Sarasota Fishing Report

Sarasota Fishing Report, weekly updates from Capt Jim

I will be posting my current Sarasota fishing report on this page. It will be updated every week or two as conditions and species change. It will include the baits or lures along with the species and locations. Fishing conditions change daily and seasonally, anglers can use this report to be more successful.

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

May1 fishing report

Note: This will be my last report for 5 weeks or so. I am getting a little “maintenance” done along with a vacation.

Once again, I spent all of my time fishing the deep grass flats. The action was steady, improving each day as we came off the full moon. Speckled trout were plentiful, with fish to 22″ being caught. Silver trout were also landed, with several up to 16′, which is a nice silver trout! A few Spanish mackerel, bluefish, jacks, grouper, small sharks, sea bass, and ladyfish hit jigs and flies as well. All of the flats from Siesta Drive north held fish and I saw no evidence of red tide.

Sarasota speckled trout fishing

April 24 Sarasota Bay fishing report

Weather was an issue early in the week. Severe thunderstorms shut us down Monday and Tuesday. I was not sure what to expect on Wednesday, sometimes an infusion of fresh water can slow down the bite, but that was not the case. Action on the deep grass from New Pass north to Buttonwood was very good on a variety of species. Anglers casting Bass Assassin and Gulp baits on a 1/4 ounce jig head caught speckled trout to 4 pounds, silver trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, pompano, jacks, flounder, ladyfish, sharks, catfish, and more.

Sarasota fishing report

April 17 Report

fishing report

I spend the majority of the week drifting the deep grass flats casting lures and flies. Speckled trout were plentiful with some decent fish to 22″. Spanish mackerel, pompano, bluefish, jacks, small sharks, ladyfish, silver trout and other species were also caught. A variety of baits produced, in all honesty it really did not seem to matter. Bass Assassin and Gulp baits were used. Fly anglers did well casting Clouser patterns. We also did a little bottom fishing one breezy morning, catching a bunch of whiting and silver trout on frozen shrimp.

April 10 Sarasota fishing report

The bite on the deep grass flats continues to provide clients on Sarasota fishing charters with steady action. Bass Assassin split tail shad baits and Gulp Shrimp on jig heads fooled a lot of speckled trout along with Spanish mackerel, bluefish, pompano, ladyfish, jacks, sharks, sea bass, and more. There are still quite a few silver trout on the flats and in the deeper basins, with whiting mixed in. One morning was spent casting Rapala X-Raps in search of snook, but jacks, trout, snapper, and grouper were caught instead.

Sarasota fishing report

April 3 report

I spent most of my time casting Bass Assassin jigs and Gulp Shrimp on the grass flats throughout the area. Speckled trout were numerous, with fish up to 22″ being landed. A few Spanish mackerel, bluefish, jacks, ladyfish, sharks and other species were mixed in as well. The best spots were between New Pass and Buttonwood. Vertical jigging in and around Big Pass produced silver trout, whiting, mackerel, and ladyfish. The sheepshead numbers declined drastically. Anglers casting Rapala X-Raps one morning hooked a few small snook. I ran out in the Gulf one morning and there was bait everywhere, but very few game fish around.

Longboat Key fishing charters

March 27 fishing report

Speckled trout were the name of the game this week for clients on Sarasota fishing charters. Just about every grass flat in 4′ to 8′ of water from Big Pass north to Long Bar held trout. Most were caught on Bass Assassin jigs and jerk worms along with Gulp baits. Live shrimp fooled a few as well. Silver trout showed up in decent numbers along with the occasional mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish, jack, shark, and catfish. Hoping for the action out on the beach to fire up this coming week!

Sarasota fishing report

Sarasota fishing report March 20

There were two solid bites for anglers on Sarasota fishing charters this week; trout hitting jigs on the flats and sheepshead taking shrimp in the passes. Just about every submerged grass flat in 5′ to 8′ of water held speckled trout. Bass assassin jigs and Gulp Shrimp worked well. Silver trout, mackerel, bluefish, jacks, small sharks, ladyfish, and more were also caught. Just about every piece of structure in either pass has sheepshead around it. Live or frozen shrimp fished on the bottom will catch them up!

Sarasota fishing report

March 13 Sarasota fishing report

Fishing was decent this week, though wind was certainly an issue early in the week. Conditions improved daily after Tuesday. Still, the bite was steady, though the fish were not quite as active as last week. Every trip produced a few decent Spanish mackerel and decent numbers of spotted sea trout along with pompano, bluefish, jacks, and ladyfish. Jigs, Clouser Minnow flies, and live shrimp were used. Sheepshead are stacked up in large numbers in both passes. Anglers seeking a fillet or two can catch these saltwater panfish by fishing live or frozen shrimp near any type of structure in either New pass or Big Pass.

Sarasota fishing report

March 6 fishing report

Fishing in Sarasota Bay was good again this week. The best action was on the deeper grass flats throughout the area. Pompano, speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish, and other species hit Bass Assassin baits and Gulp Shrimp on a 1/4 ounce jig head. Speckled trout in particular were quite plentiful on the flats, their numbers are clearly rebounding. Anglers seeking a fillet or two can hit the passes with shrimp. Sheepshead are stacked in in big numbers as they prepare to spawn. I ran a couple river trips (probably the last ones this season) and it was pretty slow.

Sarasota fishing report

February 28

Fishing continued to be very good this week. The action in the passes was outstanding, despite the water being fairly murky. Big numbers of sheepshead seemed to have moved in over the full moon and are being caught on shrimp near most structure including rocks, bridges, and docks. Snapper and sea bass were mixed in as well. Jigging the passes while drifting with the tide produced both action and variety for clients this week. Pompano, Spanish mackerel, jacks, ladyfish, and other species were landed. Speckled trout were numerous on the deep grass flats and hit Gulp Shrimp on a jig head. Mackerel, bluefish, and ladyfish were also caught. A couple of river trips were a bit slow, with some jacks and small snook being caught, along with a bunch of big ladyfish. The water is 72 degrees and with this very warm weather coming up, the river fishing may be done for the season.

Sarasota fishing charters

February 20

Fishing was very good this week for clients on Sarasota fishing charters. A variety of species were caught using several techniques. The best bite was probably in the passes. Anglers drifting while bouncing jigs on the bottom caught permit, pompano, jacks, mackerel, small sharks, and ladyfish. Bottom fishing near structure with shrimp fooled sheepshead, snapper, small grouper, and sea bass. The deep grass flats held plenty of trout, which hit Bass Assassin Sea Shad baits and Gulp Shrimp. A few mackerel, pompano, silver trout, ladyfish, and whiting were landed as well. A river trip produced a pair of 24″ snook, a jack, and a couple of gar for anglers casting Rapala X-Raps.

Sarasota fishing report

February 13

Fishing was excellent in Sarasota this week! The weather fantastic with temperatures near 80 degrees. Clients caught a variety of species using multiple techniques. Big Pass produced sheepshead, snapper, grouper, and sea bass for those bottom fishing with shrimp. Drifting jigs in the pass resulted in pompano, jacks, and ladyfish. Anglers drifting the deep grass and casting Bass Assassin jigs and Clouser Minnow and D.T. Special flies caught a lot of speckled trout with some Spanish mackerel, bluefish, and pompano mixed in. A trip to a nearby river saw anglers casting Rapala plugs catching a bunch of big ladyfish with a few jacks and a nice redfish.

sarasota fishing report

February 6

The week started off cool and quite breezy, with temperatures dipping into the upper 30’s. It was Thursday before it was nice enough to get out. The bite was steady, despite water temperatures of 58. Sheepshead hit shrimp around structure, permit and pompano took jigs in Big Pass, and jigs produced trout and Spanish mackerel on the deep flats. A river trip on Friday was slow, the water was 59 degrees, but we did catch one decent snook on a Gulp jerk bait.

Sarasota fishing report

Jan 30 Sarasota fishing report

We experienced a warming trend this week and the fishing improved in several areas, though morning fog was a minor issue. Action on the deep grass flats was good with a lot of speckled trout and some decent Spanish mackerel.  The mackerel numbers decreased later in the week, but there were still some being caught along with an occasional bluefish and ladyfish. Jigs caught most of the fish, but spoons produced as well. The other bite that produced for clients was vertically jigging in Big Pass with banana jigs. Pompano, bluefish, mackerel, jacks, and ladyfish were landed. Bottom fishing did slow a bit.

jig fishing for pompano

Jan 23

Early in the week, bottom fishing with shrimp near structure in water between 10 feet and 20 feet deep produced sheepshead, snapper, grouper, sea bass, and jack crevalle. By the end of the week, the water had both warmed up and cleared up and action on the deep grass flats really picked up. Speckled trout and Spanish mackerel were plentiful, with a few bluefish and ladyfish mixed in.  Jigs, plugs, spoons, and live shrimp were all productive.

Sarasota Spanish mackerel fishing

Jan 16

Fishing was a bit tough this week as clients had to deal with cool water and breezy conditions. Bottom fishing was fair, with most of the fish being caught around oyster bars as opposed to docks. Sheepshead numbers are starting to increase and took live shrimp. The best action was on Thursday with anglers casting Rapala plugs and Gulp Jerk Shad in canals and creeks. Jack crevalle and snook were fairly active.

fishing report for Sarasota Florida

Jan 9

Winter fishing patterns are consistent and fishing was steady for a variety of species using several tactics. Free lining live shrimp into holes and channels, especially those dropping off sharply from grass flats, produced a bunch of nice “slot” trout along with a few ladyfish and flounder. Bottom fishing near structure produced sheepshead, gag and red grouper, mangrove and mutton snapper, and sea bass. Trolling plugs in canals fooled a couple of big jack crevalle.

fishing report in Sarasota

Jan 2, 2021

Fish have definitely moved to their winter locations and successful anglers change strategies with them. The bite on the grass flats has slowed. On Monday a fly fishing trip produced jacks and snook in area canals and creeks on Clouser patterns. Plenty of trout were found in deeper holes and on steeper drop offs. Free lined shrimp worked well. Bottom fishing with shrimp near structure was very effective. Snapper, sheepshead, grouper, sea bass, and flounder were caught. Drifting jigs in the pass produced a few permit.

mangrove snapper

December 26

Fishing has settled into it’s winter patterns as it has been a chilly December here in Sarasota. The bite on the grass flats has slowed considerable and fish have moved to deeper edges and holes. A fly trip on Sunday was pretty slow. Structure is holding a lot of sea bass, providing anglers with both action and some good eating fillets. Sea bass will hit both jigs and shrimp. Trout are schooled up and once located, the action can be fast. Clients found a school on Wednesday before the front and landed 15 or so nice fat slot trout free lining live shrimp. Several Spanish mackerel and big bluefish were caught as well. The very cold weather over the Christmas weekend may push fish south to Little Sarasota Bay, we shall see.

Sarasota fishing report

December 19

I did all of my fishing in lakes and rivers this week. Action was steady, particularly on the days right before the fronts moved through. Anglers caught bass and averaged sized snook casting Rapala plugs and soft plastic baits. Once nice aspect of this fishing is that it offers protection from the wind on breezy days. The river fishing is dependent on tides, especially this time of year when the winter low tides are VERY low. Anglers looking for a different fishing experience in a really cool environment might want to give it a try.

Sarasota fishing report

December 12

Weather was once again an issue and fish are definitely transitioning to their winter patterns. The action on the flats in the north bay slowed, with the spots closer to the passes being more productive, though the bite was not as fast as before. Trout were the most numerous species, with pompano, mackerel, ladyfish, and bluefish being caught. Jigging in the pass produced ladyfish and a few permit. Jack crevalle hit plugs in creeks and canals. I ran a trip to the Myakka River on Wednesday and it was very slow. We faced post frontal conditions; blue bird sky and 59 degree water and the snook simply did not eat.

permit

December 5

Well, summer is officially over here in Sarasota. After an unseasonably warm fall, the first severe front moved through on Monday. Action on the deep flats was very good the weekend before. It should resume as the water clears and settles. Pompano, bluefish, mackerel, trout, ladyfish, sharks, and more hit jigs. The bite in the Gulf slowed a bit before the front, though anglers caught some mackerel and a false albacore near the Silvertooth Reef. Hard to say if this bite will resume, the water temperature did drop substancially.

I ran my first Myakka River trip on Friday, as the Water level finally dropped after the last tropical storm. Rapala plugs produced a half dozen snook, including a nice one that hit right at the boat. This is a different and unique trip for more experienced anglers looking for “quality over quantity” that enjoy the challenge of fishing with lures.

Sarasota fishing report

November 28

Fishing was good on the deep flats once again, especially the first part of the week. Anglers on Sarasota fishing charters caught speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, pompano, cobia, jacks, sea bass, ladyfish and other species casting Bass Assassin and Gulp Shrimp baits on a 1/4 ounce jig head. The Middlegrounds and flats in north Sarasota Bay were best. The end of the week was a bit tough, with no breeze and a lot of boat traffic. The best bite was in Big Pass for ladyfish and Spanish mackerel.

Sarasota fishing report

November 21

Weather was once again an issue this week, it was breezy with Small Craft Advisories Tues, Wednesday, and Thursday. When it wasn’t blowing, fishing was good! The best bite for my clients continued to be drifting the deep grass flats and casting jigs. Bluefish, Spanish mackerel, jacks, speckled trout, ladyfish and other species provided steady action. Stephen’s Point and the MIddlegrounds were the top spots. On Sunday there was a lot of bird activity with jacks and bluefish underneath, big fun chasing them around.

Sarasota Florida fishing report

Nov 14

Fishing was very good this week, despite some challenging weather. Strong winds started off the week, then a hurricane mid week!  Things settled back down by Saturday, where the bite was fast. Fast action on the deep grass flats continued, with anglers casting jigs catching cobia, spotted sea trout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, jacks, ladyfish, sea bass, grouper, and more. The flats on the east side were best, mostly due to the wind. Creeks and backwater areas also produced snook and jacks on jigs and plugs. The bite should resume out on the beach once the Gulf settles down.

Sarasota fishing report

Nov 7

Weather was an issue for anglers fishing in Sarasota of late. I was on vacation in North Carolina, and came home to stiff breezes around 25 mph out of the northeast. It did ease up a bit towards the end of this week. As has been the case, action on the deep grass flats was very geed. Anglers casting jigs and spoons caught trout, bluefish, jacks, ladyfish, grouper, small cobia, and more. Flats on the east side of the bay offered some protection from the wind. The Middlegrounds was probably the best spot this week. There has been some action on mackerel and false albacore just off the beaches, but it has been hit or miss. The weather does not look good at all for the first part of next week.

Florida bluefish

Oct 24

Wind was an issue for clients on Sarasota fishing charters this week. It blew steadily out of the north east at 15, with gusts to 30. It did subside a bit later in the week. Anglers casting jigs and free lining live bait fish did well on a variety of species. Catch of the week goes to Alissa Romas, with a nice cobia. Speckled trout were plentiful, with bluefish, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, jacks, sharks, snapper, grouper, sea bass, and other species mixed in. The wind pretty much limited us to flats on the east side of Sarasota Bay, with the Ringling flats being the top spot and Radio Tower being second. I heard reports of decent action in the inshore Gulf on mackerel, false albacore, and sharks, bit it was fairly choppy. I fished the braden River and Manatee River early in the week when the wind was really howling. The bite was fair, with anglers catching a few bass and snook on jigs and soft plastic baits, but it is just not cool enough yet. I am off to the North Carolina mountains for a week!

Sarasota fishing report

Oct 17

Action was very good on the deep grass flats this week. Just about every flat north of the Ringling Causeway produced fish, including Radio Tower, Middlegrounds, Stephen’s Pt., Bishop’s Pt, and Buttonwood. Anglers casting Bass Assassin baits and Gulp! Shrimp did well. I had fly anglers two days who caught a dozen or so fish each fish on Clouser patterns. Speckled trout were plentiful, with fish to 4 pounds being caught. Spanish mackerel, bluefish, jacks, sharks, ladyfish, grouper, snapper, sea bass and more took jigs and flies as well. I only fished with live bait one day, with anglers catching the same species.

sarasota fishing report

Oct 10

Fishing was very good once again this week as water temps dipped into the upper 70’s. Action on the deep grass flat was fast forr clients casting jigs, spoons, and live bait. On Thursday, George caught 14 different species including speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, jacks, grouper, snapper, sharks, ladyfish, sea bass, and more. Gulp Shrimp on a jig head and small silver spoons worked well early. A switch to live bait in the last hour kept the bite going. There was some action in the inshore Gulf of Mexico for mackerel and false albacore, but it slowed later in the week. The next decent front should get it cranked up again.

Spanish mackerel

October 3

Fishing picked up this week, especially just prior to the mid week front.  Speckled trout were plentiful on the deep grass flats, with mackerel, bluefish, jacks, ladyfish, and other species mixed in.  Gulp Shrimp on jig heads caught most of the fish.  Flats near New Pass were best.  Live bait fish produced snapper and grouper around structure near big Pass. Spanish mackerel and false albacore are just starting to show up off the area beaches.

Sarasota anglers

Sept 26

Fishing was steady this week, with clients catching a pretty even mix of speckled trout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, jacks, ladyfish, sea bass, snapper, and small grouper. For whatever reason the artificial lure bite slowed a bit, perhaps there is just too much bait.  Jigs and spoons caught fish, but the “enthusiasm” was down from the last two weeks. However, the solution was simple; net up some bait and chum them pretty heavily. The flats near the passes were better as the water was clearer and there was more bait present. Bird Key, Radio Tower, and Middlegrounds were the top spots.

fishing report Sarasota

9/19

Action was very good on the deep grass flats in Sarasota Bay this week. Tropical weather had the Gulf churned up, so the areas in the middle of the bait were best. Stephen’s Pt and Buttonwood were the top spots. Anglers did well casting Bass Assassin and Gulp Shrimp baits on a 1/4 ounce chartreuse jig head. Kastmaster spoons produced quite a few fish as well. Speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, jacks, ladyfish, grouper, snapper, sea bass, sharks, and other species kept the rods bent. Small fry bait was thick on the east side from the ramp up to Ringling, small Rapalas produced trout and ladyfish.

Sarasota fishing report

9/12

Fishing was very good once again this week.  The bite on the deep grass flats continued to be steady. Speckled trout were caught in good numbers with some fish over 20″. Bluefish and Spanish mackerel were caught as well as the water temperature slowly dropped. Ladyfish, snapper, grouper, jacks, sea bass, and other species also kept the rods bent. Most of the fish were caught on Gulp Shrimp on a jig head. On Thursday I put two of my long time regular guys together, John Englander and Steve Owen. Just for fun, Steve kept count and landed 73, and John was right there, so they landed around 125 fish. Most were caught on the flats just north of New Pass. John wanted a few snapper for the table, so we finished up doing a little chumming with bait.

Sarasota fishing report

9/5

The weather was more stable this week, though still quite warm, and the fishing was very steady. Decent sized bluefish were found on the deep grass flats, along with speckled trout, mackerel, ladyfish, sea bass, grouper, snapper, and other species. Jig heads with Bass Assassin baits and Gulp Shrimp produced through the morning, so I did not have to catch bait. Bird Key flats, Middlegrounds, Bishop’s Pt, and Buttonwood were all productive spots.

Sarasota fishing report

8/29

Fishing was decent this week, though weather was an issue. It was windy early in the week, with some Small Craft Advisories. The wind eased up later in the week. Clients casting jigs caught speckled trout, bluefish, ladyfish, grouper, sea bass, snapper, and other species. The water near the passes was dirty from the big storm swell. The flats in the middle of the bay, Bishop’s Pt., Buttonwood, and Stephen’s Pt., were best. Bait was scattered out in the dirty water, so we stuck with the jigs.

fishing for bluefish

8/22

Weather was an issue for clients on Sarasota fishing charters this week. Storms forced me to postpone a couple of trips. On days we did get out, mangrove snapper and juvenile grouper provided the best action. Not only are they around structure, but anglers caught plenty on the open flats as well. Most were caught on live bait. For whatever reason, the jig bite slowed a bit, though a couple nice trout were caught. Live bait definitely produced better action this week. Big Pass and the flats near New Pass were the best spots.

fishing report sarasota

8/15

The action on the deep grass flats continued to provide anglers with good action. Speckled trout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, jacks, sharks, snapper, gag and red grouper, sea bass and other species. Bass Assassin jigs and Gulp Shrimp produced early in the morning. The wind eased up after an hour or so most mornings, which makes jig fishing less effective. A nice little breeze really makes a huge difference when drifting the deep grass flats. So, we ended up switching to live bait a bit earlier. Mangrove snapper showed up in the chum in good numbers, along with the other species. Spots near the passes were the most productive.

best Sarasota fishing charter

8/8

Action was good on the deep grass flats again this week.  With no rain, the water temperature has eased up to the upper 80s.  The best bite was in fairly deep water, 8′ or so.  All of the fish this week were caught on jigs, mostly a red gold shiner 4″ Bass assassin Sea Shad, but a few Gulp Shrimp as well.  Speckled trout, bluefish, jacks, ladyfish, red and gag grouper, mangrove snapper, sharks, sea bass, catfish, and more were caught.  Middlegrounds and Radio Tower were the top spots.

I did a little bream fishing, hoping to find them on beds with the full moon.  The bite was fair, maybe the water is just too warm.  A few were caught at Benderson Lake and Evers reservoir on black Beetlespins and tiny twister tail jigs.

Sarasota fishing report

Sarasota fishing report Aug 1

As has been the case all summer, the fishing remains very good on the deep grass flats in Sarasota Bay. The water close to the passes has been the cleanest, with a fair amount of bait. Casting jigs at first light then switching to live bait mid morning continued to take advantage of the morning fishing window. Speckled trout fishing was very good, with both numbers and quality. Bluefish, ladyfish, sharks, grouper, sea bass and more were also caught. Mangrove snapper are seemingly everywhere, on the flats and in the passes, providing anglers seeking a meal some fine fillets along with a good fight.

Sarasota fishing report

7/25

Fishing was good once again this week for anglers fishing with Capt Jim on Sarasota fishing charters. The deep grass flats in the north bay were best early in the week. Anglers casting jigs and Clouser Minnow flies caught some nice trout along with bluefish, mackerel, ladyfish, sea bass, jacks, sharks, grouper, snapper, and more. Later in the week, the was got a little stirred up with rain and wind, and the flats closer to the passes were better. Live bait produced some good mangrove snapper along with spotted sea trout later in the mornings when the jig bite slowed.

Sarasota fishing report

7/18

Once again, the action on the deep grass flats continued to please anglers casting jigs and free lining live baits while chumming. The early jig bite improved later in the week as the wind finally turned out of the east. That resulted in more pleasant conditions and better fishing. Speckled trout were plentiful, with bluefish, jacks, grouper, ladyfish, and sharks mixed in. Mangrove sapper numbers and size improved this week, which is good for clients looking for a few fish tacos!

fishing report for Sarasota

7/11

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Good fishing in Sarasota to start 2021!

Fishing was good this first week of 2021! 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

 

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 from Capt Jim Klopfer

Fishing Articles from Capt Jim Klopfer

This post is the list of fishing articles written by Capt Jim Klopfer. Capt Jim grew up fishing in the Chesapeake Bay area and has been a charter boat captain in Sarasota, Florida since 1991.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

The fishing articles and this section all cover subjects that pertain to saltwater fishing. They mainly focus on fishing in the United States, however the tips and tactics will help anglers catch fish all over the world.

Chumming – a Very Effective Fishing Technique!

This article will thoroughly cover chumming. Chumming is a very effective fishing technique. It is mostly used in saltwater fishing, but freshwater anglers can benefit from chumming as well.

Flats Fishing – Pro Tips!

This article will thoroughly cover flats fishing. Flats are often very good fishing spots. The main reason for this is that flats provide the perfect environment for the forage that game fish feed on. Flats almost always have vegetation of some type along with other cover. This attracts the prey that larger fish feed on.

Fishing with Popping Corks, Pro tips!

This article thoroughly covers fishing with popping corks. Popping corks are a very effective saltwater fishing tool.

Surf Fishing for Striped Bass – Pro Tips!

This article covers the topic of surf fishing for striped bass. Striped bass are arguable the most popular inshore saltwater species from Maine down to the Carolinas. Surf fishing is a great sport, but it requires patience and some specialized gear.

Surf Fishing for Whiting – a Complete Guide

Whiting are a small, but plentiful fish found all along the US coastline from Texas to New England. They are easy to catch and good to eat; the perfect surf species!

Trolling in Saltwater

Trolling is a very effective saltwater fishing technique. It is quite efficient as it allows anglers to present multiple lures or baits at varying depths in search of fish. This results in anglers covering a lot more water in a shorter period of time. This article on trolling and saltwater will help anglers understand the specialized gear and tactics required in order to be successful.

Fishing for Triggerfish – Tips, Tackle, and Techniques

Triggerfish are a very popular saltwater species for anglers who like to bottom fish. In most cases, they are an incidental catch while targeting grouper, snapper, and other bottom dwellers. However, these tips will help anglers who target triggerfish to be more successful.

Black Drum Fishing – a Complete Guide

Black drum are a bit of and underrated game fish. They grow quite large and are available to anglers along the coast from Texas to the mid Atlantic. This article provides great information on catching the largest member of the drum family.

