Sarasota Light Tackle Fishing Charters

Sarasota light tackle fishing charters

Sarasota Light Tackle Fishing Charters

My name is Capt. Jim and I run Sarasota light tackle fishing charters. I use light fishing tackle on the vast majority of my trips for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, most of the fish that my clients catch are between 1 pound and 3 pounds. Therefore, light tackle is the best choice to maximize the battle.

I also get a lot of family fishing charters consisting of children, and inexperienced anglers on my Sarasota light tackle fishing charters. A light spinning outfit is by far the easiest type of equipment for anglers without a lot of experience to use, children included. The baits and lures that I use on my trips are also fairly light and are much easier cast on light spinning tackle.

Finally, I use light tackle on my Sarasota fishing charters with experienced anglers as well, even when pursuing larger species such as snook, redfish, and jacks. Not only is it easier on the arm and shoulder to cast using lighter tackle, it is more fun and challenging to actually land a larger fish on lighter tackle. This is definitely part of the enjoyment and satisfaction of targeting these more glamorous game fish species.

Sarasota light tackle fishing charters

Sarasota light tackle fishing charters

I use the same basic spinning rod and reel on most of my Sarasota light tackle fishing charters. It includes a 7 foot medium light rod with a “fast” action. The term fast refers to how the rod is built. A fast action rod is stiff at the butt or lower section than becoming limber in the last one quarter or so of the rod. This results in a rod that allows anglers to have power to move fish while still being able to cast lighter lures.

I pair this rod with a 2500 series spinning reel. The result is a very light outfit that is suitable for all anglers and will not tire my clients out after a morning of casting. I use both monofilament and braided line, depending on the clients and what I am doing. Monofilament is best with inexperienced anglers as well as when fishing with live bait. Braided line becomes the choice when casting jigs and other lures as well as when fishing around heavy cover. 10 pound line mostly used, though I will bump up to 20 pound braid when snook fishing and heavier cover.

The outfit that I am currently using on my Sarasota light tackle fishing charters is a St. Croix Triumph inshore series rod with a Daiwa Black Gold saltwater reel. This is an excellent all round combination that will cover just about every inshore saltwater situation and angler will face for around $225. I will provide a link below for anglers who might be looking to purchase this outfit.

fishing in Sarasota

Anglers can shop at Amazon for a Daiwa Black Gold reel and St Croix Triumph 7′ MF rod spinning combo in this link.

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

Light tackle fishing techniques in Sarasota

light tackle fishing charters in Sarasota

If there is one technique that I use more than any other on my Sarasota light tackle fishing charters, it is drifting the deep grass flats while casting jigs and other lures. This is a productive and enjoyable type of fishing. As the boat drifts along with the wind and tide, anglers cast lures out in front of the boat in water between 4 feet deep and 10 feet deep, usually with submerged vegetation on the bottom.

The top artificial lure that I used by far when flats fishing is the jig and grub combo. This is without a doubt the most popular lure for saltwater fishing in the entire coast line of the Gulf of Mexico. These lures are versatile, effective, affordable, and fun to fish. What more can an angler ask for?

I use a 1/4 ounce jig head the majority of the time. This is a good all-around size that cast easily and gets down to the proper depth when fished. I honestly do not think that color makes a difference is I’ve got plenty of fish on plane, unpainted jig heads. However, red, chartreuse, and white are the most popular jig head colors. I will bump up to 3/8 of an ounce in deeper water and conversely dropped down to 1/8 ounce in shallow water.

Top artificial lures

I use two soft plastic baits conjunction with a jig head on my Sarasota light tackle fishing charters. These are the Bass Assassin 4” Sea Shad bait and a 3” Gulp Shrimp. The Bass Assassin has a shad style tail which gives it an excellent swimming action and the water, producing both action and vibration. The company offers endless color combinations, with glow chartreuse, red gold shiner, chartreuse, and new penny being my favorite colors.

Sarasota flats fishing charters

The Gulp line of baits are very productive. The reason for this is the scent that is incorporated into the lure when it is manufactured. While it does not produce the action of the bass Assassin baits, the added scent can really make a difference, especially on a tough day. White with a chartreuse tell is my top color, by far.

