Sarasota Inshore Fishing Charters

Sarasota inshore fishing charters

Sarasota Inshore Fishing Charters

My Name is Capt. Jim Klopfer and I run Sarasota inshore fishing charters. The  vast majority of clients that I get inquiring about going fishing looking to do so on the inshore waters. There are several reasons for this. These include inexperienced anglers, weather, techniques used, and species being targeted.

One of the primary advantages of going on Sarasota inshore fishing charters is that the weather will have less of an effect on these more protected waters than they will in the open Gulf of Mexico. There are plenty of days when it is too breezy to go offshore, yet anglers can find decent action plying the inshore waters. Obviously, if it gets too windy it just becomes too difficult to fish. However, on most days there are protected areas where we can get out and catch some fish.

Another advantage of inshore saltwater fishing in Sarasota is the travel time of the boat. In most cases the ride out to the first fishing spot is 15 minutes or less, often quite less. I run the majority of my Sarasota inshore fishing charters out of the boat ramp at Centennial Park and downtown Sarasota. Some of the best fishing spots are only a couple minutes away from the ramp. This means that anglers going out on a four hour fishing charter spend most of their time actually fishing, and hopefully catching, than they do riding around.

Finally, Sarasota inshore fishing charters produce both action and variety in most cases. This is particularly true when going for numbers either on the deep grass flats or in the passes. These are the best choices when inexperienced anglers and children are involved. More experienced and skilled anglers may choose to pursue more challenging species such as snook, redfish and jacks in the backwater areas. This type of fishing produces less fish, though generally larger ones. The same applies to going out in the inshore Gulf of Mexico in pursuit of false albacore, Spanish mackerel, king mackerel and more. This does require more time, though the payoff can be a trophy fish!

Sarasota inshore fishing charters

I use light spinning tackle on almost all of my Sarasota sure fishing charters, with the exception of fly fishing trips. Light spinning tackle is the best choice for the type of fishing we do in the fish that are being caught. Most fish landed are between one and 3 pounds, making a light spinning rod the best option as it allows anglers to enjoy the fight of the fish. The lighter rods and lines are also better for throwing the light lures and live baits that I often use on my trips. Finally, this type of tackle is easy for anglers of all skill levels to use and I can usually take even a beginner angler and T7 the cast in a few minutes.

Sarasota fishing report

Clients are often surprised when I start the fishing charter off using artificial lures as opposed to live bait. Many assume that live bait will always out produce lures, this is not the case at all. Artificial lures have several advantages over live bait. They allow anglers to cover a lot of water, much more than they can when using live bait as the lure is constantly moving. Also, lures will elicit strikes from fish that are not necessarily in a feeding mood, whether it is excitement, aggravation, or competition.

While I certainly enjoy using  artificial lures on my Sarasota inshore fishing charters, live bait definitely has its place. When bottom fishing in the passes for example, shrimp are the bait of choice. I usually use live shrimp, however fresh dead shrimp and even frozen shrimp will produce plenty of fish. Sheepshead show up in big numbers around the first of the year and are a very reliable charter species as they bite under almost all conditions. The structure in the passes and nearby docks are good places to bottom fish for sheepshead, snapper, drum, and other species.

Inshore Sarasota fishing on the flats

I do a lot of fishing on the grass flats in Sarasota Bay. These are fairly large areas in most instances, with submerged vegetation and water between 4 feet deep and 8 feet deep. Since much of the bottom is Sandy with no relief, fish will relate to whatever other structure there is. In this case, grass and other vegetation. The only other options regarding structure are mostly man made in the forms of bridges, docks, seawalls, rip-rap, and submerged rocks. Therefore, these large areas of grass attract the forage species that game fish feed on, mostly involving bait fish and crustaceans.

fishing charter in Sarasota

there are several different ways to fish these productive grass flats. Case, I prefer to drift them with the wind and five. This is definitely the approach on larger flats where I need to cover a fair amount of water in order to find fish. On smaller flats I will anchor, often right on the edge where it drops off into deep water as this is where fish will hold. When drifting, I prefer casting lures out ahead of the boat or free lining a live shrimp behind the boat. This is often a good combination, especially when I have three are for anglers or am dealing with inexperienced anglers or children. Floating a live shrimp out behind the boat will almost always produce some type of action.