Florida Saltwater Fishing in Fall

Fall is an excellent time to go fishing in Florida! Falling water temperatures have the fish in a feeding mood and the seasonal crowds are gone. This article covers the species migrations and tactics that will help anglers catch more fish in autumn.

7 Useful Flounder Fishing Tips

This article on flounder fishing tips will help anglers catch more of these hard fighting in fantastic tasting members of the flat fish family. They are extremely popular all along their range, which is basically the entire East Coast from Texas to Maine.

Black Sea Bass Fishing

Black sea bass are a staple of charter boat captains all along the East Coast of the United States from Florida to Maine. While they do not grow large, 10 pounds is a very nice fish, they put up a great fight and are terrific eating. Basic bottom fishing techniques and tackle required for catching black sea bass are covered in this article.

Snapper Fishing – A Complete Guide

Snapper may be the most prized of all bottom fish targeted by anglers throughout the world. There are many different species, however most share quite a few habits. This article covers the baits, tackle, and locations needed to be more successful when pursuing these fantastic bottom species.

Fishing for Redfish, a Complete Guide

Redfish are perhaps the premier inshore saltwater species from North Carolina to Texas. They inhabit the inshore waters of the Gulf and ocean as well as the inshore bays and tidal creeks and rivers. The lures, baits, and techniques needed to full these widely game fish are covered in this comprehensive article on fishing for redfish.

What is the best Saltwater Fishing Reel under $100?

This article answers the question, “what is the best saltwater fishing reel for under $100”? Anglers will have to read the article to get the answer!

Saltwater Fishing with Shrimp

Shrimp are without a doubt the top live bait for anglers fishing and saltwater. They catch just about every saltwater species that swims. Live shrimp are readily available at every coastal bait shop. This article covers everything an angler will need to know to be an effective when fishing with live shrimp and saltwater.

7 Essential Surf Fishing Lures

Surf fishing is a very popular method of fishing used all along both coastlines. While live bait is effective, many anglers choose to cast artificial lures. This article will cover the seven essential surf fishing lures along with additional tips and tactics.

Top 14 Chesapeake Bay Game Fish

Chesapeake Bay as well known for its fantastic fishing. It offers anglers diversity and a wide variety of fish species to target. This article will cover the top 14 Chesapeake Bay game fish species along with locations and techniques to help anglers be more successful.

Inshore Saltwater Fishing, a Complete Guide

This very comprehensive article covers every aspect of inshore saltwater fishing. Tackle, live baits, artificial lures, seasons, locations, and techniques are all thoroughly covered. At the end is a section that covers each species individually as well.

What is the Best Pompano Fishing Lure?

This article talks about the best pompano fishing lure. The answer is simple; a jig. Jigs are extremely effective pompano fishing lures. This article covers the jig types along with the locations and techniques to produce pompano for anglers fishing the beach and inshore saltwater bays.

Fishing for False Albacore, Pro Tips and Techniques

False albacore are a tremendous saltwater game fish species. They are found in the nearshore coastal waters all along the eastern seaboard. Most false albacore are caught by anglers casting artificial lures into schools of feeding fish. This article covers the nuances and subtle techniques required to full these fussy game fish.

Best Cobia Fishing Tackle and Lures

This article covers the best cobia fishing tackle and lures. Cobia are are one of the largest coastal saltwater species, reaching weights of over 100 pounds. Specialized tactics and equipment are required in order to hook and subdue one of these trophy fish.

Best Speckled Trout Fishing Tackle

This article thoroughly covers the best speckled trout fishing tackle. Speckled trout, also known as spotted sea trout, are a very popular inshore saltwater species. They are found in most of the inshore bays from the mid Atlantic to Texas. There are a beautiful fish that are very good to eat.

Surf Fishing Tackle and Techniques

Surf fishing is a very popular technique employed by anglers fishing all along the coast. This article covers a specialized tackle in gear required to participate in the sport. Tips, techniques, and locations are also provided, helping anglers be more productive.

Best Jerkbait for Saltwater Fishing

Jerk baits are very effective fishing lures. This article is about the best jerk bait for saltwater fishing. Anglers will have to read the article to get the answer!

11 Valuable Tampa Bay Fishing Tips

Tampa Bay is a very productive Marine estuary. It offers anglers the opportunity to catch a wide variety of species using many different techniques. This article offers anglers 11 valuable Tampa Bay fishing tips.

Best 6 Topwater Plugs for Saltwater Fishing

Most anglers who cast artificial lures enjoy using top water plugs. Anytime a visual element can be added to fishing, it adds to the excitement. This article lists the top six top water lures for saltwater fishing along with many helpful tips and techniques to help anglers be more successful casting these lures.

Best 7 Saltwater Fishing Spoons

Spoons are simple, yet effective fishing lures that have been around a long time. A spoon is basically a curved piece of metal with a hook in it. They cast a long way and are easy for novice anglers to use. This article list the top seven saltwater fishing spoons along with techniques used in order to be successful.

Best Sheepshead Fishing Tackle and Baits

Sheepshead are an odd looking member of the Porgy family. They feed on crustaceans and are found near all types of structure in the inshore bays as well as the open Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. They are notorious for being bait stealers that are difficult to hook. This article gives anglers inside information on how to be more successful catching these wily bottom feeders.

Tarpon Fishing Tackle and Gear, an Angler’s Guide

Tarpon are arguably the premier saltwater game fish species. They grow to weights of over 200 pounds and put up a tremendous fight when hooked, leaping high out of the water multiple times on most occasions. This article thoroughly covers the specialized gear and tackle required to catch these mighty game fish.

Best Redfish Fishing Tackle and lures

This post thoroughly covers the best redfish fishing tackle and lures. Redfish, also known as red drum, are an extremely popular inshore game fish species, particularly along the Gulf of Mexico coast. The professional tips provided in this article will help anglers be more productive when fishing for redfish.

Best 12 Spotted Sea Trout Fishing Lures

This article will list the best 12 spotted sea trout fishing lures. Spotted sea trout, also known as speckled trout, are a prolific inshore game fish species that are prized from Texaco to the Carolinas. They readily hit artificial lures, and this article will cover the best lures along with tactics and techniques.

Best Flounder and Fluke Fishing Tackle and Techniques

Flounder and fluke are very similar species, both being members of the flat fish family. They are prized by saltwater anglers for both their determined battle but mostly for their incredible fillets. This comprehensive article will thoroughly cover the best flounder and fluke fishing tackle and techniques.

Best Grouper Fishing Tackle and Lures

Grouper are arguably the most popular bottom fish in the southeast part of the United States. There are several varieties of grouper in most grow fairly large. They put up a very determined battle and are terrific eating. This article will cover the best grouper fishing tackle and lures.

Best False Albacore Fishing Tackle and Lures

This article will cover the best false albacore fishing tackle and lures. False albacore are hard fighting members of the to to family and are notorious for being fussy and difficult to catch. This article will help anglers be more successful when pursuing false albacore.

Best Live Baits for Saltwater Fishing in Florida

Many anglers visiting and fishing in Florida choose to do so using live bait. While artificial lures can be productive, sometimes it is hard to beat the real thing. This article will thoroughly cover the best live baits for saltwater fishing in Florida.

Best 7 Fishing Lures for Redfish

Most redfish are caught by anglers casting artificial lures. While there are many baits to choose from, this article by Capt. Jim will list the top seven redfish fishing lures along with tips and tactics that will help anglers enjoy more success.

Top 9 speckled trout fishing lures

This article will list the top nine speckled trout fishing lures. Speckled trout, also known as spotted sea trout, are an aggressive species that react favorably to anglers casting artificial lures. The top nine lures listed in this article will help anglers chasing speckled trout catch more fish.

Top 6 Spanish mackerel fishing lures

Spanish mackerel are a beautiful and hard fighting inshore saltwater species that are also fantastic eating. They are very aggressive and respond well to anglers casting artificial lures, especially fast-moving flashy ones. This article will list the top six Spanish mackerel fishing lures.

Jack Crevalle Fishing, a Complete Guide

Jack crevalle, or jacks for short, are the bar room brawlers of the inshore saltwater seen. There is nothing subtle about these wide-bodied hard fighting game fish. While they can be taken on live bait, many are caught by anglers casting artificial lures. This article on Jack crevalle fishing thoroughly covers all of the tackle and tactics that will help anglers be more productive.

Light Tackle Bottom Fishing Tips

Bottom fishing is one of the oldest angling tactics. It basically involves dropping a baited hook to the bottom and waiting for a bite. However, as in all fishing techniques, there are nuances and tricks which will help anglers be more successful. This article on bottom fishing will give anglers the information they need to do so.

6 Essential Saltwater Fishing Flies

Fly fishing is not only for freshwater anglers, it has really taken off and saltwater over the last decade or two. There are a myriad of fly patterns that will produce and saltwater. This article by Capt. Jim list the top six saltwater fishing flies.

How to Catch Saltwater Fish with Jigs

Jigs are one of the oldest and simplest artificial lures and existence. It is a basic design which has been fooling fish ever since man has been chasing them with fake baits. This article completely covers every aspect of saltwater fishing with jigs.

Spotted Sea Trout Fishing, Tips to Succeed

Spotted sea trout are arguably only second to redfish when it comes to popularity among inshore saltwater anglers along the Gulf Coast. They are abundant, aggressive, beautiful, and taste great! This article by Capt. Jim provides some great spotted sea trout fishing tips.

Fishing for Redfish and Speckled Trout

This article combines the two most popular inshore saltwater species from Texas to the Carolinas; redfish and speckled trout. While they inhabit many of the same areas and have some similar habits, there are differences as well. Both of these are covered well in this article by Capt. Jim on fishing for redfish and speckled trout.

Fishing for Bluefish, Tips and Techniques

Bluefish are well known to saltwater anglers, particularly those in the Northeast. They are second only and popularity to striped bass in many areas. Bluefish are extremely aggressive and hard fighting fish that will recklessly attack artificial lures as well as live baits. This article covers all aspects of fishing for bluefish.

Top 15 Sheepshead Fishing Tips

Sheepshead are a prolific and popular inshore saltwater species that are quite distinguishable and looks. They are a hard fighting and good eating member of the porgy family. This article will list the top 15 sheepshead fishing tips.

Best 6 Saltwater Fishing Lures

There are many artificial lures which anglers can use in order to be successful when saltwater fishing. In fact, the selection can be overwhelming. In an effort to simplify this for anglers, Capt. Jim wrote this article on the best six saltwater fishing lures.

Top 6 Spanish mackerel fishing lures

Spanish mackerel are a very aggressive saltwater game fish species. This aggressiveness makes them very susceptible to being full by flashy, fast-moving artificial lures. In fact, most anglers who target Spanish mackerel do so using these types of baits. This article list the top six Spanish mackerel fishing lures.

Florida fishing articles

largemouth bass fishing in Florida

Florida offers both resident and visiting anglers many different fishing opportunities. World-class fishing exists in both freshwater and saltwater from the smallest of pan fish to giant tarpon and billfish. These following articles by Capt. Jim Klopfer cover many of these fishing subjects.Rain

Surf Fishing in Florida

While many anglers enjoy fishing from boats in Florida, surf fishing can be very productive as well. The tactics are a bit different from the traditional surf casting that is done in the Northeast. This article on surf fishing in Florida covers all the tactics, rigs, and techniques needed to catch fish off of the Florida beaches.

Florida Saltwater Fishing in Summer

While it is certainly quite warm in Florida in the summer time, many anglers are surprised to learn that fishing can be outstanding. The best action takes place early and late in the day as well is at night. Anglers need to avoid the extreme heat in the middle of the day. This article on fishing Florida in the summer covers all of the seasonal migrations as well as the tactics needed to be successful this time of year.

Flounder Fishing in Florida

This article on flounder fishing in Florida covers all of the tackle and techniques needed to catch these delicious inshore saltwater fish. Flounder put up a nice little fight and are one of the best eating fish out there!

Largemouth Bass Fishing in Florida

It would be easy to argue that largemouth bass reign supreme in the fishing world in Florida. The countless lakes and rivers offer anglers world-class largemouth bass fishing. Tactics used dad here are a bit different than those in other parts of the country in these are all covered in this article on largemouth bass fishing in Florida.

Best 14 Tampa Bay Fishing Spots

This post lists 14 Tampa Bay fishing spots. Tampa Bay is a large estuary that offers excellent fishing on a wide variety of species. Each spot list some of the species available as well as baits and tactics that are productive in that particular spot.

Fishing for Snook, a Complete Guide

Snook are the premier inshore game fish in Florida. They are the saltwater version of largemouth bass. Snook are an apex predator that are aggressive and structure oriented. They grow to 50 pounds and more. This article by Capt. Jim covers all the lures, seasonal migrations, baits, and techniques needed to be successful when fishing for snook.

Florida Offshore Fishing Tips

Offshore fishing is extremely popular in Florida. This article on offshore fishing tips will help anglers catch grouper, snapper, sailfish, wahoo, king mackerel, and more. Drifting, trolling, and bottom fishing are all covered in great detail.

Florida Pompano Fishing

Pompano have a bit of a cult following in the state of Florida. They do not grow very large, 3 pounds is a nice one, but they put up a terrific fight for their size. Pompano also are perhaps the finest eating fish that swims in this is a major reason for their popularity. This article on Florida pompano fishing covers the lures, baits, locations, and techniques that will result in success.

Florida Bluefish

Few anglers equate bluefish and Florida in the same sentence. However, Florida offers anglers the chance to catch bluefish and throughout the year. They are very common among angler surf fishing off of the states beaches. Bluefish are also plentiful at certain times of the year in the inshore waters. This article on catching Florida bluefish will give anglers all the information they need.

Freshwater Fly Fishing in Florida

This post by Capt. Jim thoroughly covers freshwater fly fishing in Florida. Panfish, especially large bluegill, are the most commonly targeted species with largemouth bass right behind. The shallow, weedy lakes of Florida offer the perfect environment in which to do some freshwater fly fishing.

Fly Fishing in Florida, Gulf Coast Tips

When fly fishing in Florida is mentioned, most anglers picture a flats skiff being quietly polled across a flat while the angler casts towards telling fish. This certainly occurs, especially in the very shallow water areas. However, there are other techniques that produce a lot of fish for anglers fly fishing in Florida.

Tarpon Fishing in Florida, an Anglers Guide

Tarpon did not earn their nickname the Silver King without merit. These incredible game fish grow to over 200 pounds. There are few opportunities anywhere in the world to sight cast to fish this large with fairly light tackle. This article on tarpon fishing in Florida will give anglers the information they need to get started in their pursuit of a trophy tarpon.

Best Snook Fishing Tackle and Lures

The topic of this article is the best snook fishing tackle and lures. Snook are arguably the top inshore saltwater game fish in the state. They are highly prized and pursued by anglers and it is important to have the correct lures and tackle in order to catch them.

Florida King Mackerel Fishing, Tips and Techniques

King mackerel are found in the inshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean along the entire coast line of Florida. They do not come into the inshore bays. King mackerel grow large, with specimens pushing 80 pounds. This article on Florida king mackerel fishing thoroughly covers the trolling techniques that are so productive when pursuing this species.

Top 21 Florida Saltwater Game Fish

Florida has a long list of saltwater game fish species that are available to anglers. This article list the top 21 of these Florida saltwater game fish. Locations, techniques, and strategies are listed for each fish species along with some great pictures of top female Florida anglers.

What is the Best Bait for Shark Fishing?

Shark fishing is quite popular in Florida as it is in many other saltwater environments. This article covers the best bait for shark fishing in Florida. The answer is fairly obvious to most seasoned anglers, however there are techniques and nuances that will improve the odds when pursuing these large fish.

Fishing for Florida Panfish and Crappie

While largemouth bass get much of the press when it comes to freshwater fishing in Florida, crappie and panfish are actually targeted by more anglers. This article on fishing for Florida panfish and crappie will help anglers understand the techniques along with the best waters in order to catch a mess of hard fighting and tasty fish.

Top 25 Florida Game Fish

This fun post list the top 25 Florida game fish. It includes species that live and both freshwater and saltwater environments. In fact, a few thrive in both. Each species has some interesting facts along with techniques and some great images of top female Florida anglers.

Florida Saltwater Fishing in Winter

While winters are mild or in Florida than they are in other parts of the country, they still do arrive. As in every other location, fish behaviors change and successful anglers change their tactics with the season. This article on Florida saltwater fishing and winter will help anglers understand these changes and adapt in order to succeed.

Fishing for Ladyfish in Florida

Some anglers do not consider ladyfish to be a game fish species, but this is a mistake. Pound for pound, ladyfish put up is tough a bite as any other species. They are very aggressive and will hit artificial lures and flies along with live baits. They almost always leap clear up out of the water. This article on fishing for ladyfish in Florida will help anglers understand their habits.

Freshwater fishing articles

top freshwater game fish

Freshwater fishing is extremely popular throughout North America. Anglers have more opportunities to experience this, as no matter where they are in the country there is some body of water fairly close by that offer some type of freshwater fishing. The following article by Capt. Jim cover a wide variety of freshwater fishing topics for anglers to enjoy and learn from.

Carolina rig Fishing, Tackle, Tips, and Techniques

The topic of this article will be Carolina rig fishing. The Carolina rig is a versatile fishing rig that anglers can use to catch a variety of species. It is most often used with an artificial lure, however live bait can be presented using the Carolina rig as well.

Finesse Fishing – Pro Tips!

This article will thoroughly cover finesse fishing. Finesse fishing is a very effective technique for bass and many other game fish species.

Wacky Worm Fishing – Tips and Techniques

This article will thoroughly cover wacky worm fishing. Wacky worm fishing is an easy and productive technique used to present a plastic worm to fish. Largemouth bass are most often the target of anglers using this technique. However, other species can certainly be caught as well.

Best 11 Buzzbait Fishing Lures

This article will list the best 11 buzzbait fishing lures. Buzzbaits are unusual baits. They are a combination of a spinnerbait and a top water lure. The bait is reeled across the surface using a steady retrieve, with the buzzbait putting out a fish an enticing gurgling noise.

Best 13 White Bass Fishing Lures – Hybrid Bass, Too!

This article lists the best 13 white bass and hybrid bass fishing lures. White bass are a small but fiesty species that are abundant in many waters, particularly in the Midwest.

Blue Catfish Fishing Tips

This article on blue catfish fishing tips will help anglers catch more of these trophy gamefish. Blue catfish have grown in popularity as they have been introduced into many large lake and river systems.

Spinner Fishing for Trout, a Complete Guide

This article thoroughly covers spinner fishing for trout. Spinners are very productive trout fishing lures. This article covers the lures and tactics needed to be successful.

26 Productive Trout Fishing Tips

This article list 26 productive trout fishing tips. There are several different species of trout available to anglers. However, many share the same feeding habits and characteristics. This article will definitely help anglers catch more trout!

Top 15 Pennsylvania Game Fish Species

This article lists the top 15 Pennsylvania game fish species. All of these fish are freshwater species, as Pennsylvania offers no access to saltwater fishing. Trout and bass are the top species, however there are quite a few others that Pennsylvania anglers can target.

Top 12 Michigan Game Fish Species

Michigan offers some of the finest freshwater fishing in the world. Anglers can chase trout, bass, pike, salmon, and other species in the smallest of streams up to the Great Lakes. This post list the top 12 Michigan game fish species and has tips, techniques, and locations for each species.

Top 15 Wisconsin Game Fish Species

Wisconsin has a ton of lakes and rivers and offers anglers a wide variety of fishing opportunities. Anglers can also venture out into Lake Michigan from the shores of Wisconsin. This article covers the top 15 game fish species and Wisconsin along with some useful tips.

Streamer Fishing for Trout – Pro Tips!

Streamers are effective flies for anglers fishing for trout. They often catch larger fish then do tiny drive flies or nymphs. This article on streamer fishing for trout thoroughly covers the streamers, tackle, techniques, and locations that will help anglers fishing with streamers for trout be more successful.

Trout Fishing Equipment – A Complete Guide

Different types of fishing require different types of tackle and equipment, and trout fishing is no exception. This complete guide to trout fishing equipment will help anglers understand the gear that they need to safely and effectively enjoy the sport.

Fly Fishing for Bass

Bass are perhaps the most popular freshwater species in North America. Many anglers chased them using artificial lures, however fly fishing is gaining in popularity. This article on fly fishing for bass will help anglers new to this aspect of bass fishing understand the tackle required along with the fundamental differences between fly fishing and other forms of casting.

10 Essential Spotted Bass Fishing Lures

This article lists the 10 essential spotted bass fishing lures. Spotted bass are growing in both popularity and numbers throughout the country. They mostly inhabit clear, deeper lakes and are often suspended out over structure. Different lures and tactics are needed in order to be successful pursuing them.

Largemouth Bass Fishing – Tips, Tackle, and Techniques

Largemouth bass are a hugely popular freshwater game fish. This comprehensive article on largemouth bass fishing thoroughly covers all aspects including tackle, lures, live baits, seasons, and techniques. It is an excellent article for anglers looking to get started fishing for largemouth bass.

Top 18 Minnesota Game Fish

This article list the top 18 Minnesota game fish species. Minnesota’s landlocked, therefore the species are all freshwater fish. However, Minnesota offers a wide variety of fishing opportunities from small streams to the Great Lakes. Trout and bass are top species, but pike, musky, walleye, and other species please anglers.

Bluegill Fishing- Tips, Tackle, and Techniques

Bluegill may be the most popular freshwater fish species in North America. They are small, yet very aggressive and put up an excellent fight on ultralight tackle. This article on bluegill fishing covers all the basics along with some advanced tips and tactics.

Best 11 Brook Trout Fishing Lures

Brook trout are the smallest of the three major trout species, but many anglers consider them the most satisfying to catch. Brooke trout can be challenging whether on fly or using artificial lures. This article covers the best 11 brook trout fishing lures that will catch these beautiful trout in every fishing situation and angler will encounter.

What is the Best Fishing Bait for Blue Catfish?

Blue catfish are growing in popularity throughout the country. They have been stocked in many large River and reservoir systems. They are an apex predator that grows very large. This article answers a question of the best bait to use when fishing for blue catfish.

What is the Best Fishing Bait for Channel Catfish

Channel catfish are the most widely distributed of the three major members of the catfish family. They are also smaller than blue catfish and flathead catfish. They have a varied diet, however there is one bait that is best for anglers fishing for channel catfish, and this article answers that question.

What is the best largemouth bass fishing lure?

There are many artificial lures that will fool largemouth bass. However, there is one artificial lure that is the best for catching largemouth bass. Anglers will have to read this article to find out what the best largemouth bass fishing lure is.

What is the best crappie fishing lure?

Crappie are a very popular freshwater species. They are the largest member of the panfish family. Live minnows are the top live bait, but there is also an artificial lure that is extremely effective on crappie. This article is all about the best crappie fishing lure.

9 Essential Smallmouth Bass Fishing Lures

This article list the nine essential smallmouth bass fishing lures. Smallmouth bass are a very popular freshwater species that readily hit artificial baits. These nine lures will catch smallmouth bass in every situation that an angler will encounter.

14 Essential Walleye Trolling Lures

More walleye are caught by anglers trolling than any other fishing technique. While live bait can be used when trolling, artificial lures allow anglers to cover more water. This article list the top 14 walleye trolling lures along with some excellent tips and tactics.

Top 6 Fishing Lures

Fishing with artificial lures can be overwhelming, especially for novice anglers. The purpose of this article was to simplify lure selection down to a handful that will catch just about every fish species. Anglers will find this list of the top six freshwater fishing lures to be extremely helpful.

What is the Best Live Bait for Crappie Fishing?

There is one live bait that is by far the most effective when crappie fishing. Experience crappie fishermen already know the answer to this, but novice anglers will have to read the article to find out.

Top 5 Freshwater Fishing Spinners

Spinners are very effective and popular freshwater fishing lures. This article list the top five freshwater fishing spinners. These five lures will catch just about every freshwater species that swims and streams, rivers, and lakes. Tips and techniques are included as well.

Best Small Spinnerbait for Bass Fishing

This article covers the best small spinner bait for bass fishing. Anglers have been using spinner baits for decades to catch both largemouth bass and smallmouth bass. However, there are situations where a smaller spinner bait is a better choice.

Best Brook Trout Fishing tackle

This article thoroughly covers the best brook trout fishing tackle. Brook trout are small, but beautiful, and are usually found in pristine environments. Successful anglers chasing these fish will do well to keep the tackle very light.

Best Lake Trout Fishing Tackle and Gear

Lake trout are the largest of the trout species and require specialized tackle and gear in order to catch them. Most the lake trout are caught by anglers trolling. However, ice fishing is popular as well. This article covers all of the lake trout fishing tackle and gear an angler will need to pursue these hefty trout.

Best Musky Fishing Tackle

Musky are considered by many anglers to be the most challenging freshwater species. They did not earn their nickname “a fish of 10,000 casts” without merit. This article covers the best musky fishing tackle to help an angler get started in this pursuit.

Northern Pike Fishing Tips and Tackle

The topic of this article is northern pike fishing tips and tackle. Northern pike are a very popular game fish found in the cooler waters of the northern states and Canada. There are quite aggressive and will take a variety of artificial lures. Anglers will learn which Lors to use along with the appropriate tackle in this article.

