Sarasota Florida Fishing Charters

Sarasota Florida fishing charters

Sarasota Florida Fishing Charters

My name is Capt. Jim Klopfer and I run Sarasota Florida fishing charters. I moved to Sarasota in 1986 from Maryland and earned my United States Coast Guard license in 1991. I have been running fishing charters in Sarasota ever since!

One of the great aspects of Sarasota Florida fishing charters is the variety. This extends both to species and techniques. There are a wide variety of angling techniques that clients can use when fishing the Sarasota area. I commonly use several techniques on most charters, including casting lures, using live bait, trolling, fly fishing, and more.

Sarasota Florida fishing charters

This variety certainly extends to species as well. In fact, on my best Sarasota Florida fishing charter my clients landed 23 different species and six hours of fishing! While that is certainly the outlier, most trips produce 6 to 8 different species. These include speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, snook, redfish, jacks, sheepshead, snapper, grouper, drum, pompano, catfish, sharks, and more.

Sarasota Florida fishing charters

There are several factors that play a part in determining the species targeted in the techniques used on Sarasota Florida fishing charters. Current conditions are the overwhelming factor, and include weather, season, tide, and recent fishing charter action. All of these will affect the type of fish that we can try for and the techniques that we will use to do so.

In all honesty, another factor is angler experience as well as the number of anglers in the Sarasota Florida fishing charter. For the most part, clients defer to my expertise and allow me to choose the type of fishing that we will do. This usually works out the best. However, with experienced anglers I can usually offer them several options including casting lures in the back country areas or running out on the beach in search of mackerel and false albacore.

Sarasota Florida fishing charters

The number of anglers on a Sarasota Florida fishing charter also affects the type of trip that I can run. Families with children are a lot of fun! However, it certainly limits fishing to easier styles of fishing where action is the goal. On these trips, it is better to catch a bunch of little fish someone are two big fish. Conversely, if I have one or two experienced anglers we can often mix it up and been the rod for a while and then perhaps try for something a bit more challenging.

Species caught on Sarasota Florida fishing charters

As mentioned above, one of the really enjoyable aspects a running fishing charters in Sarasota is that I never know what will take the lure or bait. I remember one trip in particular, a little girl on the second cast of her life hooked a 3 inch bait fish and a 100 pound tarpon, all on the same cast! This is obviously a unique experience, however Sarasota does offer anglers quite a variety when it comes to species.


Sarasota Florida fishing charters

Snook are the premier inshore saltwater game fish in Sarasota, Florida. They basically inhabit the southern half of the state, though there range is extending as waters warm a tad. They are very similar to largemouth bass in habit. Snook are ambush predators with a very large mouth and a broad powerful tail. This makes them quite maneuverable in tight quarters and around structure.

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Anglers can catch snook using both live bait and artificial lures. Top live baits include shrimp and bait fish such as pin fish, grunts, scaled sardines, and threadfin herring. The top artificial lures are basically saltwater versions of the successful bass lures and include top water plugs, jerk baits, spoons, and soft plastic lures.


Sarasota Florida fishing charters

Redfish are right behind snook in popularity when it comes to inshore saltwater fishing. Throughout the southeast part of the United States, they are much more popular as they are widely available to anglers from Texas up to the mid Atlantic. Redfish in Sarasota average 3 to 5 pounds, with the larger breeder females being caught in late Summer and early fall.

Many anglers prefer to pursue redfish in shallow water where they sight fish for them. This often involves a shallow draft boat or getting out to wade. Most of the redfish that anglers catch on my Sarasota Florida fishing charters are done so either fishing live bait around docks and casting artificial lures around oyster bars and on the shallow flats.

Spotted sea trout

Sarasota fishing charters

Spotted sea trout, also known as speckled trout, are perhaps my favorite inshore saltwater species. Part of the reason is that they are resident fish that anglers can catch all year long on Sarasota Florida fishing charters. They are a beautiful fish that strikes hard and is superb eating. They do not put up the same flight as some other more glamorous game fish, but are certainly one of the more popular species caught by my clients.

Spotted sea trout can be caught in a variety of ways. A live shrimp under a popping cork is a time proven technique that works to this day. Live shrimp can also be free lined on the deeper flats. The technique that I use more often to catch spotted sea trout is drifting the deep grass flats between five and 10 feet of water while casting a soft plastic lure on a jig head. This technique also produces a variety of other species on the deep grass flats.


best Sarasota fishing charter

Tarpon are considered by many anglers to be the ultimate saltwater fishing challenge. There are few opportunities to actually sight cast to fish weighing over 100 pounds using spinning tackle and lures or live bait. As I get older, I do not tarpon fish as much is I used to, but still get out there a few days a year to chase them. This is not a species or style of fishing for an inpatient or inexperienced anglers. It is as much fish hunting as it is fishing and anglers must patiently wait for the right opportunity. However, when all goes well and a fish is hooked, it will be the memory of a lifetime!

