Sarasota fishing report will see Big Pass in particular mentioned quite often. Sheepshead school up there thick and late winter and early spring. Mangrove snapper and snook are found in the rocks in the summer time. Ladyfish are often times thick right in the middle of the pass itself. Bluefish and mackerel can also be encountered as well.

Anglers drifting the passes cast jigs out and bounced them along the bottom. This is very effective and produces Pompano, bluefish, mackerel, and loads of ladyfish. Free lining a live shrimp with a split shot or fishing a live shrimp on a jig head can also be very productive. However, when the fish are biting jigs are more efficient as there is no need to stop and rebate the hook.

Sarasota Bay fishing report

There is a ton of structure in Big Pass as well. This is particularly true of the whole area along the north side of Siesta Key. The water is deep, there is good current flow, and abundant structure. This is a recipe for an excellent fishing spot, and it is! Bottom fishing with live shrimp and bait fish is very productive. Anglers do need to time this during periods of lesser current flow. It is difficult to anchor in fish when the tide is screaming.

Spinning tackle is used on the vast majority of my fishing charters. The reason is quite simple; it is effective and easy to use. Many freshwater anglers are experienced with close to faced reels. However, it usually only takes a few minutes before there casting like a pro with the spinning outfits. 10 pound spinning outfits are light enough that anglers enjoy the fight of even a smaller fish while still giving them a chance of the hook something larger.

Anglers seeking a bit more of a challenge will opt to targets snook, redfish, and jacks in the back country areas. This type of fishing is more of a “quality over quantity approach”. I use the trolling motor to ease the boat along a likely looking shoreline, while anglers cast lures towards the shoreline. I do use live bait occasionally as well.

River fishing charters

Visitors to my site will often see ”River snook fishing”in my Sarasota fishing report. This is a unique angling opportunity that I offer to clients. I am not aware of any other guide to do so. I use my 14 foot Alumacraft jon boat for this fishing. Shallow water and primitive ramps require this. However, this also results in less boat traffic and a quiet, serene angling adventure.

The Manatee River, Myakka River, and Braden River, are all within a 45 minute drive from the Sarasota beaches. Each has a distinct feel and personality. The Myakka River has some stunning scenery and big snook. The Manatee River is pretty as well but a bit more developed. It offers the most variety. The Braden River is the most developed but offers fantastic fishing for jack crevelle in the cooler months. Snook and redfish are available as well.

One unique aspect of fishing the rivers is the chance to catch freshwater species as well. The Manatee River and Myakka River are both brackish below the dams. This results in saltwater fish such as snuck, redfish, jacks, and juvenile tarpon being found in the same water as largemouth bass, sunshine bass, catfish, gar, and bream. These freshwater species will take the same lures meant for the saltwater fish.

In the spring and again in the fall we experience runs of pelagic species. This means that they spend most of their time in the middle of the water column and do not relate as much to bottom structure. Spanish mackerel and false albacore are prime examples. King mackerel show up here offer beaches as well. This fishing is dependent on conditions, the water needs to be clear and calm. When it is, fishing can be outstanding!

Inshore Gulf of Mexico

This type of fishing is very exciting in that it is visual. Often times we don’t even fish until we actually see the mackerel and false albacore busting baits on the surface. We will also look for big schools of bait fish which can be seen dimpling on the surface. Artificial lures work very well when the fish are breaking. We will also catch some of the live bait fish and cast them back into the school of bait.

On days when the fish cannot be seen working on the surface, trolling can be an effective technique. Trolling spoons and plugs is a great way to locate Spanish mackerel, false albacore, and even big King fish. It is also a great way to put a lot of fish in the boat quickly and is an easy technique for anglers with limited experience.

The “inshore artificial reefs”will be mentioned regularly in my Sarasota fishing report. I am referring to three man-made groups of structure that were placed between one and to miles off of Lido Key. The Gulf floor is for the most part flat and featureless. Therefore, any structure will attract fish and hold them there. Those three reefs provide excellent fishing for bottom fish such as sheepshead, snapper, and grouper along with pelagic species such as mackerel, King fish, cobia, and false albacore.

Fly fishing

Fly fisherman are certainly not to be left out of the action! False albacore in Spanish mackerel will most certainly hit a well presented fly out in the Gulf of Mexico. This is terrific sport for anglers wielding a fly rod. Any inshore species that can be caught on a jig will also take a fly. Speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish, jacks, and more will hit a Clouser Minnow on the deep flats. Snook and jacks prefer whiteCrystal Minnow patterns in the back bays.

An 8wt outfit is a good all-around choice for fly fishing in Sarasota. It might be a tad light if the false albacore are running large. Otherwise, it is a good choice for the water and species that Sarasota offers. An intermediate sink tip line and then 9 foot tapered leader with a 24 inch piece of 30 pound bite tippet finishes off the outfit.

Readers will see a lot a families including children and my Sarasota fishing report. I really enjoy taking families out, it has become a big part of my Sarasota fishing charters. Many of these anglers have limited experience. One great thing about fishing here is that there are many species that do not require a great deal of skill or patience to catch. This is a good thing!

Also, while I don’t mind if clients keep a couple fish for dinner, I strongly encourage catch and release. Sarasota gets a lot a visitors and thus a lot of fishing pressure. It is important that the focus of the fishing trip beyond catching fish and enjoying quality time with families. I will certainly filet and bag up your catch at the end of the trip.  Current Florida fishing regulations and license requirements can be found HERE.

Fishing Articles

Fishing Articles from Capt Jim Klopfer

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

fishing articles

Saltwater fishing articles

Inshore Saltwater Fishing, a Complete Guide

11 Valuable Tampa Bay Fishing Tips

Best 6 Topwater Plugs for Saltwater Fishing

Best 7 Saltwater Fishing Spoons

Best Sheepshead Fishing Tackle and Baits

Tarpon Fishing Tackle and Gear, an Angler’s Guide

Best Redfish Fishing Tackle and lures

Best 12 Spotted Sea Trout Fishing Lures

Best Flounder and Fluke Fishing Tackle and Techniques

Best Grouper Fishing Tackle and Lures

Best False Albacore Fishing Tackle and Lures

Best Live Baits for Saltwater Fishing in Florida

Best 7 Fishing Lures for Redfish

Top 9 speckled trout fishing lures

Top 6 Spanish mackerel fishing lures

Jack Crevalle Fishing, a Complete Guide

Light Tackle Bottom Fishing Tips

What is the Best Saltwater Fishing Fly

How to Catch Saltwater Fish with Jigs

Spotted Sea Trout Fishing, Tips to Succeed

Spanish Mackerel and False Albacore Fishing Tips

Fishing for Redfish and Speckled Trout

Fishing for Bluefish, Tips and Techniques

Top 15 Sheepshead Fishing Tips

Best 6 Saltwater Fishing Lures

Fly Fishing for Jack Crevalle

Top 6 Spanish mackerel fishing lures

Florida fishing articles

Fishing for Snook, a Complete Guide

Florida Inshore Fishing Tips

Florida Offshore Fishing Tips

Florida Pompano Fishing

Florida Bluefish

Freshwater Fly Fishing in Florida

Fly Fishing in Florida, Gulf Coast Tips

Tarpon Fishing in Florida, an Anglers Guide

Light Tackle Trolling in Saltwater

Jacksonville Florida Fishing Tips

Best Snook Fishing Tackle and Lures

Florida King Mackerel Fishing, Tips and Techniques

Top 21 Florida Saltwater Game Fish

What is the Best Bait for Shark Fishing?

Fishing for Florida Panfish and Crappie

Top 25 Florida Game Fish

Florida Saltwater Fishing in Winter

Fishing for Ladyfish in Florida

Freshwater fishing articles

Top 13 Freshwater Fishing Plugs

Best 11 topwater plugs for freshwater fishing

Top 11 Freshwater Fishing Spoons

Largemouth Bass Fishing in Creeks

Spinnerbait Fishing Tips and Techniques

Bass Fishing Tackle and Equipment

Best Catfish Fishing Tackle and Gear

Best 13 Brown Trout Fishing Lures

Freshwater Fishing Tackle and Lures, a Beginners Guide

Ice Fishing Tackle and Gear

Top 10 Northern Pike Fishing Lures

Top 11 Musky Fishing Lures

What is the best Northern Pike Fishing Lure

Best 13 Largemouth Bass Fishing Lures for Beginners

Best River Trout Fishing Lure

What is the best live bait for freshwater fishing?

Fly Fishing for Bluegill and Panfish

Fishing with Spinners in Rivers and Streams

Top 13 Rainbow Trout Fishing Lures

What is the best live bait for smallmouth bass?

Best 9 Fishing Lures for Streams and Small Rivers

Ice Fishing for Crappie, a Beginners Guide

Crappie Fishing Tackle and Lures, a Complete Guide

Best 9 fishing lures for bluegill and panfish

How to Catch Catfish, a Comprehensive Guide

Walleye Fishing, a Beginners Guide

Fishing for River Catfish, Tips and Techniques

Smallmouth Bass Fishing for Beginners

Best 7 River Smallmouth Fishing Lures

Fishing Franklin North Carolina

Top 27 Freshwater Game Fish Species

Minnesota Walleye and Pike Fishing

Trout Fishing in Blue Ridge, Georgia

Manitoba and Alberta Fishing Tips

Women Bass Fishing, Tournament Tips

Fishing Texas Lakes and Rivers

River Fishing Tips and Techniques

Fishing the North Shore of Minnesota

Sarasota fishing articles

Fishing Sarasota Bay, Pro Tips!

Fishing Siesta Key

Sarasota Fishing Calendar

Sarasota Bottom Fishing

Best 11 Sarasota Fishing Reefs

Sarasota Offshore Fishing

Sarasota Redfish

Sarasota Chumming Techniques

River Snook Fishing Charters

Sarasota Bass Fishing

Sarasota Snook Fishing

Sarasota False Albacore

Sarasota Fishing Forecast

Sarasota Crappie Fishing

Sarasota Sheepshead Fishing

Sarasota Mangrove Snapper Fishing

Sarasota Speckled Trout Fishing

Longboat Key Fishing Charters

Sarasota Freshwater Fishing

Best 6 Sarasota Fishing Lures

Fly Fishing Sarasota Rivers

Best Sarasota Fishing Charter

35 Best Sarasota Fishing Spots

Sarasota Jig Fishing

Sarasota Trolling Techniques

Siesta Key Snook Fishing

Best 7 Lido Key Fishing Spots

17 Best Bradenton Fishing Spots

Fishing Charters in Sarasota

Miscellaneous Fishing Articles

Best Striped Bass Fishing Tackle and Lures

Top 12 Texas Game Fish

Striped Bass Fishing Tips and Spots

A Guide to Kayak Fishing for Beginners

11 Valuable Tampa Bay Fishing Tips

11 Valuable Tampa Bay Fishing Tips

This article will feature 11 valuable Tampa Bay fishing tips. Tampa Bay is a large Bay and estuary system on the West Coast of Florida, pretty much in the center of the state. It consists of a large, open bay which still gets significant commercial traffic. It has miles of mangrove shorelines, acres of pristine grass flats, and many tributary creeks and rivers. These are combined to make Tampa Bay an outstanding fishery for a variety of species.