Best Smallmouth Bass Fishing Tackle and lures

This article covers thoroughly the best smallmouth bass fishing tackle and lures. Smallmouth bass are a very popular freshwater game fish species that are found in cool, clear waters. Most smallmouth bass are caught by anglers casting lures using fairly light spinning tackle.

Rock Bass Fishing Tips and Tackle

Rock bass are underrated member of the pan fish family and are a game fish in their own right. Anglers that match the tackle to these fish will certainly enjoy catching them. This article on rock bass fishing tips and tackle will help them do so.

Panfish Fishing

Panfish are among the most popular and sought after species for anglers fishing across North America. This article on fishing for crappie, bluegill, and panfish will supply anglers with the tackle, lures, techniques, and fishing patterns that they will need an order to be successful when pursuing these species.

Walleye Fishing Tackle and lures

Walleye are among the most popular freshwater species targeted by anglers in the northern waters. While they put up a respectable fight, they are mostly prized for their snow white fillets. This article on walleye fishing tackle and lures will help anglers gear up on the equipment needed to experience success when chasing these delicious game fish species.

Top 13 Freshwater Fishing Plugs

This article list the top 13 freshwater fishing plugs. Plugs are hard bodied lures, usually made from plastic though some are carved from wood, that mostly mimic wounded bait fish. They are easy to cast and work well trolled. These 13 plugs will cover every fishing situation and angler will encounter.

Best 11 topwater plugs for freshwater fishing

Few anglers will deny that any time a fish can be caught on the surface, it adds to the excitement. This article list the top 11 top water plugs for freshwater fishing. These baits will fool game fish and just about every fishing situation where fish can be taken on the surface.

Top 11 Freshwater Fishing Spoons

Spoons are simple, yet effective lures that have been around for decades. A spoon is basically a curved piece of metal with a hook in. Spoons wobble enticingly and put out a lot a vibration. This list of the top 11 freshwater fishing spoons are a must for every angler’s tackle box.

Largemouth Bass Fishing in Creeks

Small creeks are great fun to fish and are easy places for novice anglers to find fish as hiding spots are limited. This article on largemouth bass fishing in creeks will help anglers catch this most popular freshwater game fish in these small bodies of water.

Spinnerbait Fishing Tips and Techniques

Spinner baits are very productive freshwater fishing lures. They are easy to use for novice anglers as they have a lot of built in action. The blades put out a lot of flash and vibration while the skirt provides bulk and action. This article on spinner bait fishing tips and tactics will get angler started catching fish on these very productive baits.

Bass Fishing Tackle and Equipment

Bass fishing can be intimidating, especially for the novice angler. Choices are endless when it comes to rods, reels, lures, and other equipment. This comprehensive article on bass fishing tackle and equipment will simplify these choices and help anglers purchase and acquire the best equipment for their fishing situation.

Best Catfish Fishing Tackle and Gear

Catfish are growing in popularity throughout North America. Blue Fish have been stocked in many waters to provide anglers with the chance to catch a trophy fish. Some specialized equipment is needed when targeting catfish, especially larger ones. This article on the best catfish fishing tackle and gear will help anglers make the best choices when it comes to acquiring the equipment they need for catching catfish.

Best 13 Brown Trout Fishing Lures

Brown trout are a very popular trout species that will readily hit artificial lures. This article on the best 13 brown trout fishing lures gives anglers a comprehensive list of the best lures to use for these fish in both lakes and streams.

Freshwater Fishing Tackle and Lures, a Beginners Guide

This article on freshwater fishing tackle and lures is an excellent introduction for novice anglers especially to the vast array of tackle that will be required in order to get started fishing. While it can seem overwhelming, this article greatly simplifies what is needed to help anglers get started fishing.

Ice Fishing Tackle and Gear

Ice fishing is very popular in the colder areas of North America and all over the world. The tackle and equipment has evolved greatly over the last few decades. Anglers can fish safely and comfortably while experiencing some excellent fishing action. This article on ice fishing tackle and gear will layout all of the equipment options for anglers to help them to decide what they need in order to enjoy a day of ice fishing.

Top 10 Northern Pike Fishing Lures

This article on the top 10 northern pike fishing lures lists the most reliable and effective fishing lures for northern pike. Pike are a very aggressive species which will readily take lures. In fact, most northern pike are caught by anglers casting artificial lures in fairly shallow water, usually with weeds present.

Best 13 Largemouth Bass Fishing Lures

Beginner anglers can be overwhelmed when it comes to choosing artificial lures for largemouth bass fishing. The selection can be quite overwhelming. This article list of best 13 largemouth bass fishing lures for beginners to help simplify and demystify the process.

Best River Trout Fishing Lure

There are several different lure types which will catch trout in freshwater streams and rivers. However, there is one lure that is the best river trout fishing lure. Anglers will have to read this article to get the answer and find out all about this very productive bait.

What is the best live bait for freshwater fishing?

There are many productive live baits that anglers can choose to use when freshwater fishing. However, there is one live bait that is more productive than all the rest. Read this article to find out the answer along with some great tips and tactics.

Fly Fishing for Bluegill and Panfish

Many anglers associate fly fishing with trout, and for good reason. However this article on fly fishing for bluegill and panfish will hopefully encourage anglers to explore taking up the long rod for these feisty little panfish. Bluegill and panfish are more accessible along with being easier to catch and most instances. It is a great way to learn to fly fish!

Fishing with Spinners in Rivers and Streams

Spinners are excellent fishing lures, being particularly effective in rivers and streams. This article on fishing with spinners and rivers and streams gives anglers all the information they need on the top spinners along with tackle, locations, and techniques that will help them be more successful when using these lures and running water.

Top 13 Rainbow Trout Fishing Lures

Rainbow trout are one of the most recognizable game fish species on the planet. They are the most widely stocked trout species and North America. Anglers can catch them using flies, lures, and live bait. This article list the top 13 rainbow trout fishing lures that anglers can use to be more successful when pursuing this species.

What is the best live bait for smallmouth bass?

Smallmouth bass will take a variety of live baits. However, there is one particular bait that smallmouth bass prefer over all others. Veteran smallmouth bass anglers already know what this is, however novice anglers will have to read the article to find out. Experienced anglers may learn a tip or trick or two as well.

Best 9 Fishing Lures for Streams and Small Rivers

Smaller streams and rivers require a change in tactics in order to be successful. This article list the best nine fishing lures for rivers in small streams along with the techniques and tackle needed in order to be successful catching a variety of species.

Crappie Fishing Tackle and Lures, a Complete Guide

This article thoroughly covers crappie fishing tackle and lures. It will help anglers acquire the equipment needed as well as providing some great tips and techniques, helping anglers be more successful when targeting these tasty freshwater panfish.

Best 9 fishing lures for bluegill and panfish

Many bluegill and panfish are caught by anglers fishing with live bait. However, artificial lures can be very productive as well. This article list the best nine fishing lures for bluegill and panfish along with some excellent tips and techniques.

How to Catch Catfish, a Comprehensive Guide

This article on how to catch catfish will help anglers of all experience levels catch more of these hard fighting and great eating freshwater game fish!

Walleye Fishing, a Beginners Guide

Walleye are an extremely popular species in the Great Lakes region as well as Canada and the northern states. This article on walleye fishing is aimed at beginners, helping them understand the tackle and techniques needed in order to be successful.

Fishing for River Catfish, Tips and Techniques

Many anglers chasing catfish do so and rivers, it is a prime environment for them. This article thoroughly covers fishing for river catfish and provides some excellent tips and techniques which will help anglers experience a productive day chasing catfish.

Smallmouth Bass Fishing for Beginners

Smallmouth bass are a terrific freshwater game fish species! They are a bit of a mix between largemouth bass and trout. This article on smallmouth bass fishing will help anglers understand the difference while providing some excellent techniques to help them be more successful.

Best 7 River Smallmouth Fishing Lures

Many anglers chasing smallmouth bass do so and rivers, and most use artificial lures when doing so. This post lists the top seven River smallmouth bass fishing lures along with some great techniques that will help anglers catch more fish.

Fishing Franklin North Carolina

Franklin, North Carolina is a small town located in the very Western portion of North Carolina. It offer some excellent fishing in creeks, rivers and lakes for a wide variety of freshwater species. This article thoroughly covers fishing in Franklin, North Carolina.

Top 27 Freshwater Game Fish Species

This post list the top 27 freshwater game fish species. It has some excellent tips about tackle, techniques and locations while featuring some terrific female freshwater anglers.

Trout Fishing in Blue Ridge, Georgia

Blue Ridge, Georgia offers anglers some excellent trout fishing opportunities. The mountains in North Georgia offer some prime habitat, though most of the fish are stocked. This article on trout fishing in Blue Ridge, Georgia thoroughly covers the topic.

Manitoba and Alberta Fishing

There is no doubt the Canada offers anglers some world-class fishing opportunities. This article on Manitoba and Alberta fishing covers as many of these opportunities as possible.

River Fishing Tips and Techniques

Anglers fishing and rivers face some different challenges from those fishing in lakes. This article features some excellent river fishing tips and techniques to help anglers understand these differences and be more productive when fishing and moving water.

Fishing the North Shore of Minnesota

The north shore of Lake superior that borders Minnesota offers excellent fishing year-round for a variety of species. This article on fishing the North Shore of Minnesota covers as many of the fishing situations as possible along with some great tips and techniques.

Ice fishing articles

ice fishing for rainbow trout

Ice Fishing with Wax Worms

This article will cover ice fishing with wax worms. Many anglers associate wax worms and ice fishing with bluegill and other panfish, and for good reason. Wax worms are a terrific bait for all species of panfish through the ice and in open water. However, wax worms are not only limited to these diminutive game fish, but will catch larger species as well.

5 Essential Ice Fishing Jigs

This article will list the 5 essential ice fishing jigs. Jigs are by far the most effective ice fishing lures. This is due in part to the need for a vertical presentation. Most are colorful in order to attract the attention of game fish. Anglers often combine an ice fishing jig with live bait. This is an extremely effective technique!

Best 13 Ice Fishing Spoons

This article will list the best 13 ice fishing spoons. Spoons are very effective ice fishing lures as they can be presented vertically. They are available in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and colors to imitate any forage that game fish feed on. Spoons will catch every species that feeds under the ice!

Ice Fishing for Crappie, a Beginners Guide

This article on ice fishing for crappie will help beginner anglers been more successful when targeting this largest member of the panfish family through the ice. Crappy do feed well in the cold water, however a change of tactics is required.

Ice Fishing with Tip Ups

Tip ups are used by many anglers who enjoy ice fishing. These units are set and baited, usually with a live minnow, and then the angler waits for a game fish to come by and feed.

Sarasota fishing articles

guide to inshore saltwater fishing

Sarasota is a resort town on the west coast of Florida, just south of Tampa Bay. Despite the amount of people there, Sarasota offers anglers a wide variety of fishing options. These articles cover many of the species, techniques, and locations to help anglers be more successful when fishing in Sarasota.

Fishing Sarasota Bay, Pro Tips!

This comprehensive article covers all aspects of fishing in Sarasota Bay and surrounding waters. Species, tackle, techniques, locations, and seasonal migrations are all covered in great detail.

Fishing Siesta Key

This article by Capt Jim covers the techniques and tackle needed to be successful when fishing on Siesta Key, Fl. Siesta Key is the second large key that is part of Sarasota and offers good fishing all year long.

Sarasota Fishing Calendar

Capt Jim’s Sarasota fishing calendar thoroughly covers the seasonal migrations that occur in Sarasota. The seasons do change and fish locations and behaviors change as well. Successful anglers understand these changes and adapt with them.

Sarasota Bottom Fishing

Bottom fishing is a basic, but very effective fishing technique. This article on Sarasota bottom fishing will help anglers understand the baits, rigs, and presentations need in order to be successful when bottom fishing in Sarasota.

Best 11 Sarasota Fishing Reefs

Sarasota County has an extensive artificial reef program that benefits anglers. This article lists the best 11 Sarasota fishing reefs along with techniques used on the reefs.

Sarasota Offshore Fishing

Many anglers enjoy the thrill of offshore fishing. These fish are often larger than those caught in the inshore bays. This article on Sarasota offshore fishing covers the spots, species, and techniques that anglers will need to know to catch more fish.

Sarasota Redfish

Redfish are a very popular inshore game fish. This article on Sarasota redfish covers the tackle, lures, baits, locations, seasonal migrations, and techniques that will help anglers catch more of these desirable game fish species.

Sarasota Chumming Techniques

Chumming is an extremely effective fishing technique that is mostly used in saltwater. This article on Sarasota chumming will help anglers catch the bait needed for chumming along with the specialized techniques used.

River Snook Fishing Charters

Snook migrate up into area creeks, rivers, and residential canals in the winter. They do so to keep warm as these areas are protected more than the open flats. This article on river snook fishing charters will help anglers decide if this is a trip for them.

Sarasota Bass Fishing

Largemouth bass are a very popular freshwater game fish. This article on Sarasota bass fishing covers the tackle, lures, baits, locations, seasonal migrations, and techniques that will help anglers catch more of these desirable game fish species.

Sarasota Snook Fishing

Snook are a very popular inshore game fish. This article on Sarasota snook fishing covers the tackle, lures, baits, locations, seasonal migrations, and techniques that will help anglers catch more of these desirable game fish species.

Sarasota False Albacore

False albcore are a very popular game fish found in the inshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico. This article on Sarasota false albacore covers the tackle, lures, baits, locations, seasonal migrations, and techniques that will help anglers catch more of these desirable game fish species.

Sarasota Fishing Forecast

This Sarasota fishing forecast lists the upcoming fishing opportunities in Sarasota, based on Capt Jim’s past experiences.

Sarasota Crappie Fishing

Crappie are a very popular freshwater game fish. This article on Sarasota crappie fishing covers the tackle, lures, baits, locations, seasonal migrations, and techniques that will help anglers catch more of these desirable game fish species.

Sarasota Sheepshead Fishing

Sheepshead are a very popular inshore game fish. This article on Sarasota sheepshead fishing covers the tackle, lures, baits, locations, seasonal migrations, and techniques that will help anglers catch more of these desirable game fish species.

Sarasota Mangrove Snapper Fishing

Mangrove snapper are a very popular game fish found both inshore and offshore. This article on Sarasota mangrove snapper fishing covers the tackle, lures, baits, locations, seasonal migrations, and techniques that will help anglers catch more of these desirable game fish species.

Sarasota Speckled Trout Fishing

Speckled trout are a very popular inshore game fish. This article on Sarasota speckled trout fishing covers the tackle, lures, baits, locations, seasonal migrations, and techniques that will help anglers catch more of these desirable game fish species.

Longboat Key Fishing Charters

Longboat Key is a premier destination on Florida. This article covers the options that anglers on Longboat Key fishing charters have.

Sarasota Freshwater Fishing

While saltwater fishing gets most of the attention, and for good reason, this article on Sarasota freshwater fishing covers the options that anglers have who prefer freshwater fishing.

Best 6 Sarasota Fishing Lures

There are many different artificial lures than anglers can use to catch fish. This article lists the top 6 Sarasota artificial lures that produce fish in this area.

Fly Fishing Sarasota Rivers

Fly fishing is quite popular in Sarasota. However, few take advantage of fly fishing in Sarasota rivers. This article gives anglers all the information needed to enjoy this fly fishing opportunity.

Best Sarasota Fishing Charter

This article describes Capt Jim Klopfer and the best Sarasota fishing charter. Capt Jim works hard to put his clients on fish in a fun, easygoing environment.

35 Best Sarasota Fishing Spots

This article lists the 35 best Sarasota fishing spots. These are the spots that Capt Jim fished daily on his Sarasota fishing charters. Species, techniques, and seasons are covered.

Sarasota Jig Fishing

Jigs are very effective saltwater fishing lures. This article on Sarasota jig fishing covers the different jigs that produce fish along with techniques and species.

Sarasota Trolling Techniques

Trolling is a very effective saltwater fishing technique. Anglers in Sarasota catch plenty of fish while trolling. This article on Sarasota trolling will help anglers be more productive using this technique.

Siesta Key Snook Fishing

Snook are a very popular inshore game fish. This article on Siesta Key snook fishing covers the tackle, lures, baits, locations, seasonal migrations, and techniques that will help anglers catch more of these desirable game fish species.

Best 7 Lido Key Fishing Spots

This post lists the best 7 lido Key fishing spots. Lido Key is located just west of downtown Sarasota and offers anglers a wide variety of fishing opportunities.

17 Best Bradenton Fishing Spots

This post lists the best 17 Bradenton fishing spots. Bradenton is located north and west of Sarasota and offers anglers a wide variety of fishing opportunities.

Fishing Charters in Sarasota

This article on Sarasota fishing charters thoroughly covers the options clients going out on a fishing charter in this area have.

Miscellaneous Fishing Articles

fishing for striped bass

Swimbait Fishing Lures – a Complete Guide

The subject of this article will be swimbait fishing lures. Swimbaits are very effective lures that will produce a wide variety of species.

Best 8 Search Bait Fishing Lures

This article with list the best 8 search bait fishing lures. Search baits are used to cover a lot of water fairly quickly in search of fish. These lures will often trigger bites from game fish that are not in a feeding mood.

Soft Plastic Fishing Lures – a Complete Guide

This article will thoroughly cover soft plastic fishing lures. Anglers have many choices when it comes to artificial lures. However, it would be easy to argue that out of all of these choices, soft plastic fishing lures are the most versatile and effective baits.

Best 11 Chatterbait Fishing Lures

This article will list the best 11 chatterbait fishing lures. Chatterbaits are a fairly new addition to the fishing world. They are mostly used by anglers fishing for largemouth bass, but will produce other species in both freshwater and saltwater.

Best 13 Crankbait Fishing Lures

This article will list the best 13 crankbait fishing lures. Crankbaits are in the family of “plugs”. They are effective and versatile lures. Most crankbaits are made from plastic these days, though hand carved wooden crankbaits are available at a higher price.

Fishing with Lures, a Complete Guide

This article is a comprehensive guide to fishing with artificial lures in freshwater and saltwater. It covers the different lutre types along with techniques that will help anglers be more successful.

Jerkbait Fishing _ Pro Tips!

Jerkbaits are very effective and versatile fishing lures. Capt Jim shares some great tips along with his favorite lures in this article on jerkbait fishing.

Lipless Crankbait Fishing, a Guide to Success

Lipless crankbaits are effective and versatile fishing lures. This article on lipless crank bait fishing will cover the lures, tackle, in the techniques that will help anglers be more successful when using these baits.

Best 11 Spinnerbait Fishing Lures

Spinnerbaits are excellent fishing lures. While mostly used by freshwater anglers, they produce in saltwater as well. This article lists the best 11 spinnerbaits.

Best 5 Fishing Techniques

There are many different fishing techniques that anglers can use to catch fish. This article lists and covers the top 5 fishing techniques which are trolling, casting, drift fishing, bottom fishing, and fly fishing.

Fishing for Striped Bass, Tips, Tackle, and Techniques

This article covers striped bass fishing. Striped bass are a popular game fish species that thrive in both saltwater and freshwater environments. This article covers the tackle and techniques used to catch them.

Top 25 Carolina Game Fish

Both North and South Carolina are well known for fantastic fishing. They offer anglers diversity and a wide variety of fish species to target. This article will cover the top 25 Carolina game fish species along with locations and techniques to help anglers be more successful.

7 Essential Striped Bass Fishing Lures

This article lists the 7 essential striped bass fishing lures. Striped bass are found in both saltwater and large freshwater lakes. These lures will produce striped bass everywhere.

What is the Best Striped Bass Fishing Lure?

This article answers the question of what the best striped bass fishing lure is. Anglers will have to read it to find out!

What is the best fishing knot?

There are many different fishing knots that anglers can use. Read this article to learn what Capt Jim’s favorite fishing knot is.

What is the Best Scented Soft Plastic Fishing Lure

Soft plastic baits are extremely effective in a wide variety of situations. Adding scent only increases the effectiveness. Read to find out Capt Jim’s favorite scented soft plastic bait.

Best Striped Bass Fishing Tackle and Lures

This article thoroughly covers the top striped bass fishing tackle that anglers will need in order to be successful chasing striped bass.

Top 12 Texas Game Fish

Texas is well known for fantastic fishing. Texas offer anglers diversity and a wide variety of fish species to target. This article will cover the top 12 Texas game fish species along with locations and techniques to help anglers be more successful.

A Guide to Kayak Fishing for Beginners

Kayak fishing is very popular. They are portable and allow anglers access to waters that are less accessible to larger boats. Read this article to help anglers choose the best kayak.

In conclusion, this list of fishing articles by Capt Jim will give anglers some terrific information on fishing throughout North America.

Siesta Key Fishing Charters

Siesta Key Fishing Charters

Many anglers enjoy going out on Siesta Key fishing charters. Siesta Key is world famous for her beaches, restaurants, shopping, and more. However, Siesta Key offers visiting anglers a variety of fishing opportunities.  Six to eight species are landed on most trips.  Speckled trout, snook, redfish, tarpon, Spanish mackerel, sheepshead, and many other species are targeted.  The deep grass flats, passes, back country bays, and inshore Gulf of Mexico all produce year-round.

Siesta Key fishing charters

One of the advantages of fishing charters in the Sarasota and Siesta Key area is the wide variety of available fishing opportunities. We have over two dozen species that are available at one time of year or another. On most trips, anglers catch 6 to 8 different species. Anglers of all ages and experience levels can take advantage of this.

There are many different species to target on Siesta Key fishing charters. There are also several different techniques to employ. I would say that the majority of the fish caught with me by clients are done so using two different methods. Fishing the passes and drifting the deep grass flats produce a lot of fish for my customers.

Florida is flat. Therefore, the geography underwater is similar to that on land. Sarasota Bay is only about 10 feet deep maximum. There are acres and acres of submerge grass beds. We call these grass flats. These grass beds that exist in water between 5 feet deep and 10 feet deep are extremely productive for a variety of species

Fishing the deep grass flats in Sarasota Bay

Speckled trout are caught on these deep grass flats all year long. They are plentiful, aggressive, beautiful, and not overly challenging for the novice angler. They are also very good to eat for those clients who want to keep a couple fish for dinner. Capt Jim drifts the deep grass flats and using both live bait and artificial baits. Many other species are caught doing this as well.

Siesta Key fishing charters

Spanish mackerel, pompano, jack crevelle, gag grouper, bluefish, mangrove snapper, flounder, ladyfish, catfish, sharks, cobia, and sea bass are just some of the other species that anglers will catch will targeting speckled trout on the deep grass flats. The variety of species caught is definitely one of the high points of the charter.

Fishing the Siesta Key passes

There are two passes in Sarasota. They are Big Sarasota Pass and New Pass. These passes connect Sarasota Bay with the Gulf of Mexico. On the West Coast of Florida they are called passes, but they are basically inlets. They are veritable fish highways. Fish use them to migrate between the Bay and the Gulf.

Siesta Key fishing charters

Big Pass lies at the north end of Siesta Key and has fish in it all year long. There are two types of fishing we do in Big Pass; bottom fishing and drifting. The entire north shore of Siesta Key is covered with structure such as submerged rocks, docks, and seawalls. These hold bottom fish such as sheepshead, mangrove snapper, black sea bass, Key West grunts, grouper, drum, and pompano.

Bottom fishing is as basic as it gets. Anglers take a baited hook and just drop it straight to the bottom, no casting is even required. Anglers with no experience can catch fish using this method right away. Live or frozen shrimp is the preferred bait. Sheepshead are thick in the passes December through April. Snook are plentiful in the summer. Snapper are present all year long.

Clients also catch a lot of fish drifting in the passes. This is another fairly easy fishing technique that can be learned in short order. There is usually current present in the pass. Anglers bounce jigs along the bottom or free line a shrimp out behind the boat as it drifts along with the current. This drifting covers a lot of water and helps anglers find the fish.

Ladyfish school up thick in Big Pass. These are great fish for anglers to practice on. They hit hard and almost always jump several feet up out of the water. It gives children and novice anglers a chance to fight a fish that takes drag. However, there is no pressure to land it as they are not good to eat and are usually plenty of them. Mackerel, bluefish, and pompano are also commonly caught drifting the passes.

Siesta Key fishing charters use live bait

Capt Jim uses live bait on many of his Siesta Key fishing charters, especially with small children on board. Using live bait is easier for them and increases the odds of success. Live shrimp are the number one live bait in Sarasota. They are available all year round and catch just about everything that swims. Dead or frozen shrimp works well for many bottom species.

Siesta Key fishing charters

Capt Jim also uses a cast net to catch small bait fish. This is mostly done in the warmer months, especially in the heat of summer. Scaled sardines and thread fin herring along with pin fish and grunts are most commonly caught. Live bait fish can be fantastic baits and will often catch larger fish then shrimp will. They also don’t get harassed by the little bait stealers.

In the summer time Capt Jim does a lot of live bait chumming. This is an incredibly productive technique! It is also another great method for children and inexperienced anglers. Once the bait well is loaded up with minnows, he anchors the boat. Next, he throw a few handfuls of the live bait out behind the boat. It usually doesn’t take long before these freebies attract the game fish.

When the tide is right in the bait is easy, this method is deadly. I have had many Siesta Key fishing charters that produced over 100 fish for three anglers in a morning. Speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, mangrove snapper, bluefish, grouper, and loads of ladyfish respond to the live chum. We also use this technique along mangrove shorelines to catch snook and redfish.