Anglers drifting these flats on a Sarasota inshore fishing charter can expect to catch a variety of species. That is part of the fun, not knowing what is going to hit next. Speckled trout are available all year round and provide good action and are very good to eat. Pompano are a species that are prized on the flats, both for their incredible fight for their size and their tasty fillets. Spanish mackerel show up in spring and fall and are among the fastest game fish on the planet. We do have bluefish here in Sarasota, and while small, they put up an excellent fight on the light tackle that we use. Ladyfish, jacks, catfish, grouper, snapper, sharks, cobia, and other species are available as well.

Sarasota passes are excellent fishing spots

There are two passes connect Sarasota Bay with the Gulf of Mexico. These are Big Sarasota Pass and New Pass. A pass is really just an inlet, by a different term that is used to refer to these along the Gulf of Mexico coastline.due to the geographical makeup, passes and inlets are naturally narrow, which results in increased title flow as well as deeper water. Combine this with structure and bait fish, and  it is easy to see why these are such excellent fishing spots to visit on Sarasota inshore fishing charters.

Catching ladyfish

There are two different techniques I use when fishing the passes on my fishing charters, drifting with lures and baits and bottom fishing with bait. I really enjoy drifting the passes while either casting jigs and plugs or bottom bouncing jigs, depending on the wind and current. Vertically jigging is a very efficient and productive technique and one that is easy to learn, making it a great choice for novice anglers. The jig is simply bounced on the bottom as the boat drifts along and will fool ladyfish, pompano, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, and other species.

Fish will often be seen feeding on the surface in the passes, particularly on the outside bars in fairly shallow water. This is great fun and very exciting as the fish are in a very aggressive feeding mood. Just about any lure or fly cast near the action will draw a strike. This is mostly Spanish mackerel and ladyfish, but other species will be caught like this as well. In the summer, anglers will fish the bars for giant tarpon,  weighing well over 100 pounds at times.

The passes are also full of fish holding structure such as docks, bridges, rocks, ledges, and seawalls. The structure ranges in depth from a couple feet to almost 30 feet deep, which is some of the deepest water in Sarasota. I like to bottom fish in the passes on the slack or slow tides. It is difficult both anchoring and holding bottom with the sinker when the tide is really ripping. Sheepshead are very reliable and provide action and a fish dinner in the cooler months. Mangrove snapper are available year-round.

Fishing in Sarasota for snook, redfish, and jack crevalle

I really Enjoy casting lures along shoreline cover, oyster bars and over grass flats in shallow water for snook, redfish, and jacks. This is a bit like bass fishing, where I use the trolling motor to position the boat and eased down a shoreline or other type of cover. This Sarasota inshore fishing charter is best suited for one or two experienced anglers. it gets pretty busy with three people tossing lures all at once. Also, this type of fishing is more about quality as opposed to quantity where anglers are looking for a trophy fish or two as opposed to numbers of smaller fish such as trout and  ladyfish.

Sarasota fishing report

My two favorite lures for this type of fishing are a jerk bait (Rapala X-Rap) and soft plastic lures either on a jig head or a swim bait hook. The jerk bait is a lot a fun to fish and will elicit some explosive strikes. It also works well in fairly shallow water without hanging up. Finally, this plug works really well for trolling in the creeks and canals. I will go to the soft plastic baits when I have either located fish or feel that I need to slow down a bit.

In the wintertime, snook and jacks in particular move up into area creeks, rivers, and residential canals. They do this to escape  drastic water temperature changes on the shallow flats. The result is that these fish are a bit more condensed and easier to locate and catch, especially on artificial lures. I use the same to baits, the jerk bait in the soft plastics to catch these fish. Trolling is a great way to locate them as well. One great aspect of doing this is that as it occurs mostly in winter when it is often breezy, these areas are very protected and fish-able where other open areas are not.

In conclusion, this article on Sarasota inshore fishing charters will help anglers understand the options available to them!


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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