11 fantastic Tampa Bay fishing tips

Special thanks to Paige for the great photos!  Follow Paige on IG

One of the advantages of fishing in this part of Florida is the variety that anglers can experience. Tampa Bay offers those casting artificial lures, live baits, and flies the opportunity to catch a myriad of saltwater species. These include tarpon, redfish, spotted sea trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish, sharks, cobia, pompano, permit, snapper, grouper, sheepshead, flounder, drum, jack crevelle, and more.

Just as with the abundant species, anglers have a choice as to how they want to pursue their quarry. Spinning tackle is the primary choice and is most often used to cast artificial lures or live bait. Anglers can use heavier tackle to bottom fish near the shipping channel and around the Skyway Bridge. Fly anglers have many opportunities as well.

11 valuable Tampa Bay Fishing Tips

Tampa Bay redfish


The list of 11 valuable Tampa Bay fishing tips is a guide to get anglers unfamiliar with the area or the tactics a place to get started. However, even the most seasoned angler may pick up a tip or two

1)  Medium action spinning outfit is the best rod and reel choice

Number one on the list of Tampa Bay fishing spots is choosing the best rod and reel combination. For most anglers, a medium spinning outfit is the best choice. Most of the fish landed will be between 1 pound and 10 pounds. This makes a medium action spinning outfit an excellent choice which will handle virtually all of the situations that an angler fishing Tampa Bay will encounter. Of course, anglers targeting very large species such as big grouper or tarpon especially around heavy cover will have to bump up the tackle a notch or two.

fishing in Tampa Bay

A 7 foot medium action rod with a fast action is an excellent all round choice. Fast action refers to the design of the rod. It will be stout at the lower half to enable fighting a big fish while being limber at the tip to make casting lighter lures and live baits easier. A 3000 series reel spooled up with either 20 pound braided line or 10 pound monofilament line completes the rig. Below is a quality Penn Conflict combo at a reasonable price.

2)  Chumming with live bait is extremely effective in Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay has become a bit of a live bait fishery. This is especially true in the warmer months. Many guides as well as experienced recreational anglers use a technique called “live bait chumming”. This is an incredibly effective technique that produces a lot a fish and is easy for even the novice angler to succeed with. It is a bit complicated and require some special gear, but the efforts are worth it.

snook fishing in Tampa Bay

In the warmer months, the flats are inundated with millions of small a bait fish. These are locally called white bait or shiners. For the most part, they include scaled sardines, threadfin herring, and Spanish sardines. Large rounded live wells with high-volume pumps are required to keep the bait alive.

Using a cast net, the angler loads up the bait well with between several hundred and a thousand or more frisky live baits. Then, the boat is anchored up current from a productive spot and this live bait is used as chum to lure in snook, redfish, trout, jack crevalle and other species. It can get very exciting seeing the game fish viciously attack the freebies that are tossed out behind the boat. Of course, it is even more exciting when one takes a bait with a hook in!

3)  Live shrimp is the best all round bait in Tampa Bay

Live shrimp are the most versatile and widely available live bait for anglers fishing in Tampa Bay and throughout the southeast part of the United States. Every species in saltwater will happily devour a live shrimp. They are available at every bait and tackle store and are fairly easy to keep alive, especially in the cooler weather. A simple aerator and stone will keep them alive and frisky all day.

Tampa Bay fishing tips

Live shrimp can be fished a variety of ways. Anglers bottom fishing around docks, bridges, submerged rocks, and other structures do well using a live bait hook and just enough weight to get to the bottom. Snapper, sheepshead, grouper, drum, and a variety of other species can be taken. Anglers fish them either under a float or free lined on the grass flats as well for speckled trout, snook, redfish, and more.

4)  Frozen shrimp produces as well

Frozen shrimp can be quite effective as well. There are times both in the summer and in the winter where live shrimp are not available. This usually happens in the winter when several days of rough weather prohibit the shrimp boats from going out. However, anglers who prefer to fish with live or natural bait can do very well using frozen shrimp. In some cases, it is actually preferred.

Anglers will get more bait for their money when purchasing frozen shrimp over live shrimp. While live shrimp are much preferred on the flats, frozen shrimp work very well for anglers bottom fishing. Again, in some cases they actually work better. Frozen shrimp are easier to dice up into smaller pieces. There are many days when sheepshead, drum, and snapper will take a piece of frozen shrimp eagerly.

5)  The jig and grub combo is the top artificial lure

The number one artificial lure for anglers fishing Tampa Bay is the jig and grub combo. In fact, this bait is the most popular lure for anglers fishing the inshore salt waters from Texas all the way up to New England. There are several reasons for both the popularity and effectiveness of the jig and grub combination.

fishing for sea trout

These lures are very cost effective. They consist of a jig head and then a plastic body of some type. The jig head is simply a hook of lead molded near the eye. This molded material is available and several different shapes and designs as well as multiple colors. The grub bodies are available and countless sizes, shapes, and colors. Most are designed to imitate either a shrimp or a bait fish. All of them will catch fish when properly presented.

The weight of the jig had will be determined by the depth of the water being fished and the amount of current that is present. Anglers fishing the deeper grass flats for speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, and other species will do well with a 1/4 ounce jig head and a 3 inch to 4 inch grub body. Those plying the shallow flats will go down as light as 1/16 of an ounce to avoid snagging in the grass.

6)  Understanding seasonal migrations when fishing Tampa Bay

One key to having fishing success is understanding the seasonal migrations that the local fish exhibit. Understanding these migrations is number six on the list of 11 valuable Tampa Bay fishing tips. Basically, at the temperature extremes, both hot and cold, fish will go deep. Then, as the water either warms up or cools off, fish will move to the mid depth areas and feed heavily.

In the winter, many fish species will move up into area rivers in creeks as well as residential canals. This is especially true for temperature sensitive species such as snook, jack crevalle, and juvenile tarpon. Other species such as spotted sea trout and redfish will often move into deeper holes near the flats as well as deeper residential canals.

Tampa Bay tarpon

As it warms up, fish will move out of these winter hunts and scatter out over the flats. This is an excellent time to fish for a variety of species! As the water temperature reaches the mid 70s, baitfish will show up in huge numbers. This action will continue all summer and into the fall. During times of very warm weather, fish may become a little sluggish and once again seek out deeper water. As winter approaches, the pattern will reverse itself and fish will begin moving back into their winter areas.

7)  Noisy popping corks are productive and easy to use

Popping corks have been used in Florida for a long time on the grass flats. A popping cork is basically a float that makes some noise which attracts fish. In times past, these corks had a slit and the side and a stem which held him in place along with a concave face. These corks are handy and that they are easily added, removed, as well is the depth being fished can be easily changed.

Some newer designs are very popular as well. The Cajun Thunder is an example of this. These were designed in Louisiana where the water is much murkier than here in Tampa Bay. A 2 to 3 foot leader is used under the float with a hook attached. This rig is most often fished with a live shrimp. However, anglers can use a jig or artificial shrimp under the popping cork as well.

fishing for snook in Tampa Bay

The concept with either float is that the rod is twitched sharply in the cork either pops or makes a bunch of noise. This noise simulates fish feeding and in turn attracts game fish such as spotted sea trout to investigate. Once in the area, the fish spots the live shrimp or artificial offering dangling below and hopefully takes. This is a great rig to fish children and novice anglers as it is easy to cast as well as easy to see the bite.

8)  Trolling is a very productive fishing technique in Tampa Bay

Trolling is an excellent technique that anglers can use to locate and catch fish. It is simply the act of idling the boat around while pulling artificial lures behind. It can be done in a variety of depths to catch multiple species.

Many anglers overlook trolling on the flats. However, this is a very effective technique, especially when there is little wind which inhibits drifting. The best lures to troll are plugs and spoons. The #8 Rapala X-Rap in olive or white is an excellent bait for this application. It closely matches the size of the locally available forage. The lure also dives down to to 3 feet, which will keep it from snagging in the submerged grass. 1/2 ounce silver spoons are excellent as well. Anglers need to make sure they use a swivel when using a spoon or line twist will ensue.

Light tackle trolling in Saltwater

Experienced anglers have learned that trolling the open waters of Tampa Bay can be extremely effective as well. This is particularly true around the channel edges of the main shipping channel. The steep drop-offs along with abundant structure make this a natural fish holding area. Anglers in the winter troll large deep diving plugs and catch some very large gag grouper. In the spring and the fall, silver spoons trolled behind number one and number two planers produce king mackerel and Spanish mackerel.

9)  Best time of day to fish varies with seasons

Anglers who are successful fishing and Tampa Bay will also adjust the time of day that they fish to the time of year. In the warmer months, the best action is almost always in the morning. Water temperatures will cool slightly on the flats before heating up during the middle of the day. Also, from an angler comfort level, warnings are the way to go in the summer time. The exception to this is anglers who fish at night around the lighted docks and bridges.

fishing for redfish

Conversely, anglers fishing in the wintertime will often do better by going out in the afternoon. Winter tides can be extremely low in the morning, making fishing difficult. Also, the water will be quite chilly. The best bite on the flats in the cooler months is in the afternoon when the tide comes in and the water warms up a tad. The same is true for anglers chasing snook and area creeks and rivers.

In the spring time, action can be good all day long as the water temperature is in the optimal zone and anglers will be comfortable for most of the day. During this time of year, tides are the prevailing factor as opposed to weather.

10)  Understanding how tides affect fishing in Tampa Bay

Understanding tides and their effect on fish is crucial to angling success in Tampa Bay and really anywhere in saltwater fishing. While there is no one perfect tide, it is more about understanding where fish will feed on certain tide stages. There are two things to consider when dealing with tides; the strength of the tide and the height of the water.

The level of the water is crucial when fishing the shallow flats. On extreme low tides, fish will have no choice but to gang up in the holes. As the tide comes in, they will move up out of these holes and scatter out over the flats to feed. By high tide, many of the fish will be up under the mangroves and difficult to reach. Most anglers prefer the low, incoming tide when fishing the shallow flats.

Tampa Bay fishing tips

Tides affect fish on the deeper flats as well. Most anglers fishing for spotted sea trout and other species on the deeper flats prefer two hours before and after the high tide. While fish can certainly be taken at other times, this is an excellent time to fish in those locations.

Tides will affect anglers fishing in deeper water as well, especially when bottom fishing. While the height of the tide matters very little, the strength of the current is a significant factor. While fish like to feed during strong current, fishing can be difficult both anchoring and getting the bait down to the fish. Many anglers choose to bottom fish and the deeper areas during periods of slack tide were controlling the bait and the boat is much easier.