Artificial lures on Siesta Key fishing charters

Artificial lures are used often on Siesta Key fishing charters. Clients are often surprised to learn that on many days, lures will actually out fish live bait. This is especially true in the cooler months when fish are more active in eight is less plentiful. In this situation, fish are more apt to chase down a lure.

The number one artificial bait on the West Coast of Florida by far is the lead head jig and grub combo. A jig is a hook with the weight at the front of it. This weight provides casting distance as well is giving the bait a specific action. The jig hops and falls as its retrieved through the water. That is how it gets its name!

charters in Siesta Key

The jig hook is then adorned with some type of plastic trailer. For the most part, these are made to mimic either shrimp or bait fish. The two most popular are paddle tails and shad tails. Both are very effective. I prefer lighter colors in clear water and darker colors and stained water. I also believe that presentation is much more important than color.

This is an easy lure to use. I have converted many live bait anglers! The jig is cast out, and allowed to sink several feet. It is then retrieved in using sharp hops with a pause in between. Most strikes occur as the jig is falling. I’m sure it looks like a wounded and helpless shrimp or bait fish as it slowly blotters down.

Fishing with plugs in Sarasota

The other artificial lure that I use quite often is a plug. This is basically a plastic imitation of a bait fish. I generally use these with more experienced anglers. Plugs come with a pair of treble hooks. That, along with and inexperienced angler, is not a great combination.

fishing charters on Siesta Key

I use plugs to work shorelines for snook, jacks, and redfish. Plugs allow anglers to cover a lot of water fairly quickly and they draw some exciting strikes. Mangrove shorelines, oyster bars, and docks in the backwater areas produce for anglers casting plugs. They are also effective trolled on the deep flats and off the beaches.

I choose plugs most of the time for anglers who want to target snook and other species. These lures closely mimics the finger mullet and other bait fish that the game fish feed on. They float at rest and dive several feet down when sharply twitched. This also results in less snags then when using jigs.

Fishing the inshore Gulf of Mexico

Fishing just off the beaches and the Gulf of Mexico can be fantastic when conditions are right. In the spring and the fall huge bait fish migrations occur along the entire coast. Of course, the game fish are right on their heels. Spanish mackerel and false albacore are the primary species. However, sharks, cobia, tarpon and other species can be hooked as well on Sarasota Florida fishing charters.

saltwater fishing spoons

After a day or two of east wind, it will be calm along the coast. These are the conditions that we are looking for. Not only do I want my clients to be comfortable, but it needs to be calm in order to see the bait fish and feeding game fish. One of the most exciting aspects of this is that often times fish will be feeding right on the surface. We call these ”breaking fish”. It is always fun finding this situation as just about any lure or bait get instantly attacked.

Trolling in the Gulf of Mexico

Trolling is a great way to catch fish in the inshore Gulf of Mexico. Once again, it is an extremely easy technique for inexperienced anglers. I simply draw the boat around while dragging a lure behind and waiting for fish to eat it. The fish takes, the rod bends, and the fish is hooked. The angler only has to reel it in, no casting required.

Spanish mackerel fishing in Florida

Experienced anglers will enjoy the fun of casting to these breaking fish. I position the boat upwind of a school of feeding fish, whether they be mackerel or false albacore. The angler then cast into the school and begins a fast, erratic retrieve. These fish are in a feeding frenzy and are very aggressive and will eat just about anything shiny that’s moving. I use jigs, plugs, and spoons effectively in this situation.

There are several artificial reefs a couple miles off the Siesta Key and Sarasota beaches. These are fish magnets in the otherwise barren Gulf floor. Bottom fish such as sheepshead, grouper, snapper, and flounder will be found there most of the year. Spanish mackerel will be thick on these reefs in the spring and the fall. They provide great fishing when the seas are calm.

River fishing charters in Sarasota

I also provide anglers a unique experience, one that no other guide offers in this area. I take clients on river snook fishing charters.  There are several rivers that are a short drive from Siesta Key beaches. In the wintertime, snook migrate up into these rivers. Using my 14 foot John boat, anglers drift the rivers casting plugs towards the shoreline in hopes of fooling a trophy snook.

Siesta Key fishing charter

This charter is best suited for experienced anglers. It produces less in terms of numbers than the bay fishing trips usually do. However, there is always the chance to land a true trophy fish. Snook 225 inches are caught on most trips. 30 inch fish are common and 40 inch snook are landed every season.

The scenery is part of the attraction to this charter as well. It has a “freshwater”feel to it. In fact, this water is brackish and largemouth bass are commonly caught. This is “Old Florida”and has a kind of Amazon like feel to it. It is a great experience and one that is less than an hour away from Siesta Key.  I run out of Snook Haven on the Myakka River. 

Siesta Key fishing charter species

Snook

Siesta Key fishing report

Snook are the premier inshore game fish in Florida. They are ambush predators. These fish will usually be found near structure of some sort such as bridges, docks, mangroves, and oyster bars. Snook take artificial and live baits. They grow to 40 pounds are put up a terrific battle!

Snook have a local, seasonal migration. They are found in creeks, rivers, and canals in the winter. In spring and fall they are found throughout the flats in Sarasota Bay and Robert’s Bay. They spend their summer in the passes and out on the beaches.

Speckled trout

speckled trout fishing in Sarasota

Speckled trout may be the most popular inshore species along the entire Gulf Coast. Trout are beautiful fish, school up in decent numbers, are fairly plentiful, and taste great. The vast majority of speckled trout in Sarasota are caught on the submerged grass beds in 5′ to 10′ of water.

Speckled trout are caught by anglers using live shrimp and small bait fish. Shrimp are available year round while bait fish work better in the warmer months. Artificial lures such as jigs and plugs work well, too.

Redfish

redfish fishing Siesta Key

Redfish are another very popular fish species. They are found individually or in small bunches for most of the year. They are caught under docks and on the shallow flats. In late summer, they school up into large schools. Reds are targeted this time of year on the shallow grass flats in north Sarasota Bay. Jigs, plugs, and live shrimp account for most of the redfish caught.

Spanish mackerel

Siesta Key Spanish mackerel fishing

Spanish mackerel are a pelagic species that migrate through the area. Prime times to target Spanish mackerel are spring and fall. However, they can be found all year with the exception of cold water, below 65 degrees. Mackerel are very fast fish. Spanish mackerel love fast-moving lures. They will also take live bait. They taste great when eater fresh but do not freeze well.

Bluefish

fishing Siesta Key

Bluefish are a hard-fighting fish species that are found in Sarasota in the cooler months. Blues are most often caught by anglers casting lures for trout and other species. They prefer slightly deeper water and are found over grass flats and in the passes. They school up and are very aggressive. Bluefish are oily, but the small ones are decent to eat when fresh.

Pompano

Sarasota Florida fishing charters

Pompano put up a great fight for their size. However, their real value is on the dinner plate. Pompano are perhaps the finest eating fish that Sarasota offers. The swim around in schools of varying size. They feed on the bottom, mostly eating crustaceans. Small jigs and shrimp fished in the passes and on the flats produce most of the pompano caught. Surf anglers catch them using jigs, shrimp, and sand fleas.

Sheepshead

Sarasota Florida fishing charters

Sheepshead are a bottom dwelling saltwater panfish. They are members of the porgy family are are very good eating. Sheepshead move in to spawn around structure in winter. They are found in good numbers in Sarasota from January through April. Sheepshead are rarely caught on lures. Shrimp are the most popular bait, but sand fleas and fiddler crabs work well.

Mangrove snapper

Siesta Key fishing report

Mangrove snapper are available all year long in Sarasota. While small, they are plentiful and feisty. They are also superb eating, right there with pompano. Most snapper are caught by anglers using live shrimp and small bait fish. Snapper will take small lures as well. They are found near docks, bridges, underwater ledges, oyster bars, and mangrove shorelines.

Jack crevalle

Siesta Key fishing report

Jack crevalle are one of the hardest fighting fish that we have in Sarasota. They have broad sides and large tails. Jacks are aggressive and very powerful. Jacks also are a school fish and that feeds into their aggressiveness. While live bait works, jack crevelle are much more fun to catch on lures such as jigs and plugs. Jacks are not considered good to eat.

Ladyfish

Sarasota fishing charters

Ladyfish are great fun! Locals disparage them as they are not good to eat. However, they provide great action on Siesta Key fishing charters. They are numerous, school up, are aggressive, and leap high up out of the water. Ladyfish are great for novice anglers and children looking for a bent rod. They bite year round and readily take lures and live bait.

False albacore

Sarasota bonita fishing

False albacore are found in the inshore Gulf of Mexico in the spring and fall. They migrate along with the bait fish that they feed on. Conditions need to be right to catch them. It needs to be calm with clear water. When it all comes together, the action can be fantastic! They are not good to eat.

Sharks

Small sharks are always a crowd pleaser, especially with kids. They are caught randomly on charters. Summer and early fall are the best times to target them. Sharks will usually be found near schools of mackerel in the inshore Gulf of Mexico. Blacktip and bonnethead sharks are the species most often caught.

So in closing, if you are visiting our area and enjoy fishing, I hope that you will book one of my Siesta Key fishing charters. I work hard and will do everything I can to make the trip enjoyable and productive!

Spring Siesta Key fishing charters

Siesta Key Beach is world famous and attracts many visitors in March.  In fact, it just won the prestigious award for ” Best Beach”.  Young ladies flock to the famous white sand beaches during Spring Break to soak up the sun.  But many come to fish, too.  This time of year, families make up the majority of my charters and most of these trips include at least one female angler.  Sarasota offers great family-friendly fishing for a variety of species.  Vast experience is not required, just basic skills and the desire to have a good time.

Deep grass flats are very productive, offering reliable spring time fishing.  Speckled trout, silver trout, pompano, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, bluefish, jack crevelle, mangrove snapper, gag grouper, cobia, sea bass, and flounder are all regular catches.  Both anchoring up and drifting are equally productive, depending on the tide and wind.

The most popular artificial lure in this area is the jig/grub combo.  This is a lead head jig with a plastic tail which imitates a shrimp or bait fish.  Bass Assassin manufactures a full line of effective products; my personal favorite is the red/gold shad tail on a ¼ ounce jig head.  The lure is cast out in front of the boat as it drifts across the flat.  It is allowed to sink several seconds then is retrieved back with a twitching motion.  Most strikes come as the bait falls.

In conclusion, this article on Siesta Key fishing charters will help anglers understand the options for a great fishing trip with Capt Jim!

 

 

 

Best Sarasota Fishing Guide for 2020

Best Sarasota fishing guide in 2020

Where can visitors find the best Sarasota fishing guide in 2020? Capt. Jim Klopfer has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. He is very well-rounded and can accommodate anglers of all skill levels and ages. Novice clients are welcome as is the seasoned angler seeking more of a challenge. Capt. Jim runs his Sarasota fishing charters out of a 22” Stott Craft bay boat. It is roomy and stable. Capt. Jim is a great choice for anyone looking for a Sarasota fishing guide.

Sarasota fishing guide

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 can do so HERE on the PRODUCTS page.

Anglers have several options when going out on a Sarasota fishing trip. The inshore waters of Sarasota Bay offer plenty of action and variety. On most fishing charters, six or so different species are landed. However, it is not uncommon to land double digits on a four hour fishing charter.

Sarasota fishing charter options

The waters of the Gulf of Mexico close to shore provide very good action as well. In the spring and fall Spanish mackerel, false albacore, king mackerel, sharks, and other species migrate along the Sarasota beaches. Several artificial reefs a couple miles offshore offer good fishing for bottom fish such as sheepshead, grouper, and snapper.

Natural ledges and artificial reefs provide good fishing for anglers heading offshore. The area from about 8 miles out to 30 miles out has plenty of good bottom spots to hold grouper, snapper, amberjack and other species. King mackerel, false albacore, cobia and other pelagic species will be taken as well.

jack crevalle fishing

An inshore bay trip is the best Sarasota fishing charter for most clients. This is especially true for novice anglers or families with children. Most trips are four hours long, though trips can certainly be longer. But, four hours is plenty of time to catch a bunch of fish. Mornings are usually the most productive, however in the colder months the afternoons can be better as the water warms up. A big part of the job as a Sarasota fishing guide is to tailor the charter to the anglers experience level and expectations. Experienced anglers may opt for a river snook fishing trip.

Sarasota fishing guide

Sarasota inshore bay fishing trip

Anglers fishing the inshore waters can drift the grass flats for a variety of species. Speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, Pompano, bluefish, jacks, snapper, grouper, sharks, ladyfish, catfish, flounder, and other species are often taken on the deep grass flats. These are basically areas of submerged grass and weed beds. This vegetation attracts the shrimp and bait fish, which in turns attracts the game fish.

Artificial lures are used quite often when drifting the grass flats. The number one lure by far is a jig and grub. This is a hook with a little bit of weight in the front and a plastic body. It mimics a shrimp or bait fish. They cast a long way and are easy to learn to use. Jigs often out fish live bait.

Sarasota fishing charters

Live bait is used quite often on inshore bay trips when drifting the deep grass flats. The number one bait in all of Florida, Sarasota is no exception, is a live shrimp. Shrimp are available all year long at local bait shops. Everything that swims will eat a nice lively shrimp. They are the “nightcrawler of saltwater”!

Small bait fish are used on the deep grass flats as well. This is especially true in the summer time. Bait fish are usually thick on the shallow flats near the passes in the summer. Capt. Jim will catch a bunch of them in his cast net. He will then use the live bait as both chum to attract fish to the boat and as bait to catch the fish. This is an extremely effective technique in the summer and produces a lot of fish.

Sarasota fishing guide

Sarasota has two passes that connect the Gulf of Mexico with Sarasota Bay. They are called Big Sarasota Pass and New Pass. Passes are basically inlets. Both offer excellent fishing most of the year. The passes can provide excellent action for clients.

Pompano, ladyfish, bluefish, jacks, and Spanish mackerel are caught drifting the passes. As the tide moves the boat along, anglers cast out lures or drift with live bait to catch the species. Ladyfish in particular will oftentimes school up thick in the passes. They are great fun on light tackle and are a good species for novice anglers to practice on.

Structure in the passes provide excellent habitat for bottom fish. Sheepshead spawn there from January through March and are usually available and good numbers. This is another situation that is great for novice anglers. A live or frozen shrimp is hooked on and simply drop to the bottom, casting is not required. Grouper, snapper, drum, and other species will be taken as well all year long.

Sarasota fishing calendar
Sheepshead

Snook fishing in Sarasota

More experienced anglers may seek the challenge of trying to catch snook, redfish, and jack crevelle. These fish are larger and more difficult to catch. Shallow flats, mangrove shorelines, docks, bridges, oyster bars, and creeks are all spots that are targeted when pursuing these species.

Once again, both artificial lures and live bait can be employed to achieve success. Lures are a great choice when fish are scattered about. They allow anglers to cover a lot of water in a relatively short amount of time. Often times these flats and mangrove shorelines are fairly large areas. Lures are more practical while searching for fish in the spots. Top water plugs, shallow diving plugs, weedless spoons, and jigs with soft plastic trailers are the top baits.

A large live shrimp is a great bait to catch a snook or redfish under a dock. These big shrimp are not always available. However, when they are, they are terrific baits. They also work well in the cooler months fished around oyster bars, creeks, mangrove shorelines, and any other structure.

Live bait fish are used in the warmer months much the same as on the deep grass flats. Once a well full of bait is acquired, the boat is anchored in a likely spot. Live bait fish are then tossed out to attract the snook and other game fish. Once they are behind the boat and excited, they are usually pretty easy to catch. This is a great technique to use to give a novice angler the chance to catch a nice fish.

Sarasota fishing in the Gulf of Mexico

The inshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico off of Lido Key and Siesta Key can provide great action at times. When the seas are calm in the water is clear, pelagic species such as Spanish mackerel, false albacore, king mackerel, cobia and more will migrate through the area. They are generally right on the heels of the huge schools of bait fish.

Sarasota fishing videos

One of the most exciting aspects of this type of fishing is that much of it is visual. Fish will often be seen foraging on the surface as a devour the helpless bait fish. Just about any lure, bait, or fly that remotely resembles the bait fish will draw strike. Spanish mackerel are usually fairly easy to catch in this situation, while false mackerel can be a bit fussier. This is great fun and a popular choice for anglers seeking a Sarasota fishing guide when conditions are favorable.

There are three inshore artificial reefs just off of Lido Key. They consist of old bridges, construction material, and other debris. Most of the bottom in the Gulf of Mexico is barren. Therefore, any structure will attract and hold fish. Both bottom fish and surface feeding pelagic species will be attracted to these reefs.

Sarasota inshore artificial reefs

Sheepshead are plentiful on the inshore artificial reefs in February, March, and April. They provide great action for clients on a Sarasota fishing excursion. Sheepshead pull hard, grow to 5 pounds, and are very good eating. They feed primarily on crustaceans. Therefore, live shrimp are a terrific bait for these members of the porgy family.

Mangrove snapper are found on these reefs all year long. Snapper school up in big numbers and can be quite aggressive. The trick with the snapper is to find the larger specimens. Hordes of 8 inch snapper will devour every bait that’s drop-down. Moving around a bit can help to find the schools of larger fish. Also, a larger bait or a live bait fish may help. Gag grouper, flounder, grunts, and other bottom fish will be caught as well on a Sarasota fishing excursion.

Sarasota fishing reefs

These reefs will also attract pelagic species such as Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, cobia, and false albacore. On days when the albacore and mackerel are not seen working on the surface, the artificial reefs can be a great backup plan. The structure on the reefs attract plenty of bait fish, which in turn will attract the game fish. Often times, the bait can be seen dimpling on the surface right over the reef.

Anglers can also choose to target tarpon. Giant tarpon show up in early May and stay until late July.  They average 75 pounds and grow to over 200 pounds! Many consider this to be the ultimate fishing challenge. Tarpon are sight fished just off of the Sarasota beaches. Once the fish are found, the boat is eased into casting range. Live crabs and bait fish are cast towards the fish in hopes of a take. When a tarpon eats, it is bedlam!

Sarasota fishing guide

Sarasota offshore fishing

Many anglers enjoy going offshore fishing off of Sarasota. In most instances, the goal is to put some meat in the cooler. Grouper are a highly sought after bottom species in the Gulf of Mexico. They are structure oriented and will be found over natural ledges as well as artificial reefs and wrecks. Grouper pull hard and once they feel the hook it will dive down into the cover. The trick for anglers is to get their head turned and get them coming up towards the boat.

Live and cut bait is used when bottom fishing for grouper and other species. Along with the grouper, snapper, triggerfish, grunts, and other species will be taken. Amberjack will be caught on the deeper wrecks as well. Red grouper are found over the Swiss cheese bottom about 15 to 20 miles offshore. Anglers can find Florida saltwater fishing regulations on the FWC site.

Light tackle trolling in Saltwater

The primary species for anglers trolling offshore is king mackerel. Kings are taken year-round, but particularly in the spring and fall. Ledges and wrecks from about 7 miles offshore to 30 miles offshore are the prime area. Anglers troll spoons and plugs as well as live bait to catch the king fish. Anglers venturing further offshore may encounter a wahoo, tuna, or dolphin. Occasionally, sailfish and other bill fish are hooked.

Sarasota river fishing charters

Experienced anglers visiting Sarasota and seeking a unique experience may opt for a river fishing charter. In the cooler months, snook and jacks migrate up into area rivers. They do this to escape the cooler temperatures on the shallow flats. The darker river water is often times significantly warmer than the exposed waters on the flats. This provides a sanctuary for the temperature sensitive game fish.

This type of Sarasota fishing charter is not about numbers. This trip is about the chance to catch a trophy snook. Artificial lures are most often used as they allow anglers to fish a lot of shoreline cover in a relatively short amount of time. Shallow diving plugs are generally used. They will elicit a reflex strike from the predatory snook.

fishing for snook

The overall experience of a river fishing charter is a bit different. Capt. Jim uses a 14 foot Alumacraft jon boat for this type of fishing. Launching ramps can be primitive and the water is often times shallow in the winter. This requires a boat that can be manhandled off the trailer and will float over a shallow sandbar. Jon boats our perfect for this type of fishing as they meet these requirements and are quite stable.

The scenery in solitude are elements that attract anglers to this Sarasota fishing excursion. It is a very relaxing fishing trip. It won’t produce in terms of numbers or action like an inshore bay fishing charter will. However, persistent and patient anglers will have the opportunity to land the snook of a lifetime!

Sarasota fishing excursions, fly fishing

Fly fisherman are not to be left out either. Many of the species caught in Sarasota will take a well presented fly. Speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, pompano, snook, redfish, false albacore, jack crevalle, ladyfish, and more can be taken in Sarasota throughout the year.

Sarasota fishing guide

The best all round outfit for fly anglers to use when fishing Sarasota is an 8wt or 9wt rod, matching reel, an intermediate sink tip line. A 9 foot tapered leader with a 30 pound bite tippet works well. Just about any bait fish or a crustacean imitation will catch fish. Top producing flies are the Clouser Minnow, D.T. Special, and Crystal Minnow. White is a great color as are combinations of white and chartreuse, and white and olive.

Fishing Charters in Sarasota during the summer

Sarasota summer fishing charters are a bit complex. It is July and I have a dilemma. The water temperature is in the mid 80s and Sarasota Bay is full of bait fish. Artificial lures can be effective but live bait is tough to beat. Also, the idea of using the early morning “prime time” to catch bait is not appealing. So, what to do? Simple; take advantage of the first light bite by casting lures and mid-morning when things slow down a bit, fill the well with bait and use it to get the fish cranked back up!

trolling for mackerel

Using lures early then switching to live bait later in the morning is a strategy that I use on my Sarasota fishing charters all summer long.  Bait is abundant, particularly on those flats near the passes where I often fish, that the speckled trout and other species can be difficult to fool on a lure. The exceptions to this are the low light periods of dawn and dusk when game fish are actively feeding. I also run a lot of family charters that include novice anglers and children. Live bait is the ticket to bent rods and smiling faces. In these instances, live shrimp can replace lures to take advantage of the early bite. At some point the pinfish will become a nuisance, requiring a change to bait fish.

Artificial Lures

Plug, jigs, and spoons are three very effective and versatile lures on Sarasota summer fishing charters. High tides first thing in the morning will find my clients casting Rapala X-Raps in the (08) size over bars and edges of grass flats. Olive and white are my two top colors. White mimics the “whitebait” that is often present. It works very well in clear water. Olive looks a lot like mullet as well as greenbacks and is a great all-round finish. Baitfish being present at these spots only increases the chance of success.

Snook will also attack Rapala plugs when cast around mangrove shorelines and oyster bars at first light. These baits dive several feet below the surface and are deadly when retrieved back in using sharp twitches with a pause in between. Topwater plugs will elicit explosive strikes on fishing charters! Topwater baits will generally catch less fish, although often times larger ones. The Rapala Skitterprop is my personal choice. This bait has a tapered nose and a propeller on the rear. It make a decent amount of commotion when twitched sharply. Gold is a productive color pattern. Some of the largest trout will be landed using plugs in shallow water at dawn.

Suspending plugs such as the MirrOlure are great for speckled trout over the grass flats. The venerable 52 series has produced a lot of fish over the years. A recent addition is the MirroDine looks very much live a scaled sardine, which is a prime forage bait for inshore species. These baits work best in slightly deeper water. They will hang up in the grass if used on the very shallow flats.

Jigs are productive on Sarasota summer fishing charters

The lead head jig/plastic tail combination is a proven bait all along the Gulf Coast of Florida. Bass Assassin jigs are very popular in our area. They are available in a wide variety of sizes and colors. My personal favorite on fishing charters is the 4” Sea Shad tail on a ¼ ounce jig head. This is a great bait to use when fishing over deeper grass flats for trout, pompano, and whatever else finds it attractive. Light colors such as gold, silver, and glow work well in clear water while rootbeer and olive are effective in darker water. Lighter jig heads can be used when fishing in shallow water.

best 6 Sarasota fishing lures

Jigs are very versatile along with producing a lot of fish. The best technique is to cast it out ahead of a drifting boat in six feet to ten feet of water that has grass on the bottom. After allowing the bait to sink for several seconds, it is retrieved back using sharp upward twitches. Most bites occur on the fall. Flats that have bird activity or bait fish schooling on the surface are great spots to try. Pinfish can be a problem if the bait is worked too slowly. They will bite the shad tail off when present.

Scented baits can make a huge difference, especially when conditions are tough. The best scented bait, by far, is the Gulp! Line of baits. I prefer the 3” Gulp! Shrimp on a ¼ ounce jig head. Color really does not matter that much, it is all about the scent. They really are like using live shrimp! New Penny, glow/chartreuse, and rootbeer/chartreuse are my top producing colors. A Gulp! Shrimp fished ender a noise popping cork is deadly on speckled trout.

More effective lures

fishing on Siesta Key

Spoons have been around forever, and to this day are still productive lures. They are great for prospecting as they are easy to cast long distances, allowing anglers to cover a lot of water. Spoons basically come in two styles; either weedless with a single hook or with a treble hook. Gold and silver are the two most popular finishes. Weedless spoons are great for enticing redfish in very shallow water. The treble hook version is a good choice when fishing open water. Spanish mackerel are particularly vulnerable to a quickly retrieved silver spoon. Spoons work very well whenever fish are seen actively feeding on the surface.

