|Captain's Weekly Fishing Report
Capt. Rick Grassett’s Sarasota, FL Fishing Report for 3/2/2014
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 trout, reds and snook in Gasparilla Sound on CAL jigs with shad tails; redfish, trout, sheepshead and Spanish mackerel in Sarasota Bay and snook and jacks in the ICW at night near Venice on flies during the past week.
I was out of town for a few days and returned on Tuesday night in time for Keith McClintock, from Lake Forest, IL, to fish Gasparilla Sound near Boca Grande with me on Wednesday. We fished hard in shallow water, hunting reds with some success. Keith caught and released a pair of slot reds, several trout and a snook on CAL jigs with shad tails to complete his slam. We also fished a sand bar where he caught and released a few jacks and a 36” blacktip shark also on a CAL jig with a shad tail.
Anna Maria and Sarasota winter residents, Bill Morrison and Gary Marple, fished Sarasota Bay with me on Thursday morning. We fished deep grass flats on the east side of the bay where they caught and released numerous trout and a couple of Spanish mackerel on Ultra Hair Clouser flies. Frank Zaffino, from Rochester, NY, snook fished with me in the ICW near Venice that evening. It was cool (50’s) and drizzling rain all night, but the snook bite was hot! He caught and released more than 20 snook to 25” and several jacks in the 3 to 4-pound class on my Grassett Snook Minnow fly.
Nick Reding, from Longboat Key, FL and Mike Perez, from Sarasota, FL, fished Sarasota Bay with me on Friday. We waded a shallow grass flat on the west side of the bay where they had good action catching and releasing several trout to 4 1/2-pounds, an 8-pound red and a sheepshead on Clouser and my Grassett Flats Minnow flies. A good day!
I gave a presentation, “How to Catch More Fish on a Fly”, at the “Outdoors Expo & Boat Show” (formerly the Frank Sargeant Show) at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa on Saturday and also spent some time with my friends at the DOA Fishing Lures booth. If you’re interested in learning how to fly fish, there’s still time to sign up for the next CB’s Saltwater Outfitters Orvis-Endorsed Fly Fishing School, which will be on March 8th. The class will cover fly casting basics, shooting line, roll cast, leader construction and saltwater fly fishing techniques. Contact CB’s Saltwater Outfitters at (941) 349-4400 to sign up.
Snook season reopened on Florida’s gulf coast on March 1st and will remain open through April 30th. Bag limit is one fish per angler per day, which must be in a slot from 28”-33”. Fish should be measured horizontally from the tip of the nose (mouth closed) to the pinched tip of the tail. The majority of fish will be undersized, so handle them gently and release them as quickly as possible. If you want a digital image of your trophy, be ready with your camera and support the fish horizontally with two hands for a quick shot. There is a great article on fish handling, including photography tips, on the Florida FWC web site at the following link, http://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational/fish-handling/. Personally, I will continue to ask clients to release all snook while the population rebounds from the devastating freeze of 2010.
Look for reds and big trout on shallow flats or edges of bars in Sarasota Bay as we head away from a new moon next week. Fishing deep grass flats for trout, Spanish mackerel, blues, pompano and more should continue to be a good option. You may also find tripletail in the coastal gulf when conditions are good.
Sarasota Fishing Report Capt Jim Klopfer Adventure Charters out of CB's Saltwater Outfitters 3/2/2014
I had another diverse week of fishing on my charters this week, both in Sarasota Bay and in the Myakka River. Spanish mackerel and sheepshead continued to lead the way with some nice mangrove snapper, red and gag grouper, black drum, speckled trout, ladyfish, and bluefish. Snook, bass, gar, and catfish ate Rapala plugs in the Myakka River.
On Monday Bill Thiel and Gary Grube had a nice mixed-bag charter. We started off hitting some docks and catching several shepshead, red and gag grouper, and mangrove snapper to 14" using live shrimp. We moved to Big Pass where the Spanish mackerel bite was on! Drifting live shrimp produced a dozen macks. We finished up on the nearby deep flats, landing more mackerel, speckled trout, and a bunch of ladyfish.
Renee and Shane Cassidy from Downers Grove, IL took out their children Rive`(7) and Creed (6) on Tuesday morning. Grouper and sheepshead hit shrimp at the docks in Big Pass, Spanish mackerel and ladyfish were caught in Big Pass and the nearby flats, black drum were caught under docks in Robert's Bay and mangrove snapper were biting in Phillippi Creek.
The fish bit well for Jeff Manby from Brookfield, WI and his dad Bill. Spanish mackerel and bluefish hit trolled white #8 Rapala X-Raps. We then moved to the docks and landed sheepshead and gag grouper using live shrimp. We finished up at Marker # 5 catching some ladyfish as the wind was cranking up. Thursday was breezy and cool, so we rescheduled.