11)  Leaders are important when fishing in Tampa Bay

Anglers will almost always have to use a leader of some sort. That is tip number x on the list of xx fantastic Tampa Bay fishing tips. Most saltwater fish species either have teeth, raspy lips, or a sharp gill plates. This means that tying the hook or lure straight to the running line will result in a lot of lost fish. For that reason, anglers almost always opt for a shock leader of some sort.

In the vast majority of fishing applications, a 2 foot section of 30 pound fluorocarbon leader is an excellent choice. Anglers can bump it up to 40 pound leader or even higher when targeting large snook and jacks around mangrove shorelines and other structure. Conversely, when the water is very clear and trout or snapper are the quarry, anglers can reduce the leader down to 20 pound test. The leader can be attached to the running line by using a line to line not or a small swivel.

Some anglers opt for wire leader’s when targeting king mackerel and Spanish mackerel. However, this can be a trade-off as wire will almost certainly reduce the number of bites in the clear water. It can be necessary though at times, if constant cutoffs become an issue. Anglers targeting king mackerel in particular when using large live bait fish almost always use a wire leader.

In conclusion, this article on 11 valuable Tampa Bay fishing tips will help anglers catch more fish. Check the FWC site for current Florida fishing regulations.

Top 13 Freshwater Fishing Plugs

Top 13 Freshwater Fishing Plugs

This article will list the top 13 freshwater fishing plugs. Plugs are hard bodied artificial fishing lures. For the most part, they imitate crayfish and bait fish. Back in the day, they were carved from wood. Most today are made from plastic. They are available in models that fish from the surface down to twenty feet or more.

top 13 frehwater fishing plugs

Capt Jim Klopfer is a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida. He has fished extensively all over the United States. There are quite a few different types of fishing plugs. In this article, he will list his personal favorite lure in each “family” of baits.

The top 13 freshwater fishing plugs are the Heddon Zara Spook, Rapala Skitter Prop, Rebel Pop R, Arbogast Hula Popper, Rapala X-Rap Slashbait, Yozuri Crystal Minnow, Strike King KVD Squarebill crankbait, Rapala Original Floating Minnow, Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap, Rapala Shad Rap, Bomber Fat Free Shad, Rebel Crawfish, and the Flatfish.

  • Heddon Zara Spook
  • Rapala Skitter Prop
  • Rebel Pop R
  • Arbogast Hula Popper
  • Rapala X-Rap Slashbait
  • Yozuri Crystal Minnow
  • Strike King KVD Squarebill
  • Rapala Original Floating Minnow
  • Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap
  • Rapala Shad Rap
  • Bomber Fat Free Shad
  • Rebel Crawfish
  • Flatfish

Plug colors, sizes, and characteristics

In order to not be repetitive, colors and sizes will be covered here. While there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to color and size, there are some guidelines to follow. Wherever possible, it is advised to closely mimic the locally available forage in both size and color. This applies to shad, bluegill, perch, crayfish, and other forage species.

Generally speaking, light colors work best in clear water and on sunny days. Conversely, darker colors produce better in stained water and on overcast days. In muddy water, bright colors work well. Chrome and chartreuse are good all round finishes that are hard to beat. Color is less of a factor when using topwater plugs.

best freshwater fishing topwater plugs

Plugs are also very versatile, while topwater plugs are excluded, all other plugs can be either cast out or trolled. Trolling with diving plugs is a very efficient way to locate fish. It is also easy to do and productive. Some plugs can even be fished vertically, and that includes through the ice!

Capt Jim’s list of favorite plugs includes baits that are versatile and will catch a variety of species. Many are legendary baits with decades long reputations. There are many fine “specialty” plugs designed for a certain species or application, but those will not be on the list. Many are targeted to anglers fishing for largemouth bass.

Top 13 freshwater fishing plugs

The first 4 baits on Capt Jim’s list of top 13 freshwater fishing plugs are topwater baits. These float on the surface the entire time, drawing strikes from fish below. While they all work on the surface, there are three different types of topwater plugs. These are walk the dog baits, propeller baits, and poppers.

1)  Heddon Zara Spook

“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”

The Heddon Zara Spook was the original “walk the dog” style bait. It is an extremely effective lure that catches fish to this day. It is available in several sizes and many different finishes. Chrome is a good all round finish.

2)  Rapala Skitter Prop

The Rapala Skitter Prop is number two on Capt Jim’s list. It puts out a lot of commotion while sitting relatively still. Gold is his favorite color. This is an excellent choice when it is breezy or there is a bit of chop on the water.

3)  Rebel Pop R

The Rebel Pop R is the next bait on the list. It is a “popper” and is a very easy bait for novice anglers to use. It comes with buck tail dressing on the tail. Capt Jim likes the silver finish with the blue back.

4)  Arbogast Hula Popper

The Arbogast Hula Popper has been around a long time. It is an excellent popper that works well in ponds and smaller waters. The rubber tail prodecues a lot of action. Frog is a good color pattern.

Jerk baits

The next three lures on Capt Jim’s list of the top 13 freshwater fishing plugs are jerk baits. These are long and slender. They float on the surface and dive down upon retrieve. The lip determines the depth that they will dive. Models are available that work a few feed below the surface down to twenty feet or more.

top 13 freshwater fishing plugs

These lures are called “jerk baits” due to the manner in which they are retrieved. The lure is cast out and then the rod tip is sharply jerked. The bait will lurch forward while flashing, then stop and hang motionless when given a little slack. This action simulates a wounded bait fish and drives fish crazy!

5)  Rapala X-Rap Extreme Action Slashbait

The Rapala X-Rap Extreme Action Slashbait is Capt Jim’s favorite jerk bait. It is a very versatile and catches just about every freshwater species. It is available in a lot of sizes, running depths, and many different color patterns.

6)  Yozuri Crystal Minnow

The Yozuri Crystal Minnow is another excellent jerk bait. It is available in many sizes and has an excellent, high quality finish. Most anglers opt for a lighter color which highlights the flash of the bait.

7)  Rapala Original Floating Minnow

The Rapala Original Floating Minnow is an old-school jerk bait that still has many fans. It is a bit less expensive and still catches a ton of fish. Silver with the black back is the most popular finish.


The next five lures on Capt Jim’s list of the top 13 freshwater fishing plugs are crank baits. These are cast out and “cranked” back in, thus the name. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. The plastic lip determines the depth that they run. Lipless crankbaits do not have a lip. They are simply reeled back in while putting out a bunch of flash and vibration.

8)  Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap

The Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap is the most recognized and productive lipless crankbait, and for good reason. It has been catching fish for decades. It is a very easy lure to use. It is cast out and reeled back in using a steady pace. It works when trolled as well. The ½ ounce bait in chrome with a blue back is Capt Jim’s favorite.

9)  Strike King KVD Squarebill crankbait

The Strike King KVD Square Bill line of crankbaits are veery effective lures. The 1.5 size in the Sexy Shad is an excellent choice when fish are feeding an 2” to 3” shad. The baits come in larger sizes as well. It has a very unique side to side wobble and bounces off structure well. They cover a large portion of the water column.

10)  Rapala Shad Rap

The Rapala Shad Rap is an excellent deep water crankbait. It gets down deep quickly and is easy to work back to the boat. The Shad Rap is an excellent trolling lure as well. It comes in a wide variety of colors and several; sizes.

11)  Bomber Fat Free Shad

The Bomber Fat Free Shad is an excellent deep water crankbait. It gets down quickly and can then be slowed down to work the bottom. Bark colors mimic crayfish while lighter colors mimic shad that school in deep water.

12)  Rebel Wee Craw

The Rebel Wee Craw is a terrific crankbait when used in rivers and rocky lakes. It is a legend among river smallmouth and walleye anglers. They work best when bounced off the rocks on the bottom.

13)  Flatfish

The Flatfish has been around for a very long time. Some anglers have forgotten about them, but that is a mistake! The Flatfish has a great action and works well when both trolled and cast. It produces big trout in fast moving rivers.

Best rods and reels for plug fishing

Anglers can use both spinning tackle and bait casting gear effectively when fishing with plugs in freshwater. The determining factors will really be the size of the lure and angler preference. Spinning tackle is the best option when casting smaller plugs, it is just better suited for lighter lures.

Anglers can read a comprehensive article on freshwater tackle in this link.

Bait casting gear is perfect for casting heavier plugs, and especially when using top water baits. Due to the nature and which they are retrieved, there is often times slack in the line when using a top water plug. Bait casting reels handle taking up the slack much better than do spinning reels, which are prone to getting loops in ordinary fishing. Bait casting and conventional outfits are preferred when trolling with plugs.

Anglers freshwater fishing with plugs often find that a softer action rod works better than the normal fast action rod’s preferred and other types of fishing. A more parabolic bend usually results in a better hook set. That extra cushion comes in handy when a fish is shaking its head violently. This is also safer as it eliminates the plug being thrown back at the angler.

Best lines for fishing with plugs

While braided line has become very popular, many anglers casting plugs opt for monofilament or fluorocarbon lines. The stretch and the line is preferred, very much for the same reasons as using a softer action rod. However, many anglers do fine with braided lines, especially when fishing around heavy cover such as fallen timber and docks.

In conclusion, this article on the best 13 freshwater fishing plugs will help anglers catch more fish using these extremely effective lures!


Best 11 Topwater Plugs for Freshwater Fishing

Best 11 Topwater Plugs for Freshwater Fishing

This article will list the best 11 topwater plugs for freshwater fishing. Many anglers consider catching a fish on a topwater plug to be the most exciting aspect of the sport! The visual component certainly adds another dimension. In the past, topwater plugs were made out of wood, often times carved by hand. The vast majority of today’s top water plugs for freshwater fishing are made from plastic.

Best 11 topwater plugs for freshwater fishing

Topwater plugs float on the surface at rest. They are then worked in an erratic manner, which simulates a wounded bait fish struggling on the surface. This action and commotion will attract the attention of nearby game fish and hopefully induce them to strike. Some top water plugs resemble frogs and even small mammals such as mice and birds.

Sacramento River striped bass

There are basically three types of topwater plugs; poppers, propeller baits, and walk the dog baits. The first two types, poppers and propeller baits, have a fair amount of built in action. The third group, walk the dog baits, have very little action by themselves. The angler must impart the action in order to elicit a strike.

Top 11 freshwater fishing topwater plugs

The best 11 topwater plugs for freshwater fishing are; Heddon Zara Spook, Arbogast Hula Popper, Rapala Skitter Prop, Rebel Pop R, Whopper Popper, Smithwick Devils Horse, Arbogast Jitterbug, Rapala Skitter Pop, Heddon Tiny Torpedo, Rapala Skitter walk, and the Strom Rattlin’ Chug Bug. These 11 freshwater top water plugs will produce for anglers fishing on the surface and every conceivable application.