Fly fishers are certainly not to be left out of the action on Sarasota summer fishing charters! A fly looks exactly like the small bait that is prevalent on the flats. A #1 white or white and chartreuse Clouser Minnow is tough to beat. A 7wt or 8wt outfit works well. Floating lines work well in shallow water while an intermediate sink tip line would be the best choice in water over four feet deep.

Catching Bait on Sarasota summertime fishing charters

Weather and tide will play a part in my strategy for the morning. Strong tides and a little breeze will usually result in lures being productive later into the morning. Conversely, a still morning with very little water movement will mandate a switch to live bait earlier than normal. Fortunately, bait is usually pretty easy to acquire this time of year. I prefer a light, eight foot net. It is easier to throw and empty. But, many anglers use nets up to twelve feet in diameter.

chumming with live bait

Bird activity will give away the location of the baitfish. Shallow flats near passes are prime spots to find scaled sardines (pilchards) and threadfins. Sloping points are great spots. Bait fish will position themselves on the up-tide side. Edges of flats can be good as well. Incoming tides are usually the best time to catch bait. Bait will vary in size. All will work, but small bait can be problematic. It will hang up in the net and is a bit more difficult to cast. Small bait-stealers can also be a nuisance. The perfect sized bait for fishing the deep grass flats is around 2”.

Once located, a good toss or two with a cast net should result in a well full of frisky bait. The ideal situation is when baitfish are dimpling up on the surface. Easing into range quietly should allow the angler to get a good cast over the bait. If bait fish are not visible on the surface, they can be chummed into range using canned mackerel or cat food. The same types of spots will produce. Chumming will also result in small pinfish and grunts being captured along with the other bait fish.

Sarasota fishing, Chumming Them Up

Once the bait is obtained, fishing begins. This is a proven tactic on Sarasota summer fishing charters. The technique is pretty simple but as with any other method, subtle nuances can make a big difference. Basically, I anchor up-current of a grass flat in four to eight feet of water. Then, I toss out a handful of bait and if fish are around it won’t take long before they start “busting” the baits on the surface.

Sarasota fishing

Baits are pinned to a 1/0 hook and cast out; a hookup should promptly ensue. A small split shot may be required to get the bait down in the water column. Speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, sharks, mangrove snapper, jack crevalle, flounder, and ladyfish are all commonly caught using this technique over the deep grass. This technique does require a decent cast net, a large live well, and a little patience. A quality cast net is a great investment. It will pay for itself in just a few trips. As with all other fishing equipment, better nets will cost a bit more money. However, the payoff can be non-stop action all morning long.

Sometimes clients choose to finish up a Sarasota fishing charters trying for a snook, redfish, or big jack. This does require that the bait be fairly large, in the 3” range. Smaller bait will not work nearly as well. Anchoring near a mangrove point and chumming will lure the fish into range. I have also landed some large mangrove snapper along with the snook and reds when using this technique. This is a great option as it produces even at mid-day.

Summer snook fishing

In the summer, snook will school up thick in both Big Sarasota Pass and New Pass. Structure in the passes such as rocks, docks, and bridges will hold fish. Mangrove shorelines with a bit of depth are prime spots as well. Less chum is requires as the baits are larger. The idea is to get the fish excited, not full. Being judicious with the use of chum is a good idea.

Tackle requirements for snook fishing charters are a bit different. Stouter tackle will be required around the structure. A 7 foot rod with 20 lb braided line is a good combination. 30” of 30 lb or 40 lb flourocarbon leader and a 2/0 short shank live bait hook or #4/0 circle hook completes the basic rig. Weight will be required when fishing deep water in the passes with current. A swivel between the braid and leader with the egg sinker on the braid works well. Anglers should use just enough weight to hold the bottom.

Lido Key fishing charters

Large jack crevalle, redfish, and other species will be taken this way as well. In the late summer, some large mangrove snapper will please anglers on Sarasota fishing charters who seek a fish to invite home for dinner. The rocks at the north end of Siesta Key in twenty feet of water is a very good spot for snapper. The New Pass Bridge is a good spot for both snapper and snook. Occasionally, a large tarpon will be hooked under the bridge!

Snook fishing on Sarasota beaches

Anglers that choose to fish on their own can catch plenty as snook right off of the beaches. Snook move out to Sarasota and Siesta Key beaches to spawn in the summer. When conditions are right, which means clear smooth water, snook can be seen right in the surf line. The idea is to see the fish, then determine which way it is moving. A lure, bait or fly is and cast out ahead of the fish. Hopefully a bite ensues.

This really is world-class sight fishing. It offers anglers the chance to see the fish, stalk it, cast to it, and catch it! One of the great things about this type of fishing is that light tackle can be used.  There is very little structure out on the beach for fish to break off on.

In closing, the fishing in the summer can be fantastic! Anglers just need to change tactics a bit. Versatility and the ability to adapt to conditions are the keys to success, along with understanding how the warm water affects the bait and game fish. Some of my most productive Sarasota fishing charters for both action and variety occur in the summer.  Most days we land around eight to ten different species and while I promote catch and release, most clients can take home a meal if desired.   Anglers who want to get in on this great action need to get up early, drink a lot of water, and enjoy some “Hot” summer fishing!

Sarasota Family Fishing Charters

Sarasota family fishing charters are a lot of fun! These types of trips probably make up about half of my charters annually. Some might think that taking out kids and inexperienced anglers is difficult. In a lot of ways, it is actually easier. Their goals and expectations are different than those of the seasoned angler.

Sarasota is not a fishing destination. There are places like the Florida Keys, Venice Louisiana, in the Bahamas where people go strictly to fish. Visitors come to Siesta Key, Lido Key, and Sarasota to enjoy the beautiful beaches and soak up some sunshine. So, they come here and fish, they don’t come here to fish.  Our fishing is pretty easy and very family-friendly.  Anglers of all skill and experience levels can enjoy success on Sarasota family fishing charters.

Fortunately, we are blessed with a unique fishery here. One thing that we have to offer that not all fisheries do is diversity. On an average Sarasota fishing charter my clients land 6 to 8 species. On my best trip, my anglers caught 19 different species of fish and six hours! That was a cool and memorable trip.

Many of the species that we have our perfect for Sarasota family fishing charters. We have bottom fish such as sheepshead and snapper. These species can be caught without even having the ability to cast. If an angler can drop the weight to the bottom, he or she can catch a fish. Current Florida regulations can be found on the FWC website.

Sarasota fishing charters, action and variety!

Many other species are caught out in open water. You do have to cast to these fish, but precision as it required. It can be a simple as floating a shrimp out behind the boat and waiting for a bite. These would include speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, Pompano, and ladyfish.

Ladyfish in particular are species I target with novice anglers on Sarasota family fishing charters. They hit hard, usually jump high up out of the water, and are very aggressive. They usually run around in very large schools. I have had many trips where every angler had a fish on at once.

Light spinning tackle is used on these Sarasota family fishing charters. It is versatile, can hold up of a big fish gets hooked, and is easy to use. I get many freshwater anglers who have only used closed face spinning reels. These are also known as “push-button” reels. These will not hold up and saltwater.

However, I can take even a young child and with 10 or 15 minutes of instruction have them casting well enough to catch a fish. Sometimes I do this using artificial lures. Inexperienced anglers are often surprised to learn that artificial lures can actually be easier to use and more productive than live baits. I do use live bait often on Sarasota family fishing charters.

Charter fishing Sarasota; techniques

When using artificial lures with novice anglers or children, I use the lead head jig and grub combo. This is a single hook artificial lure that has a lead weight at the front and a plastic tail on the back. The tail is made to either mimic a bait fish or a shrimp or other crustacean. The primary advantage of the lure is the weight. It is much heavier than a live shrimp and it is easier to teach a novice to cast with the heavier jig.

Jigs also allow anglers to cover a lot of water more quickly. Fish can be scattered out all over the place. Casting a jig while drifting over grass flats and 5 feet to 8 feet of water produces a lot a fish on my Sarasota family fishing charters. Jigs are specially popular with little boys. They are less apt to want to sit still and always want to be doing something. With Sarasota jig fishing, they are constantly casting and reeling.

Trolling is a productive fishing technique

Trolling is another great method for anglers with little experience. Basically, it involves me driving the boat around while dragging a lure out behind the boat. My clients sit in the bow holding the rods with the tips extended out to the side. This way I can keep an eye on everything.

This is very easy fishing and there is little doubt when a fish grabs the lure. This fishing technique works very well on Spanish mackerel along with ladyfish, bluefish, jack crevalle, and other species. When a Spanish mackerel show up thick in the inshore Gulf of Mexico, trolling is deadly effective. Clients can put a ton of fish in the boat in relatively short order.

Sarasota family fishing charters, live bait tactics

As stated earlier, I do use live bait a lot on Sarasota family fishing charters. By far the number one live bait is a live shrimp. They are found the naturally in our waters and good numbers. They are available at every bait shop in town. Shrimp are like the ‘nightcrawlers of saltwater”, everything eats them!

Drifting the passes and deep grass flats produces more fish for my clients than all other methods. The reason for that is simple, fish congregate in these areas. We are blessed with many acres of submerge grass beds in Sarasota Bay. These grass flats that occur in water between 5 feet deep and 10 feet deep are the most productive in terms of quantity of fish.

Shrimp and bait fish live in the grass. That is what attracts the game fish. Speckled trout and ladyfish are plentiful on the deep grass flats year-round. At certain times of the year, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, pompano, sharks, jacks, mangrove snapper, grouper, flounder, catfish, and other species are encountered.

The fishing technique is fairly straightforward. As the boat drifts across the flat, anglers either cast out in front of the drifting boat or free line a bait behind the boat. If the drift does not produce much action, I will try new spot. If the fishing is good, I will idle the boat around quietly and re-drift the same area.

Siesta Key fishing charters

The passes provide excellent action for clients on Sarasota family fishing charters as well. Passes are basically inlets. They are channels that connect the Gulf of Mexico to Sarasota Bay. Big Sarasota Pass lies between Siesta Key and Lido Key. New Pass lies between Lido Key and Longboat Key. Both can offer fantastic fishing.

There are two techniques that I employee when fishing the passes. I either drift with the current or anchor up and fish structure. Both can be very productive depending on conditions and seasons. The passes also offer an advantage in that they provide protection from the wind. I often choose to fish the passes on breezy days.

Anglers drifting the passes do so with either jigs or live shrimp. The jig is simply drop down and bounced off the bottom as the boat drifts along. Clients catch a lot of ladyfish doing this. If the current is not too strong, we can also free line a live shrimp out behind the boat. The drift of the shrimp creates a natural presentation. This can be deadly when Spanish mackerel are in the vicinity.

Bottom fishing in the passes can be extremely productive. This is particularly true of Big Pass. The entire north end of Siesta Key is covered with structure of some sort. There is rocky bottom along with Rocky shorelines, seawalls, and docks. This structure attracts crustaceans and bait fish which in turn attracts the bottom fish.

Bottom fishing on Sarasota family fishing charters

Bottom fishing is great on Sarasota family fishing charters with kids and novice anglers. Once I get the boat situated, it is an easy method to employ. The rods are rigged up with a hook in a small weight. The hooks are then baited with fresh or frozen shrimp and drop to the bottom. If there are fish around, it won’t take long to start catching them.

The last several years we have experienced a fantastic run of sheepshead in the passes. The run starts in late January and runs until about the end of March. Sheepshead move into the past to spawn. They show up there in huge numbers. Sheepshead are kind of like a saltwater bluegill. They are basically a larger saltwater panfish. They are very good to eat, though quite difficult to clean.

Anglers bottom fishing the north end of Siesta Key will also catch gag grouper, mangrove snapper, Key West grunts, flounder, pompano, and black drum. The drum and grouper in particular can be quite large and will test an angler skill with light tackle.

There is a specialized live bait technique that I use in the summer time. It is called live bait chumming. Chumming refers to putting something in the water to attract fish. In most cases it is fish that have been ground up and frozen. In this case, I actually use live bait fish to attract the game fish to the back of the boat.

Chumming with live bait

I use my cast net to procure several hundred live bait fish. These are mostly scaled sardines and threadfin herring. Schools of these baitfish are usually plentiful on the shallow grass flats close to the passes. In the summer time, the water temperature can get into the upper 80s. A large recirculating live well with a good pump is required to keep the bait fish alive in that warm water.

Once the bait is obtained, the fishing begins. I choose a deep grass flat where the tide will carry the chum out to where I think the fish are. As the boat settles on the anchor, I start tossing out live bait fish behind the boat, about a dozen at a time. Usually, I will give the bait a little squeeze to injure it. This will cause the bait fish to swim erratically on the surface. This drives fish crazy!

It won’t be long before the game fish will home in on this helpless prey. They will be seen popping on the surface as they feed on the bait. Then, it is simply a matter of putting a bait fish on the hook and casting it out behind the boat.

When the fish get going, it is a fish on every cast. You can imagine how busy gets with for anglers catching fish on every cast! It is chaos, but it is a lot of fun as well. This is great for little kids as the action is fast and furious. The only downside to this is the heat of summer. We are out on the water at first light and usually done by 10 o’clock in the morning. But there are plenty of days when three to for anglers catch over 100 fish employing this technique.

Inshore Gulf of Mexico

The inshore Gulf of Mexico can be a great option for Sarasota family fishing charters when conditions are right. Several days of east wind will have the Gulf waters nice and smooth and the water clear. In the spring and the fall Spanish mackerel and ladyfish will gorge themselves on baitfish on the surface.

This feeding frenzy can be seen from quite a distance away. The water will be turned to a frothing white and birds will be seen wheeling and diving. The best thing about this is that just about any bait that gets anywhere near the fish will be instantly inhaled. Trolling can be deadly and is very easy to do. However, I like to take advantage of this situation to teach children to cast and give them confidence using artificial lures.

Fishing the artificial reefs

There are three artificial reefs that Sarasota County has placed to miles off of Lido Key. The floor of the Gulf of Mexico is flat and relatively featureless. Therefore, any structure or rocky outcropping becomes a fish magnet. These artificial reefs are very productive all year long, but particularly and spring and fall. Mackerel and bonito are caught on top while grouper, snapper, and sheepshead are caught by anglers bottom fishing.

In closing, don’t let the lack of experience of either you, your guests, or especially her children keep you from enjoying fun day out on the water. Hiring a Sarasota fishing guide is an excellent opportunity to enjoy a great day of fishing!

Capt Jim Klopfer

(941) 371-1390

captklopfer@comcast.net

1059 North Tamiami Trail Sarasota, Fl 34236

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fishing Charters in Sarasota

Fishing Charters in Sarasota with Capt Jim Klopfer

Many visiting anglers are interested in going fishing while in Sarasota.  There are many fishing charters in Sarasota to choose from.  Capt Jim Klopfer has been taking clients out fishing in Sarasota since 1991.

Sarasota offers anglers a wide variety of fishing opportunities to visitors.  Capt Jim Klopfer is very versatile and will cater the fishing charter to the experience and expectations of his clients.  Anglers with very little experience can achieve success, much of the fishing is not overly challenging.  There are a number of productive techniques that will produce fish.  Live bait is perhaps the easiest to use and a good choice for children.  Artificial lures are easy to use and are very productive.

Sarasota fishing calendar

View current Sarasota fishing report

Sarasota fishing charter options

There are multiple angling techniques that are productive on fishing charters in Sarasota.  Drifting the deep grass flats produces great action.  Both passes hold a lot of fish.  Bottom fishing is an easy and productive technique.  Experienced anglers may choose to target snook and redfish in the back water areas.  Fishing for mackerel and false albacore can be fantastic in the inshore Gulf of Mexico.

Fishing the deep grass flats in Sarasota Bay

Anglers seeking action and variety will do well fishing the deep grass flats in Sarasota Bay.  Deep grass flats are patches of submerged vegetation in water between 4 feet deep and 10 feet deep.  This attracts forage such as shrimp, crabs, and bait fish.  This is what the game fish feed on.  Speckled trout, pompano, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle, snapper, grouper, ladyfish, catfish, sharks, cobia, and flounder are the primary species caught fishing the deep flats.

Drifting is usually the best approach when targeting fish on the deep flats.  These are large areas.  Drifting with the wind and tide allows anglers to cover a lot of water in search of fish.  Once a productive area in located, the boat can be anchored.  Both live bait and artificial lures are productive.  Flats near the passes are usually very reliable.

Jigs are the top artificial lure for fishing the deep grass flats.  They cast well and are easy to use.  Anglers cast them out ahead of the drifting boat and work it back it.  Live shrimp are either free lined out behind the boat or fished under a float.  Chumming with live bait fish is a deadly technique that is used in the summer time.

inshore saltwater fishing

Fishing the Sarasota passes

Passes are channels that connect Sarasota Bay with the Gulf of Mexico.  They are basically “inlets”, just termed differently.  The two passes in Sarasota are Big Sarasota Pass and New Pass.  Both can provide excellent fishing throughout the year.

Sarasota family fishing charters

The two techniques used in the passes are drifting with jigs or bait and bottom fishing.  Anglers drifting with the current bounce jigs off the bottom or free line live shrimp.  Both produce pompano, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, and loads of hard fighting ladyfish.  This is very easy fishing as casting is really not required.  The current does all of the work!

Bottom fishing is another easy and productive technique.  A hook is baited with a shrimp and lowered to the bottom.  There is a lot of structure in the passes, particularly in Big Pass on the north side of Siesta Key.  Deep water, structure, and current flow make this a great fishing spot!  Sheepshead are prime targets in winter.  Mangrove snapper, grouper, drum, jacks, snook, and more are taken all year long.

Snook fishing in Sarasota

Snook are the top game fish in Florida.  They are quite similar to largemouth bass in habits.  Snook have large mouths, are found near structure, and ambush their prey.  In fact, most of the top snook lures are just converted bass baits.  Anglers targeting snook along mangrove shorelines, under docks, around seawalls, and along oyster bars catch jacks, redfish, and other species as well.

guide to inshore saltwater fishing

Artificial lures are often used on fishing charters in Sarasota when snook are the target.  Lures allow anglers to cover quite a bit of shoreline cover.  They also will elicit strikes from fish that are not actively feeding.  This type of fishing does require some decent casting skills.  Therefore, this is best for more experienced anglers.

Live bait certainly produces a lot of snook as well.  In the cooler months, a large, live shrimp is a terrific bait.  In the warmer months, live bait chumming is used successfully.  Capt Jim will use his cast net and load the well up with live baits.  These are then used to attract and excite the fish.  Handfuls of bait are tossed out behind the boat.  If snook and other game fish are around, it won’t be long until they start popping on the free baits.  This is a great way for an inexperienced angler to catch a big fish1

Fishing off of the Sarasota beaches

The inshore Gulf of Mexico can provide fantastic action when conditions are right.  East winds will result in the water close to shore being calm and clear.  Bait fish will be plentiful.  Spanish mackerel, false albacore, king mackerel, sharks, cobia, and other species will move in to feed on the bait.  This can be very exciting fishing as much of the activity takes place on the surface.

Anglers cruise the beaches searching for signs of fish.  Birds are a great indication of feeding game fish.  Spanish mackerel will stay up on the surface for quite a while.  This makes it easy to get the boat into a good casting position.  False albacore are a bit fussier.  They will often pop up, feed ferociously, then be gone in a few seconds.

Sarasota fishing videos

Small artificial lures work very well for this type of fishing.  The fish are feeding on small bait fish, so lures that imitate them work best.  Also, sometimes a bit of casting distance is required.  For these reasons, lures work better than live bait in most instances.  Small plugs, silver spoons, and 3″ soft plastic baits on a jig head are the top lures.

Fishing charters in Sarasota, trolling for success

There will be days when the fish are not showing on the surface.  Trolling is an excellent technique under these circumstances.  This allows anglers to cover a lot of water while presenting several lures at different depths.  Again, this is a very easy way for kids and inexperienced anglers to catch some really nice fish.

There are three artificial reefs just off of Lido Key.  These hold fish during much of the year.  The reefs are prime spots to troll for king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and false albacore.  Bait fish are attracted to the structure in large numbers.  They can be seen hovering on the surface over the submerged structure.  These are great spots to troll for kings, Spanish mackerel, and false albacore.

Species caught on Sarasota fishing charters

One of the great aspects of taking a fishing charter in Sarasota is the wide variety of fish species that are available.  Some fish such as snook, redfish, speckled trout, ladyfish, jack crevalle, gag grouper, mangrove snapper, and bluefish are caught all year long.  Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, false albacore, pompano, cobia, and sharks are most often encountered in the spring and fall.  Black drum and sheepshead are winter fish.  Tarpon are caught in the summer.  Anglers can find current regulations on the FWC site.

Snook

Siesta Key snook fishing

Snook are the top inshore game fish in Florida.  They are large, fight hard, leap high out of the water, and are caught on both lures and live bait.  Snook have a distinct seasonal migration pattern.  In winter, snook are found in creeks, rivers, and canals.  As it warms up, they move into Sarasota Bay and Robert’s Bay.  Snook are found out on the beaches and in the passes in the summertime.

Snook are structure oriented.  They are almost always found near some type of cover.  Docks, bridges, oyster bars, mangrove shorelines, and seawalls all hold snook.  If bait is present, so much the better!  Anglers catch snook using artificial lures and live bait.  Lures allow anglers to cover a lot of water.  Live bait works best when fish are located.

Speckled trout

Gator trout Sarasota

Speckled trout are an extremely popular for anglers taking out fishing charters in Sarasota.  They are a beautiful fish, aggressive, plentiful year round, and are fantastic eating.  Speckled trout school up and once located, a bunch can be caught in short order.  Most of the trout caught in Sarasota are found on the submerged grass beds in Sarasota Bay.

sarasota fishing report

A live shrimp is a great bait for catching speckled trout.  Shrimp can be fished under a popping cork or free lined out behind the boat.  Live pilchards work very well in the warmer months.  Artificial lures catch plenty of speckled trout as well.  The top lure in Sarasota is the jig and grub.  This is a versatile lure that can imitate bait fish and crustaceans.  They work very well on trout and other species.

Redfish

Florida fishing charters

Redfish are another very popular inshore species.  In Sarasota, most reds are caught under docks and on shallow grass flats.  Redfish school up in large numbers in late summer.  Anglers sight fish for them as they can easily be seen “waking” across a flat.  Docks and other structure hold reds all year long.

Redfish feed primarily on crustaceans.  They are built to root on the bottom for crabs and shrimp.  They will take like bait fish as well.  A large, live shrimp is tough to beat when targeting redfish.  They work very well when fishing docks.  Lures such as jigs and weedless spoons imitate the forage and are productive as well.

Spanish mackerel

Sarasota Spanish mackerel fishing

Spanish mackerel are a terrific game fish!  Anglers who take out fishing charters in Sarasota target them often.  Mackerel are very fast, aggressive, beautiful, and taste great when prepared fresh.  Spanish mackerel are often found in large schools.  This is particularly true in the Gulf of Mexico.  Spanish mackerel feed mostly on small bait fish.  Live shrimp will certainly produce, too.

Shiny, fast moving lures are effective when targeting Spanish mackerel.  Mackerel are very fast and will track down a fast moving lure that has an erratic action.  Plugs and silver spoons are top artificial lures.  They can be cast or trolled effectively.  Anglers fishing with live scaled sardines and shrimp will catch plenty of mackerel as well.

Pompano

Florida pompano fishing

Pompano are a prized inshore game fish in Sarasota, Florida.  While they put up a great fight, the reason for their popularity is that they are fantastic eating!  Pompano have a delicious flavor and interesting texture.  They are most often found in the surf, in the passes, and on the flats close to the passes.  Pompano cruise around in small schools, feeding on the bottom.

One look at the mouth of a pompano indicated it’s feeding behavior.  Pompano feed on crustaceans on the bottom.  Crabs, sand fleas, and shrimp are the primary forage.  Small jigs bounced on the bottom are the top artificial lure.  Dedicated surf anglers catch sand fleas (mole crabs) and use them for bait.  Live shrimp worked well for pompano as well.

Bluefish

Florida bluefish

Bluefish are well-know to anglers from the northeastern states.  The bluefish we catch in Sarasota are smaller, averaging around three pounds.  Bluefish are aggressive and most often are found in schools.  They are a very aggressive species.  Blues can be found in the bays, passes, and inshore Gulf of Mexico.

Jigs are good lures for catching bluefish.  They work well on the deeper grass flats where bluefish are often found.  They move move erratically and attract the attention of the blues.  Spoons and plugs are effective as well.  Bluefish can often be seen feeding on the surface.  Live bait fish and shrimp will catch them as well.

Jack crevalle

Sarasota fishing report

Jack crevalle are another terrific inshore game fish found in Sarasota.  They grow fairly large, being caught to 15 pounds in this area.  Jacks school up and are often seen feeding aggressively on the surface.  They are found all over the place in the warmer months.  They are easier to locate in the cooler months as they move up into creeks and canals.  Jack crevalle are not considered good to eat.

While jacks are caught on live bait, artificial lures are so much fun to use.  Jacks are very aggressive and strike lures with ferocity.  Plugs and jigs are the top artificial lures.  They need to have stout hooks as jacks are incredibly strong.

