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Captain's Weekly Fishing Report

Capt. Rick Grassett’s Sarasota, FL Fishing Report for 4/20/2014

Anglers fishing with me on my Action Craft flats skiff the Snook Fin-Addict, out of CB’s Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key, caught and released snook, reds, bluefish, trout and flounder in Sarasota Bay on flies, DOA Deadly Combos and CAL jigs with shad tails and snook at night in the ICW near Venice on flies during the past week. Although uncommon for this late in April, several fronts moved through causing wind and rain to be factors during the week.

Jamie Grow, from the Washington, DC area, fished with me on Monday morning. We took a look in the coastal gulf but didn’t find anything so we fished Sarasota Bay. He caught and released a few trout and ladyfish on an Ultra Hair Clouser fly on deep grass flats on the west side of the bay. Anna Maria and Sarasota winter residents, Bill Morrison and Gary Marple, snook fished with me in the ICW near Venice that evening. Action was slow to start but as the incoming tide picked up, snook turned on. They caught and released more than 15 snook to 23” on my Grassett Snook Minnow fly.

It was very windy out of the west when Rick White and Ben Garbowski, both from Apollo Beach, FL, fished Sarasota bay with me on Tuesday. We worked deep and shallow grass flats on the west side of the bay to seek shelter from the wind but action was slow. The action picked up some when Anna Maria and Sarasota winter residents, Bill Morrison and Gary Marple, fished Sarasota Bay with me on Thursday morning. They caught and released trout, including a couple of slot size fish, on Ultra Hair Clouser and EP flies on deep grass flats on the east side of the bay. Due to a stalled front with rain and wind, we decided not to snook fish on Thursday evening.

Action picked up on Friday when Stewart Lavelle, from Sarasota, FL and his son-in-law, Justin Goerke, from Manhattan, NY, fished Sarasota Bay with me. We worked mullet schools on a shallow flat on the east side of the bay at the top of the tide and it was on! They caught and released a couple of nice reds, several nice trout, flounder and a snook on CAL jigs with shad tails to complete their boat slam! The biggest trout, at more than 3-pounds, was caught and released on a Zara Spook top water plug.

John and daughters, Caitlin and Megan, from NY, fished Sarasota Bay with me on Saturday. With 15 to 20-mph winds out of the W-NW we fished shallow and deep flats on the west side of the bay where they caught and released a few trout, ladyfish and bluefish on CAL jigs with shad tails and DOA Deadly Combos. Caitlin caught and released the big fish of the day, a 5 ½-pound trout, on a DOA Deadly Combo! Several over slot trout, all full of roe, were caught and released this week. These big trout, which are usually females, are important to the health of our trout fishery.

Tides will improve towards the end of next week as we approach a new moon. Look for reds, snook and big trout on shallow flats or edges of bars in Sarasota Bay. Fishing deep grass flats for trout, blues, flounder and more should continue to be a good option. In addition to Spanish and king mackerel, false albacore (little tunny) and tripletail, tarpon should start to show any time now in the coastal gulf depending on conditions.

Sarasota Fishing Report Capt Jim Klopfer Adventure Charters out of CB's Saltwater Outfitters 4/19/2014

I ran charters every day this week, and despite breezy conditions, charters were fairly successful, including quite a few decent trout. The wind and "dirty" water (caused by the wind churning up the sand) made for more challenging conditions than we normally experience in mid-April. Still, anglers landed speckled trout to 25", bluefish and Spanish mackerel to 2 pounds, jack crevelle to 5 pounds, sheepshead, mangrove and lane snapper, red and gag grouper, sea bass, flounder, and ladyfish. Most of the fish fell for live shrimp though DOA and Cotee jigs caught a few, too. Big Pass, Stephen's Pt., and the flats north of New Pass were the best spots.

I started the week off on Sunday with Sarasota resident Paul Brunelle and his son Jay, the trip was a birthday present for Jay. They have their own boat and wanted to see some spots and techniques. We started off bottom fishing in Big Pass, catching sheepshead, snapper, and grouper. Then, we drifted the pass and caught ladyfish, Spanish mackerel, and jacks. A move up north resulted in speckled trout to 20", mackerel, and a lot of ladyfish at the Middlegrounds, Country Club Shores, Mooring, Bishop's Pt. , and Stephen's Pt using jigs and live shrimp.

