CB’s Monthly Fishing Forcast

Capt. Rick Grassett’s Monthly Forecast for June 2017

Reported: June 2nd, 2017 by Capt. Rick Grassett

 

Tarpon should be plentiful in the coastal gulf this month as big schools of fish migrate along our beaches. Also look for cobia, tripletail and false albacore (little tunny) in the coastal gulf. Catch and release snook fishing should also be good in and around passes and in the surf. Fishing for trout and reds should be good early and late in the day on shallow grass flats.

Tarpon fishing should be strong this month as schools of fish increase in size and numbers. They will head offshore to spawn close to new and full moons. Set up in travel lanes along the beach at first light in the morning and cast live crabs, baitfish, DOA Baitbusters and Swimming Mullet to them. I travel well offshore along the beach in the morning to avoid disturbing schools of tarpon that may be traveling or “laid up” close to the beach. Once you’ve reached the area you intend to fish, ease into the beach with an electric trolling motor and set up in your spot. You can anchor or drift, depending on conditions. Give other anglers as much room as possible. Since fish may be moving both north and south, setting up too close to another angler may negatively affect their fishing.

Use tackle heavy enough to land them as quickly as possible. When spin fishing, I usually drift a couple of live baits under a float while we wait for tarpon schools to pass by. Blind casting with DOA Baitbusters or Swimming Mullet can also be productive when fish are moving past you but not showing well on the surface. The CAL 4” Shad Tail/Swimbait with a heavy weedless hook is also a good tarpon bait, especially when sight fishing.

When fly fishing, I use 12-weight rods and large arbor reels capable of holding 300-yards or more of backing with a 25-pound tippet. I use a variety of baitfish, shrimp or crab fly patterns fished on floating or intermediate sink tip fly lines. The shallower the water, the easier it is to get your fly in front of a fish when fly fishing. Stake out or anchor in travel lanes to get shots at them.

Snook season remains closed this month, so also use tackle heavy enough to catch and release them quickly. You should find them in the surf, in passes and around docks and bridges in the ICW near passes. You can walk the beach and sight fish them in the surf with fly or spinning tackle. Small baitfish fly patterns, CAL jigs with shad tails and jerk worms or DOA shrimp should all work well. The same lures and flies that work in the surf will also work well at night. Snook will congregate in passes around the new and full moons to spawn. They will usually be in deep channels in these areas. Bouncing a DOA TerrorEyz or Baitbuster in bridge channels or passes can be an effective technique in these areas.

Fishing for reds should also be good in June. Look for them over shallow grass along mangrove shorelines or around oyster bars when the tide is high. You’ll find them in potholes or edges of flats when the tide is low. Top water plugs will work well, especially early in the day. I like to cover water with CAL jigs and shad tails or jerk worms to find them. Fly anglers should score with baitfish fly patterns like my Grassett Flats Minnow or Gurglers. You’ll also find big trout in the same areas where you find reds in shallow water. You can use the same lures and flies to catch them although first light in the morning will be prime time to catch a “gator”.

You’ll also find trout schooling on deep grass flats along with the occasional Spanish mackerel, bluefish or pompano this month. I like to drift and cast ahead of my drift with CAL jigs and shad tails or jerk worms or DOA Deadly Combos. Fly anglers should score by drifting and casting ahead of the drift with Ultra Hair Clouser flies tied on long shank hooks on an intermediate sink tip fly line. You’ll need to add a few inches of heavy (50 or 60-pound) fluorocarbon when toothy fish are in the mix. Deep grass flats on points, such as Stephens and Bishop Point and near passes, like the Middleground, Radio Tower, and Marina Jack flats are usually good deep grass flats in Sarasota Bay.

In addition to tarpon look for Spanish mackerel, false albacore, cobia, and tripletail in the coastal gulf this month. Although none of them may be thick, I’ve encountered all of them before in June. Keep your eyes open for bird activity or “breaking” fish to find albies and mackerel. Cobia and tripletail may be found around crab trap floats; however, I’ve seen cobia swimming with tarpon schools before. Medium spinning tackle and a DOA Shrimp or CAL jig will get the job done for all of them, although your tarpon tackle would also work well for a big cobia. An 8 or 9-weight fly rod with a floating or clear sink tip fly line is adequate to catch everything except a big cobia, in which case your 12-weight tarpon fly tackle will work well.

There are lots of options in inshore waters or the coastal Gulf this month. If pulling on a 100-pound tarpon isn’t for you, fishing pressure is usually light inshore this month so reds, snook, trout and more should also be good options. Whatever you choose to do, please limit your kill, don’t kill your limit!

Capt. Rick Grassett

Rick is the owner of Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc. He's a full time fishing guide and outdoor writer based in Sarasota, FL. He’s been guiding since 1990 and is an Orvis-Endorsed fly fishing guide here at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters, the 2011 Orvis Out­fit­ter of the Year.


Capt. Rick Grassett’s Monthly Forecast for May 2017

Reported: May 5th, 2017 by Capt. Rick Grassett

 

Tarpon fishing will take off during May as migratory fish arrive along our beaches. Also look for Spanish mackerel, tripletail, cobia and false albacore (little tunny) in the coastal gulf. Snook will move into passes and the surf and reds and trout should feed heavily on shallow flats as baitfish become more plentiful. Trout, blues, Spanish mackerel and more should be good options on deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay.

Tarpon should be a good option in May. Cliff Ondercin, from Sarasota, FL, fights a tarpon and then measures the girth, to get an estimated weight on a tarpon that he caught and released while fishing the coastal gulf in Sarasota with Capt. Rick Grassett in a previous May.

Tarpon should be a good option in May.