Spanish mackerel

Sarasota Florida fishing charters

Spanish mackerel are and underrated game fish species, in my opinion. You seldom see them as the subject of a fishing show or magazine article. However, they are a gorgeous fish that is very fast, pulls hard, hits like a freight train, will take lures and live baits, and when properly cared for his very good to eat. I’m not sure what more an angler could ask from any fish?

Spanish mackerel are often found in schools. The result of this behavior is that anglers who encounter them will often experience a flurry. It is not uncommon on my Sarasota fishing charters to have multiple hookups on Spanish mackerel. They are caught in the inshore waters on lures and flies and are found in large schools in the inshore Gulf of Mexico. Spring and fall are the best times of year.


Sarasota fishing charters

Pompano are another one of my favorite inshore saltwater species. Again, another gorgeous fish that fight incredibly hard and is my favorite eating fish that swims. Pompano use their broad flat body to pull against the angler, often changing directions quickly. I catch pompano equally on my trips in the passes and on the deeper grass flats. The vast majority of pompano landed by my clients are done so using jigs as they realistically imitate small crabs and crustaceans that they feed on.

Jack crevalle

Sarasota fishing report

Jack crevalle, also known as jacks, are extremely hard fighting game fish. They are found throughout the tropical and subtropical waters all over the world. They are ferocious predators that often feed in schools, which only adds to their competitiveness. Most of the larger jacks caught by my clients on Sarasota Florida fishing charters are done so in the creeks, rivers, and canals in the cooler months. Jacks move up into these areas to escape the cold water on the open flats. They are a bit sporadic in nomadic in nature in the warmer months. Jacks are fantastic battlers, but they have no food value.


Sarasota fishing report

Bluefish are well known to saltwater anglers and the northeast part of the United States. While we catch bluefish here in Sarasota, Florida, they are not the larger specimens that anglers up in New York and New Jersey experience. Our fish average one for pounds. For the most part, bluefish are an incidental catch, though a most welcome one. They are caught by anglers casting lures on the deep grass flats as well as in the passes. Occasionally, schools of jacks are encountered out in the inshore Gulf of Mexico and on the nearshore artificial reefs. Some consider small bluefish to be decent on the dinner plate.

Mangrove snapper

Sarasota mangrove snapper fishing

Mangrove snapper have been increasing and numbers and size over the last few years. Anglers on Sarasota Florida fishing charters seeking a meal can do no better than to put a few tasty mangrove snapper in the box. They are most often thought of as a structure fish, and we do catch them around bridges, docks, rocks, ledges, and reefs. However, of late they have been showing up on the deep grass flats in mid to late summer. Chumming with live bait fish is by far the best technique and will get the snapper excited and in a mood to feed. They fight very hard for their size. A keeper is 10 inches with anything over 12 inches being a nice fish.


Sheepshead are a member of the Porgy family. They are a structure oriented bottom fish. Here in Sarasota, the best time to catch them is between Christmas and Easter. However, Sheepshead move into the passes to spawn in late January and usually stay around until mid to late March. This is the best time to reliably experience Sheepshead fishing in the Sarasota Bay area. They almost never take artificial lures. Sheepshead feed on crustaceans and I use live or frozen shrimp to catch them on my trips.


best Sarasota fishing charter

Sharks are definite crowd-pleasers for anglers on Sarasota Florida fishing charters! They vary greatly in size, from a couple pounds to well over 100. Most of the sharks that we catch are black tip and bonnet had sharks in the 5 pound to 30 pound range. This makes them perfect for the light tackle that we are using on most of our trips. When specifically targeting sharks, I will bring heavier tackle with corresponding hooks and leaders. One great thing about sharks is that they are relatively easy to entice to bite, once located. While some anglers consider them good to eat, I release all sharks caught on my fishing charters.

False albacore

Sarasota Florida fishing charters

False albacore are a pelagic, which means migratory, species that move along the coast off of the Sarasota beaches in spring and fall. They are a terrific game fish! False albacore are extremely fast and powerful and once hooked will make a long, drag screaming run. Unfortunately, they are not reliable in terms of being available every year. Also, conditions have to be right in order to pursue them. However, when false albacore are off the Sarasota beaches, you will find me out there chasing them around.

King mackerel

trolling lures saltwater fishing

King mackerel are larger cousins to the Spanish mackerel. Like other migratory game fish species, they move north in the spring and then south in the fall. As long as the inshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico off of Sarasota beaches are clear and full of bait, there is always a chance to catch a king mackerel. It is not a species that I target that often on my fishing charters, as conditions have to be right and I have a smaller boat. Most of the king mackerel that my clients catch are done so trolling with spoons and plugs.

In conclusion, this article on Sarasota Florida fishing charters will help educate anglers on the species available and techniques used to catch the game fish species and are area!

Jim Klopfer

Capt Jim Klopfer has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. He grew up in Maryland, fishing the Chesapeake Bay waters. Capt Jim has been creating an writing articles about fishing for decades, contributing to many regional and national publications. He also lives part time in the North Carolina mountains where he fishes for trout and other species. Capt Jim Klopfer is a wel rounded angler with 50 years fishing experience, and he loves to share what he has learned with other anglers!

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