  • Heddon Zara Spook
  • Arbogast Hula Popper
  • Rapala Skitter Prop
  • Rebel Pop R
  • Whopper Plopper
  • Smithwick Devils Horse
  • Arbogast Jitterbug
  • Rapala Skitter Pop
  • Heddon Tiny Torpedo
  • Rapala Skitter Walk
  • Storm Rattlin’ Chug Bug

Poppers are surface plugs that have a concave opening at the front. When twitched sharply, the plug digs into the water and produces a loud “popping” sound. Propeller baits have either a propeller at the rear or one on both ends. When moved, the propellers dig into the water putting out a lot of commotion. Walk the dog baits have very little built in action. The angler imparts it using a rhythmic twitching of the rod tip.

best freshwater fishing topwater plugs

Topwater poppers

Poppers are perhaps the easiest of the best topwater plugs for anglers freshwater fishing to use. These make them an excellent choice for novice anglers. The lure is cast out towards some likely looking structure and allowed to settle, waiting for the rings to completely dissipate. With the rod tip held low and the line taught, the angler gives the rod tip a sharp twitch. This causes the lure to dig into the water and make a loud “pop”.

fishing with spinners in rivers and streams

Due to their design, poppers work best when the water is calm. It is more difficult to produce that fish attracting sound when there is a ripple on the water. Also, poppers are best when fished in specific locations. They do not allow anglers to cover as much water as some of the other topwater plugs do. Once the lure has been twitched several times, the angler reels it back in and casts to another spot, repeating the process.

Fred Arbogast Hula Popper

“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”

The Arbogast Hula Popper is a legendary fishing lure. It has been around for decades and has produced many fish for freshwater anglers. Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and pike are probably the most often caught species. The frog color pattern is both popular and effective. The rubber skirted tail is unique and gives the bait a lot of its action.

Rebel Pop R

The Rebel Pop R is another proven fish catching bait. It has a large concave face with the rear treble hook dressed with bucktail. One attractive aspect of this lure is that it is available in multiple sizes, especially in smaller versions. That makes it a great choice for anglers fishing for panfish and other smaller species in ponds.

Rapala Skitter Pop

The Rapala Skitter Pop is another very effective popper. Most anglers use that the larger sizes for game fish such as pike, largemouth bass, striped bass, and more. It is also a crossover lure that is quite effective on saltwater fish as well. This bait uses a large plastic concave lip produce the famous popping sound.

Propeller style topwater plugs

Propeller baits, also known as prop baits, are just as the name implies, they come with either a rear propeller or one on both ends. When worked in the water, they put out a tremendous amount of sound and vibration. They can be worked faster than poppers, making them a better choice for anglers desiring to cover more water.

best fishing lure for northern pike

The lure is cast out towards some shoreline cover and allowed to settle. It is then worked back towards the angler using either a series of short twitches or a fairly steady retrieve. In most cases, the twitch and pause presentation works best. The fish will usually hit the lure as it sits motionless. However, there are days when the fish are quite aggressive and will hit a bait as it is retrieve steadily on the surface.

Smithwick Devils Horse

The Smithwick Devils Horse is a legendary top water plug that is used by freshwater anglers. It is long and slender, giving it a finesse type profile. The propellers fore and aft give the bait a ton of action and commotion that will draw game fish up from weeds and other cover.

Rapala Skitter Prop

The Rapala Skitter Prop is another very effective propeller style top water plug. It has a broader profile then does the Devils Horse and only has one propeller on the rear of the bait. It puts out a lot of noise while offering fish a more substantial meal. It comes in a couple different sizes, with the 07 being the best all round size for bass and other medium to large game fish.

Heddon Tiny Torpedo

The Heddon Tiny Torpedo is a terrific all round propeller bait for freshwater fishing. It has a huge following among anglers fishing for smallmouth bass and rivers. It is also an extremely effective pond fishing lure. It smaller size and single propeller result in a more subtle presentations than some of the other larger baits. Frog is an excellent all round color pattern.

Walk the Dog style freshwater topwater plugs

Walk the dog style baits are the most difficult for anglers to learn to use. The lure has no real built in action. Instead, the angler must work the bait in a way that induces the strike. These baits are long and slender, tapering down in the front and the rear. Many consider these to be “big fish” baits that tend to attract larger game fish.

Oklahoma bass fishing women

The walk the dog technique is accomplished in the following manner. The lore is cast out and allowed to settle. Then, with the rod tip low near the surface, the angler twitches the rod tip sharply while giving the handle of the real about a half a turn. When done properly, this will cause the lure to dance from side-to-side. It is a bit more difficult, however once mastered will produce some very nice fish.

Heddon Zara Spook

The Heddon Zara Spook is by far the most popular lure in this family. Heddon basically invented the whole family of baits with this lure. It comes in several sizes and a variety of colors and finishes. Striped bass, largemouth bass, northern pike, and musky will all fall prey to this legendary lure. There are even saltwater models manufactured with heavy duty hardware to catch large saltwater game fish.

Rapala Skitter Walk

The Rapala Skitter Walk is another walk the dog bait, very similar to the Zara Spook. It is offered in several sizes and many color patterns and is available in slightly smaller sizes as well.

More topwater plugs for freshwater fishing

There are a couple of other very productive top water plugs used by freshwater anglers that do not fit into any of the three categories. These are the Arbogast Jitterbug and the Whopper Plopper. The first has been around for a very long time while the second is a relative newcomer to the sport. Both of these lures belong in every freshwater anglers tackle box.

Fred Arbogast Jitterbug

The Jitterbug is a top water plug that has a wide metal lip at the front. While it does put out a bit of a popping sound, the bill or live causes the bait to waggle from side-to-side upon retrieve. This lure has been around for decades and has produced countless fish for anglers over the years. Many anglers associate using a black Jitterbug at night for bass.

Whopper Plopper

The Whopper Plopper is another unique top water lure. It is not been around very long, but has already earned a great reputation among seasoned bass anglers. It is a larger lore with a plastic tail that puts out a lot of splash when retrieved. It is almost, but not quite, a propeller bait. Whatever name you give it, it certainly produces fish!

Color choice for topwater plugs

topwater plugs freshwater fishing

Of all of the types of lures available to anglers, color probably matters less when it comes to top water plugs than all of the others. The reason for this is simple, fish can only see the underside of it. In most cases, it is really just a silhouette of the profile against the sky that the fish see. Frog is a very popular and productive all round color for freshwater fishing. Many anglers believe that black is the best color when fishing at night. Bone, chrome, and other light colors work well on sunny days.

Tackle options for casting topwater plugs

Anglers casting topwater plugs for freshwater fish can use both spinning in conventional tackle. Anglers casting lighter lures for smaller fish will do best using spinning tackle and most situations. Conversely, conventional or bait casting gear is often preferred by anglers casting heavier lures for larger fish. The really is no right or wrong, the choice should be based on the size of the lure being used, size of the fish being targeted, and angler preference.

Anglers can click on the link to read an article on the best freshwater fishing tackle.

Best technique for setting the hook

One thing that anglers who are new to fishing with top water plugs need to learn to do is to delay the hook set. It can be quite unnerving, and exciting, to see if fish blast a topwater plug. Often times the angler’s first instinct is to instantly set the hook. However, this will usually result in the fish being missed and sometimes even have the plug flying back into the boat. This can be quite dangerous! Instead, anglers should wait until the weight of the fishes fell and then set the hook using a sideways sweep of the rod.

In conclusion, this article on the best 11 top water plugs for freshwater fishing will help anglers catch more fish using this exciting and productive technique!

Best 6 Topwater Plugs for Saltwater Fishing

Best 6 Topwater Plugs for Saltwater Fishing

This post will list the best 6 top water plugs for saltwater fishing. Most anglers enjoy catching fish on top water plugs. Being able to visually see the strike is very exciting! Top water plugs float on the surface. They are designed to imitate a wounded bait fish that is struggling on top of the water. For the most part, they are most effective in fairly shallow water.

best 6 topwater plugs for saltwater fishing

There are several varieties of saltwater top water plugs. These include poppers, propeller baits, and “walk the dog” baits. While they are similar in that they float on the surface and put out some type of commotion, there are differences as well. All three are designed to imitate struggling bait fish on the surface of the water.

Sacramento River striped bass

The best 6 top water plugs for saltwater fishing are the Rapala Saltwater Skitter Prop, MirrOlure 5M, Heddon Saltwater Super Spook, Rapala Skitter Walk, Atom Popper, and Storm Rattlin” Chug Bug. These 6 saltwater topwater plugs will cover every angling situation.

  • Rapala Skitter Prop
  • Heddon Salatwater Super Spook
  • Atom popper
  • Storm Chug Bug
  • Rapala Saltwater Skitter walk
  • MirrOlure 5M

Topwater Poppers

fishing for bluefish

Poppers are top water plugs that have a concave face. The I let for the line tie is in the center of the bait in most cases. When twitched sharply, the face digs into the water emitting a popping sound as well as producing some splash. These type of lures can call fish up from a long distance and a fairly significant depth. They are very popular on a wide variety of species and many saltwater fishing applications.

Atom Popper

The Atom Popper is a very popular top water lure that is in the Popper family. It is fairly long and slender, making it aerodynamic which increases casting distance. It comes in several different sizes from 7/8 of an ounce to 3 ounces. It is a durable plug and is a very popular choice among striped bass anglers in the Northeast. It is a versatile bait that is used by anglers fishing from the surf, jetties, peers, and boats.

Chug Bug

The Storm Rattlin’ Chug Bug is another popular saltwater popper. It is used more often by anglers fishing the inshore waters. It is a bit smaller at 3 1/4″, which is better suited for inshore fishing. The rattle helps call game fish in to the bait. This lure will take a variety of species including striped bass, bluefish, spotted sea trout, redfish, and more. It is available and many different color patterns and several different sizes.

Propeller Topwater Baits

fishing for snook

Propeller baits or prop baits are another type of surface plug that has been around for a very long time. Some baits have propellers at both ends while many only have one at the rear of the lure. When twitched sharply, the propeller digs into the water and puts out a loud and distinctive churning sound. These baits can put out a lot of noise and commotion without moving very far.

Skitter Prop

The Rapala Skitter Prop is a popular saltwater top water bait that falls into the propeller family. It has one propeller on the rear of the bait with a conical shaped nose. This bait puts out a lot of commotion while moving a very short distance. This lore is a good choice for anglers fishing inshore waters, especially on calm days. The bait will call fish up from quite a distance away.

MirrOlure 5M

The MirrOlure 5M is a more aggressive propeller style bait. It has a propeller on both the front and rear of the lure. It puts out quite a commotion and is an excellent choice when there is a bit of chop on the water or when fish are especially aggressive. It is a durable bait that comes with saltwater hardware. The 5M comes in a couple different sizes and many color variations.

Topwater Fishing with Walk the Dog Baits

The last type of top water plug for saltwater fishing is the walk the dog bait. Unlike the previous two lures, these have very little built in action. Instead, the angler must work the bait in a way that elicits a strike. These baits are long and slender and tapered at the front and rear. When worked properly, the lore zigzags back and forth as it moves across the water. This type of lure is better for anglers who need to cover a fair amount of distance.