On Monday Buddies Tom Brundz and Tim Gekas took their sons Zach Brudz (11) and Justin Gekas (14) out on a charter. A drift in Big Pass resulted in very little but a move to the Yacht Club Channel produced speckled trout, gag grouper, sea bass, Spanish mackerel, and loads of ladyfish using jigs and free lined live shrimp. I hit a couple of Bird Key docks looking for sheepshead but the pinfish were so thick we could not get a bait past them. We finished up at Marker # 5 with Zach landing a nice Spanish and Justin catching a big ladyfish.

The Bucko family from Wisconsin fought the wind on Tuesday morning. We basically picked at them, catching fish (sheepshead, ladyfish, snapper, trout, and a mackerel) in Big Pass, the Yacht Club Channel, and Radio Tower casting jigs and free lining shrimp. We finished up with a little better fishing at Country Club Shores, catching bluefish, trout, and ladyfish.

Chris Hardwick from Darien, CT took his two boys and dad out on Wednesday. It was cool and breezy following the front that had moved through the night before. Action was sporadic at first, they caught a few ladyfish in Robert's Bay and some sheepshead, mangrove snapper, and a flounder at the Siesta Drive Bridge. We did finish up with some decent action on bluefish, slot-sized speckled trout, and Spanish mackerel at Stephen's Pt, mostly on glow CAL jigs.

Keith Williams from the UK took two of his sons, Toby (5) and Thomas (13) out on Thursday. It was Toby's first fishing trip. They caught quite a variety of species. With a slack tide, I worked the structure along the north side of Siesta Key in Big Pass and the nearby deep grass flats with live shrimp once the tide picked up. Sheepshead, mangrove snapper, red grouper, lane snapper, gag grouper, speckled trout to 18", flounder, jacks, and ladyfish were caught on shrimp.

I had the best charter of the week on Friday with Ron Beech from Miamisburg, OH and his two sons Nathan (13) and Chris (16). They caught a bunch of species, including speckled trout to 25", Spanish mackerel, silver trout, jack crevelle to 5 pounds, gag grouper, sheepshead, mangrove snapper, ladyfish, sea bass, and more. Big Pass started off slow then the bite turned on as the tidal flow increased. Nathan caught a big jack and they all caught snapper and sheepshead. The current became too strong to fish so we moved to the deep flats where they caught mackerel, ladyfish, and trout. Chris had the hot hand with the speckled trout, landing two fat beauties of 21" and 25" on large live shrimp.

Dick Wahba and his 12 year old son Charlie from New York City finished off my week. Conditions were difficult, NW winds at 15-20 knots with dirty water, but we worked at it and wound up with a decent bag of fish. A couple of slot speckled trout along with several smaller ones, a decent silver trout, 2 12" mangrove snappers, jack crevelle, and a couple of very large ladyfish hit free lined live shrimp near Bird Key.

Capt. Jeffri Durrance's Fishing Report for 4/19/2013

Lakewood Ranch residents Marty Guice, John Gillman and Dwight Bissonette fished the Marina Jack and Bird Key flats this week catching jacks, ladyfish, speckled trout, Spanish mackerel and a small gag grouper. They used live shrimp and various jigs catch the fish. John came out on top catching a nice slot trout.

Todd Schneider and son Kenny of Connecticut fished on a windy day this week and were rewarded with a diverse catch. Fishing the Ringling flats and along the east side of the bay they used live shrimp and jigs to catch speckled trout, ladyfish, black drum, snapper, sheephead and Spanish mackerel. The fishing started slow and picked up later in the morning on the flooding tide.

Off shore the kingfish are biting when the weather allows you to get there. They are hitting spoons and lures as well as live bait. When you find the live bait, sabiki up some and put them right back out on light wire with a stinger hook. I like to use a 4/O nose hook and a #4 treble hook on 40# braided wire. You can add more trebles on larger baits.

Remember, the best time to go fishing is when you can and be sure to save some for seed!