Sheepshead

Sarasota fishing calendar

Sheepshead move into the Sarasota area in December and stay around until April.  They are a staple for anglers taking out fishing charters in Sarasota in the cooler months.  They school up heavily in the passes and out on the inshore artificial reefs.  Sheepshead feed on crustaceans and are rarely taken on artificial lures.  Most sheepshead are caught by anglers bottom fishing near structure with live or frozen shrimp.  They fight hard, are fun to catch, and are excellent table fare.

Mangrove snapper

Sarasota mangrove snapper fishing

Mangrove snapper are found near structure similar to the spots where sheepshead are caught.  They are caught all year long.  Also, mangrove snapper are caught on the deep grass flats in the summer time.  Most mangrove snapper are caught by anglers using live bait.  However, they will hit small plugs and jigs as well.  Snapper put up a good fight and are fantastic on a dinner plate.

Gag grouper

Sarasota bottom fishing

Gag grouper are mostly caught in the offshore waters.  However, juvenile grouper and the occasional larger fish are caught in the inshore waters.  Grouper are almost always found near structure.  However, they are caught on the open grass flats for a month or so in summer when they are migrating through.  Most grouper are caught by accident by anglers bottom fishing for other species.

Tarpon

Sarasota fishing calendar

Tarpon are the largest fish that anglers can target in Sarasota.  The move through from May to August on their annual spawning run.  Tarpon are caught just off of the area beaches in the Gulf of Mexico.  Live crabs and bait fish are cast in front of the cruising fish.  This is truly big game fishing and is best for more experienced anglers.  There is a lot of waiting and stalking, so patience is required.

False albacore

Sarasota fishing calendar

False albacore, known locally as “bonita”, are a terrific game fish that are found in the inshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico.  They rarely come into the bays.  False albacore are usually sight fished as they often feed on the surface.  The key is to position the boat in front of the feeding fish.  They can be fussy at times and challenging to catch.  However, that is part of the fun!  Small lures and flies that mimic the bait fish work best.

King mackerel

fishing report for Sarasota

King mackerel are often found offshore but do move in close to shore when conditions are right.  Trolling is the most effective way to catch them as it allows anglers to cover a lot of water.  The inshore reefs off of Lido Key are always a good place to start.  Easter and Thanksgiving are usually the prime times to catch king mackerel off of the Sarasota beaches.

Black drum

fishing charters in Sarasota

Black drum are often found in the same locations and time of year as are sheepshead.  Generally, cooler months are best.  Drum rarely hit artificial lures, most are caught by anglers using live or frozen shrimp.  Black drum are good eating.  They can grow quite large as well, to over 30 pounds.

Flounder

best Sarasota fishing charter

Flounder are another species that clients on fishing charters in Sarasota catch when fishing for other species.  They are not abundant, but are more of an occasional catch.  They are caught by anglers bouncing jigs on the bottom and by anglers fishing with live bait.  Surf fishing can be productive for flounder, too.

Cobia

fishing charters in Sarasota

Cobia are a large fish that are most often found in the Gulf of Mexico.  However, some fish do wander into Sarasota Bay.  Anglers fortunate enough to hook one will have their hands full on a light spinning rod!  Cobia are curious and will hit just about any lure or live bait.

Meeting spot for a Sarasota fishing charter

There are several spots that Capt Jim meets his clients at.  The meeting spot will depend on client location, current weather conditions, and fish activity.  Most anglers going out on fishing charters in Sarasota will meet at the public boat ramp at Centennial Park in downtown Sarasota.

Another convenient meet spot on Sarasota fishing charters is the North Bridge Park on Siesta Key.  This spot is often used on breezy days and by Siesta Key visitors.

The last meeting spot used by Capt Jim is the boat ramp on Ken Thompson Island.  This is convenient for anglers staying on Longboat Key or north in Bradenton.

Live bait produces on Sarasota fishing charters

While artificial lures catch plenty of fish during Spring Break, live bait is the most reliable producer on my Siesta Key fishing charters, especially with anglers with limited experience.  Live shrimp are purchased and “whitebait” is cast-netted up on the flats.  “Whitebait” is a Florida term for small white or silver bait fish, mostly pilchards and threadfin herring, that migrate into the area in the spring.  A well full of either live shrimp or frisky pilchards practically guarantees success.

Marcel Hamburger lives in Houston, TX and has fished with me for several years now.  He usually brings his two children Morgan and Grant.  Morgan never gets out-fished.  Never.  She has perfected the art of drifting a live bait across the flats.  She casts her bait out and lets it drift behind the boat with the rod tip held low.  When a fish takes the bait, she does not jerk, which is a common mistake.  Instead, she just reels up the slack while slowly raising the rod tip.  Most of the time, the result is a fish in the boat.

Anchoring up on the edge of a grass flat that drops off into deeper water and fishing with live bait can be deadly.  One trip from several years ago comes to mind and it is a story that I have told many times on the boat.  John Brennan from Brookfield, WI visits Siesta Key regularly for Spring Break, and he usually treats his daughters Laura, Cari, and Theresa to a Sarasota fishing charter.  I filled the well with twelve dozen shrimp and loaded up the Brennan clan.

After anchoring up on the edge of a flat near Bird Key, we experienced non-stop action free lining live shrimp.  I believe the final tally was 119 fish landed, not counting the ones that jumped off.  Spanish mackerel, speckled trout, and ladyfish, kept rods bent the entire time.  It was so hectic, poor John barely got the chance to fish!

Fishing Big Sarasota Pass

Big Sarasota Pass lies to the north of Siesta Key.  It is a fish highway that connects Sarasota Bay to the Gulf of Mexico.  March is a prime month for fishing the pass.  The same methods that produce on the flats will also work in the deeper water of the pass.  Jigs bounced on the bottom and free lined live bait will catch pompano, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, and loads of ladyfish.

Last March the Manby family, friends of the Brennan’s who also reside in Brookfield, WI had a great morning catching large mackerel in Big Pass.  Maria and Jeff along with their three girls Ashleigh, Julia, and Abigail were my guests that morning.  The tide was low and had just turned to come in and we were free lining live shrimp.   The bite was a little slow, just a couple of ladyfish, when Julia’s rod bent double and the drag started screaming.

I knew right away that it was a big mackerel.  Julia fought the fish like an expert and it was landed and tossed on ice, destined for dinner at Clayton’s that evening.  Several minutes later the same thing was repeated.  Then again.  What the heck?  Four baits in the water, same hook, same rig, but she catches all the fish?

“I jiggle it”, she stated.  And the now-famous “Julia Jiggle” was born.  Any time I am on a charter and the bites are slow in coming, I instruct my clients to “jiggle it”.  Action is sure to soon follow.

There is much more to fishing than just catching fish.  The time a family spends together is priceless.  I humbly feel privileged to be a part of it.  Friendships have been forged and to see the kids grow up each year is exciting.  Experience your own Spring Break, Sarasota style!

Summer Sarasota fishing charters

All three rods were bent deep as I tried to keep the bedlam under control.  Sweat was dripping from my forehead and it was only nine o’clock in the morning.  The heat was one reason, the other was that I was scrambling to keep my client’s hooks emptied of a fish and then re-baited.  It was non-stop action as nearly every pilchard that hit the water was devoured within seconds.  Welcome to summertime fishing Sarasota!

Many anglers are surprised when I tell them that fishing Sarasota in the heat of summer is outstanding.  Some of my best days, especially when it comes to quantity, come in July and August.  The reason for this is the abundance of live bait fish that flood into the bays at first light.  Pilchards and threadfin herring are thick on the shallow grass flats near the Venice Inlet.  A few tosses of the cast net will usually result in a well full of bait.  After that, success is practically guaranteed.  A few handfuls of live chum will bring speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, mangrove snapper, ladyfish, jacks, and sharks right up to the boat.  Bait fish are easiest to catch at first light, especially on a high tide.  Grass flats near both passes are good spots to load up the well.

While fishing Sarasota can be spectacular in the heat of summer, it does require a few tactical changes.  The prime low-light periods of dawn and dusk will be very productive, as will fishing at night.  Getting up early is a requirement, not an option.  Get out there early, catch bait or take advantage of the early morning low light conditions to cast artificial lures.  On most days the bite winds down by late morning.  By then it is usually just too hot to fish, anyway.

Night fishing in Sarasota

Fishing Sarasota at night is another productive option in July.  Evenings are pleasant, just monitor the weather; thunderstorms are an issue this time of year.  Snook in particular will be caught around the lighted docks and bridges throughout the area.  Speckled trout, redfish, snapper, ladyfish, and even tarpon will also be caught at night.  Plugs, jigs, flies, and live bait will produce around lighted structure.

Successful anglers will quietly approach a likely spot and either anchor or use a trolling motor to work the spot.  Shore bound anglers will score at the area bridges, too.  The prime spot is a cast away on the up-current side just on the fringe of the lighted area.  Outgoing tides are preferred, but as long as the water is moving the fish will bite.

Bass Assassin Sea Shad jigs are productive lures, as are small plugs such as the (08) size Rapala X-Rap.  Live shrimp free lined in the current can also be deadly.  Medium sized shrimp work best on a 1/0 short shank hook for clients fishing Sarasota.  Large hand-picked shrimp don’t look natural and are usually not as effective.    Spinning tackle with a 2’ piece of 30 lb fluorocarbon leader is best for tossing lures and live bait.  Glass minnows are a primary forage around lights and small white flies are effective imitations.  A 7 or 8 weight rod with an intermediate sink tip line and 8 foot piece of 30 lb fluorocarbon leader works well.

Beach snook fishing in Sarasota

Siesta Key snook fishing

Another productive July technique when fishing Sarasota is beach fishing for snook.  This is a great opportunity for anglers without a boat to experience the thrill and challenge of sight fishing.  Anglers will hit the beach around 8:00 a.m., by then there is enough sunlight to spot the fish.  Walking north will put the sun behind, making it easier to see the snook.  Quite often, they will be right in the surf line, inches from the edge.

Live bait will work but it cumbersome to carry around.  Artificial lures are more convenient and catch plenty of fish.  Small light colored lures are best.  A delicate presentation is required so as not to spook the fish in the shallow water.  A 1/8 ounce white bucktail jig works great, as do small plugs and soft plastic baits.

This is a terrific situation to catch a snook on a fly rod.  White bait fish patterns are productive.  The fly lands very softly in the water and will not spook the snook.  Since the fish are in open water for the most part, the chance of them breaking off is greatly diminished.  A seven or eight weight outfit with a floating line and eight feet of 30 lb fluorocarbon leader is the standard rig.

The large schools of tarpon will have broken up but there will still be plenty of fish out there.  Although they don’t “show” as well, they eat better!  Point of Rocks, Grassy Point, and the Venice Pier are good spots to try.  Again, get out there at first light and either cast to rolling fish or drift a pinfish out behind the boat under a float.  Fish until mid-morning, then call it a day.

There are plenty of ways to fish Sarasota and catch fish in July and still beat the summertime heat!

Fall Sarasota Florida fishing charters

Contrary to popular belief, autumn does arrive in Florida, although the changes can be fairly subtle.  While still fairly warm, evening temperatures are a tad lower and the days are a little shorter.  Fish are very much in tune with these changes and it affects their behavior.  In Sarasota where I fish, on the west coast, the arrival of Spanish mackerel and false albacore just off the beaches in the inshore Gulf of Mexico officially signals the fall fishing season.  This is great sport and it does not require a large boat or fancy gear to take advantage of this bonanza.

The reason for this fantastic fall fishing on Siesta Key is simple; bait, and LOTS of it!  As the water and land temperatures drop, the weather pattern changes.  The sea breezes will be gone and high pressure systems will bring northeast winds both during the day and in the evening.  The result will be clear, calm water along the beaches, attracting huge schools of baitfish which in turn attracts the gamefish.  Saltwater fishing can be pretty basic, “Find the groceries; find the fish”.  Other species will also be encountered when fishing “Out on the beach”.  Jack crevelle, bluefish, ladyfish, king mackerel, cobia, sharks, and even tarpon will follow the forage to take advantage of the abundance of forage.

As a full-time fishing guide, I rely on live bait a majority of the time to provide action for my clients who book a Siesta Key fishing charter.  In this application, artificial lures are not only extremely productive but are a lot of fun to fish!  Quite often schools of “breaking” fish will be seen terrorizing the helpless baitfish on the surface.  Opportunistic gulls and terns will be picking at the scraps as well.  This is a sight that will stir any angler’s soul and is the perfect situation to use an artificial lure.  The strikes will be immediate and savage!  Of course, a frisky live baitfish or shrimp will very seldom go unmolested when fall fishing Siesta Key.

Artificial lures catch fish!

My “go to” lure for fishing the inshore Gulf is #8 Rapala X-Rap slashbait.  It perfectly mimics the small pilchards, glass minnows, and threadfin herring that the gamefish are feeding on.  Olive is my favorite color with white being a close second.  The lure is simply cast out into the bait and retrieved back with sharp twitches and a pause in between.  X-Raps can also be trolled along when there is not any surface activity; they are a great “locator” bait.  The venerable jig and grub combo also works well, with the 4” Bass Assassin Sea Shad being my personal favorite.

Silver spoons will also produce plenty of fish for anglers fall fishing Siesta Key.  The same tackle that is used for speckled trout and redfish will work fine in this application.  My preferred rig is a 10 lb spinning outfit with monofilament line, the last 5’ doubled with a Spider Hitch, then 30” of 30 lb fluorocarbon leader is added using a double Uni-knot, then the lure or hook completes the rig.

Fly anglers can certainly take advantage of this situation as well.  An 8wt outfit with a weight forward floating line is a good choice.  The leader should be 8’ of 30 lb fluorocarbon and any small white fly will produce well, with D.T. Special and Clouser Minnow patterns being the most popular.  Fly anglers do well fall fishing Siesta Key!

Once rigged up and ready, it is time to go fishing!  Often times the fish will be schooled up just outside the passes, particularly on an outgoing tide.  Any bird or surface activity should be investigated.  Sometimes just a couple of terns diving will clue an angler into the location of a school.  If nothing is happening at the pass, simply cruise down the beach on plane but at as slow a speed as possible in order to completely scan the area.

Spanish mackerel and false albacore off of Siesta Key

Once a school of actively feeding fish is located, determine whether they are mackerel or albacore.  Spanish will generally stay up in the same spot for a longer period of time.  False albacore can be much more difficult to get on, they move fast and change directions constantly.  But, there is no greater sport than catching a big albie on light tackle or fly!

Sarasota fishing charters

In either case, patience will pay off!  Charging into the school on plane will usually shut down the bite.  Instead, cut the motor up-wind of the fish and drift down on them until in casting range or use the electric trolling motor if so equipped.  Trolling the edges will also work well but avoid driving through the middle of the school.  Sarasota County has an extensive artificial reef program with 3 nice reefs within 2 miles of shore just off Lido Key.  These are a great back-up plan (as is any reef or hard bottom area) in the event that surface activity is absent as they almost always hold bait and fish.

Later in the morning as the sun comes up, particularly if the water is clear, anglers will do well to look for bait balls.  These appear as large dark spots in the water.  NEVER pass up a nice, big ball of bait as there will usually be predator fish on the edges.  Anglers seeking larger game will score consistently on sharks by putting out a chunk of mackerel under a cork on a larger rig with a steel leader.  Free-lining a large live threadfin herring at the edges will also produce some larger fish.  Do not be surprised if a cobia, king mackerel, or even a tarpon are hooked as well fall fishing Siesta Key.

Shore bound anglers can get in on the action as well.  While false albacore seldom venture in close enough to be caught from land, Spanish mackerel, jacks, bluefish, ladyfish, and more will often cruise within casting range while feasting upon the abundance of forage.  The same lures, baits, flies, and techniques that produce for anglers in boats will also allow surf casters to achieve success.

Winter Sarasota fishing charters

The key to angling success is the ability to adapt to ever-changing conditions.  February tactics are unique.  Severe fronts move through on a weekly basis, drastically changing the water temperature and clarity.  Wind will prevent anglers from fishing the open waters in north Sarasota Bay.  Extreme low winter tides will chase fish off the flats.  So, let’s go through a typical winter weather cycle that would be experienced on a fishing charter in the winter.

A severe front has just moved through.  The water temperature has dropped several degrees and there is a blue-bird sky with bright sun and a northeast wind.  The northeast wind will fight the tide, making it even lower than normal.  And it can be downright chilly.  Flats near the passes will be flooded with dirty water from the churned up Gulf of Mexico.  Finding clean, protected water will be a priority when employing February tactics.

The area south of Siesta Drive down to Blackburn Pt. usually stats clearer and offers protection from the north wind.  Oyster bars, canals, and docks will be good places to soak a shrimp for sheepshead, drum, and other species.  On low tide the trout, pompano, and ladyfish will concentrate in deeper water.  This can be the Intracoastal channel or any deep water.  As the tide floods the flats and the day warms up the fish will move out of the holes and onto the nearby flats.  Casting jigs and live shrimp while drifting the flats is the preferred technique.

After a couple of days the wind will shift to the southeast and it will be warm and sunny.  The water in the passes will be clearer and fishing will be good throughout the area.  Both passes will hold pompanp, bluefish, and ladyfish.  Jigs, spoons, and live shrimp will all produce.  Taking advantage of these favorable conditions is an aspect of February tactics.

Surf fishing off of Sarasota beaches

This is the best time to surf fish for whiting, silver trout, pompano, flounder, and more.  The water will be clean and calm with an east wind.  A live shrimp or piece of frozen shrimp fished on the bottom works best.

Any Structure in or near the passes should be thick with sheepshead.  Bottom fishing with live or frozen shrimp will produce the best.  Anchoring a cast away up-current and allowing the bait to drift back to the structure in a natural manner is the best presentation.  A #1 live bait hook on a 2’ piece of 30 lb leader and a bit of weight is the best rig.  Use just enough weight to barely hold the bottom.

Grass flats in four to seven feet of water will be good for speckled trout, silver trout, pompano, bluefish, sea bass, flounder, and ladyfish.  Again, drifting and casting jigs and live shrimp works best.  The flats near the passes are always a goiod place to start but any flat can produce.  The key is to keep moving until fish are located; don’t spend too much time in an unproductive spot.  Gold, rootbeer/gold, olive, and glow are popular colors.  Scented baits such as Gulp! Can make the difference on a tough day.

Hot bite before a weather change

After a couple of days of nice weather, another front will approach.  As this occurs the wind will turn south, then southwest and start to blow fifteen to twenty knots.  Often times the fish will bite like crazy as they sense the weather change coming.  The south wind will flood the bays with water, tides will be higher than normal.  This is a good time to target snook and redfish in shallow water.  Casting gold spoons or jigs will fool them.

Trout will be actively feeding on the deep flats.  The wind will require anglers to find a little protection.  The west side of Sarasota Bay north of New Pass has excellent flats and is protected on a south wind.  Structure in Big Pass on the north end of Siesta is also protected and is a great spot for sheepshead.

Snook move up into the creeks and canals in winter and the high afternoon tides are a good time to target them.  Plugs and jigs cast are to structure and worked back in an erratic manner.  Big jack crevelle will also seek refuge in these areas in the cooler months.As the front moves through the wind will turn northwest and blow hard.  This pretty much shuts down fishing for a day or two.  The wind will shift northeast and the whole process will repeat itself.

Be aware of the effects of local weather patterns and you can be very successful fishing in February.

There are many fine resorts for anglers to stay at when visiting Siesta Key. Fisherman’s Cove on the South end of Siesta Key is the top spot for tourists who place a priority on fishing. Further south in Englewood, Pearl Beach Inn is a great spot for visiting anglers to stay.

In conclusion, this post on fishing charters in Sarasota will help anglers decide if this trip is right for them!

Capt Jim Klopfer

(941) 371-1390

captklopfer@comcast.net

1059 North Tamiami Trail Sarasota, Fl 34236

Sarasota Fishing Videos

Sarasota Fishing Videos

This page will list my Sarasota fishing videos. Sarasota offers visiting anglers many different species to catch in several different techniques with which to catch them. These videos will give you an idea of what our fishing is all about.

Sarasota is a resort city on the West Coast of Florida. It lies about an hour south of Tampa. It is famous for its world class beaches, shopping, and restaurants. However, Sarasota also offers visitors some excellent fishing opportunities. Anglers can target speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, Pompano, and other species on the deep grass flats. Snook and redfish are caught by more experienced anglers along mangrove shorelines. The inshore Gulf of Mexico can have fantastic action on pelagic species and the spring and the fall. Giant tarpon provide the ultimate angling challenge!

Sarasota fishing videos

View Sarasota fishing report

My list of Sarasota fishing videos will give perspective clients an idea of what they can expect on their visit. There are so many different species to catch here, and multiple ways to catch them. Sarasota fishing charters are tailored to the skill level and expectation of the clients. Please enjoy these Sarasota fishing videos!

Fishing in Sarasota Bay for Trout and Snapper

This video shows some fishing action in Sarasota using live bait as chum for trout, snapper, and other species.

Florida Pompano Fishing

This video shows how effective small jigs bounced on the bottom while drifting inlets and passes are for pompano and other species.

Light Tackle Trolling in Saltwater

This video shows the techniques used when trolling the inshore waters of Florida for king and Spanish mackerel.

How to Catch Sheepshead

Sheepshead invade the Sarasota area in the cooler months. Late winter and early spring arethe prime times to target these hard fighting and great eating bottom fish.

Sarasota Trolling Techniques

Trolling is a very effective technique for a variety of game fish. King and Spanish mackerel are particularly prone to hit a lure that is being trolled quickly.

Lido Beach Spanish Mackerel Fishing

Spanish mackerel are a terrific and underrated game fish! They fight hard, are beautiful, and taste great. Mackerel often times are found schooled up and feeding on the surface in the Gulf of Mexico.

Sarasota Fishing Charters, Jig Fishing

Jigs are extremely effective artificial lures. They catch a variety of species in Sarasota Bay and beyond.

Sarasota Fishing Charter Action 2019

Some great action from fishing trips in 2019

Jack Crevalle Fishing

This video shows some awesome action on one of the hardest fighting saltwater fish; jack crevalle. Jacks are aggressive and are found throughout the bays, rivers, creeks, passes, and out on the beaches. They are nomads, roaming around in search of their next meal.

Sarasota family fishing charters

Sarasota family fishing charters is a video that shows that anglers do not need a lot of experience to catch fish. Young anglers are most welcome on Sarasota fishing charters! Capt. Jim enjoys taking children and other novice anglers out for a day of fun. Live bait is often used on these charters as it increases the chances of success.

When taking children and inexperienced anglers out on a Sarasota fishing charter, Capt. Jim generally targets the deep grass flats. Many different species are caught over submerge grass beds in water between 5 feet deep and 10 feet deep. Speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, pompano, ladyfish, bluefish, and more are taken in the spots. Anglers fishing docks catch bottom fish such as snapper along with snook, redfish, and other species.

Sarasota Spanish mackerel fishing

Sarasota Spanish mackerel fishing shows how incredible the action in the inshore Gulf of Mexico can be when conditions are right. Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, false albacore, cobia, and sharks migrate up and down the coast in the spring and the fall. They are following the huge schools of bait fish that they feed on.

This is very exciting fishing is so much of it is visual. Quite often, large schools of macro and false albacore are seen feeding ferociously on the surface. They have herded up the glass minnows and other bait fish and have them trapped against the surface of the water. Just about any lure, bait, or fly that remotely resembles the forage they are feeding on will get devoured. Sharks will hover around the edge of the feeding fish, picking up the scraps.

Siesta Key snook fishing

Siesta Key snook fishing is a video that shows how fast the action can be when snook are schooled up in one spot. Chumming with live bait is a deadly technique that Capt. Jim uses in the warmer months. Live bait fish are caught and used both as chum and as bait to catch the fish. Handfuls of live, unhooked fish attract the snook and get them in a feeding frenzy.

This technique is extremely effective. It also allows anglers who are not very experienced to have the chance to catch a really nice fish. Since the game fish are excited, they lose a bit of their caution. Along with the snook, redfish, jacks, large trout, and other species will be caught while targeting snook.

Best Sarasota fishing charter

Best Sarasota fishing charter is a video that shows visiting anglers some great action out in the inshore Gulf of Mexico. Spanish mackerel were thick just off the beaches that day. These two boys had a great time catch and those along with some small sharks. This type of action is not uncommon in the fall, especially the few weeks coming up on Thanksgiving.

River snook fishing

River snook fishing is a video that shows Capt. Jim catching a nice snook in the Myakka River. In the cooler months, these apex predator game fish move up into area creeks, rivers, and residential canals. They do this to escape the extreme weather changes that can happen on the shallow flats. Water can drop as much is 10° in a couple days on the exposed open flats. The water temperature and rivers and canals is significantly warmer.

This Sarasota fishing charter has a freshwater feel to it. Anglers drift with the current down the river and a 14 foot Alumacraft Jon boat. They cast artificial lures towards likely looking shoreline cover and structure. Most often, shallow diving plugs are used, but soft plastic baits catch plenty of fish as well. This is a trip best suited to more experienced anglers as it is more about a couple quality fish versus numbers of fish.

Siesta Key fishing charters

Siesta Key fishing charters is a video that shows some great action on snook and jack crevelle by anglers using live bait in the fall. These fish are most active in the spring and again in the fall. The east side of Siesta Key in both Roberts Bay and little Sarasota Bay has some great fish holding structure. Oyster bars, docks, creeks, and flats will all produce great catches at one time of the year or another.