The other two artificial lures that I will use when drifting the deep grass flats are spoons and plugs. Spoons are very effective and efficient. They are dense and anglers can cast them a long way, covering a lot of water in search of fish. A 1/4 ounce silver spoon is my favorite. I will also use shallow diving plugs, with the Rapala X-Rap jerk bait being my favorite.

Using live bait on the flats

All of the same lures will also produce in shallow water and in the back country areas where we target snook redfish and jacks. The X-Rap is my personal favorite as it allows anglers to cover a lot of water and runs at the perfect depth do not snag on the bottom. The same soft plastic baits on a 1/8 ounce or even 1/16 ounce jig head will produce as well. The last lure that I use on the shallow flats is a 1/4 ounce gold weedless spoon. This is the preferred bait when chasing redfish as it will cover a lot of water and still run in water as shallow as a foot deep without hanging on the bottom.

Fishing the passes on Sarasota light tackle fishing charters

There are two passes in Sarasota that connect Sarasota Bay with the Gulf of Mexico. The term pass is synonymous with inlet; they are basically the same thing. They are excellent fishing spots were a couple of reasons. Current flow is maximized as the area naturally condenses down. Deep water and abundant structure along with the presence of forage all add up to the passes being top-notch fishing spots in Sarasota!

Sarasota family fishing charters

I fish the passes and two different ways. I drift the passes with the tide and either cast lures, vertically jig, or free line live baits. This technique generally produces a lot of action and is a very easy method for anglers without a lot of experience to use. When vertically jigging, no casting is even required. The same goes for bottom fishing, which is the other technique that I use in the passes. I simply anchor up and drop a baited hook to the bottom, it really doesn’t get much easier than that!

I use the same light tackle when fishing the passes as I do on the open grass flats. Again, most of the fish are in the 1 pound to 3 pound range. The light tackle is especially fun when fishing the open pass using jigs and free lining live bait. Even if a large fish such as a shark or cobia is hooked, there is usually plenty of room to run it down. I use a slightly different jig in the passes, it is smaller and more compact, allowing it to get to the bottom in the swifter current. Pompano, ladyfish, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, jacks, sharks, and catfish are the most commonly caught species when drifting the passes.

Bottom fishing in the passes

Bottom fishing is a very simple technique that any angler can quickly become proficient at. In many cases no casting is required as the bait is simply dropped to the bottom. Both passes in Sarasota have ample structure including rocks, docks, bridges, seawalls, anchored boats, and ledges. All of these structures will attract and hold fish, especially those in deeper water.

fishing in Sarasota

I do most of my bottom fishing on my fishing charters in Sarasota during the cooler months. Much of the time I am targeting sheepshead which is a hard fighting and tasty member of the Porgy family. They show up around Christmas and stay until Easter. Sheepshead eat crustaceans and I mainly use live and frozen shrimp.

Other species can certainly be caught when bottom fishing in Sarasota as well. Mangrove snapper are available year-round, with some of the larger fish being caught in late Summer and early fall. Black drum, redfish, flounder, jacks, snook, and other species will also be caught using this technique.

Fishing the inshore Gulf of Mexico on Sarasota light tackle fishing charters

One of my favorite fishing situations occurs in the inshore Gulf of Mexico when conditions are right. This usually happens in the spring and again in the fall when the water temperature is between 68 and 75°. Huge migrations of bait fish trigger feeding frenzies by game fish such as Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, false albacore, sharks, cobia, and other species.

trolling lures saltwater fishing

For the most part, I am chasing Spanish mackerel and false albacore on my Sarasota light tackle fishing charters when this takes place. Both of these species will corral up helpless bait fish and trap them against the surface. A feeding frenzy will ensue! Fish will be seen thrashing the surface and birds will be seen diving on the scraps.

For the most part, any lure, bait, or fly that closely resembles the forage will be instantly devoured when cast into the fray. This is particularly true with Spanish mackerel. False albacore can be a bit fussier and move around a bit more, requiring some extra patience. However, these are both terrific sport fish when taken on light tackle. The visual element only lends to the excitement!

In conclusion, this article on Sarasota light tackle fishing charters will hopefully encourage visiting anglers to give this exciting style of fishing a try!


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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