Resident tarpon are usually the first to show up as they make their way out of rivers and creeks. As migratory tarpon start to arrive this month, we should have schools of tarpon moving both north and south along our beaches Early arriving tarpon may be more aggressive due to less fishing pressure early in the season. Set up in their line of travel and wait for tarpon schools to move past and cast a DOA Baitbuster, a 4” CAL Shad, a live crab or pinfish to them.

Once you’ve seen the first school of fish, you can concentrate your efforts in that “lane” since other schools should be following the same route. When they aren’t showing well on the surface, a live bait under a float in their travel lane may score. I’ve also done well blind casting a DOA Baitbuster or Swimming Mullet when there wasn’t much showing on the surface.

Be quiet, using your electric trolling motor sparingly, especially in shallow water. Even though your 4-stroke outboard sounds quiet, it is no substitute for an electric trolling motor.

Fly anglers should do well with a variety of baitfish or crab fly patterns fished on floating or intermediate sink tip fly lines. Staking out or anchoring in shallow water on their travel route should result in some shots at fish. The best angle is a “head on” shot, followed by a quartering shot. A perpendicular shot may work if it’s timed perfectly, although casting too far beyond their line of travel will usually spook them. I use a push pole with an occasional assist from a trolling motor if I need to adjust my position to make a cast.

Snook season is closed on the west coast of Florida this month. Since they will be spawning, use tackle heavy enough to catch and release them in a timely manner and handle them gently. Larger snook will mostly be females and should always be supported horizontally rather than hung vertically by the jaw. You’ll find them in passes and in the surf. They will also stage around docks and bridges close to passes. Casting CAL jigs with shad tails and jerk worms or DOA shrimp around docks and bridges close to passes should be effective. Small white flies, like my Grassett Snook Minnow, work well at night. One of the most fun ways to target snook is to walk the beach and cast CAL jigs, DOA shrimp or flies to them in the surf.

Higher tides this month will mean that reds will spend more time feeding on shallow flats. Look for them along mangrove shorelines and around oyster bars when the tide is high and in potholes or along sandbars when the tide is low. When fishing shallow water for reds, be as quiet as possible. I prefer to use a push pole or wade. Reds are one of the most challenging species to catch on a fly. Since they can be very spooky, I often wade for them when fly fishing to keep a lower profile. You’ll also find big trout in many of the same shallow areas that you find reds. The Terra Ceia Bay area, north Sarasota Bay and Gasparilla Sound are all good areas for reds this month.

Trout will be plentiful on deep grass flats. I prefer to cast CAL jigs and flies on sink tip fly lines for trout. A DOA Deadly Combo also works very well. Drifting and casting ahead of the drift is usually the most productive method. Look for flats that have a good mix of grass and sand and good tidal flow. The Middleground and Radio Tower flats, Stephens Point and Bishops Point are all great trout areas in Sarasota Bay.

You may find pompano, bluefish and Spanish mackerel on the same deep grass flats where trout are plentiful. They can be targeted in the same way as trout, but you may need to use wire or heavy fluorocarbon leader when toothy fish are around. You may also find Spanish and king mackerel, little tunny, cobia and tripletail in the coastal gulf. Keep your eyes open for surface activity such as diving birds, breaking fish or baitfish being forced out of the water which could indicate the presence of mackerel, blues or little tunny. Medium spinning tackle and 8 or 9-weight fly tackle should be heavy enough, although your tarpon spinning and fly tackle is not too heavy for cobia. Look for cobia either swimming on the surface or around navigational markers or buoys. I have also found cobia swimming with schools of tarpon before. Tripletail may be found around crab trap floats or buoys, where they can be targeted with a DOA shrimp or CAL jig on spinning tackle. When fly fishing for tripletail, a floating line on an 8 or 9-weight fly rod with a shrimp or baitfish fly pattern, like my Grassett Flats Minnow, should get the job done.

This is one of my favorite months of the year. If battling a big tarpon isn’t for you, you should have plenty to do on both shallow and deep grass flats or in the coastal gulf. I’ll be spending my time targeting tarpon in the coastal gulf unless conditions won’t allow it. There is something about casting a fly to a giant fish in shallow water! Whatever you choose to do, please limit your kill, don’t kill your limit!

Capt. Rick Grassett

Rick is the owner of Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc. He's a full time fishing guide and outdoor writer based in Sarasota, FL. He’s been guiding since 1990 and is an Orvis-Endorsed fly fishing guide here at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters, the 2011 Orvis Out­fit­ter of the Year.


Capt. Rick Grassett’s Monthly Forecast for April 2017

Reported: April 1st, 2017 by Capt. Rick Grassett

 

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 backcountry 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 4” CAL Shad Tail 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 www.myfwc.com). Personally, I’ll continue to ask clients to release them since they are such a magnificent gamefish. 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 including the 4” CAL Shad, DOA Baitbusters, and Airheads or surface walking topwater 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 a 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 the 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 the 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!

Capt. Rick Grassett

Rick is the owner of Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc. He's a full time fishing guide and outdoor writer based in Sarasota, FL. He’s been guiding since 1990 and is an Orvis-Endorsed fly fishing guide here at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters, the 2011 Orvis Out­fit­ter of the Year.


Capt. Rick Grassett’s Monthly Forecast for Mar. 2017

Reported: March 5th, 2017 by Capt. Rick Grassett

 

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. Snook are a fantastic gamefish and I would rather my clients have the chance to catch and release a big snook many times rather than eat it once. This should be a good month for snook fishing at night around lighted docks and bridge fenders in the ICW. 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, CAL 4” Shad Tails, DOA Baitbusters and the new DOA PT soft plastic top water lure 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 Shrimp or Baitbuster 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 a good option in skinny water during March. Capt. Rick Grassett waded a Sarasota Bay flat in a previous March and caught and released this one on a Grassett Flats Minnow fly.