I was in the Myakka River on Friday with Jeff Bishop from Cleveland, OH. We ran in the afternoon as it was quite cool early. The snook bit well, we landed a half dozen or more to 28", missed several more, and lost a BIG fish right at the end. We also caught a gar and had on a large catfish. Rapala X-Raps in gold and Jointed BX Minnows in Firetiger caught them.
Back in the river Saturday morning with Chris Patrick and his buddy Lanny. Things started out great with mist covering the water and a pair of snook hitting Rapalas. Then, the sun came out and it got tough, no wind, bright sun, less than optimum conditions. Chris did end the trip on a high note with a fat 4 1/2 pound largemouth bass.
Capt. Jeffri Durrance's Fishing Report for 3/2/2013Clark Nash, Marty Benson and Shaan Pembleton fished in 100 feet of water off Sarasota this week catching a variety of snapper, red grouper, scamp and amberjack. Using jigs, live shrimp, squid, finger mullet and pinfish Clark took top honors with an 18 lb red grouper. They also caught and released several red snapper to 14 lbs and gag grouper to 15 lbs.
Rich Madzel and Peter Horowitz used live shrimp, gold spoons and jigs around Bird Key to catch a variety of fish. Going home for dinner were black drum, mangrove snapper and Spanish mackerel. They also caught ladyfish and pompano. Top angler goes to Rich catching the most and largest fish.
Dean & Aviva Friedman of Detroit, MI had a spectacular day on the water this week. Just ahead of an approaching cold front they found snook, speckled trout, Spanish mackerel and ladyfish feeding along the east side of Sarasota Bay. Using live shrimp the first big fish in the boat was a trout just short of 23” caught by Dean. Later Aviva trumped Dean’s trout with a fish just over 23”. She also caught a 30” cobia that on the light tackle had her going all around the boat. She then proceeded to catch a small redfish, followed by the large trout and then several snook. The largest snook was a beautiful 29” specimen that gave her a really nice bay slam (trout, redfish & snook). It was a great morning!
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 3/2/14Fishing was good this past week aboard my Action Craft Coastal Bay boat the O’Fishall out of CB’s Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key. Fly and spin Anglers caught snook, pompano, spanish mackerel, spotted seatrout, flounder and bluefish.Tuesday Fred Hayes and Roger Nelson fly and spin fished with me in Sarasota Bay. We started working the deep grass flats on the east side of the bay. Fred and Roger caught and released several spotted seatrout and ladyfish. As the action started to slow we moved to some deep grass flats around Buttonwood Harbor and the bite picked up. They caught Spanish mackerel, pompano and ladyfish using a clouser style minnows and DOA CAL Shad tails.
Allan Kenney and Dick Kammerer fished a full day with me on Wednesday. Looking for some meat for the table we started at the middle grounds and worked our way up the east side of Sarasota Bay. Allan and Dick boated several Spanish mackerel and spotted seatrout to take home for dinner.
Bill Cote and his 9 yr old son Evan had a great trip on Friday. We concentrated on fishing the deep grass flats near the passes and Stephens Pt. Fishing started a little slow at the middle grounds with the guys catching a few ladyfish. We moved on to find some faster action on the east side of the bay. After a couple of drifts the bite picked up and the duo caught and released numerous fish from spotted seatrout, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, bluefish and flounder using DOA CAL Shad tail jigs. Evan caught the biggest fish of the day a 4 pound Spanish mackerel!
Sunday’s trip with Josh Hund produced a variety of species of fish. We started in the coastal Gulf looking for tripletail on the crab floats after a couple of rejections and missed bites we moved on into Sarasota Bay. We worked some mullet schools in shallow water areas around Longbar and we caught and released spotted seatrout to 4 pounds and a 26” snook using top water plugs. On our way back to the boat ramp we stopped and fished around Buttonwood Harbor and Josh caught respectable size pompano using a DOA CAL Shad tail jig.
Capt. Bruce Burkhardt's Fishing Report for 3/2/2014
Fishing last week aboard the Casual Lies was pretty good everyday. Areas we fished were deeper grass flats in Sarasota Bay. Live shrimp didn't catch a lot of fish but the fish we caught on them were good fish. C,A,L. jigs in gold and silver/glow produced Mackerel, Bluefish, Trout to 18.5 inches, Jacks and Pompano to 16 inches. Friday I fished little Sarasota Bay, and it was alittle slower at the end of the trip. We did catch a lot of fish early like Trout to 18 inches, Gag Grouper, Jacks and Mackerel.
With the water warming up look for big Mackerel, Kingfish, Cobia, and Tunnys to start showing up in a week or two along the beach. Can't wait!!