Capt. Andy Cotton’s Sarasota, FL Fishing Report 4/20/14

Fishing was good this past week aboard my Action Craft Coastal Bay boat the O’Fishall out of CB’s Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key. Anglers scored with snook, trout, redfish, jack crevalle and bluefish.

Markus and his son Max Muhlhauser had a great day of fishing on Sunday. We concentrated on fishing the deep grass flats in Sarasota Bay. Max and Marcus had good action with spotted seatrout, jacks and ladyfish using DOA CAL Shad tail jigs. Tuesday trip consisted of more steady action on the deeper flats. A mixed bag of species was caught, spotted seatrout, ladyfish, jack crevalle and bluefish using DOA CAL jigs and fly.

Brian Karam from Buffalo, NY fly fished with me Wednesday. We concentrated on the shallow flats looking for quality vs quantity. Brain caught and released spotted seatrout to 3 pounds and a snook using Grassett’s Flats Minnow fly pattern tied in olive colors.

Thursday Mike Perez from Indiana scored an all time best spotted seatrout while fly fishing with me in Sarasota Bay. Mike and I wadded the shallow flats on the east side of the Bay. We fished around mullet schools that were pushing across the flats and caught a respectable 25” redfish on fly. Later in the day as the trip was winding down we worked one last area where some mullet schools were pushing off of oyster beds and Mike hooked up and we could tell it was a sizeable trout by the way it was fighting and rolling on the surface. We landed the fish and it measured out to be a 30” spotted seatrout. After few quick pictures we released the fish unharmed to fight another day. Great job Mike!!

Mel Moore from Charleston, NC had fast action before the weather deteriorated on Friday. We worked some docks, shallow flats and creek mouths in Sarasota Bay and had a great bite with snook and spotted seatrout on topwater plugs.

Capt. Bruce Burkhardt's Fishing Report for 4/12/2014

Finally we are getting the warm water we need to get our fish going. Last week it was pretty much the same old fishing we had for the last few months. Plenty of Trout, Jacks, Ladyfish and a few Black Sea Bass. At the end of the week we started catching Trout to 21 inches, Redfish to 24 inches and a 22 inch Snook fishing some old docks in Sarasota Bay. I expect we will be out on the beach fishing for Kingfish, Mackerel and Tunnys before the Easter weekend.

Capt. Ed Hurst's Fishing Report for 4/12/2014

Jerry and Jessica Murphy, Cleveland OH, enjoyed a beautiful morning fishing Sarasota Bay out of C B’s Saltwater Outfitters with Capt. Ed Hurst. Jerry was fly fishing using Enrico Puglisi baitfish patterns and Jessica was spin fishing using Cotee jig heads with gold grub tails. It was a toss-up as to caught the most fish. They both caught pompano, trout, jacks and ladyfish.

They wind has finally quieted down and the cold fronts have stopped coming through every few days. Water temperatures are in the low seventies, bait fish are starting to show up, and the predator fish are with them. I’m expecting to start seeing tarpon regularly and day now. I’ve seen a few already.

Capt. Jack Ryan Fishing Report for 4/19/14

Fishing this week was a little hit and miss on Sarasota Bay with some cool and windy days. However with some decent size live shrimp and getting out of the wind we made good catches of Bonnet head sharks and Trout to 18”. A few Flounder, Jacks, Sheepshead, and Spanish mackerel were also put on the ice for dinner.

With much better weather here for next week fishing will be much improved. Near shore gulf, look for Sharks, the Mackerel family, Cobia and more as the water clears up and some calmer water.

Capt. Roy String Fishing Report for 4/7/2014

The fishing this past week was pretty good with decent numbers of Speckled Trout starting to show on all of the deeper grass flats. The Sheep head bite continues to please anglers in big pass and new Pass. I fished Barb Provins from Bonita Springs on Sunday. We started out fishing just off of Pointer Rocks and Barb caught two Kingfish up to 15 pounds while trolling Yo-zuri Plugs. It started to get a little choppy so we decided to try for some Redfish... We were fishing with live shrimp and Barb caught 7 redfish that were up to 31 inches. We also caught a few Trout and Spanish Mackerel while fishing the flats... Sunday was a great day on the water. I am also starting to see a few Tarpon rolling around the bay. So if you are thinking about going Tarpon fishing, now is the time to book your trip. Tight Lines!