Reds are a good option in skinny water during March.

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 10’-12’ 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 a clear intermediate sink tip fly line with 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.

Tripletail should be a good option in the coastal gulf during March. Shane Nichols, from MA, caught and released this one on a DOA Shrimp while fishing with Capt. Rick Grassett last March.

Tripletail should be a good option during March.

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, Airheads, PT’s 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!

Capt. Rick Grassett

Rick is the owner of Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc. He's a full time fishing guide and outdoor writer based in Sarasota, FL. He’s been guiding since 1990 and is an Orvis-Endorsed fly fishing guide here at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters, the 2011 Orvis Out­fit­ter of the Year.


Capt. Rick Grassett’s Monthly Forecast for Feb. 2017

Reported: January 31st, 2017 by Capt. Rick Grassett

 

Trout and redfish should be good shallow water options in Sarasota Bay this month. You may also find trout along with blues, Spanish mackerel, pompano and flounder on deep grass flats. Look for sheepshead, flounder, reds and more around docks. Catch and release night snook fishing around lighted docks in the ICW may be a good option if it’s not too cold and Spanish and king mackerel and cobia may show up in the coastal gulf by the end of the month.

There should be good action with reds and trout in skinny water during February. Dan DiCaro from IL, fished  the backcountry of Gasparilla Sound near Boca Grande on a sunny afternoon in a previous February with Capt. Rick Grassett and had good action with both species.

Dan DiCaro in a previous February near Boca Grande.

Snook season remains closed on the west coast this month, so use tackle heavy enough to catch and release them quickly. Since they are temperature sensitive, I won’t target them following strong fronts when water temperatures dip below 60 degrees.

However, I have had some great night trips catching and releasing snook on flies in the ICW at night this time of year.

Since larger baitfish aren’t that plentiful this time of year, snook will gorge themselves on glass minnows and shrimp. Small white flies, like my Grassett Snook Minnow, DOA Shrimp, the new DOA 2-3/4” Shrimp, DOA Tiny TerrorEyz or CAL Jigs with shad tails and jerk worms will all work well.

Chuck Hempfling, also from IL, fished the backcountry of Gasparilla Sound near Boca Grande with Capt. Rick Grassett on a sunny afternoon in a previous February.

Chuck Hempfling from IL fishing Gasparilla Sound.

You may also find snook in rivers, creeks or canals this month. Fishing may be good in these areas on a blustery day when it isn’t fit to fish anywhere else.

I like wider profile flies and lures in these areas due to the baitfish that may be found there.

Fly anglers should score with wide profile baitfish patterns, such as Lefty’s Deceiver, fished on a sink tip fly line. Spin anglers should do well with CAL jigs and 4” swim baits and jerk worms, DOA Baitbusters or suspending plugs.

Fish the deep spots, usually on outside bends, for the best action.

You might find reds in potholes or along the edges of bars and shallow flats when the tide is low. As the tide rises, they will feed higher on shallow flats, particularly on sunny afternoons.

I like 1/16-ounce CAL jigs with shad tails or jerk worms for reds in shallow water. If it is too shallow or grassy to fish an exposed hook, a Mustad or Owner weedless hook will allow you to fish plastic baits in these areas. Fly anglers should score with lightly weighted flies, like Clousers or my Grassett Flats Minnow, with weed guards on floating lines with 10’-12’ leaders. You may also find big trout in skinny water in the same places you find reds.

The same lures, flies and techniques that you use to target reds will work for big trout in those areas. I release all trout over 20” since they are usually females and I feel that they are important to the health of our trout fishery.

You’ll find trout on deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay. I like flats that have a good mix of grass and sand and good tidal flow. Flats that are close to passes are often good choices since water temperatures may be warmer there. Following fronts, silted up water will cover deep grass flats close to passes, often affecting fishing in those areas. There are other good grass flats in Sarasota Bay that are on points or around bars.

Pompano and Spanish mackerel should be good options on deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay during February. Nick Reding, from St.Louis, MO, got in on the action while fishing with Capt. Rick Grassett in a previous February.

Nick Reding got in on the action in a previous February.

I like to drift and cast ahead of my drift with CAL jigs and a variety of plastic tails, DOA Deadly Combos or weighted flies on sink tip fly lines to locate trout. Once you’ve located them you can shorten your drift or anchor on them.

In addition to trout, you may also find blues, Spanish mackerel, flounder or pompano, depending on water temperature and conditions, on deep grass flats. The technique to find them is the same as for trout, although there may be other clues. Pompano may “skip” on the surface when you drift or run past them giving their presence away. When that happens, set up a drift upwind of where you saw a pompano and cast ahead of your drift. Blues and Spanish mackerel may force bait out of the water or feed on the surface. You may need to add heavy fluorocarbon or wire when blues and mackerel are mixed with trout on deep grass flats.

Frank Zaffino got in on the action while fishing with Capt. Rick Grassett in a previous February.

Frank Zaffino also got in on the February fishing action.

Fishing docks is another good option this time of year, especially when the tide is low. You might find reds, sheepshead or flounder under docks. I like docks that are deep (3’ or more) and have a good tidal flow. Fish the end of long piers to find the deepest water.

Also, look for big boats moored on docks or on boat lifts, which is also an indication of deeper water. Older docks with lots of barnacle and oyster growth usually hold more baitfish and predators. I like CAL jigs with shad tails, grubs or jerk worms or weighted flies fished on sink tip fly lines when fishing docks. Be sure to let your jig or fly get down close to the bottom.

Tipping a jig with small piece of fresh shrimp will up your odds for sheepshead. If you use too much it will ruin the action of your jig.