Capt. Ed Hurst's Fishing Report for 3/2/2014
I have been guiding for over thirty years and thought I had seen it all. But last week I had a new experience. I guided two ladies fly fishing. I have taken many ladies fly fishing but never two at the same time. Heather Cartwright and Hillary Wyche , Toronto Ont, enjoyed a very nice morning fly fishing in Sarasota Bay. They caught trout, pompano, ladyfish, jacks and mackerel. The most productive fly was a chartreuse and white Clouser deep minnow fished on a sink tip line. Both Heather and Hillary are welcome on my boat anytime.
Capt. Jack Ryan Fishing Report for 3/2/14It has been a real good week for our customers on the Sea Dog w/Capt. Jack out of CB’s. Near shore reefs produced Spanish Mackerel, Mangrove snapper, Sheepshead to 5lb. or better, Permit, Small Gag grouper and Key West grunts. All these fish were caught on live shrimp.
Inshore fishing results were about 25 Spanish Mackerel mostly released if not injured) trolling gold and silver spoonplugs with Spoonplug company writer and angler Chase Klinesteker and his wife Sandra. Sheepshead, Trout to 18”, Sea Bass, and a few Pompano were also caught. Most of these fish were hitting Cotee jigs(any color) on a 1/4oz. jig head.
Our locations were Big Pass flats, Middle Grounds, and the East side of Sarasota Bay. Sheepshead around Siesta Key docks with a slower in or out going tide change. Fresh cut shrimp was the choice a baits here.
Capt. Roy String Fishing Report for 2/23/2014
The fishing this past week was pretty good with a lot of Mackerel showing up in all the passes and all over the bay. We also had caught a fair number of Pompano on the flats. The weather continues to please everyone with temps in the 80's. I am expecting a good push of migratory fish to start showing in the next couple weeks. I would also say that its time to start booking Tarpon Trips. We have some of the best Tarpon fishing just off our area beaches... I hope everyone has a awesome week! Capt. Roy
Captain's Monthly Fishing Forecast
Capt. Jim Klopfer's Fishing Forecast for March 2014
March is a great month to fish in Sarasota. It is the first month of spring, both on the calendar and outside. The list of available species is long; snook, redfish, trout, pompano, cobia, king and Spanish mackerel, sheepshead, flounder, snapper, grouper, jack crevelle, and sharks just to name a few.
Big Pass and New Pass will be very productive this month, particularly when the water is clean. Often times the tide is low in the morning, making the passes a great place to start off a trip and bend some rods. Ladyfish are usually thick, with bluefish, mackerel, and pompano mixed in. Live bait will work, but this is a great situation to cast artificial lures. Fish in the passes are usually actively feeding and can be seen busting baits on the surface. Gold Cotee grubs on a ¼ ounce jig head and (08) Rapala X-Raps are two effective lures. The sheepshead run will peak this month. Just about any structure near either pass will hold these tasty critters. A live shrimp fished on the bottom should result in a fish dinner pretty easily.
Speckled trout will be schooled up over deep grass flats throughout the entire area. Incoming tides are best, but as long as the water is moving the fish will bite. A live shrimp under a noisy cork is a proven trout slayer. Jigs, spoons, and plugs will fool many fish, too. Pompano, mackerel, ladyfish, bluefish, jacks, and a stray cobia will also be encountered when fishing over the grass flats. These are large areas, the key to success is to keep moving until fish are located, do not spend too much time in one spot if it is not producing.
Snook will move out of their winter retreats on their way out to the Gulf to spawn. Any structure with a depth change is a likely place to catch a snook. Docks, bridges, and oyster bars are all very productive, especially those with some current. Plugs and scented soft plastic baits are the top choices, along with a large hand-picked shrimp. Fishing the area bridges at night is a great way to catch a bunch of snook. Free-lined live shrimp, artificial shrimp and plugs work well. Fly fisherman will score using any small white baitfish pattern.
Anglers who prefer to sight fish in very shallow water will do well working the expansive flats up in north Sarasota Bay from the Moorings north to Longboat Pass on the west side and Ringling north to Tidy Island on the east side. The flat north of Long Bar is a top spot; lush grass and numerous potholes attract the fish. Reds, snook, and large trout will hide in the potholes. Gulp! Shrimp and soft plastic baits on a 1/8 ounce jig head worked slowly through the holes will entice strikes. Weedless gold spoons are a great bait to use when prospecting or when the fish are scattered, anglers can cover a lot of water quickly with these lures.
The beach should come alive this month, provided the winds cooperate. Spanish and king mackerel will invade the area, along with cobia, sharks, and false albacore. The inshore reefs off of Lido Key are a great place to start, they hold a lot of fish. Trolling spoons and plugs is a deadly technique and will fill the cooler in short order. For more sport, look for breaking fish on the surface and cast plugs, spoons, or flies out into the frenzy, a vicious strike should occur immediately!