Heddon Super Spook

The Zara Spook is one of the most famous and recognizable top water fishing plugs. It is one of the original top water lures that is in the walk the dog family of baits. Their saltwater version in the Super Spook. It is a long and slender lore that is tapered at both ends. It comes with very sturdy saltwater hooks and hardware. The bait is available in several different sizes and multiple finishes.

Rapala Skitter Walk

The Rapala Saltwater Skitter Walk is very similar to the Super Spook. It is a bit smaller in size and profile, making it a better choice on very calm days. It is available and a couple different sizes and several color patterns. Like all lures in the walk the dog family, the action on this bait must be imparted by the angler.

Best Tackle for Fishing Topwater Plugs

In most saltwater fishing applications, spinning tackle is the best choice. However, while spinning tackle can certainly be used, and most situations conventional, or bait casting tackle is best. There are a couple of reasons for this. Due to the manner in which these top water plugs are worked, anglers will invariably get slack in the line. Bait casting outfits are better suited to handle this while spinning outfits will often create loops.

best redfish lures

Furthermore, most of these top water plugs are fairly heavy. While spinning outfits have the advantage when casting light lures, bait casting rigs are often better when throwing heavier baits. Bait casting rods offer anglers the ability to cast towards shoreline cover then stop the bait exactly where needed using the angler’s thumb. This results in a fairly subtle presentation given the weight of the lure.

Best Baitcasting outfit

While there is no one best conventional or bait casting outfit, a 7 foot to 7 1/2 foot medium heavy rod with a matching reel is an excellent all round combination. While anglers targeting larger species such as trophy striped bass will need to bump it up a bit, this rig will cover the vast majority of angling situations involving top water plugs.

Top Spinning Rig

Anglers can certainly use spinning outfits when casting top water plugs as well. Just as with bait casting outfits, there is no one combination that will cover every situation. However, a 7 foot medium heavy spinning rod with a 3002 4000 series real will get the job done in most situations.

Fishing Line Choices

Anglers have a couple different choices when it comes to fishing line. Braided line is very thin in diameter and will allow anglers some extra casting distance. However, many anglers actually prefer the stretch of monofilament line when using top water plugs. The stretch and the line can result in more fish being hooked and landed. Florocarbon lines are a bit of a combination, but are quite expensive. It really just is a matter of personal choice. 20 pound braided line and 12 to 15 pound monofilament line are good all-around choices.

Topwater Lure Fishing Techniques for Saltwater Anglers

Anglers saltwater fishing with surface plugs can find success in a variety of situations. While for the most part these types of baits are most effective in fairly shallow water, they can be used in deeper water as well. This is especially true when the water is clear. Top water baits will catch fish on shallow flats over bars and grass. They are also effective when cast towards shoreline cover such as docks, seawalls, riprap, fallen timber, oyster bars, and more.

fishing for striped bass

The best approach is to cast the lure out and allow it to settle for a few moments. Once the rings have dissipated, the retrieve can begin. Anglers using poppers and propeller baits will do best to twitch the lure sharply, then allow it to set a few moments again. This is repeated several times then the lure is reeled back in and cast out to another spot. These lures work best around structure as a can be worked multiple times without the lure being moved very far.

Walk the dog baits are a better choice for anglers looking to cover a larger area of water such as an expansive flats. Once again, the lure is cast out and allowed to settle. Then, with the rod tip held low towards the surface, the angler begins reeling it in while twitching the rod tip in a rhythmic pattern. When done properly, the lore will dance side-to-side as it comes back in towards the angler.

Proper technique for setting the hook

It is very important when fishing with top water plugs in saltwater to not set the hook when visually seeing the strike. This can be difficult as the take is often quite explosive. However, anglers who do so will most often miss the fish while sending the lure with multiple treble hooks back towards the angler.

Instead, the technique that works best when setting the hook with a top water plug is to wait until the fish is actually felt on the end of the line. This may seem like a long time, but it is not only more effective, it is much safer as well. Also, instead of an aggressive hook set, the best approach is usually a sideways sweep of the rod while reeling tight to get all the slack out of the line.

In conclusion, this article on the best 6 top water plugs for saltwater fishing will help anglers catch more fish using this exciting and productive technique!

Best 7 Saltwater Fishing Spoons

Best 7 Saltwater Fishing Spoons

This post will list the top 9 saltwater fishing spoons. Spoons are simple yet very effective artificial lures that catch a wide variety of species. For the most part, they mimic bait fish as they put out a lot a flash and vibration in the water. Spoons come in many sizes to match the locally available forage. They are very versatile lures which are effective when cast, trolled, and vertically presented.

Spanish mackerel fishing in Florida

A spoon is basically a curved piece of metal with a hook in. The shape of the spoon along with the design will determine how it works in the water. Spoons that are wider tend to wobble more and are best when worked at a slower pace. Long slender spoons can be worked or trolled much faster as they incorporate a tighter wiggle. Most spoons have a single treble hook, though some do come with a large single hook as well.

Most of the baits in this list of the top 9 saltwater fishing spoons are available in a wide variety of colors and finishes. However, most anglers tend to lean towards either a silver or gold finish. In clear water where silvery and light-colored bait fish are present, silver is just a natural finish which closely mimics the local prey. Conversely, gold is the choice in water that is a bit darker and on overcast days as well.

saltwater fishing spoons

Top 9 saltwater fishing spoons

This is Capt. Jim Klopfer’s top 9 saltwater fishing spoons. Capt. Jim runs fishing charters and Sarasota Florida and has over 30 years experience on the water. These spoons will produce for anglers and just about any fishing situation.

  • Acme Kastmaster
  • Sea Striker
  • Hopkins
  • Johnson silver minnow
  • crocodile
  • Johnson Sprite
  • Clark spoon
  • drone spoon

Spoon fishing tackle

The tackle required for fishing with spoons and saltwater will vary greatly depending on the application. Anglers casting spoons to mackerel, bluefish, striped bass, and other species will do well with a medium spinning outfit. A 7 foot medium action rod with a 3000 or 4000 series reel will get the job done.

top 9 saltwater fishing spoons

Anglers fishing with spoons and saltwater can certainly use bait casting tackle as well. Again, a medium action outfit that is about 7 foot long works best in most applications.

Anglers who prefer to troll with spoons will do best with a light conventional outfit. These are versatile rigs that most saltwater anglers already own. A 20 series or 30 series rod and reel combination will work fine for trolling spoons with sinkers and small planers.

Using swivels with spoons

inshore saltwater fishing

It is always recommended to use some type of swivel when fishing with spoons. Due to their design, spoons will twist and roll in the water. This is part of what makes them effective as they flash and vibration. Anglers can place a swivel between the running line and the leader or have the swivel right at the top of the spoon. Many anglers use a snap swivel to facilitate lure changing.

Spoon fishing techniques

Spoons are used by anglers fishing and saltwater in three different ways; casting, jigging, and trolling. Several spoons on this list of top 9 saltwater fishing spoons can do all three. Most can do two different things and some are specifically designed to do one, mostly troll.

Casting spoons

Casting spoons are meant to be cast out with the rod and reel and retrieved back in. Anglers can use them in a variety of applications. It is great sport to cast a spoon into a school of breaking fish. These are fish that are feeding on the surface as they have trapped baitfish. In this situation, fish are very aggressive and will often take any lure that is cast into the fray.

inshore saltwater fishing

Anglers can also blind cast with spoons to cover an area in search of fish. This is often done over a flat, sandbar, or near some type of structure such as jetties, rocks, bridges, docks, and any other spots that will hold fish.

Jigging spoons

Vertically jigging is a very effective technique when fish are schooled up over deep water structure. Casting is not practical as the fish are holding in such deep water. With this technique, the boat is placed above the fish and the spoon lower down to the bottom. The bait is then worked back towards the surface using hard jerks in an erratic manner.

Trolling spoons

Spoons are very effective lures when trolled as well. Trolling is simply the technique were anglers put lures out behind the boat and drive around in search of fish. While there are many nuances to it, that is basically the approach. Certain spoons are designed to be specifically trolled and not fished in any other manner. The spoons are light and some method must be used to get them down to the desired depth.

Florida king mackerel fishing

The two most common methods used when trolling with spoons are sinkers and planers. Trolling sinkers are just sinkers that are tied in line between the running line and the leader. The weight of the sinker will be determined by the depth of the water to be fished as well as the trolling speed. 2 to 4 ounces is a good all-around size, but anglers can certainly go heavier if needed.

Planers are clever devices that are similar to the lip on the diving plug. When set, the angle of the planer will cause the planer and spoon to dive down to a certain depth. A number one planer will dive down 5 to 7 feet. A number two planer will dive down 12 to 15 feet. A leader connects the spoon to the planer, 20 feet is a good length. When a fish strikes, the planer trips, allowing the angler to fight the fish without the drag of the planer.

Top 9 saltwater fishing spoons

Here is a description and a link for shopping for each of Capt. Jim’s top 9 saltwater fishing spoons.

Acme Kastmaster

The Acme Kastmaster spoon has been around a long time and is a proven lure. It has a unique shape that is different from other spoons. While primarily a casting spoon, it is very effective when jigs and trolled as well. It is one of those versatile spoons that can be used for all three techniques. The silver and gold finish is are most popular, with the silver and neon blue becoming more popular of late.

Sea Striker

The Sea Striker spoon is a very popular casting spoon. It has the traditional teardrop shaped where it is narrower with the top and wider at the bottom. It puts out a very enticing wobble and vibration along with flash. It comes in a variety of sizes and can be matched to the available forage. In most cases, a slow steady retrieve works best.


Hopkins spoons are most often thought of as jigging spoons, and for good reason. They basically invented the technique. These spoons are very heavy and dense, which allows them to sing quickly when fishing deep water and in heavy current. They come in a variety of sizes to match most fishing conditions. The silver spoon with a hammered finish and the hook dressed with white is the most popular Hopkins spoon.

Johnson Silver Minnow

The Johnson Silver Minnow spoon is a bit of a specialty bait. This is a weedless spoon that rides with the body of the spoon down in the hook up. It also has a weed guard. This design results in it be in very weedless. The spoon is most often fished in shallow water when weeds are present. It is a great search bait when trying to locate fish on expansive shallow flats. Many anglers associate it with redfish, however it will catch a wide variety of species.


The Krocodile spoon is another bait that can be used when casting, trolling, and vertically jigging. It is a bit of a hybrid spoon as it is long in fairly slender, but still has a bit of girth in the middle. The spoons are available in a very wide variety of colors and finishes along with alterable sizes.

Johnson Sprite

The Johnson Sprite spoon is a casting spoon. It has the traditional teardrop shape and is quite wide at the base. Gold and silver are the most popular finishes by far. This is a great spoon to use when fish are in water less than 10 feet deep. A slow steady retrieve works best.