There may be some action in the coastal gulf by the end of the month with king and Spanish mackerel and cobia. When the water warms to the high 60’s to low 70’s, these fish will move into our area from the south as they migrate north. Look for Spanish mackerel on the surface or in passes. Cobia may be swimming on the surface, around buoys, channel markers and crab trap floats or over structure.

February can be a tough month to fish. With frequent fronts and cool water, fish aren’t always in an eating mood. If you’re able to pick good tides combined with favorable weather conditions, you should be successful. If you don’t have that luxury, you might do better by sleeping in and fishing later in the day when it’s warmer. Whatever you choose to do, please limit your kill, don’t kill your limit!

Capt. Rick Grassett

Rick is the owner of Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc. He's a full time fishing guide and outdoor writer based in Sarasota, FL. He’s been guiding since 1990 and is an Orvis-Endorsed fly fishing guide here at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters, the 2011 Orvis Out­fit­ter of the Year.


Capt. Rick Grassett’s Monthly Forecast for Jan. 2017

Reported: December 31st, 2016 by Capt. Rick Grassett

 

You may find reds and big trout concentrated in potholes of Sarasota Bay in January. Action with trout, blues, Spanish mackerel, pompano and more on deep grass flats can be good depending on conditions. There should also be good catch and release snook action in rivers, creeks and canals this month, although fishing docks for snook and other species is also a good option. It may be worth checking the coastal gulf for tripletail, cobia, false albacore (little tunny) and more when it’s warm.

January should be a good month for big trout in skinny water. Capt. Rick Grassett caught and released this trout using flies in a previous January.

Should be a good month for big trout in skinny water.

Snook season remains closed this month. Since they are very temperature sensitive, I won’t target them if the water temperature dips below 60 degrees. However, fishing lighted docks in the ICW at night with lures and flies can be very good in January. Small white flies, like my Grassett Snook Minnow, Gurglers and shrimp fly patterns will work well for fly anglers. Spin anglers should score with CAL jigs with shad tails or 4” jerk worms, DOA Tiny TerrorEyz and DOA Shrimp. The new DOA 2-3/4” Shrimp should be good for night snook fishing. I like the ICW between Sarasota and Venice for night snook fishing in the winter. Fish peak tidal flows for the best action.

You should also find snook in rivers, creeks and canals this month. Fish deeper water in outside bends to locate snook where you may catch them with CAL jigs and shad tails or jerk worms, DOA Baitbusters or diving/suspending plugs. You may also find reds, juvenile tarpon and even largemouth bass in the same areas depending on salinity.

Reds should be a good option this month. You’ll find them concentrated in potholes of north Sarasota Bay when the tide is low. Fly anglers should score with lightly weighted flies fished on a 10’-12’ leader with a floating fly line. Reds feed on crustaceans this time of the year, so crab and shrimp fly patterns should work well. They may tail on shallow grass flats of Gasparilla Sound and lower Tampa Bay when the tide is low. You’ll need weedless rigged plastic baits or flies with weed guards to target tailing reds. A CAL shad tail on a weedless hook or a DOA shrimp rigged weedless and fished backwards are a couple of my favorite lures for tailing reds. The DOA Crab also fishes very well in shallow water and can be deadly on reds in potholes or tailing in shallow grass.

You may also find reds around docks, along with snook, sheepshead, flounder and more. Little Sarasota Bay has numerous oyster bars and docks that often hold reds in January. Work CAL jigs slowly along the bottom for the best action. Sheepshead feed more with their nose, so if you can’t get them to eat your jig, try tipping it with a small piece of fresh shrimp. Too large of a shrimp tip on your jig will ruin the action. You’re likely to find big trout in many of the same areas that you find reds. The same lures, flies and techniques that are used for reds will also work for big trout.

Caught this beauty on flies in a previous January.

Caught this beauty on flies in a previous January.

You’ll also find trout on deep grass flats in January along with blues, Spanish mackerel, pompano, flounder and more. I like to drift and cast ahead of my drift with CAL jigs and a variety of plastic tails and DOA Deadly Combos. Since trout can sometimes hold very tight to a particular spot or area, try to cover as much water as possible to find them. Once you’ve located fish you can shorten your drift or anchor on them. A GPS can be useful for this type of fishing since the breadcrumb trail will allow you to duplicate your drift. A drift anchor will slow your drift so you can fish it more thoroughly or make it easier for fly anglers to move their fly. My favorite deep grass flats, have a good mix of grass and sand with a strong tidal flow.

Even though there may not be much happening in the coastal gulf this month in the way of sight fishing it may be worth a look when it is warm. Migratory species such as king and Spanish mackerel, cobia and tripletail probably have moved further south, however they could reappear during warm ups. Also look for false albacore (little tunny) when it’s warm since they may move from offshore to inshore depending on where baitfish are located.

January can be one of the toughest months of the year to fish. However if you are able to choose when to fish based on tides and weather, it can be good. Action is usually good as weather fronts approach. Following fronts, fishing may be tough for a couple of days so afternoons may fish better at that time. I’ll let the stage of the tide determine where to look for fish. When the tide is low, look for reds tailing on shallow grass or reds, trout and more in potholes or around docks. Look for reds or big trout cruising on shallow grass flats on sunny afternoons when the tide is high. Whatever you choose to do, please limit your kill, don’t kill your limit!

Capt. Rick Grassett

Rick is the owner of Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc. He's a full time fishing guide and outdoor writer based in Sarasota, FL. He’s been guiding since 1990 and is an Orvis-Endorsed fly fishing guide here at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters, the 2011 Orvis Out­fit­ter of the Year.