Sarasota speckled trout fishing

Sarasota speckled trout fishing shows a couple of anglers as a cast lures and live bait while drifting the deep grass flats. This is a technique that produces a lot of fish for Capt. Jim on Sarasota fishing charters throughout the year. It is also easy for anglers to learn to do quickly.

Most speckled trout in Sarasota are caught over the deep grass flats. These are large areas of submerged grass or vegetation and water between 5 feet deep and 10 feet deep. Bait fish and crustaceans such as shrimp and crabs find refuge in the grass. This in turn attracts speckled trout and other game fish.

Sarasota summer fishing charters

Sarasota summer fishing charters is a short little video that shows what happens when you come across schools of “breaking” fish. These are fish that have rounded up a bunch of bait fish and push them to the surface. They are helpless as a are trapped against the top of the water. Ladyfish, jacks, mackerel, bluefish, and other species will be seen doing this throughout the year, but especially in the late summer when bait is plentiful.

Sarasota freshwater fishing

Sarasota freshwater fishing is a video that shows visitors that there are freshwater fishing opportunities in this area. Saltwater fishing gets the vast majority of the coverage and attention in Sarasota. Therefore, the freshwater fishing gets overlooked. Several small lakes along with rivers offer anglers the chance to catch bass, crappie, catfish, bluegill, and other species.

The top lakes in the Sarasota area for freshwater fishing are upper Myakka Lake, Lake Manatee, Benderson Lake, and Lake Evers. Each Lake is a bit different and has its good and bad points. Some have horsepower and access limitations. Rivers flowing in and out of the lakes also offer good fishing for freshwater species as well as title species in the river downstream from the dam.

Sarasota false albacore fishing

Sarasota false albacore fishing shows my buddy Tommy Hyser as we work a school of false albacore on the surface. This is a time. Just before Christmas. We are fishing over the submerged artificial reefs that are a couple miles off of Lido Key. These are great spots to find false albacore and other pelagic species such as Spanish mackerel and king mackerel. False albacore can be found anywhere on the beach foraging on the surface.

Sarasota chumming techniques

Sarasota chumming techniques is a video that goes into detail on the tactic of live bait chumming. This is an extremely effective technique when bait fish are plentiful and easy to catch. Using a cast net, Capt. Jim loads up the live well with frisky live baits that are around 2 inches long. He then anchors on a good spot and begins to throw handfuls of the bait fish out behind the boat.

If snook and other game fish are around, it won’t take them long to start feeding on the bait fish. Once the fish are excited and into a feeding mood, hooked baits are tossed back to mixed in with the chum. This is a great opportunity for anglers without a lot of experience to catch a nice snook, redfish, jack, or other species.

Sarasota tarpon fishing

Sarasota tarpon fishing gives anglers a look at what it is like to hook and land a giant tarpon. The video is only a few minutes long, it does not show the hours of patience that it often takes to hook and land one of these behemoths. For the most part, this is a site fishing situation. Anglers sit on the beach a couple hundred yards of shore and look for schools of fish to cast to. This is definitely a Sarasota fishing charter best suited for experienced anglers.

Sarasota snook fishing

Sarasota snook fishing shows a couple of experienced anglers casting artificial lures at first light. Rapala plugs and soft plastic baits on a jig head are cast around docs and the mouse of creeks. Snook were feeding on the outgoing tide, which is the preferred time to fish. This type of fishing is great fun and something that experienced bass anglers would certainly enjoy.

Sarasota sheepshead fishing

Sarasota sheepshead fishing shows anglers what it is like to target and catch these tasty saltwater pan fish. Sheepshead are members of the Porgy family. They feed around structure and mostly on crustaceans such as shrimp and crabs. Very seldom are they caught by anglers using artificial lures. A fresh shrimp fished around pilings such as in this video, along with bridges, rocks, seawalls, and other structure will produce sheepshead from December through April.

Sarasota snook and jack fishing with Erin

Sarasota snook and jack with Erin is a video showing how a relatively inexperienced angler with rudimentary skills can have a good day of fishing. The key to this is the live bait that we use as both bait and chum. It evens the playing field quite a bit, and gives anglers a great chance to have success.

Plug fishing Sarasota

Plug fishing Sarasota is a video about Capt. Jim and a buddy taking a day off of work to cast plugs on the Myakka River. This is a very relaxing and enjoyable fishing trip. Shallow diving plugs cast towards submerged trees and other structure will produce snook, largemouth bass, jacks, and other species. This type of Sarasota fishing charter is best for anglers with a fair amount of experience.

Sarasota crappie fishing

Sarasota crappie fishing is another video highlighting the excellent freshwater fishing opportunities available to anglers in Sarasota. Crappie have become a very popular fish throughout the United States. The same techniques that produce fish all over work well in Sarasota, too. Trolling with brightly colored jigs and fishing with live minnows produces best.

Sarasota jack crevelle

Sarasota jack crevelle shows how easy and exciting it is to catch a nice Jack on a fly rod and area rivers. Just like to snook, jacks migrate up into these rivers in the cooler months. They can often be seen foraging on the surface as in this video. Jacks are very aggressive and in a mood to feed in this situation. They will hit just about any lore or fly with reckless abandon. This is great fun is so much of the action is visual.

Mixed bag on the Myakka

Mixed bag on the Myakka is a video showing how many different species can be caught by anglers simply fishing a worm on the bottom. This is a technique that is been used for centuries and is still effective to this day. It is an easy and relaxing way to fish and produces both action and variety on the Myakka River and everywhere.

Sarasota river fishing

Sarasota River fishing gives perspective clients an idea of what to expect on a River snook fishing charter. Anglers cast plugs and other lures towards the shoreline is a meander down the stream in a small boat. This is a very relaxing Sarasota fishing charter with great scenery in the chance to catch a really large fish.

Sarasota bass fishing

Sarasota bass fishing is a video that shows Capt. Jim and Capt. Jack taking a day off work to catch a few bass on Upper Myakka Lake. The to cast artificial lures such as spinner baits, plugs, and soft plastics to catch a few chunky bass on light tackle.

Longboat Key fishing charters

Longboat Key fishing charters is a video to show visitors to Longboat Key the angling options that are available to them. This video focuses on family fishing with children and less experienced clients. Capt. Jim will tailor the trip around the clients skill level and expectations to give them the best chance of success. Live bait is generally the most productive method.

In closing, I hope this post showing Sarasota fishing videos gets you excited to go on a Sarasota fishing charter!

Sarasota Fishing Calendar

Sarasota Fishing Calendar

In this article I am going to provide a Sarasota fishing calendar. This is basically a Sarasota fishing forecast. It is based on my more than 30 years experience fishing in Sarasota.

Anglers will find a terrific Sarasota fishing calendar and forecast here. While every year is different, throughout the years Sarasota seasonal fishing patterns hold up. Warm winters, stormy summers, when, red tide, and other factors affect fishing. However, in my 27 years of running Sarasota fishing charters, I see that the patterns replicate themselves. I will share those patterns in a month by month report.

View Sarasota fishing report HERE

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 can do so HERE on the PRODUCTS page.

Sarasota fishing in January

Fishing in January is all about the weather. There will be days when it’s 80° and sunny. There will be days when it’s cold, blustery, and windy. In order to be successful in January, anglers need to adapt to the prevailing conditions. Fronts will move through regularly, resulting in dirty water in the passes and on the nearby flats.

fishing articles

If it has been a cold month, some species will have moved back into the deeper water of creeks and residential canals. Snook and jacks in particular will seek the warmer water in the upper ends of canals and creeks. Anglers casting lures such as plugs that cover a lot of water are effective. Trolling is also a good way to locate fish, especially jacks.

Bottom fish such as sheepshead, snapper, drum, and other species will be found around docks and other structure. Deeper water and some of the canals as well as in the passes will hold these fish. Big Sarasota Pass has a ton of structure on the north end of Siesta Key and also has deep water. This will hold bottom species all month long. Strong cold fronts will bring wind which will dirty up the water in the passes. When this occurs, it is best to fish the protected areas where the water will be cleaner.

Fishing the deep flats will be cyclical in January. Several days after a front moves through, the water on the flats will clear up and warm up. This should result in decent action for speckled trout, bluefish, ladyfish, and other species. Anglers casting lead head jig’s and live shrimp will do well. If the water temperature is low, below 60°, speckled trout will be found in deeper water. Channels and holes near the flats will attract them.

Sarasota fishing in February

February is usually a tale of two months. The early part of the month is winter, but by the end of the month we are seeing hints of spring. The sheepshead run is in full swing and fish are loaded up in the passes and out on the nearshore artificial reefs. I target them a lot for clients who want a couple fish to eat. The flats and passes can be productive as well. Snook and jack crevalle will begin to migrate out of the creeks and canals as it warms up.

Sarasota fishing calendar

The rocks in Big Pass hold a lot of sheepshead in February. This is pretty easy fishing. It is basic bottom fishing, where we drop a hook baited with a shrimp down to the bottom and wait for a bite. The great part about it is that anglers was very little experience can catch some nice fish. It is best to fish the pass during times of low or moderate current flow. It is difficult to anchor and control the baits when the tide is flowing hard. Docks throughout the entire area will hold sheepshead in February.

Phillippi Creek in the residential canals will still be productive for jacks and snook. Rapala plugs and soft plastic baits work well. As it begins to warm up, the fish will migrate and will be found closer to the mouths of the creeks and canals.

Action on the deep grass flats will start to be more reliable by the end of February. As fronts become less common and less severe, water clarity will stabilize and the temperature will rise. Submerge grass beds in 6 feet of water to 10 feet of water will hold many species. Speckled trout, Pompano, bluefish, jacks, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and more will be taken on lures and live bait.

Sarasota fishing in March

March can be a great month to be fishing in Sarasota! It is springtime, and as is true in most fishing, fishing can be very good. Rising water temperatures will have fish moving out of their winter hunts and scattering out onto the flats and in the passes. Migratory fish such as Spanish mackerel and false albacore will show up as well. The occasional front will still move through, and anglers will experience some windy days. But, the really cold morning should be gone.

Sarasota fishing calendar

Action and the passes should be very good in March. Sheepshead should still be plentiful, though winding down by the end of the month. Anglers drifting the passes with jigs will catch ladyfish, Pompano, bluefish, jacks, and more. Often times, surface action will be seen as ladyfish and Spanish mackerel forage on the surface.

Fishing on the grass flats should be very good as well. The deep flats will have speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, Pompano, bluefish, ladyfish and other species. Lead head jig’s and live shrimp are the top baits. As in the passes, surface activity will be seen occasionally. This is a good opportunity to cast a shallow diving plug or a 1/2 ounce silver spoon.

Snook and jacks will be on the shallow flats in Roberts Bay and in Sarasota Bay. Oyster bars and mangrove shorelines that have a little depth will hold these game fish. Anglers casting artificial lures can cover the water much more quickly and effectively. Search baits such as plugs and weedless spoons are a great choice.

The inshore Gulf of Mexico off of the Sarasota beaches can provide anglers with fantastic action when conditions are right in March. Spanish mackerel, false albacore, king mackerel, sharks, and cobia migrate up the coast. They are right behind the huge schools of bait fish such as sardines and herring. When the seas are flat and the water is clear these fish will often feed on the surface. It is very exciting casting into schools of breaking fish.

Sarasota fishing in April

April is a fantastic month to be fishing in Sarasota, Florida! Fish have solidly moved into their spring migration patterns. Severe cold fronts are a thing of the past. There will be fronts move through, perhaps bringing some wind and rain. However, with water temperature in the 70s the bite will be on. Just about every species is available this month.

Sarasota fishing calendar

The Sarasota flats are alive with life in April. The deep flats provide excellent action on speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish, pompano, and more. Anglers drifting and casting lures or live bait do well. Many fish species are in spawning mode this time of year. For the most part, they are aggressive and in a mood to feed.

Anglers fishing the shallow flats and backwater areas will do well on snook, redfish, jacks, and larger gator trout. These fish will be found in potholes (depressions in the grass flat) as well as along mangrove shorelines and around oyster bars. Top water plugs are great fun on the high tide stages. Shallow diving plugs, spoons, and jigs are good artificial lures. Large live shrimp fished under docks will produce all these species and more.

The passes will be full of fish in April as well. Though the sheepshead will have thinned out as a completed there spawning run. Mangrove snapper and other bottom fish will be available in the structure. However, most of the fish in the passes will be caught by anglers drifting through the pass itself. Pompano, mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish, and more will be caught by anglers drifting jigs and live bait.

Action out on the beach will be good early, then tapering off by the end of the month. Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, and false albacore will feed heavily on the beach and out on the artificial reefs. If it has been a warm spring, some tarpon may be showing up by the end of the month.

Sarasota fishing in May

May means one thing to many Sarasota anglers; tarpon! Giant tarpon show up in May off of the Sarasota beaches and stay until late July. Many consider tarpon fish in the ultimate angling challenge. This is a game that requires patience is anglers sit a couple hundred yards offshore in search of fish. Once seen, anglers cast live crabs and bait fish to them in hopes of a bite. It is not easy, but when it all comes together, it is the thrill of a lifetime!

Sarasota fishing calendar

Inshore fishing techniques change a bit in May. As the water warms up, schools of bait fish show up on the flats. We transition from casting lures and live shrimp to catching this bait in our cast nets. The bait is then used to chum fish to the boat as well is to catch them. Lures can still be productive, especially early and late in the day. Pin fish become abundant on the flats. That can make using live shrimp a bit frustrating.

Snook will be moving in May as well. They will school up in both passes as well as out on the beaches. They do this is part of there spawning ritual. By late May, the rocks in Big Sarasota Pass will be a reliable spot to catch snook. There should also be plenty of fish out on the beach as well.

Sarasota fishing in June

June is a bit of a transition month. It is summer time and it is hot! Anglers fishing the inshore waters get out there early and are done by noon at the latest. Water temperatures will often approach 90°. This is especially true before the afternoon rains calm and cool the water off a bit.

Sarasota fishing calendar

Chumming with live bait is the number one inshore technique in June and really all summer long. Bait fish are usually abundant on the beaches and on the shallow grass flats just inside the passes. If the water gets too warm, bait can be difficult to catch. Once the well is loaded, the boat is anchored up and handfuls of bait fish are tossed out in the water behind the boat. If game fish are around, it isn’t long before they are popping the baits. Then it is just a matter of hooking baits on and casting them out.

Tarpon fishing is in full swing in June. The periods before the full moon and the new moon are the prime times. Boat traffic is heavy as many anglers are targeting these apex game fish. One nice thing about fishing in June is that with so many anglers out on the beach chasing tarpon, pressure on the inshore species is light.

Sarasota fishing in July

It is hot in July in Florida! However, many clients are surprised to hear that the fish and can be fantastic. The key once again is the abundance of live bait. This is an early bite. Anglers need to be out there first light and done by 10:30 or 11:00. Speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, mangrove snapper, gag grouper, sharks, jacks, ladyfish, bluefish, and other species are attracted to the chum. Snook are still thick in the passes and out on the beaches.

Sarasota fishing calendar

Tarpon are still out on the beaches as well, but the numbers are really thinning out. These late-season fish do not show as often. However, they can be a lot easier to catch. Spawning is pretty much done and many anglers have given up the chase. Floating a pin fish or crab under a float out behind the boat will catch them. Once again, this is generally an early bite due to the heat.

Sarasota fishing in August

Sarasota fishing in August is much like it was in July. Action on the deep grass flats should be very good as afternoon rains will have the water temperature down a bit. Bait fish are still plentiful and easy to catch. Chumming with live bait on the flats is a most effective and productive technique. Anglers casting lures at first light will catch fish as well.

Sarasota fishing calendar

Sharks show up on the grass flats in late July and August as well. These are the perfect size for catching, between 15 pounds and 40 pounds. The technique is fairly simple; a cut up ladyfish is put under a float and cast out behind the boat. It is then just a matter waiting for a shark to come along. I often do this at the end of a Sarasota fishing charter after we have already experience good action and are looking for a big fish to end the day.

Snook will begin moving back in from the passes and off the beaches, though plenty of fish will remain out there. Anglers do well sight fishing for snook in the morning. Tarpon numbers have really thinned out with some of the fish moving into Tampa Bay and North Sarasota Bay.

August is one of the best months to target redfish on the shallow flats in Sarasota. Redfish school up in big numbers this time of year. They can easily be seen moving over the shallow flats. A school of reds looks like a small wave going through the water. These fish can be very finicky in the shallow water. Anglers need to be quiet and make long casts in order to catch them. The flats in North Sarasota Bay are particularly productive.

Sarasota fishing in September

September is the most “tropical”month in Sarasota, Florida. It is the time of the year that the hurricanes are most active. That really affects the fishing and can make it unpredictable. When no storms are threatening, fishing can be very good. Also, it is the slowest month of the year in terms of tourist activity That means that the beaches and bays are relatively uncluttered.

Sarasota fishing calendar

Water temperature in Sarasota Bay should be in the upper 70s by mid September. Bait fish are still plentiful and chumming continues to be very productive. However, anglers casting artificial lures begin to have more success as the water cools off. Breaking fish will often times be seen feeding on the helpless bait fish.

Snook will be moving back into the bays in September. There will still be fished out on the beach and in the passes, but the backwater areas will start to produce decent numbers of fish. The same lures and baits that worked in the spring catch snook and other fish in September. Plugs and soft plastic baits are the top artificial lures. Live pilchards are tough to beat for bait. Schooling reds will still be found on the flats at Long Bar and Buttonwood Harbor.

Sarasota fishing calendar in October

October might be my favorite month to fish in Sarasota Florida! It is cooling off in the weather is usually very pleasant. For the most part, the tropical season is over. Also, between the kids been in school and outdoorsmen turning to hunting, fishing pressure is light.

Sarasota fishing calendar

When I can get the bait, I targets snook quite often in October. They are found along mangrove shorelines, under docks, along seawalls, and around oyster bars in Sarasota Bay and Roberts Bay. Chumming with larger live pilchards is extremely effective. Clients also catch them early in the morning casting shallow diving plugs. Redfish and jacks will be mixed in with the snook as well.

Anglers drifting the deep grass flats and passes should do well in October. Spanish mackerel respond to the cooling water and are often quite active. Speckled trout, Pompano, bluefish, ladyfish, and other species school up in both passes and out on the grass flats. There can literally be fish at just about every spot this time of year.

The surface action and the inshore Gulf of Mexico should get cranked up by the end of October. Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, false albacore, cobia, and sharks are migrating back south along the Florida coast. This is very similar to the spring fishing. However, because weather patterns are bit more stable, the fall bite is generally a bit more reliable. Spanish mackerel and false albacore in particular will be gorging themselves on the way south for winter.

Sarasota fishing calendar in November

The first real cold fronts of the year will normally arrive around mid-November. Shorter days along with these fronts will have the water temperature dropping. Whatever bait fish that remained on the flats are usually gone by the end of the month. Fish will begin moving around in the bay and preparations for winter.

Sarasota fishing calendar

The bite on the deep grass flats can be excellent in November in Sarasota Bay! I’ve normally switched over to fishing primarily with jigs this time of year. Many of the fish are in the 8 foot to 10 foot range. A 1/4 ounce jig is an effective bait for getting down to the fish. Less experienced anglers do well free lining a live shrimp behind the boat. Speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish, and Pompano are the most commonly caught species.

Snook and jacks will begin easing their way back to the creeks and canals. The entrances to these areas are often a good spot to target game fish. Jacks will be schooled up and often seen foraging on the surface. This is great fun as they will eat just about anything cast in front of them.

The passes will continue to be productive as long as the water is clean. Pompano are often caught particularly on the outgoing tide with an east wind. Rocks, bridges, docks, seawalls, and other structure will hold mangrove snapper and other bottom fish. A live shrimp fished on the bottom is the best bet.

Sarasota fishing calendar in December

December will find fish moving back to their winter patterns. Cold snaps will have the water in the mid-60s. Snook and jacks will be moving back up into the residential canals in creeks. When the water is clear, action on the deep flats will be good, especially for ladyfish and bluefish. These species do not mind the cooler water as much.

Sarasota fishing calendar

Sheepshead will begin to show up in December as well. They are normally caught around oyster bars and under docks all along Siesta Key. They show up in these locations before moving out into the passes. Black drum and other bottom species will be caught as well. Speckled trout will be found on the grass flats when it is warm. However, a big drop in water temperature will have them in the channels and holes. Current Florida fishing regulations are found on the FWC site.

In conclusion, I hope to Sarasota fishing calendar helps both visiting and local anglers experience success!

Capt Jim Klopfer

(941) 371-1390

captklopfer@comcast.net

1059 North Tamiami Trail Sarasota, Fl 34236

 

Sarasota bottom fishing

Sarasota bottom fishing

Sarasota bottom fishing is a very simple, yet effective, angling technique. Many fish live and feed on or near the bottom. Bottom structure holds bait and gamefish.

Sarasota bottom fishing

Bottom fishing in Sarasota is an easy and effective technique that any anglers can use successfully. It places natural bait on the bottom in hopes of attracting a fish. Live, fresh dead, and frozen bait can be used. Baits vary by location, depending on the forage available locally. Bottom fishing is effective in just about every fishing location for a wide variety of species.

View current fishing report

While bottom fishing is basically dropping a bait to the bottom using a lead weight, there are nuances that will make a difference in success. Leader strength and length, hook sizes, weights, and rigs are all factors that the successful bottom fishing angler will take into account.

Sarasota bottom fishing rigs

There are several rigs that anglers use when Sarasota bottom fishing. Sliding sinker rigs and spreader rigs are two of the most popular rigs for bottom fishing. Both have multiple variations and both are effective. Sliding sinker rigs allow fish to pick up a bait off the bottom and move off without feeling and resistance. Spreader rigs suspend multiple baits at various depths just off the bottom.

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 can do so HERE on the PRODUCTS page.

A sliding sinker rig consists of a leader and a sinker with a hole in it. Egg sinkers work well in this application. Egg sinkers come in many different sizes. They also roll on the bottom and do not hang up easily. Surf anglers use a device called a “fish finder”. This is a small plastic tube with a clip on it. The line passes through the tube and a clip is used to attach the weight. Pyramid sinkers are most often used by surf casters.

fishing Siesta Key

With either rig, most anglers use the same approach. The running line is passed through the sinker or fish finder. A swivel is then attached to the end of the line. The swivel stops the sinker from sliding down. The leader is then tied on to the other end of the swivel. Leader lengths vary, but most anglers use 2′ to 3′ of leader. A hook finishes off the rig.

One variation of this is called the “knocker rig”. It is just like the sliding sinker rig above, except the sinker is placed on the leader, between the swivel and the hook. This results in the sinker sitting right on the eye of the hook. The knocker rig has two advantages. It keeps the bait right on the bottom where the fish feed. Also, if the hook hangs up, the sinker will often “knock” it free, thus the name. I use this rig a lot when targeting sheepshead and snapper on Sarasota fishing charters. It is very effective.

Spreader rigs separate the hooks both horizontally and vertically. Wire arms are often used. Snelled hooks are attached to the arms. The hooks then go off to the side and away from the main line. When the fish are biting, double headers are common. This rig works well fished vertically from a boat, bridge, or pier. Surf casters employ them as well.

Hooks and weights

There are many different styles of hooks that anglers use when bottom fishing. Short shank live bait hooks are the most often used as they are easier to hide in the bait. Some anglers prefer a long shank hook. This is particularly true of flounder fishermen. Circle hooks are popular now as well. Circle hooks more often result in the fish being hooked in the mouth. This reduces the mortality rate among released fish. Circle hooks are mandatory in the Gulf of Mexico.

best Sarasota fishing charter

The rule of thumb when choosing a hook is to match it to the size of the bait being used, not the size of the fish being targeted. A small hook in a large bait will usually not result in a hook up. Using a hook too large may hinder a natural presentation. Many large fish have been landed by anglers using small hooks, so resist the urge to use a hook that is too big.

Sinkers also come in various styles. Egg, bank, and pyramid sinkers are the most commonly used in salt waters by inshore anglers. Egg sinkers work well with sliding rigs while bank sinkers are best for spreader rigs. Pyramid sinkers are primarily used by surf anglers. The amount of weight used is determined by the depth and current that the anglers is dealing with. The goal is for the weight to be just enough to hold bottom when anchored or bounce along the bottom when drifting.

Sarasota bottom fishing baits

Bait choice runs the gamut and is generally determined by the local forage available. Just about any fresh fish caught can be cut into strips or chunks and used as bait. Check local laws to current regulations. Squid is a universal frozen bait that produces fish everywhere. Local bait shops will have other frozen baits available and will give anglers the best advice as to the bait of choice.

best Sarasota fishing charter

Shrimp is king in Florida where I fish and really along the entire Gulf Coast and up the east coast to the Carolinas. Shrimp are a terrific bait live as well as fresh dead or frozen. They are the “nightcrawler of saltwater”, just about every inshore species love them. Live shrimp are hooked in the horn while dead ones are threaded on the hook.

Live bait fish can certainly be used by anglers bottom fishing. Flounder fishermen use live minnows with great success. Florida bottom fishermen use live pin fish for grouper and snapper. As with any fish, live or dead, check local regulations before fishing.