Clark spoons are the number one trolling spoons used by saltwater anglers. They have a unique long slender design which realistically mimics the many species of similarly shaped bait fish. Their design also allows anglers to troll quite fast, up to 8 knots. This allows anglers to cover much more water in search of speedy game fish such as king mackerel and Spanish mackerel and false albacore. The spoons are almost always fish behind planers or sinkers. Silver is the most popular finish and the size varies depending on the size of the bait fish in the area.

Crippled Herring

The Crippled Herring is most often used as a vertically jigging lure. However, it can be cast out and retrieved as well. It is not terribly heavy for its size. Therefore, it works best when fish are feeding on smaller bait and reasonably shallow water. It can also be trolled when schools of glass minnows and other small bait fish are on the surface.


The Drone spoon is a wide bodied trolling spoon. Many anglers put it in the family of a bunker spoon. It was designed to mimic large, wider bait fish such as bunker and threadfin herring. It is an excellent trolling lure when these larger bait fish are present. It can be fish behind a sinker but is most often fish behind planers. Despite the size, anglers can troll this lure fairly quickly.

In conclusion, this list of Capt. Jim’s top 9 saltwater fishing spoons will help anglers understand which spoons work better and a particular application, and most importantly, catch more fish!


Top 11 Freshwater Fishing Spoons

Top 11 Freshwater Fishing Spoons

This article will list the top 11 freshwater fishing spoons. Spoons are a very simple, yet effective fishing lure. They have been around for a very long time. A spoon is basically a curved piece of metal with a hook in it. The bait can be of a metallic finish such as silver, gold, or bronze. Spoons are available painted as well. Some are even a combination of the two. Spoons usually have a single treble hook, though some spoons, especially weedless versions, have a single hook.


Spoons have several advantages as a fishing lure. They are fairly dense and heavy and cast a long way. This allows anglers to both cover a lot of water as well as reach spots that are a good distance away. Spoons are also very versatile, they are quite effective as both casting lures and trolling lures. They can also be used throughout the entire water column.

For the most part, spoons imitate live bait fish. They put out plenty of flash, vibration, and action. The shape of the spoon will determine its action. Wider spoons put out more of a wobble and are usually worked a bit slower. Spoons that are more slender can be worked faster and put out a more subtle vibration. As with all fishing, it is best to match the spoon to the forage species that the fish are feeding on.

Best tackle for fishing with spoons

The tackle that anglers will use when fishing with spoons will vary due to several factors. The primary factor is the size of the spoon that the angler is using. Spoons come in a wide variety of sizes and weights, from very tiny up to several ounces. Obviously, light spinning tackle is the best choice when casting tiny spoons for panfish and trout. Conversely, heavier spinning tackle or bait casting tackle works well when casting heavier spoons.

Top 11 freshwater fishing spoons

There are many different spoons available to anglers out there on the market. When properly presented, all of them will catch fish. However, there are some spoons that have proven themselves over time to be a cut above the rest. Here is the list of the top 11 freshwater fishing spoons.

  • Eppinger Daredevil
  • Johnson silver minnow
  • Acme cast master
  • Johnson Sprite
  • Acme Phoebe
  • Swedish pimple
  • Mepps Syclops
  • Acme Little Cleo
  • Hopkins jigging spoon
  • Luhr Jensen Krocodile
  • Williams whitefish

Eppinger Daredevil spoon

The Eppinger Daredevil spoon is a classic fishing lure. It has been around for decades and still catches fish to this day. More northern pike have been caught on the half ounce red and white Daredevil than any other fishing lure. That is the most popular bait in this line. The five of diamonds pattern is popular as well, especially for anglers trolling for lake trout. This lure is available in a wide variety of colors and several sizes.

Johnson Silver Minnow spoon

The Johnson Silver Minnow is a weedless spoon. It rides with the spoon side down and the hook up and also has a weed guard. This design result in a very weedless bait they can be worked through weeds as well is on top of them. While called the “Silver Minnow”, the most popular bait is a gold spoon and they 1/2 ounce size. It is also available and multiple color patterns and sizes. Anglers sometimes add a trailer such as a soft plastic or pork chop to enhance the action.

Acme Kastmaster spoon

The Acme Kastmaster is a unique looking spoon. It is shaped a bit differently from other baits. It is denser than most spoons and is quite heavy for its size. This results in a lore that works very well in a variety of applications. Anglers can cast a long way, covering a lot of water. It can also be trolled. Finally, it is an excellent spoon to use in a vertical presentation, whether fishing in open water or through the ice. Silver with blue neon and gold are the two most popular finishes. The spoon comes in a wide variety of sizes.

Johnson Sprite spoon

The Johnson Sprite spoon is a classic casting spoon. It has the traditional spoon shape of being narrow at the top and wide at the bottom. It casts and performs best when used with a slow steady retrieve. It can be trolled, however anglers will need to use some type of weight or device to get it down in the water column. Silver and gold are the two most popular finishes and one quarter ounce and 1/2 ounce the most popular sizes.

Acme Phoebe spoon

The Acme Phoebe spoon is most often used by anglers targeting trout and panfish. It is a bit of a niche lure in that regard. The vast majority of anglers using the spoons choose the gold finish. It is an extremely effective River trout fishing lure. It is very light, which allows anglers to fish shallow streams without hanging up. It is also a very popular ineffective ice fishing lure. Sizes from 1/64 ounce to 1/8 ounce are most popular.

Sweedish Pimple spoon

The Sweedish Pimple is a long slender spoon. It is an excellent choice in northern lakes when game fish are feeding on long skinny silver baitfish such as smelt and emerald shiners. A can be cast out and retrieved, trolled, and vertically jigged. It is an extremely popular ice fishing lure that catches a wide variety of species.

Mepps Syclops spoon

The Mepps Syclops is another long slender spoon. It comes in five sizes and a variety of colors. It is similar to the bait listed above. It is effective when cast, trolled, and vertically fished. It does have a bend near the eye that gives it a unique action.

Acme Little Cleo spoon

The Acme Little Cleo is another classic casting spoon. It has that traditional teardrop shape. They are available and nine different sizes and many different color patterns. Like most casting spoons, they produce best for anglers using a slow steady retrieve. The heavier versions are excellent when trolled. They are also a popular ice fishing lure as well.

Hopkins spoon

The Hopkins spoon is unique in that it is used almost exclusively as a jigging spoon in a vertical presentation. The half ounce spoon in the silver color with a hammered finish and white dressed hook is a classic fishing lure. It works extremely well for bass, trout, and other species when they are schooled up on deep structure. This lore realistically imitates a shad or other type of wounded bait fish. They are heavy and sink quickly and have an excellent erratic action.

Luhr Jensen Krocodile spoon

The Luhr Jensen Krocodile is a bit of a hybrid spoon, with a shape that is in between the classic wider casting spoons and the narrow jigging type spoons. The result is a very versatile lure that comes in 11 different sizes and a variety of color pattern. The spoon is very popular throughout the country and is productive on a wide variety of species. There is no one color pattern or size that is more effective than the other.

Williams Whitefish spoon

The Williams Whitefish spoon is a specialized bait. It only comes in three sizes, all of them fairly large. This spoon imitates larger praise such as ciscoes and is primarily used in larger open lakes for predators such as lake trout in the largest walleye. It is a heavy bait that sinks quickly and is most often used when vertically jigging or trolling, it is a bit heavy to cast for any real length of time.

Top 11 freshwater fishing spoons

These top 11 freshwater fishing spoons will cover every situation an angler will find himself or herself in. As mentioned above, the primary consideration is to match the lure size was importantly and colors secondarily to the available forage locally prayed on by game fish. Also, the size of the fish being pursued is a factor.

spinnerbait fishing techniques

Is important to use a swivel went fishing with spoons. Many anglers already incorporate a snap swivel on the end of the line to facilitate changing lures. By the nature of their design, spoons will roll and spin in the water. This action is what makes them effective. However, anglers who do not use a swivel will quickly find that the spoon will twist the line up into knots. The swivel can be right at the spoon, in the form of a snap swivel, or used between the running line any longer leader.

Spoon fishing techniques

One of the great aspects of fishing with spoons is the ease in which they are used. Unlike some freshwater fishing lures, spoons have a ton of built in action. That means that the angler can simply reel the bait in and catch fish. Of course, he or she can manipulate the rod tip to give the spoon even more erratic action. This ease of which they are used makes it a great choice for novice anglers. Spoons are also heavy and cast a long way, again making them a great choice for beginners.

walleye fishing

Anglers casting spoons simply make a cast, allow the lure to sink, then retrieve it back in at the desired pace. The entire water column can be covered by adjusting the time that the spoon is allowed to sink. Anglers do not want to Dragon on the bottom, or it will hang up.

Fishing with spoons in rivers

Spoons are extremely effective River fishing lures. The lighter versions work best in small, shallow streams as the bait can be worked at a fairly slow pace without it hanging up on the bottom. Conversely, larger heavier spoons are better choice in big fast-moving rivers. Silver and light colors work well on bright sunny days when the water is clear. Conversely, gold and darker colors are better choices under low light conditions and when the water has a bit of color to it.

fishing with spinners in rivers and streams

The best approach is to usually cast straight across the stream or river, then worked the spoon back in on a tight line is the current takes it downstream. Often times the bite will occur as the spoon starts to swing sharply in the current on the tight line. Many salmon and rainbow trout have been caught in this manner. The heads and tails of pools as well as the deeper runs between riffles are prime spots in rivers to fish with spoons.

Trolling with spoons

Spoons are fantastic trolling lures. They realistically imitate the forage that is found in most lakes and deeper rivers. The speed at which the angler can troll is determined by the shape of the spoon. Wider spoons must be trolled at a slower pace than long slender spoons.

trout lures

Heavier spoons in shallow lakes and rivers can be trolled by themselves. The angler simply attaches it to his or her line and using a swivel somewhere drags the bait behind the boat at a steady speed. However, in most cases anglers we have to use some other tackle or device to get the spoon down into the water column.

The easiest method is to use a trolling sinker. This is a cylindrical piece of lead with swivels at both ends. One end is tied to the running line and a section of leader is added to the other. The spoon finishes off the rig. The angler will have to adjust the trolling weight to the speed being trolled as well is the depth and current of the water being fished. In most cases, anglers will want to get the spoon fairly deep in the water column.

In conclusion, this article on the top 11 freshwater fishing spoons will help anglers select the proper spoon for the application being fished and result in more fish being caught!

Bass Fishing Tackle and Equipment, a Beginners Guide

Largemouth Bass Fishing Tackle and Equipment

In this article, largemouth bass fishing tackle will be thoroughly covered. Largemouth bass are the most popular game fish in North America. There are several reasons for this. Largemouth bass are apex predators, with a huge mouth and a powerful tail. When hooked, they often leap high and put up a great tussle. Bass can be very aggressive and will take a wide variety of artificial lures. While most anglers use lures, largemouth bass can be certainly caught on live bait as well.

women bass fishing

Another factor in the popularity of largemouth bass is their availability. Largemouth bass are very adaptable, tolerating a wide range of temperatures. They flourish in warm places such as Florida and other southern states. Several lakes in Mexico offer fantastic largemouth bass fishing as well. Florida strain largemouth have adapted to the deep clear lakes of California. Alaska even has a population of fish as well.