Capt. Rick Grassett’s Monthly Forecast for Dec. 2016

Reported: November 30th, 2016 by Capt. Rick Grassett

 

You may find reds along with big trout concentrated in potholes, along the edges of bars or tailing on shallow grass flats on negative low tides this month. This is a good month for catch and release snook action around lighted docks in the ICW. Some lights will also have trout and reds making it possible to get a dock “slam”. There may also be good action in the coastal gulf with false albacore (little tunny), Spanish mackerel and tripletail, depending on conditions.

December should be a great month for big trout in skinny water. Patrice Calmierri, from France, caught and released this "gator" on a Grassett Flats Minnow fly while fishing Sarasota Bay with Capt. Rick Grassett in a previous December.

December should be a great month for big trout like this.

Snook season closes on the west coast of Florida this month so all snook must be released. However, catch and release snook fishing around lighted docks can be good this month unless it gets too cool. I won’t target snook following a strong cold front or if the water dips below 60 degrees, since they may be stressed at that time. However, it can be very good in December under normal conditions.

Larger baitfish will thin out and snook will gorge themselves on glass minnows and small shrimp in the ICW at night. I like docks that have a good tidal flow and deep water under them. CAL jigs with shad tails and jerk worms, DOA Tiny TerrorEyz and DOA Shrimp are my favorite lures for snook at night. Fly anglers should do well with sink tip fly lines and small white flies. Fish peak tidal flows for the fastest action.

You might find reds in potholes or along the edges of flats and bars on negative low tides. They may also tail on shallow grass when the tide is low. Weedless rigged CAL shad tails and jerk worms, DOA Shrimp and lightly weighted flies with weed guards will work well in that situation. As the tide rises, reds will spread out and feed on shallow flats. You may also find them around docks this month. I usually let the stage of the tide tell me where to look for reds.

You may also find big trout in skinny water this month in many of the same areas where you find reds. The same lures and techniques that I use for reds will also work for trout in the same areas. I release all big trout (over 20”) since they are usually females and I feel it is important that they are left in the water as breeders. You should also find trout on deep grass flats this month along with blues, flounder or pompano. Blues may sometimes feed on the surface, so bird activity may give their presence away. Pompano may skip when you drift or run past them and when that happens, circle back upwind and drift through the area casting ahead of your drift. Flounder prefer a mix of sand and grass, particularly in potholes or on the edges of bars. 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 sink tip fly lines and weighted flies, like Clousers or my Grassett Deep Flats Bunny fly, which behaves like a jig with a shad tail. I like the shallow flats of north Sarasota Bay for reds and trout in December and deep grass flats close to passes, on points and along sand bars for trout, blues, flounder and pompano.

There should still be good action in the coastal gulf for tripletail.

There's still good action in the coastal gulf for tripletail.

There should still be good action in the coastal gulf with Spanish mackerel, blues, false albacore and tripletail. Rough or cold water later in the month may slow the action and move fish south or offshore. Look for terns either diving or hovering low over the surface of the water to find albies, blues and mackerel feeding on the surface.

Once you’ve found them, cast top water plugs or CAL jigs with shad tails to catch them. Fly anglers should score with glass minnow fly patterns, poppers or Crease flies. Sometimes top water plugs or fly poppers will draw fish to the surface, especially over structure.

You’ll need to add wire or heavy fluorocarbon to your leader when blues and mackerel are around. Look for tripletail around crab trap floats or channel markers. Once you’ve located a fish, work back into the wind or current with an electric trolling motor to get into casting range and cast a DOA shrimp, a weedless-rigged CAL shad tail or lightly weighted fly with a weed guard to them. Try to make your first shot count since they are much tougher to catch once they know you’re there.

There will be lots of options in December, although weather becomes more of a factor. When fishing flats, I usually let conditions and the stage of the tide determine when, where and what I will target. I like to fish the coastal gulf for false albacore and tripletail whenever conditions are good. Whatever you choose to do, please limit your kill, don’t kill your limit!

Capt. Rick Grassett

Rick is the owner of Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc. He's a full time fishing guide and outdoor writer based in Sarasota, FL. He’s been guiding since 1990 and is an Orvis-Endorsed fly fishing guide here at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters, the 2011 Orvis Out­fit­ter of the Year.


Capt. Rick Grassett’s Monthly Forecast for Nov. 2016

Reported: November 1st, 2016 by Capt. Rick Grassett

 

As the water cools this month there will be many changes. You may find blues, Spanish mackerel and pompano mixed with trout on deep grass flats. You’ll also find larger trout in skinny water along with reds. Snook will stage around bars and on shallow flats as they make their move towards winter areas. Action in the coastal gulf with Spanish mackerel, blues, false albacore, tripletail and more should explode!

You’ll find snook staging around docks and bridges in the ICW and along sand bars and in potholes on shallow flats. They may be along mangrove shorelines when the tide is high. I like CAL jigs with 3” and 4” shad tails, surface walking top water lures like the new DOA “PT” and DOA Baitbusters in shallow water for snook.

Caught and released on a fly while fishing the coastal gulf in a previous November.

Caught & released in the gulf in a previous November.

CAL jigs with shad tails or jerk worms, DOA TerrorEyz, DOA shrimp and small white flies, like my Grassett Snook Minnow, will work well around dock and bridge fender lights. Fish the strongest tides for the best action. I like the flats of north Sarasota Bay and the ICW between Sarasota and Venice for snook in November.

Reds will spread out on shallow grass flats in November. You’ll find them along bars, in potholes or around docks. Look for them along mangrove shorelines when the tide is high, but they are just as likely to be roaming with mullet schools in shallow water.

CAL jigs with shad tails, grubs or jerk worms and gold spoons should work well for reds in shallow water. Fly anglers may score with lightly weighted flies, such as Clousers, spoon flies or my Grassett Flats Minnow fly.