NOW is the time to start thinking about booking your Tarpon Trip if you have not already done so. We have some of the most amazing Tarpon fishing in Florida!!!! all of our Tarpon fishing in done right off all of our area beaches within 200 yards from shore. The Tarpon is definetly our largest and most exciting fish the come thru our area during thru months of May thru the second week of July. We primarily fish the Tarpon with live bait and there is also a good shot at catching them on the fly as well to the experienced fly caster!!!

Captain's Monthly Fishing Forecast

Capt. Jim Klopfer's Fishing Forecast for April 2014

Big Pass and New Pass will be alive with fish migrating in and out of the bay this month. Spanish mackerel, bluefish, pompano, and ladyfish should be plentiful. Pompano prefer a small white or chartreuse jig bounced along the bottom while the mackerel are often found higher in the water column or breaking on the surface. There is nothing more exciting than casting a surface plug on light tackle or a fly into a feeding frenzy!

Action on the deep flats will be very good for speckled trout, pompano, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, and ladyfish. The best flats to fish will be from Siesta Drive north to Long Bar. Flats that are near both passes will be especially productive. A ¼ ounce jig in gold, olive, or rootbeer is a great lure to prospect with; a lot of water can be covered and just about every species will hit it. Rapala X-Raps work very well when surface activity is seen, they also are a great lure to troll slowly and locate schools of fish. Silver and gold spoons are another good choice. Live bait works very well, too. There should be plenty of whitebait to net up and of course a live shrimp free lined or fished under a noisy float is a deadly technique.

Shallow water anglers will do well targeting the flats up north of Long Bar on the east side and north of the Moorings on the west side. A low, incoming tide is preferred, flood tides make locating fish more difficult. Weedless gold spoons, scented soft plastics, and topwater plugs also work well in shallow water. Expect to find snook, redfish, and large gator trout in the holes.

The area between Siesta Drive and Blackburn Point will be good for snook as they migrate out towards the beach to spawn. Any point, oyster bar, dock, or creek mouth that drops off into deeper water is a likely spot to try. High, outgoing tides are best. Plugs cover a lot of water and result in vicious strikes while jigs require more patience but will fool more redfish along with snook. Don’t be surprised when a big jack crevelle or trout inhales an offering meant for a snook or red.

This has been a fantastic season for sheepshead and while it is past its peak there should still be plenty of these tasty saltwater panfish around. Docks, seawalls, and bridges near passes will hold sheepies. A live shrimp fished on the bottom will fool them, along with snapper, grouper, and flounder.

April is a great month for anglers with a small boat and not a lot of experience to catch big fish. The beaches and inshore artificial reefs will be thick with king and Spanish mackerel, along with false albacore and the occasional cobia. Trolling spoons is very easy and deadly on all species. Use a planer and 20 feet of leader. With a #1 planer use 50 lb leader and a small Clark spoon and with a #2 planer use 80 lb leader and a large King spoon. Idle the boat along at 4 to 5 knots, let the #1 planer out 20 seconds and the #2 out 12 seconds. Then, just drive around until you find the fish. When surface activity is spotted, break out the light spinners or fly rod and experience some great sport!

Capt. Rick Grassett Fishing Forecast for April 2014

This is a great month for snook on shallow flats or around lighted docks and bridges in the ICW at night. Reds and trout will also be more active as the water warms and baitfish become more plentiful. You might find Spanish mackerel, blues and pompano in passes or on deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay. Look for Spanish mackerel, false albacore (little tunny), cobia and tripletail, in the coastal gulf this month. Tarpon should also make an appearance in back country areas and in the coastal gulf later in the month.