This popularity has spawned an entire industry. There is so much largemouth bass fishing equipment available to anglers that it can be overwhelming. Rows and rows of fishing rods, reels, soft plastic baits, hard baits and more fill the aisles at retail outlets. The purpose of this article is to simplify it a bit for anglers just getting into the sport.

largemouth bass

Bass fishing rods and reels

Anglers watching a fishing show with tournament bass anglers often see a dozen or more rods lying on the deck. Many of these are specialty rods that are designed for one particular type of bass fishing. However, that does not mean that every angler needs a dozen rods and reels!

There are three types of reels that anglers can choose from. The first and most basic are spin cast reels. Some anglers know them as push button reels. These are suitable for fishing for panfish and other smaller species, but not really adequate for serious bass fishing. Bait casting reels, also known as conventional reels, are very popular among bass anglers. However, they are a bit more complicated to learn to cast and use. Once mastered, every bass anglers should own a bait casting outfit or two.

best largemouth bass fishing lures for beginners

The majority of anglers choosing largemouth bass fishing equipment who are just starting out will do best with spinning tackle. These are also known as open faced reels. Anglers put their finger under the line and then open the bail, letting the line slide off their finger at the cast. The bail is then closed and the line retrieved. Spinning tackle is versatile, reasonably priced, and easy to learn to use. It has become much more popular among professional bass anglers of late as finesse fishing has grown.

Bass fishing rods

The fishing rods are matched to the fishing reels. Spinning rods and bait casting rods are slightly different. Spinning rods have larger guides while bait casting rods have smaller ones. The handles and grips on the butt section are often different as well.

best 13 bass lures for pond fishing

The two most important aspects of a fishing rod are the length and the action. The length is self-explanatory. Most anglers prefer a rod that is 6 1/2 feet to 7 1/2 feet long. A rod this long allows for anglers to make long casts as well as fight a good fish without it being clunky or awkward. Other than storage or fishing in very tight quarters, there really is no advantage to a shorter rod.

Fishing rods come in many different actions. This is the internal design of the rod that determines where it is stronger and stiffer and where it is more limber and how these two things transition. Different actions are actually desired for different types of fishing. This is one reason that you see so many fishing rods on tournament bass anglers boats.

Sarasota bass fishing

Rod and reel outfits

Beginning anglers choosing largemouth bass fishing equipment can really cover most fishing situations with two outfits. The first outfit would be a medium or medium light spinning outfit that has a 7 foot rod and a 3000 series spinning reel. The rod should have a fast action. This means that it is fairly stout at the butt section but quite limber at the tip. This is a very versatile outfit.

A spinning outfit like this is light enough for anglers to use light soft plastic baits and other finesse style baits effectively. However, it will still be suitable for casting heavier hard bodied plugs such as jerk baits and top water plugs. Anglers can spool the reel up with 12 pound monofilament or fluorocarbon line or 20 pound braided line. If an angler can only afford to purchase one rod and reel, this would be a very good choice.

The second outfit would be a bit stouter. It would be a medium heavy outfit. A bait casting outfit would be best, but anglers can certainly use a spinning reel as well. Bait casting reels have more power and often a fast retrieve ratio. This heavier outfit is better suited for pitching and flipping soft plastic baits into heavy cover as well as casting heavier spinner baits and plugs around cover. In these environments, an angler often needs muscle to get the fish out. Braid is the best line choice in this situation, and anglers can go fairly heavy, between 40 pound and 60 pound test.

Bass fishing lures

There have been countless books written about largemouth bass fishing lures. There is no way to completely cover that subject in a blog post. However, the subject can be simplified to keep it from being overwhelming for a novice angler.

top texas fish species

Largemouth bass fishing lures can be broken down into these categories; soft plastic baits, bladed baits, jigs, and plugs. With each lure type, specific examples of productive baits including size and color will be given to help anglers get started.

Soft plastic lures for bass fishing

The largemouth bass fishing world was revolutionized in the late 60s when plastic worms first came about. The initial versions were very stiff and not at all lifelike. They have certainly come a long way! Bass anglers today have an incredible assortment of soft plastic baits at their disposal. These can imitate worms, crayfish, salamanders, and creatures that do not exist. It is more the lifelike presentation in the water that catches bass as opposed to it realistically imitating some natural forage.

Yamamoto Senko

One of the most versatile and effective soft plastic baits is the Yamamoto Senko. This is termed a finesse bait. It can be rigged several ways including Texas rigged, wacky rigged, and used on a drop shot. Is a very versatile little bait. The 5 inch version and green pumpkin is an excellent all round lure that will catch largemouth bass anywhere.

Zoom Trick worm

The Zoom Trick worm is an excellent full-sized plastic worm. It has a bit more action than the Senko and is a good choice when fish are bit more active. This is a versatile bait that can be slowly crawled along the bottom or swim through vegetation. The design of the lure and the shape of the tail give it tremendous action. A 7 inch size in darker colors such work well.

Mister Twister grub

Mister Twister grubs are a simple yet very effective soft plastic lure. These baits hit the fishing scene in the late 70s and anglers have been having tremendous success with them ever since. The curly tail design puts out fantastic action and vibration in the water. These are terrific baits in clear water and in the cooler months when largemouth bass feed on smaller prey. They can be crawled on the bottom to imitate crustaceans and worked through the water column to mimic shad and other bait fish.

Berkley Powerbait Chigger Craw

The Chigger Craw would fall into the creature bait category. These are soft plastic baits that sort of resemble a crayfish or other crustaceans or prey. For the most part, it is the bulk and action of the bait that makes it effective. These baits are bulkier and are more noticeable when moved through weeds and over and around other structure. The Chigger Craw in green pumpkin is a good all round bait. Anglers can shop the line of Berkley creature baits from this link.

Bass Assassin Die Dapper swimbait

Swim baits are another soft plastic lower that every bass angler should have in his or her tackle box. Bass Assassin manufactures an excellent line of soft plastic swim baits. The Die Dapper is an excellent size for largemouth bass. These baits are very easy to use as the angler just cast it out and slowly reels it back in. In most instances, the less action the angler imparts, the better. They are used on both swim bait hooks and on jig heads.

Hooks and sinkers for fishing soft plastic baits

Anglers fishing soft plastic baits have several different ways with which they can hook and present these lures. Anglers can rig the baits weedless using the Texas rig. With this rig a specially designed hook is used allows the worm to hang straight and still be able to bury the hook in the worm. Creature baits and crayfish baits can be used as well. 3/0 and 5/0 are good sizes.

The gap in the hook needs to be large to get through the plastic and into the fishes mouth. Anglers can fish this rig with no weight. However, most of the time a small sinker is used. Specially designed worm sinkers are conical shaped which allow them to move through weeds and over cover without hanging up. The line slides through the the sinker, allowing a fish to pick up the worm and move off with it. In heavy cover, anglers pegs the sinker right to the eye of the hook to reduce hangups.

Swim bait hooks can also be used with just about every soft plastic bait. However, they were primarily designed to be used with larger soft plastic swim baits. The hooks have some type of keeper near the eye to attach the front of the swim bait and then the hook is placed in the rear of the bait. Most often, it is rigged weedless. A weight is molded into the bend of the hook which results in the lure having a horizontal presentation. Again, 3/0 and 5/0 are good sizes.

Finally, anglers can rig any of these soft plastic baits on a simple jig head. A jig head is a hook with a weight molded near the eye. This provides both weight for casting as well as giving the lure it’s action. This is a very simple and effective way to fish a soft plastic bait.

Bass fishing jigs

There is evidence to support the statement that the jig was the first artificial lure used by humans to catch fish. The design is fairly simple, it is basically a hook with a weight molded near the eye. This offset weight gives the bait it’s action and the water. Jig head designs and eye placements will also affect the action and where the bait can be used.

women tournament bass fishing

Jigs are also available already dressed. These are extremely effective largemouth bass fishing lures that are used in several applications. They come in various weights, sizes, and colors. Anglers use heavy jigs to punch through matted vegetation when flipping. They can also be fished slowly along the bottom. Finally, swim jigs can be worked anywhere in the water column.

There are many choices when it comes to bass fishing jigs. In most cases, darker colors work best such as black, purple, and dark green. Most have a weed guard which keeps them from hanging up when used in heavy cover. Some anglers add a soft plastic trailer to give the lure even more bulk and action. The Booyah is an excellent all round bass fishing jig.

Bladed baits

There are several varieties of bladed baits. These include spinner baits, buzz baits, and bladed jigs. Inline spinners are also considered bladed baits, though there are seldom used for largemouth bass fishing these days. Every bass angler should have a decent selection of bladed baits. They are easy to use and have great built in action. In most cases the angler simply cast them out and reels and back in with a steady retrieve. Most of these lures are weedless as well. They are terrific bass fishing lures for beginners.

Strike King Finess KVD spinnerbait

The Strike King Finesse KVD spinner bait is an excellent all round lure. Spinner baits are a great bait for novice bass anglers as a are quite easy to use. They are relatively weedless and are normally fished around shoreline cover. Spinner baits come in many different configurations. The KVD spinner bait is a tandem blade bait that is a bit smaller than some other baits on the market.

Terminator spinnerbait

Terminator spinnerbaits are legendary for their toughness and durability. The have a titanium frame which bends more than other types of spinner baits and springs back into place. These cost a little bit more, but the quality hardware and components make it worth. The heavier models work best when cast with a bait casting outfit.

Booyah buzzbait

Buzzbaits are like spinner baits, except that they spend the entire time on the surface. When retrieved at the proper speed, they put out a very rhythmic commotion on the surface. Strikes are usually explosive! Buzz baits are most often used along shoreline cover and over the top of submerged weed beds. White and chartreuse are two of the most popular colors. The Booyah buzzbait is a good all-around largemouth bass fishing lure.


Bladed jigs are a relatively new bass fishing lure. It is a combination between a spinner bait and a jig. It has a weighted head with a hook and a rubber skirt. In front of the jig head is a blade which gives the lure action, flash, and vibration. These are very effective and also very easy to use. In most cases, a steady retrieve through or over vegetation works best. The Z-man Chatter bait is the original lure in this family.

Best bass fishing plugs

Plugs have been catching largemouth bass for many decades now. Back in the day they were made of balsa wood, but nearly all of them now are made of plastic. They are very effective and come in many different sizes, shapes, and colors. They can imitate either bait fish, crayfish, and even frogs. Most are designed to run at a determine depth or on the surface. The downside to plugs is that they are fairly expensive.