I catch a lot more reds wading than from the deck of my boat, so keep a low profile.

You may also find big trout along with reds in shallow water this month. Although anglers may keep one trout over 20”, I release all trout over 20” since they are usually females that may be full of roe. The same lures and flies that you use for snook and reds in shallow water will also work for trout. You’ll also find trout on deep grass flats in water from 3’ to 7’ deep. I like to drift and cast ahead of my drift with CAL jigs, DOA Deadly Combos or weighted flies on sink tip fly lines to locate trout. In addition to making a series of drifts to find fish, look for baitfish on the surface or birds to find them.

You may also find blues, Spanish mackerel, flounder or pompano on deep grass flats this month. The techniques to find them is the same as for trout, although blues and Spanish mackerel may feed on the surface making them easier to find. Likewise with pompano, that may skip on the surface when you run or drift past them. When that happens, circle back upwind and drift back through the area, casting ahead of your drift.

I like a 1/16-ounce chartreuse CAL jig head with a gold grub for pompano. You’ll need to add wire or heavy fluorocarbon when toothy fish are around to keep them from biting you off. You may find flounder on a mixture of grass and sand, particularly on the edges of bars or in potholes.

Tripletail should be a good option during November. Capt. Rick Grassett caught and released this one on a fly while fishing the coastal gulf in a previous November.

Tripletail should be a good option during November.

There should be good action in the coastal gulf with false albacore (little tunny), Spanish and king mackerel, blues, tripletail or cobia. Look for Spanish mackerel, blues or false albacore feeding on the surface to find them. Diving terns or terns hovering just above the surface of the water and moving fast will give their presence away if they aren’t on top.

CAL jigs with shad tails and jerk worms and top water plugs will work well. Fly anglers should score with small white flies, Ultra Hair Clousers, poppers or Crease flies. Look for tripletail around crab trap floats and cast DOA Shrimp, CAL jigs with shad tails or DOA TerrorEyz to them. Cobia may also be found around crab trap floats, swimming on the surface or over structure. They will require medium-heavy spinning tackle or at least a 9-weight fly rod.

Larger baits like DOA Baitbusters or CAL jigs with 5½” jerk worms should work well for cobia on spinning tackle. Fly anglers should score with wide profile baitfish patterns.

This a great month for fishing the flats or the coastal gulf. Since the action in the coastal gulf is seasonal and will end when it gets cooler, I like to fish there when conditions allow it. However, if that’s not for you or if conditions won’t allow it, there will be plenty of action for a variety of fish on shallow and deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay. Whatever you choose to do, please limit your kill, don’t kill your limit!

Capt. Rick Grassett

Rick is the owner of Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc. He's a full time fishing guide and outdoor writer based in Sarasota, FL. He’s been guiding since 1990 and is an Orvis-Endorsed fly fishing guide here at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters, the 2011 Orvis Out­fit­ter of the Year.


Capt. Jim Klopfer’s Monthly Forecast for Oct. 2015

Reported: October 2nd, 2016 by Capt. Jim Klopfer

 

October is a fabulous month to be fishing on Siesta Key! Shorter, cooler days result in water temperatures dropping into the low 70s, bait will be thick in the bays and out on the beach, and that will attract the gamefish. Many species are going to be caught using a variety of angling tactics. Redfish will still be schooled up on the flats in the north bay, snook will be in the bays, speckled trout, pompano, and Spanish mackerel will be feeding on the deep grass flats, and the beach should be outstanding for king and Spanish mackerel, false albacore, cobia, sharks, and even a stray tarpon.

On the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico in October.

On the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico in October.

Anglers with small boats can catch large fish this month. The techniques and methods are really pretty simple. Mornings that dawn with easterly winds will find the inshore Gulf of Mexico flat and calm. Pods of baitfish will be seen on the surface, along with schools of feeding fish. Threadfins caught on Sabiki rigs and free lined out behind the boat will catch just about everything.

Anglers fishing the surf off of the Siesta Key beaches should experience good action this month. Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, pompano, flounder, and more will hit live and artificial baits. Mackerel like fast, flashy lures such as Gotcha plugs and silver spoons while the pompano and flounder prefer a bait that is moving slowly near the bottom. Jigs and live shrimp are a good choice.

On the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico in October.

On the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico in October.

Casting jigs while drifting over deep grass flats will produce a lot of fish in October. Speckled trout, pompano, bluefish, mackerel, jacks, and ladyfish will hit a gold or Glow Bass Assassin Sea Shad soft plastic grub on a ¼ ounce jig head. Rootbeer and olive are also productive colors.

Use light colored baits in clear water and dark colored baits in stained water. Spoons, plugs, and flies will also work well, as will live or artificial shrimp under a noisy cork. These same lures fished in Big Pass and New Pass will result in plenty of hook-ups as the fish migrate from the Gulf into Sarasota Bay. Fish right on the bottom for pompano and just under the surface for blues and macks.

On the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico in October.

On the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico in October.

Redfish will still be schooled up, but their numbers will be diminishing. The shallow flats in Robert’s Bay and the north end of Siesta Key are great spots to try. The docks and oyster bars off of Siesta Key will also produce redfish, along with snook, snapper, flounder, and drum.

A live shrimp is a a great bait for fishing docks while Bass Assassin Elite Shiners are very effective working bars and points. A high, outgoing tide is best.

Snook will be back in the bays and feeding aggressively on the flats, bars, and mangrove shorelines. Shallow diving plugs such as an (08) olive X-Rap are very effective and allow anglers to cover water quickly. Creek mouths, points, bars, and docks that have current are likely ambush spots. Bridges will produce a lot of snook for nocturnal anglers.