Capt. Rick Grassett Fishing Forecast for March 2014
There should be good action with reds, trout and snook in skinny water in March as baitfish become more plentiful. Look for Spanish and king mackerel, cobia, tripletail and false albacore (little tunny) in the coastal gulf. Night snook fishing in the ICW should also be a good option this month.
Snook season reopens this month on the west coast, although personally I will continue to ask clients to release them while the population is still rebounding from the freeze of 2010. This should be a good month for snook fishing at night around lighted docks and bridge fenders in the ICW. I like the area known as “snook alley” from Little Sarasota Bay to Venice. DOA Shrimp, CAL jigs with shad tails and small white flies, like my Grassett Snook Minnow, usually work well at night since glass minnows and shrimp are the predominate bait. Focus on shadow lines where light meets dark and fish strong tides for the best action. Although snook may also be found in rivers, creeks or canals in March, they will also start to move onto shallow flats, particularly on sunny afternoons when it’s warm. I like larger lures like CAL jigs with jerk worms, DOA Baitbusters, DOA Airheads or wide profile flies like Clousers, Deceivers and EP flies, for snook on the flats.
Look for early season tarpon that may start to show in backcountry areas. These are usually adult resident fish that are making their way out of rivers and creeks. They may be “laid up” or rolling on deep grass flats, on edges of shallow flats or along bars when it is calm. An accurate cast with a DOA Airhead or a Deceiver or Tarpon Bunny fly may result in an explosive strike! Look for them in areas of Sarasota Bay, lower Tampa Bay or in Gasparilla Sound on some of the same deep grass flats where you find trout.
Reds should be more active as the water warms and baitfish become more plentiful. Higher tides, as we head into spring, will allow them to spend more time feeding in shallow water. Look for them over shallow grass, along mangrove shorelines and around oyster bars when the tide is high. You should find them in potholes and along sand bars when the tide is low. I like the shallow flats of north Sarasota Bay for reds this month. I like 1/16-ounce CAL jigs with shad tails and jerk worms to locate reds. Fly anglers should score with my Grassett Flats Minnow fly, fished on a 12’ or longer leader. When using a long leader be sure you are able turn it over, otherwise you’ll need to shorten it until you can. The butt section should be at least 50% of the total length of the leader and stiff enough to transfer energy from your fly line to the leader.
You might also find reds around docks when the tide is low. Look for deep water under docks with a good tidal flow for the best action. A 1/8-ounce CAL jig with a shad tail or grub or a weighted fly fished on clear intermediate sink tip fly line a 6’ leader with should work well for dock fishing.
You may find big trout in skinny water in many of the same places that you find reds. Blind cast seams where grass meets sand or focus on light colored bottom, in potholes on top of sand bars, where you may be able to sight fish them. You should also find trout plentiful on deep grass flats along with Spanish mackerel, blues, flounder or pompano. I like to make a series of drifts, casting ahead of the drift with CAL jigs with shad tails, DOA Deadly combos or an Ultra Hair Clouser fly tied on a long shank hook and fished on a clear intermediate sink tip fly line to locate fish. Also look for birds, bait showering out of the water or boils on the surface that will indicate fish feeding below. When mackerel and blues are around, you may need to add 6” of 40# to 60# fluorocarbon or wire to your leader. Top water plugs and fly poppers also work well when blues and mackerel are around and may help locate them by attracting them from further away. Flounder may be found on sand or mud bottom areas on both shallow and deep grass flats or around docks. Pompano may skip on the surface when you drift or run past them, giving their location away. Fish deep grass flats with a mixture of grass and sand and a strong tidal flow for the best action.
You may also find Spanish or king mackerel, false albacore (little tunny), cobia or tripletail in the coastal gulf this month. Look for diving or hovering terns to find Spanish mackerel or false albacore feeding on the surface. ¼-ounce CAL jigs with shad tails or jerk worms or top water plugs should work well for spin anglers. Fly anglers should score with small white flies, like my Grassett Snook Minnow or Ultra Hair Clousers fished on an intermediate sink tip fly line.
Run crab trap lines at various depths to find tripletail or cobia around crab trap floats. Fly anglers should score on tripletail with DOA shrimp or lightly weighted flies with weed guards. Cobia may also be swimming on the surface as they migrate from south to north following warmer water and baitfish. DOA Baitbusters, DOA Airheads and large, wide profile flies, like Deceivers or EP flies would be good fly choices for cobia. In the absence of any fish on the surface, check out one of the many artificial reefs or natural hard bottom areas that may hold baitfish and predators. Drift over structure and cast DOA Baitbusters or weighted flies on fast sinking fly lines to get deeper in the water column to catch them.
Conditions will improve during March and fishing should heat up. Flats and night snook fishing are usually good options this month. I like to check the coastal gulf when conditions are good, since you could find something really good happening there. Whatever you choose to do, please limit your kill, don’t kill your limit!
Port Charlotte/ Boca Grande