Rapala Skitter Prop

The Rapala Skitter prop is a top water plug. It floats on top of the water and when twitched sharply the propeller on the rear puts out a lot a commotion. Top water plugs are most often fished near shoreline cover. Low light conditions such as early and late in the day and on cloudy days are usually best.

Rebel Pop R

The Rebel Pop R is a top water plug as well. It is in the family known as poppers. It has a concave face and when twitched sharply the nose digs into the water and produces a loud popping sound. Thus the name. This bait is a bit smaller then the Skitter Prop and is an excellent choice in ponds as well as small lakes.

Rapala X-Rap

The Rapala X-Rap is what is known is a jerk bait. It floats on the surface and then dives down to a determine depth upon retrieve. This bait comes in a couple different models to fish various depths. The plastic bill on the front of the lure is what determines how deep it will dive. This bait is worked fairly aggressively, using hard jerks (thus the name) with a pause in between. Most bites occur as the plug hangs there motionless.

Strike King Deep Diving plug

The KVD Sexy Shad is a very popular crank bait. It has a much wider profile then the X-Rap. It is designed to work in much deeper water such as points and channel edges. In darker colors it can be bounced along the bottom to mimic crayfish. It also is very effective in lighter colors that work shallower in very realistically mimic a shad, which is a top forage of largemouth bass in many lakes. These lures are easy to fish and allow anglers to cover a lot of water in search of fish.

Strike King 1.5 Squarebill crankbait

The Strike King Square Bill crank bait is an excellent lure for fishing shallow water cover. The 1.5 ounce model will dive down a couple of feet or so. Lighter bait fish colors normally work best. Sexy shad is a great all-round color pattern. This is an excellent lure when fish are active or scattered out. It has an exaggerated side to side wobble.


The Rattletrap is a lipless crank bait. Unlike the others, it does not float when it hits the water but instead will slowly sink. Another difference in this plug is that it does not have a bill. The lure is cast out, allowed to sink to the desired depth, then reeled back in with a fairly brisk and steady retrieve. It puts out a loud rattle and vibration that the angler can feel through the line. This is a great bait to use in fairly open water when searching for fish. The half ounce size in chrome with a blue back is a great all round bait.

Live Target frog

Frogs have become very popular in the last few years. These are surface lures that anglers fish either near structure or over matted vegetation. Like any top water bait, the strikes can be explosive! Most are weedless for obvious reasons. These are easy baits to use and are a lot a fun to fish. The Live Target Hollow Body Frog is an excellent frog bait.

In conclusion, this article on largemouth bass fishing tackle and equipment for beginners should help anglers get started enjoying this terrific sport!

Largemouth Bass Fishing in Creeks

Largemouth Bass Fishing in Creeks

In this article we will cover largemouth bass fishing in creeks. These smaller waters are often overlooked by anglers. In most cases, the fish will be smaller. However, the simplicity and relaxing nature of Creek fishing is appealing. Also, fish and smaller creeks are much easier to locate and therefore catch.

largemouth bass

Largemouth bass fishing in creeks does require a slight change in tactics and tackle. For the most part, this means that almost everything is scale down a bit. The tackle used is generally a little bit lighter. The lures are smaller and the presentations are a bit less aggressive. However, the same basic principles of bass fishing and lakes applies to streams and creeks as well.

The first thing anglers must do is identify creeks that have decent largemouth bass populations. Often times, these are tributaries to lakes and river systems. Largemouth bass do not like strong current. The best creeks will have a slow to moderate current. Other attributes would be areas of deeper water as well as sufficient cover such as weeds and fallen trees.

Best tackle for creek fishing

In most cases, the best choice for anglers largemouth bass fishing in creeks when it comes to a rod and reel is spinning tackle. A medium light spinning rod that is 6 1/2 feet to 7 feet long and matched with a 20 series reel and 10 pound braided line or monofilament line is a good all-around outfit. As mentioned above, the lures being cast are downsized a bit. This letter tackle will allow anglers to make the proper presentation while still being heavy enough to land a decent fish.

“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”

Those who prefer it can use a light bait casting rig as well. A 6 foot to 6 1/2 foot light bait casting outfit with 10 pound monofilament or 15 pound braided line will be fine. It will be difficult to cast lures that do not weigh very much with this outfit.

Bass creek fishing spots

One of the primary advantages of fishing for largemouth bass or any other species in creeks is that the fish are simply much easier to locate. The the holding and feeding spots are just more obvious and easier to identify. In most cases, largemouth bass will stage in slightly deeper water were cover is present. Unlike trout and smallmouth bass, largemouth bass will usually not be found in the runs and riffles a fast-moving current. Occasionally, they will be caught behind boulders in the middle of the creek.

fly fishing Sarasota rivers

Outside bends in the creek are prime spots for largemouth bass and other species. These spots are naturally deeper as the current gouges out a hole in the bank. Often times, there is an undercut bank as well. This is a guaranteed hotspot! Another factor in the spots is that the current tends to deposit debris in these locations. The combination of deep water, undercut banks, slowing current, and cover result in an ideal habitat.

Other prime spots to target largemouth bass in creeks are the heads and tails of riffles. These areas will generally have a slightly deeper depression were fish can hide in feed while staying out of the current. Eddie’s and slack water areas behind current break such as boulders and trees will also hold largemouth bass. Man-made cover such as bridges and docks will attract fish as well.

Understanding changing conditions when creek fishing for bass

One challenging aspect of fishing in creeks, streams, and rivers is the constantly changing conditions. Creeks are changing constantly. A heavy rain miles away can result in a Creek turning from low and clear to high and muddy in a very short time. Identifying how these conditions affect fishing is crucial to success.

The two main factors are water clarity and height. In most creeks, the best fishing will occur during periods when the water level, clarity, and flow are at normal levels. Bass will be used to these conditions and will be more comfortable and feed more often. Also, anglers who fish a particular Creek enough to know it well will be in tune to the changes in conditions during these times.

Sarasota freshwater fishing

Fishing creeks during high, fast, muddy water is not only difficult, it can be dangerous. In most cases, small creeks do not really present a danger. However, it is always best to put safety first and not take a chance. Also, fishing can be extremely difficult under these conditions. Fish will not be able to see to feed in most cases will just find a spot out of the heavy current to hunker down. In all honesty, it is best to not even try to fish during these conditions.

Low-water can be challenging as well, though for different reasons. This often occurs in late summer. With little water, largemouth bass will congregate in the deepest water available. They will also become quite finicky and spooky. Anglers will need to scale down their lures and line size as well as taking care when approaching and waiting in the creek.

Fishing for largemouth bass in creeks with live bait

While most anglers choose to fish with artificial lures when largemouth bass fishing in creeks, live bait works very well. The three top live baits are nightcrawlers, minnows, and crayfish. Nightcrawlers are readily available at most retail outlets that sell fishing tackle. Minnows can be available in some cases at bait shops. Crayfish are less available for anglers to purchase, in most cases they will have to catch their own.

All of these live baits can be free lined on a hook or fished under a float. Where possible, free lining the bait results in a more natural presentation. However, if snags become a problem, adding a float above the hook will solve the problem. The best spots to fish live baits are deeper holes and slow-moving runs.

Nightcrawlers are best hooked through the front so that they can wriggle seductively in the water. Minnows should be hooked through the lips. This is especially true in creeks where current is present. Crawfish are usually hooked in the tail from the bottom up. The angler can then work the bait along the bottom, moving backward, which is how they flee when frightened.

Creek fishing for bass with lures

Anglers largemouth bass fishing in creeks can get the job done with just a handful of lures. In most cases, anglers are doing a fair amount of walking and lugging around a great big tackle box is neither fun nor efficient. A small backpack or even a penny pack will hold the few lures that an angler will need to be successful.

Small spinnerbaits

Small spinner baits are excellent creek fishing lures. While they resemble nothing that lives in the water, they put out flash and vibration as well as action to attract bass. In most cases, a 1/4 ounce spinner bait is the best size. While many anglers are familiar with the rubber skirt and spinner baits that bass anglers use and lakes, there are a few baits that are more effective when fishing in creeks.

Anglers can choose from a spinner bait that has a grub body, such as the BeetleSpin. A spinner bait with a curly tail grub is effective as well. These smaller spinner baits with the grub style bodies are not quite as obtrusive and are more productive when fishing for bass in creeks, especially smaller ones.

Rooster Tail spinner

The Wordens Rooster Tail is a famous Creek fishing lure. Most anglers associate it with trout fishing. However, it is an outstanding lore for anglers fishing for largemouth bass in creeks. The great thing about this bait is its simplicity. An angler simply casts it across the current, let it sink a few seconds, then retrieve it in a slow steady manner. In most cases, the slower the better as long as the blade a spinning.

The one quarter ounce size in a variety of colors will produce fish. Generally speaking, a light colored spinner with a silver blade is the best choice when the water is clear and the sun is shining brightly. Conversely, darker and brighter colors with a gold blade produce better under low light conditions and when the water has some color to it.

Heddon Tiny Torpedo

The Heddon Tiny Torpedo is the perfect top water plug for fishing creeks. It is small enough to where it can be presented properly yet still puts out enough commotion to attract a largemouth bass. It is a compact bait with a conical nose and a propeller on the tail. Short jerks of the rod tip will result in the propeller digging into the water, imitating a wounded bait fish.

Sticking to the theme of “less is more” when fishing in creeks, anglers fishing this top water bait should not overdo the action. Gentle, subtle twitches are all that it takes. The best spots to fish this lore are around any type of fallen timber or other cover. It is important when fishing a top water plug to wait until the weight of the fish is felt when a strike occurs. Setting the hook on the visual strike will usually result in a fish missed.

Yamamoto Senko

Of course, no list of largemouth bass fishing baits would be complete without some type of soft plastic worm. The Yamamoto Senko is a terrific and versatile bait. It is available in a 4 inch or a 5 inch length. Darker colors such as green pumpkin usually work best. In most cases, the best approach is to fish this bait on a 1/8 ounce jig head or with no weight on a plastic worm hook.

As with other lures, it is best not to give this bait too much action. Just a gentle raising of the rod tip or a slight twitch will give it enough action, especially if current is present. The Senko can be crawled across the bottom in over cover as well as drifted in the current. Often times, just that drifting the bait with no action at all will be the most productive presentation.

Rebel Crawfish

The Rebel Wee Craw is a legendary lure for fishing in creeks and rivers. It imitates one of the top forage species in all creeks and rivers; the crayfish. While many anglers associate it with smallmouth bass fishing, it works extremely well in creeks that house largemouth bass, too. It is available in several sizes and colors, with a natural Olive and crayfish colors being best.

This bait does the best when it is constantly bumping and bouncing off of the bottom. This action realistically imitates a fleeing crayfish and will often draw a strike from a nearby largemouth bass. If smallmouth bass inhabit the same creek, anglers will surely catch a few of them as well. In most cases, they are a quite welcome interloper!

In conclusion, this article on largemouth bass fishing in creeks should help anglers fishing these smaller waters catch more fish.