Capt. Jim Klopfer

Jim's Adventure Charters is a family oriented guide service that caters to anglers of all skill levels in a relaxed, fun environment. He can accommodate up to 4 anglers on his 20′ Key West bay boat. Charters are customized to the clients schedule, experience, expectations, and location.


Capt. Rick Grassett’s Monthly Forecast for Oct. 2016

Reported: October 1st, 2016 by Capt. Rick Grassett

 

The area including Tampa Bay, Sarasota Bay, Charlotte Harbor and the coastal Gulf of Mexico will turn on this month. Schools of reds begin to break up and scatter on shallow flats. There should also be good action with snook and big trout in shallow water. Snook will gorge themselves at night around lighted docks in the ICW.

Tatiana Migliaretti came all the way from Switzerland to catch and release her cobia on a CAL jig with a shad tail while fishing Sarasota Bay with Capt. Rick Grassett in a previous October.

Tatiana Migliaretti caught and release this nice cobia.

There will also be good action in the coastal gulf with Spanish mackerel, false albacore (little tunny), tripletail and cobia. You might also still find tarpon anywhere from upper Charlotte Harbor and Tampa Bay to along the beaches.

Snook will move from passes and the surf as water temperature cools and days get shorter. They will stage around docks and bridges in the ICW and along sand bars, potholes and along mangrove shorelines. They may blow up on top water plugs or fly poppers in shallow water early or late in the day. CAL jigs with shad tails and jerk worms or DOA shrimp should work well around docks and bridges and on shallow flats. The 4” CAL shad tail should work very well on the flats since larger baits will be prevalent there. I like larger flies, like Lefty’s Deceiver and EP flies, for snook on the flats for the same reason. Fly anglers should also score with small white flies or Gurglers around lighted docks and bridge fenders. Fish peak tidal flows for the best action.

Tarpon will still be an option this month. I find them in upper Charlotte Harbor this time of year. Look for them feeding in ladyfish schools or rolling in deep water to find them. DOA Baitbusters and Swimming Mullet are my top producing lures for large tarpon. Fly anglers should score with many of the same flies that work for sight casting to them along the beaches. I use 12-wt fly tackle with a floating or clear intermediate sink tip line for large tarpon. You’ll also find juvenile tarpon from 10 to 30-pounds in many creeks and canals of the Peace or Myakka Rivers. Spin anglers should score with DOA Shrimp or TerrorEyz on snook tackle. Fly anglers can handle the smaller fish on 8 or 9-wt fly rods with fast sinking fly lines and a scaled down version of any fly that large tarpon will eat. I’ve also found tarpon feeding heavily in the coastal gulf in October. They are usually scattered over a broad area, feeding and “blowing up” in bait schools. This “reverse migration” may only last for a few days but it can be really good!

Big schools of reds that are more common in August and September will break up into smaller schools, singles and doubles by the end of the month. As water cools and baitfish school up, reds will feed in shallow water. I like to pole my flats skiff to hunt for reds in shallow water. Focus on baitfish or mullet schools to find reds. CAL jigs with shad tails, including the 4” CAL shad tail, DOA Baitbusters or Airheads are some of my favorite lures to locate reds with. If the tide is very low, weedless-rigged CAL shad tails and Airheads or DOA Shrimp rigged backwards will work well in the thick turtle grass. Once I’ve located fish, wading is often the best way to approach them when fly fishing. I like a long leader (12’) on a floating fly line with a lightly weighted fly with a weed guard, like my Grassett Flats Minnow. When you have good sunlight, you may be able to sight fish them on light colored bottom, like sandbars or potholes.

You’ll also find big trout in many of the same areas in shallow water. I would approach locating big trout the same way as reds. Focus on baitfish or mullet schools to find them and use the same lures and flies to catch them. Some of the best action that I’ve experienced with big trout was at first light with big trout feeding in baitfish schools in very shallow water.

You’ll find trout of all sizes on deep grass flats. Wherever there are small trout, there may be a few “gators” around since big trout will eat small ones. Mixed with trout there should also be blues, Spanish mackerel or pompano. In addition to focusing on bait and birds, I like to drift and cast ahead of the drift with CAL jigs and shad tails or DOA Deadly Combos or a lightly weighted fly on a sink tip fly line to find fish. When toothy fish are around add 6”of heavy fluorocarbon (60-lb) or wire to prevent cut offs. You may find tripletail or cobia around buoys, crab trap floats or channel markers in inside waters or the coastal gulf. A DOA shrimp or CAL jig with a shad tail will work well for tripletail. Fly anglers should score with lightly weighted flies with a weed guard. A DOA Baitbuster, 4” CAL shad or Airhead on 20 to 30-pound class spinning tackle or a wide profile tarpon fly on a minimum of 9-weight fly tackle will get the job done with cobia.

Ken Babineau caught and released this  false albacore.

Ken Babineau caught and released this false albacore.

Look for Spanish and king mackerel or false albacore in the coastal gulf. I look for diving terns or “breaking” fish to find them. Once you’ve located feeding fish, a CAL jig with a shad tail or jerk worm or a size specific top water plug will work well for spin anglers. Fly anglers should score with olive, chartreuse or white flies, poppers and Crease flies.

You’ll need wire or heavy fluorocarbon when mackerel are in the mix. You may also find a few kings around the edges of feeding frenzies. I don’t usually target kings, but I will catch a few when fishing breaking mackerel or albies. You can also look for tripletail or cobia around crab trap floats, buoys or channel markers while searching for mackerel or albies in the coastal gulf.

October is one of my favorite months. It’s nice to do something different, so I like to fish the coastal gulf for mackerel, false albacore, tripletail and cobia when conditions are good. There will also be good action on shallow flats of Sarasota Bay with reds, trout and snook or tarpon of all sizes in upper Charlotte Harbor. Night snook fishing in the ICW heats up as the water cools down. Whatever you choose to do, please limit your kill, don’t kill your limit!