Tarpon will become more plentiful this month as resident fish make their way out of rivers and creeks and early arriving migratory fish begin to show along beaches, particularly by the end of the month. Water temperature in the gulf is a key factor with 80 degrees being an optimum temperature. As the water warms towards that, fish will become more plentiful. Resident fish may be rolling on deep grass flats in some of the same places that you find trout, laid up on edges of shallow grass flats or along sand bars. Spin anglers might score with a DOA shrimp, Baitbuster or Airhead while fly anglers might connect with a black Deceiver or Tarpon bunny fly. Keep your tarpon tackle, rigged and ready, this time of year so you’re able to take advantage of any opportunity that arises.

Snook season remains open this month, but will close on April 30th (full regulations can be found at Personally I’ve been asking my clients to release them while the population is still rebounding from the freeze of 2010. They should be staging on flats, around sand and oyster bars, on points of islands and around docks and bridges close to passes in the ICW. Spin anglers should score with CAL jigs and a variety of plastic tails, DOA Baitbusters, the new Airhead plastic bait or surface walking top water plugs. Fish the edges of bars and potholes when the tide is low and mangrove shorelines or points of islands when the tide is high. You’ll also find snook around docks and bridges in the ICW. Night snook fishing should be productive with small white flies, like my Grassett Snook Minnow fly, CAL jigs with shad tails and jerk worms, DOA Shrimp and Tiny TerrorEyz. Fish peak tidal flows for the best action. Docks and bridges in the ICW from Sarasota to the Venice Inlet are usually productive for snook in the spring.

Reds will spend more time feeding on shallow flats due to more plentiful bait. Look for them in potholes, the edges of bars and around docks when the tide is low. You’ll find them higher on flats over shallow grass or around mangrove shorelines when the tide is high. I like CAL jigs with shad tails for reds in shallow water. They are easy to fish in shallow water and are a good way to find reds. My Grassett Flats Minnow is my “go to” fly for reds. It fishes well in shallow water and its bend back design makes it very weedless. You may also find big trout in skinny water in many of the same places that you find reds. The same lures, flies and techniques used to find and catch reds will also work for big trout. I like the flats of north Sarasota Bay for reds and big trout in April.

Trout should be plentiful on deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay. I like to drift and cast ahead of my drift with CAL jigs and a variety of plastic tails or DOA Deadly Combos. Fly anglers should score with weighted flies on sink tip fly lines. I tie Clousers with Ultra Hair on long shank hooks so that they are durable and will hold up to toothy and rough mouth fish. Deep grass flats with a good tidal flow like the Middleground, Radio Tower and Marina Jack flats are usually good due to their close proximity to passes and good tidal flow.

You might also find blues, Spanish mackerel, pompano or flounder mixed with trout on deep grass flats. The same lures, flies and techniques that you use to find trout on deep grass will work for these species, too. You’ll need to tip your leader with wire or heavy fluorocarbon when blues and mackerel are around. I prefer heavy fluorocarbon and long shank hooks whenever possible, since that usually won’t affect the trout bite. Blues and mackerel usually don’t feed on the surface in the bay like they do in the open gulf, but you may see bait showering or boils indicating fast moving fish, feeding just below the surface. Pompano may “skip” when you run or drift past them giving their location away. When that happens, circle back upwind and drift the area. Flounder are often found in potholes, on the edges of bars or on mud bottom.

There should be good action in the coastal gulf this month with Spanish and king mackerel, false albacore (little tunny), cobia and tripletail. Look for Spanish mackerel or albies feeding on the surface. You might find tripletail or cobia around crab trap floats. Your tarpon spin or fly tackle can do double duty for cobia and medium spinning tackle or an 8 or 9-weight fly rod will cover everything else. Artificial reefs or natural areas of hard bottom may hold any of these species. When fishing these areas you will need to get your lure, fly or bait down in the water column to the level where fish are located.

April is one of my favorite months. There should be good action in Sarasota Bay on both shallow and deep grass flats, in the coastal gulf for mackerel, albies, cobia and tripletail and with tarpon by the end of the month. I like early season tarpon, since they are usually aggressive, but there should be lots of other options, too. Whatever you choose to do, please limit your kill, don’t kill your limit!

Tide Charts

Port Charlotte/ Boca Grande


1249 Stickney Point Road on Siesta Key
(at Stickney Point Bridge)
Sarasota, Florida 34242
941-349-4400 Fax: 941-346-1148
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