Bottom fishing techniques

Anglers fishing from boats need to make a choice; whether to anchor or drift. Both methods produce and have their advantages and disadvantages. Drifting is generally preferred when anglers are seeking a school of fish in open water. Drifting allows anglers to cover a lot of water, eliminating unproductive areas quickly. Both the spreader rig and slider rig will produce for anglers when drifting.

Flounder fishermen use a sliding sinker rig often. Flounder lie right on the bottom and this is an effective rig. Anglers targeting bottom fish that school up such as grunts and sheepshead will do well with the spreader rig while drifting.

Many bottom species such as grouper and snapper relate to structure. This structure includes ledges, hard bottom, wrecks, and artificial reefs. Anglers targeting these species usually choose to anchor and present their baits. This is especially true on smaller pieces of bottom.

Proper anchoring is critical when bottom fishing

Florida saltwater fishing in winter

Anchoring properly is critical to success when working a piece of structure. The preferred technique it to anchor so that the boat ends up just a bit up-current and up wind of the structure. Baits presented right on the edge of the structure will hopefully draw the fish out away from their protection. Anchoring is a skill that only time and experience will perfect. GPS trolling motors have helped greatly with this!

Anglers bottom fishing from bridges and piers usually choose a spreader rig. It is effective in this application. Sliding sinker rigs can certainly be used, especially when cast out away from the pier or bridge.

Surf fisherman do a lot of bottom fishing. Most fish caught off of the beaches are done so by anglers soaking a piece of bait on the bottom. This is true from Texas to Maine. Cut squid, cut bait fish, shrimp, and crabs are all great baits that produce a wide variety of species.

Sarasota bottom fishing species

Grouper are the king of species for anglers Sarasota bottom fishing. Gag grouper and red grouper are the two primary grouper species caught by Sarasota anglers. Gag grouper are caught both inshore and offshore while red grouper are primarily caught offshore. Any live or cut bait will fool grouper if presented well. Grouper are structure oriented and often hold tight to the cover. Proper anchoring is crucial. Grouper are fantastic on the dinner plate.

Sarasota bottom fishing

Sheepshead are a prime target of anglers bottom fishing. They are caught in the cooler months, especially January through early April. They spawn near structure in the passes and inshore Gulf of Mexico. Big Sarasota Pass, New Pass, nearby docks and bridges, along with the three inshore artificial reefs are prime spots. Sheepshead are very good eating.

Sarasota sheepshead fishing

Mangrove snapper are a prime target of anglers Sarasota bottom fishing. These tasty saltwater panfish are found both inshore and offshore. Obviously, the larger specimens are caught in deeper water. Shrimp and small bait fish produce for inshore anglers. Snapper are caught offshore by anglers using frozen sardines, shrimp, live pilchards and pin fish, and cut bait fish and squid.

Sarasaota mangrove snapper fishing

Flounder are a very popular bottom fish that are caught occasionally by anglers Sarasota bottom fishing. Flounder are rarely targeted by are more often an incidental catch. They are caught off the beaches and around structure such as docks, bridges, and submerged rocks. Shrimp, live bait fish, and cut squid.

Sarasota bottom fishing

Key West grunts are an abundant species caught in the inshore Gulf of Mexico by anglers bottom fishing. They are aggressive and are generally easy to catch once located. Many an offshore fishing charter has been saved by switching from grouper and going on a “grunt hunt”! They are a but tough to clean, but are terrific eating. Grunts and grits are a staple of southern anglers!

Whiting are most often caught by anglers fishing off of the Sarasota beaches. They are small but put up a good tussle on light tackle. Shrimp account for most of the whiting landed.

Capt Jim Klopfer

(941) 371-1390

captklopfer@comcast.net

1059 North Tamiami Trail Sarasota, Fl 34236

 

Sarasota Fishing Forecast for 2020

Sarasota Fishing Forecast

This post will share Capt Jim’s Sarasota fishing forecast for 2020. Capt Jim Klopfer has been fishing in Sarasota, Florida since 1985.  He earned his USCG license in 1991has been running Sarasota fishing charters ever since.  In that time he has gained experience that only time can provide.  Capt Jim also shares a regular Sarasota fishing report.

Every year is different, but annual fishing patterns tend to repeat themselves.  Our seasons do change, though the change is more subtle.  Slight changes in water temperature will trigger fish migrations.  The length of time the sun is out is a factor as well.  Tactics change with the seasons as well.  Water temperature, bait availability, and other factors will affect how fish feed.  My Sarasota fishing forecast does hold up over time as a guide that anglers can use to predict fish locations and tactics.


 
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 can do so HERE on the PRODUCTS page.

Most fish species make some type of migration.  Resident fish such as speckled trout, snook, jack crevalle, and redfish stay in a relatively small area, but do change locations.  A cold winter will push them into deeper water in channels and creeks and canals.  As it warms up they will move out into the bays to feed up.  In the summer they will seek the depths of cooler water while snook move out onto the beaches.

Pelagic species move through Sarasota in spring and fall

Other fish species migrate through the area, called “pelagic” species.  They include Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, tarpon, false albacore, sharks, cobia, and more.  Pelagic fish generally school up in good numbers.  They also are very much keyed in to bait.  Bait fish migrate as well and this in turn affects the pelagic species movements.  Sight casting to schools of fish that are feeding voraciously on the surface is incredibly exciting!

Any lure, bait, or fly that is cast into the melee is instantly devoured!  We also have other fish that are seasonal.  These include sheepshead, pompano, bluefish, flounder, sea bass, and more.  While these species are occasionally taken all year long, there are specific times when they are much more plentiful.  All of the fish movements, locations, and techniques will be explained in these Sarasota fishing forecasts.

Sarasota fishing forecast; winter

Weather is the overwhelming factor in winter fishing in Sarasota.  While winters are much milder than other parts of the country, we still experience them.  The water temperature will be the lowest all year, sometimes into the upper 40’s!  That is cold for our fish species.  Here is my Sarasota winter fishing forecast.

Sarasota fishing forecast

Deep flats fishing in Sarasota:

Cold water will push fish off of the flats and into deeper holes.  Speckled trout will be found in channels with deeper water, as will ladyfish and other species.  A free lined live shrimp is very effective.  After a couple of warm days, fish will move back out onto the flats.  Fish that are on the grass flats will be a bit deeper.  Flats in 8 feet to 10 feet of water will be more productive.  Bluefish, jacks, trout and pompano will take a 1/4 ounce jig with a grub tail.  Smaller baits, no longer than 4″, are generally more productive.  By the end of winter, the deep flats should be very productive with Spanish mackerel joining the party.

Fishing Sarasota passes:

When the winds ease up for a couple of days and the water clears, both passes can be very productive.  It is important for the water to be “clean”.  When it is, ladyfish wil be piled up in Big Sarasota Pass and New Pass.  Mackerel, pompano, bluefish, jacks, and other species will be caught as well.  Drifting with the tide while casting or vertically jigging is a proven technique.  Live shrimp either on a jig head or free lined will also catch a lot of fish.

Structure fishing:

Structure such as docks, bridges, seawalls, and rocky bottom will hold fish in the winter.  Any quality Sarasota fishing forecast will include bottom fishing for sheepshead and snapper.  This is very easy fishing as anglers simply find some good structure and fish live or frozen shrimp on the bottom.  Flounder, black drum, redfish, and more will also be landed.  Sheepshead are a very popular winter target for Sarasota anglers bottom fishing.  They will bite in cold, dirty water.  On windy days, docks in residential canals offer some protection.

Surf fishing:

Surf fishing will depend greatly on wind.  Wind churns the water u, making it rough and dirty.  Fishing is poor under these conditions.  However, when the water is calm and clean, silver trout, whiting, pompano and more will be caught.  I live shrimp or piece of shrimp on a #1 hook with just a bit of weight works well.  A shrimp tipped jig is a great choice as well.

Fishing creeks and rivers:

In the winter, snook and jack crevalle migrate up into area creeks and rivers.  Rivers have deep holes and darker water.  This results in significantly higher water temperatures.  Game fish seek the warmer water, as well as the forage.  Capt Jim offers anglers visiting Sarasota a unique opportunity, fishing for large snook in area rivers.  The Myakka River, Manatee River, and Braden River all hold snook, big jacks, redfish, and more.  Read more about Sarasota river fishing.  Rapala plugs and swim baits are generally used as it allows anglers to cover a lot of water.  The scenery is also very cool!  I hope you enjoyed my Sarasota winter fishing forecast!

Spring Sarasota fishing forecast

Spring is a fantastic time of year to be fishing in Sarasota.  The biggest question anglers have to answer is what to fish for!  Just about every species is available this time of year.  Sheepshead are still present early and tarpon will have shown up by late spring, with just about everything else in between.  Sarasota spring fishing can be fantastic!

Sarasota fishing forecast

Spring flats fishing:

Both the deep and shallow grass flats will come alive in spring.  Speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, pompano, jacks, ladyfish, and more will be caught on grass flats in 5″ to 10′ of water.  The flats near the passes will be very productive.  Anglers drift with the wind and tide and cast their baits out, searching for a school of fish.  Most fish will be found in schools or bunches.  Live shrimp and  a 1/4 ounce jig are the two most popular baits.  Shrimp can be fished undr a float or just free lined out behind the boat.

Snook, redfish, jacks, and trout will move into the shallow flats as they warm up and forage becomes available.  It seems like a contradiction, but the largest fish often inhabit very shallow water.  Artificial lures that cover a lot of water are often the best choice.  Plugs, weedless spoons, and light jigs are the top choices.  Low, incoming tides are best.  A live hand picked shrimp can work very well in water that is just a tad deeper.

Sarasota pass fishing in spring:

Both passes will be great options for anglers Sarasota spring fishing.  The rocks in Big Pass will still hold sheepshead, though their numbers will be dwindling.  Snapper will still be plentiful.  Drifting the passes while bouncing a jig will produce a LOT of ladyfish along with mackerel, blues, and pompano.

Inshore Gulf of Mexico fishing

When conditions are right, fishing the inshore Gulf can be world class.  East winds will result in calm, clear water.  Hordes of bait fish will move in, followed by the predator fish.  This is one of my favorite types of Sarasota fishing charters.  Spanish mackerel and false albacore will be seen feeding actively on the surface.  King mackerel, sharks, and even tarpon will be mixed in, especially .  Casting and trolling small spoons, jigs, and plugs is great sport!  A chunk of cut mackerel on a large hook with a steel leader will catch some fun sized sharks.

Surf fishing in Sarasota in the spring

Surf anglers Sarasota spring fishing should do well when the water is clear.  Trout, whiting, pompano, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, flounder, and ladyfiish will be caught using both live shrimp and lures.  High tides are best.

Summer Sarasota fishing forecast

Many of the clients that go out on a Sarasota fishing charter are surprised to learn that fishing can be outstanding in the summer.  The key is the abundance of bait through the inshore bays and passes and out on the beach.  Catching bait and using it as chum is extremely effective.  It is very hot, however, and fishing needs to be done early or late.  Heat indexes are very high mid day and the fish normally don’t bite as well.  Get out there early and do some Sarasota summer fishing!

Sarasota fishing forecast

Sarasota summer flats fishing:

Fishing on the deep grass flats from 6′ to 10′ is outstanding in summer.  What I like to do is start out at first light casting jigs.  That bite will last an hour or two, depending on the breeze and overcast.  Once that slows, I move in and load up on bait.  Using my cast net, I fill the well with small live minnows.  I then anchor up-tide and up-wind of a good flat.  Live minnows are tossed out behind the boat, attracting gamefish up behind.  Speckled trout, mackerel, snapper, grouper, bluefish, ladyfish, and more will readily take a live bait in this situation.  Action on the shallow flats will depend on water temperature.  If it gets too warm, fish will move off deeper.  But, as long as the water temperature hangs arounf 85 degrees and bait is present, anglers should succeed.

Sarasota summer snook fishing:

Snook fishing is very good in summer as well.  Just keep in mind that they are out of season and must be released immediately.  Anglers Sarasota summer fishing for snook will find them in the passes and out on the beaches.  Live bait works well when fishing the passes.  The water is deep in spots and the current can be swift.  Large pilchards and thread fin herring along with shrimp, pinfish, and grunts all work well.  Heavier jigs with a large swim bait tail can also produce vertically jigged while drifting.  Out of the beach, it is a completely different situation.  While anglers can use bait, artificial lures and flies work well, and are a better option for shore fishermen.  Any small, white jig, plug, or fly will fool them.  Snook can be seen right i the surf line, cruising the beach.  Sight casting to snook is great sport!

Tarpon fishing off of Sarasota beaches:

Sarasota sees a strong tarpon migration each year in late May and summer.  These fish average 75 pounds and grow over 200 pounds.  Tarpon are the ultimate game fish and the opportunity to cast to them with relatively light tackle is a unique one.  This is not for every angler.  There will be days that no fish are hooked. Tarpon fishing is “big game” fishing and the success rate is lower than that with smaller fish.

Fall Sarasota fishing forecast

Fall is an awesome time to go out on Sarasota fishing charters!  The weather is usually fantastic with cooler temperatures and the crowds are non-existent.  Angling opportunities abound as fishing is good both inshore and in the coastal Gulf of Mexico.  Fall is generally the best time to target Spanish mackerel and false albacore in the Gulf.

Sarasota fishing forecast

Inshore, flats, and passes in the fall:

Just about every inshore species will be available this time of year for anglers Sarasota fall fishing.  Speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, jacks, pompano, snapper, and ladyfish will be caught on the deep flats.  Jigs, plugs, and live shrimp will all produce.  Chumming with bait fish will be effective until the bait leaves, which is normally around Thanksgiving, but every year is different.  Snook will move back into the bays and scatter out and feed as winter approaches.  Topwater plugs, jigs, and live bait will produce around oyster bars, mangrove shorelines, and docks throughout the area.

Redfish will be schooled up in large numbers on the shallow flats, especially up north near Long Bar.  Weedless spoons and light soft plastic baits work well, but these fish can be spooky!  Passes should be thick with ladyfish, with pompano, Spanish mackerel, and bluefish mixed in. Anglers can find the current Florida fishing regulations at the FWC site.

Fall fishing in the inshore Gulf of Mexico:

I fish the beaches just off of Sarasota and Siesta Key whenever I get the chance in fall.  The opportunity to sight cast to breaking schools of ten pound false albacore using light tackle is great sport!  On my Sarasota fishing charters, I like to sit out on the beach or slowly idle around in Search of fish.  The three artificial reefs off of Lido Key in Sarasota and off Point of Rocks on Siesta Key.  Rapala plugs and Bass Assassin jigs are cast out into schools of breaking fish and worked quickly.  A hook up is almost assured, especially with mackerel.  Sharks are still fairly plentiful and will hit a piece of cut bait such as mackerel.

In conclusion, this Sarasota fishing forecast will help anglers understand the species, locations, and patterns that will help them catch more fish.

Capt Jim Klopfer

(941) 371-1390

captklopfer@comcast.net

1059 North Tamiami Trail Sarasota, Fl 34236

 

Sarasota speckled trout fishing

Sarasota speckled trout fishing, Sarasota fishing report

Sarasota speckled trout fishing is extremely popular. Speckled trout are arguably the most popular it saltwater inshore game fish in Florida. This is really true for the entire Gulf Coast.  An article on trout fishing follows my weekly Sarasota fishing report.

Weekly Sarasota fishing report

Angling success this week required me to keep moving on my Sarasota fishing charters.  Red tide has crept into Sarasota Bay.  The key to catching fish is to find “good” water.  The best water and spots this week were Bishop’s Pt., Buttonwood, Long Bar, and Stephen’s Pt.  Speckled trout and ladyfish were fairly plentiful.  Several times we ran across schools of jack crevelle foraging on the surface.  This is very exciting!  These fish are very aggressive and hit lures with gusto.  Bluefish were mixed in with them as well.  A few decent mangrove snapper were caught, too.

Sarasota speckled trout fishing

The wind eased up late in the week and we were able to find schools of “breaking” fish.  Clean water up in north Sarasota Bay had the fish bunched up pretty good.  Ladyfish and jacks were plentiful, with bluefish, Spanish mackerel, trout, and snapper mixed in.  Unfortunately, the red tide has been working north in Sarasota Bay.  I cancelled my Friday trip as the wind shifted west.  It was breezy and I did not think conditions would be good.  The odor was not nice, either.

Effective baits

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 can do so HERE on the PRODUCTS page.

Jigs and free lined live shrimp produced best this week.  A Gulp Shrimp on a 1/4 ounce jig head produced well.  Live shrimp on a #1 hook and a small split shot was effective as well.  Live shrimp can be small this time of year.  We call it “pee wee season”.  However, they did get a little better this week. 

One strategy that can be effective during red tide outbreaks is to fish “different” areas.  Fish will move out of their normal seasonal spots in search of water free of red tide.  This can push then into unconventional spots.  I don’t normally fish docks in canals and creeks this time of year.  However, we found success in Bowlees Creek up north, catching snapper, black drum, catfish, and other species bottom fishing with shrimp.

Speckled trout fishing in Sarasota

Sarasota speckled trout fishing

There are several reasons for the popularity of speckled trout. They are a beautiful fish. Speckled trout are abundant and available to coastal anglers throughout the state. Trout are aggressive, taking live bait, artificial lures, and flies. Lastly, they are fantastic table fare. What more could an angler ask for?

Most of the Sarasota speckled trout fishing is done on submerged grass beds in Sarasota Bay. A few trout are caught in the surf, in the passes, and near structure. However, the vast majority are found on grass flats in between four and ten feet of water. Some of the largest trout will be caught in very shallow water. These “gator” trout are normally loners and not in schools.

Trout tackle

Speckled trout can be caught using several different tactics and many different baits. This is one of the things that speckled trout so attractive to anglers. The oldest and still one of the most productive techniques is a live shrimp under a popping cork. This is a “system” that works very well on trout as well as other species on the grass flats.

Sarasota speckled trout fishing

Spinning tackle is the choice of most anglers fishing the inshore flats for speckled trout. A 6 ½ foot to 7 foot rod with a 3000 series reel is a versatile outfit. Ten pound monofilament line works well. Anglers who prefer braided line will do well with 20 lb braid. A 24” shock leader of 25lb to 30lb test finishes off the basic tackle.

The rig consists of a #1/0 live bait hook, 24” of 30 lb leader, and a noisy float or “cork”. These floats have a weight at the bottom and a concave top. It sits upright in the water and when the rod tip is sharply twitched, the cork “pops” in the water. This noise attracts fish as it imitates fish feeding on the surface. The depth can be adjusted, but generally three feet is a good depth.

Live bait for speckled trout

Anglers cast the rig out with a live shrimp hooked in the head under the horn. It is allowed to settle and then the cork is “popped”. The shrimp will rise up in the water then settle back down. Often times the bite occurs right after the cork is popped. When a fish pulls the cork under, the slack is eliminated and the hook is set. The process is repeated several times, then reeled in and cast back out.

Live bait fish such as pinfish and grunts can be used under a float as well. While difficult to obtain, there is no better bait for a nice speckled trout that a 3” grunt. Pilchards and threadfin herring can also be used. One new twist is to fish an artificial shrimp under a noisy cork. This works quite well!

Sarasota speckled trout fishing

Catching trout on artificial lures

Artificial lures are very effective for anglers Sarasota speckled trout fishing. The most popular lure is a lead head jig with some type of soft plastic body. ¼ ounce is a very good choice for a jig head. Most often, anglers will be fishing in six feet to eight feet of water. A ¼ ounce jig casts well and will get down in the water column.

Grub bodies come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. #3” to 4” baits work best in Sarasota Bay. That size matches the existing forage nicely. Shad tails have a great built in action and imitate bait fish nicely. Paddle tails and shrimp tails mimic shrimp, a favorite trout food. Color really is not all that important in most cases. The old saying “light colors in light water and dark colors in dark water” is a good guideline. White, pearl, glow, chartreuse, pink, olive, gold, rootbeer, and golden bream are all productive colors.

Scented baits

On days when the bite is tough, switching to scented soft plastic baits will sometimes get the bite going. The most effective scented soft plastic bait in this area are the Gulp line of baits. The 3” Gulp Shrimp has fooled many speckled trout on the west coast of Florida. It also works great fished under a cork with a 1/16 ounce jig head.

Plugs work well for speckled trout, too. Topwater plugs will catch large trout fished over bars and potholes on the high tide. First thing in the morning is the best time. MirrOlure makes several suspending plugs that have been catching trout for many years. The 52M series and Mirrodines work great.

Fly anglers are certainly not to be left out when it comes to Sarasota speckled trout fishing. Many speckled trout are fooled by skilled fly casters. The best out fit is a 7wt to 9wt rod with an intermediate sink tip line. A 9′ leader that tapers down to 20 lb tippet works fine. The most popular fly choice is the Clouser Minnow. Is is a weighted fly that actually fishes like a jig. Chartreuse and white is a proven color pattern.

Trout tactics

Speckled trout spend a lot of their lives loosely schooled over deep grass flats. Therefore, drifting the flats while fan casting out in front of the boat is an extremely effective technique. The best approach is to choose a flat where the wind and tide are moving in the same direction. This will facilitate a good drift.

Once some action is found, anglers have a choice. They can either continue continue the drift and then when the action slows motor around and drift again. Another approach is to quietly anchor the boat and thoroughly work the area with either lures or live bait.

One extremely productive technique is to chum with live bait. This works very well in the summer when bait is abundant and east to catch. A LOT of bait is required for this. Specialized equipment such as a cast net and the ability to toss it, a large well, and high volume pump are also needed.

Once the well is loaded up (“blacked out” as we call it) the boat in anchored in six feet of water or so. Anglers will do well to position the boat on the up-tide end of a good flat. Live bait fish are then tossed out behind the boat. Several baits are hooked up and cast out into the chum. If the trout and other game fish are around, it won’t take them long to show up. The chum will get them fired up and feeding.

Sarasota speckled trout fishing spots

The best flats in Sarasota Bay are from Siesta Key north. Bird Key, Radio Tower, Middlegrounds, Stephen’s Pt., Bishop’s Pt., Buttonwood, and Long Bar are the top spots. In the summer, the flats near the passes are usually the best spots to fish. Strong tidal flow and abundant bait fish as forage are a couple of reasons for this.

The area south, from Siesta Drive to Blackburn Pt. Does hold speckled trout. However, the character is I bit different. Grass beds are not at all plentiful. Most fish relate to oyster bars and mangrove shorelines. This area won’t produce the numbers of the north bay, but it will reward patient anglers with some quality fish.

Shallow water trout fishing

Some of the largest speckled trout will be caught in very shallow water. This seems like a contradiction, but it makes sense. Large fish do not need the safety of numbers. They also are less afraid of birds. Finally, large trout feed primarily on large baits such as pinfish, grunts, and mullet. They prefer one large meal versus a bunch of shrimp.

Shallow water trout fishing is very tide specific. Trout will position themselves on the edges of plats and in holes on the lower tide stages. As the water rises, they will fan out on the flats, scatter out, and feed. As the tide falls, trout will set up in likely ambush points. Bars that drop off, holes, and channels that run through flats are prime examples.

Tactics are a bit different in this “skinny” water. Topwater plugs are a good choice. They imitate a perfect sized mullet and will not hang up in the grass. Soft plastic baits used in conjunction with a weedless swim bait hook works well getting through the grass. If the grass is sparse or the tide high, a 1/8 ounce jig head with a 4” shad tail bait is a good choice. Weedless spoons will also produce in shallow water without hanging up.

Speckled trout fishing in winter

Speckled trout will move off of the flats in the winter if the water temperature drops into the mid 50’s. They will move to deeper holes, most of which are man made “dredge” holes. The same goes for channels cutting through a flat or near the edge. Trout will school up in the deeper, warmer water.

A jig bounced slowly off the bottom will catch these deep water trout. The fish will be a bit less active, so a more subtle presentation will usually be more productive. Live shrimp free lined with a split shot are seldom refused. It takes a bit of prospecting, but once a large school of trout is found, the action can be frantic.

Another productive winter Sarasota speckled trout fishing tactic is to anchor on the edge of a grass flat that drops off into deeper water. A free lined live shrimp with a small split shot works very well. Again, this can produce a lot of action if a school is found.

Silver trout

Sarasota speckled trout fishing

Silver trout are similar in appearance to speckled trout and are sometimes caught on the deep flats while speckled trout fishing.  They do not have spots and can have a purple back.  While they look similar, their habits are quite different.  Silver trout school up tightly in large numbers.  Once located, a bunch of them can be caught in short order. 

Silver trout are usually caught over sandy bottom in water, between 10′ and 20′ deep.  They are often targeted in the Gulf of Mexico, Point of Rocks is a top spot.  Jigs bounced on the bottom are very effective, as are live shrimp.  Silver trout pull surprisingly hard for their size.  There is no size or bag limit on silver trout.  They taste great but don’t freeze all that well.  The flesh can be a bit soft, so only keep enough for a couple of fresh fish dinners.

While speckled trout are outstanding table fare, it is very important to release the larger fish.  The current regulations allow anglers to keep three trout between 15″ and 19″ with one over 20″ per boat.  I strongly encourage the release of fish over 20″.  I do not kill them on my trips.  These are female breeders that we need to continue the success of the species.

Capt Jim Klopfer

(941) 371-1390

captklopfer@comcast.net

1059 North Tamiami Trail Sarasota, Fl 34236