Capt. Rick Grassett

Rick is the owner of Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc. He's a full time fishing guide and outdoor writer based in Sarasota, FL. He’s been guiding since 1990 and is an Orvis-Endorsed fly fishing guide here at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters, the 2011 Orvis Out­fit­ter of the Year.


Capt. Rick Grassett’s Monthly Forecast for Sept. 2016

Reported: August 31st, 2016 by Capt. Rick Grassett

 

Capt. Rick Grassett with a bluefish caught and released in Sarasota Bay on a fly popper.

Capt. Grassett with a bluefish he caught and released.

September is one of my favorite months. Reds will be schooling on shallow grass flats of Sarasota Bay and you also might find big trout there at first light.

Plentiful baitfish along beaches will attract Spanish mackerel, false albacore (little tunny), sharks, tarpon and more. You should find snook in the surf and around docks and bridges in the ICW.

You should also find tarpon around bridges at night and in areas of Sarasota Bay, Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor. Juvenile tarpon from 10 to 30-pounds should be a good option in creeks and canals.

Tarpon will still be a good option this month. There may still be a few singles, doubles and small schools in the coastal gulf and if you’ve got the patience to wait them out it can be good. Many have moved to inside waters this month, so you’ll find them around bridges, over deep grass flats or deeper areas. When tarpon move into these areas, they are in a feeding mode. After a long migration and with their spawning duties completed, they need to rest and eat to restore themselves. Ladyfish will feed in glass minnow schools and tarpon will gorge themselves on ladyfish.

I have also seen tarpon, “ball” glass minnows into tight schools, and eat them by the bucket full! DOA Baitbusters, TerrorEyz and Shrimp are my favorite tarpon lures this time of year. Fly anglers should score with wide profile patterns, such as Lefty’s Deceiver or EP flies.

Small flies, like my Grassett Snook Minnow, tied on a 1/0 or 2/0 hook, are another good choice for tarpon that are feeding on glass minnows.

Snook season will reopen on Sept. 1st on the west coast of Florida. Bag limit is 1 fish per person, per day between 28”-33”. You can check www.myfwc.com for full regulations. I ask that all snook be released on my boat. If continuing to release them now means more and bigger snook later, I’m all for that. They are a magnificent game fish that hits hard and fights smart and I hate to kill one that is big enough to fit the slot.

You might find snook in the surf this month or around docks and bridges in the ICW. They will also start making their move towards shallow flats where you might find them staging along sand bars or in potholes. I often fish lighted docks and bridges for snook before dawn before moving to the flats after daylight. CAL jigs with shad tails and jerk worms, DOA shrimp or small white flies, like my Grassett Snook Minnow, should all work well. You can also walk along the beach in the morning, so the sun is behind you, and look for snook cruising the trough in the surf, very close to the sand.

This is sight casting, so an accurate cast at the right angle is required to be successful. The same lures and flies that work at night will be good for fishing the surf, too. Surface walking top water plugs or fly popper and Gurglers may draw some big strikes in shallow water early in the day.

Jack McCulloch, from Lakewood Ranch, FL,caught and released flounder and reds on a CAL jig with a shad tail while fishing the back country of Gasparilla Sound near Boca Grande with Capt. Rick Grassett in a previous September.

Sept. should be a good month for fishing skinny water.

Reds will be in large schools in September. You may find them in shallow water when the tide is high or along the edges of flats when the tide is low. Look for wakes, some as big as boat wakes, or “pushes” to locate them. If it is calm, a school of reds may look like a nervous patch of water or if there’s a ripple on the surface, it may appear as a slick patch of water.

Once you’ve located them, try to get in front of them and work around the edges of the school to avoid spooking the whole school. Surface walking top water plugs, shallow running DOA Baitbusters, CAL 4” shad tails and DOA Airheads (I like to clip the tail so it works like a buzz bait) should work well for spin anglers.

Fly anglers should score with fly poppers, Gurglers and wide profile baitfish fly patterns. I like to be as quiet as possible in shallow water, using a push pole to move my boat. Electric trolling motors can be used sparingly, but varying the speed or running at faster speeds will often spook a school.

It is great to find a big school of reds but remember if you spook 1 fish you may spook the whole school. Running an outboard may make fish show themselves, but in the long run it will make them harder to catch. I sometimes also find big jacks and blues mixed with schools of big reds in shallow water. Not a bad problem!

Trout fishing should also be good this month. Look for big trout in skinny water in many of the same places that you find reds this month. They will be most active in low light, either first thing in the morning or at dusk, particularly if we’ve had an afternoon shower. Cloud cover in the afternoon will also reduce heating of shallow flats, which usually makes fish more active. The same lures and flies that you use for reds will work well for big trout in shallow water. I release all trout over 20” on my boat since they are usually females, capable of spawning thousands of other trout.

You may also find trout mixed with blues, pompano, Spanish mackerel, flounder and more on deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay. I like to drift and cast ahead of my drift with DOA Deadly Combos or CAL jigs with shad tails or jerk worms. Fly anglers should do well with an Ultra Hair Clouser fly fished on a clear intermediate sink tip. In addition to making a series of drifts to find fish, focus on bait schools, breaking fish or diving birds to find fish. You may find tripletail on buoys, crab trap floats or channel markers in Sarasota Bay this month. A DOA shrimp, CAL jig or a lightly weighted fly with a weed guard should get the job done.

Rusty Chinnis from Longboat Key, FL, with a false albacore caught and released on a fly in Tampa Bay, both in a previous September.

Rusty Chinnis with a false albacore caught & released.

You’ll also find tripletail along with cobia, false albacore (little tunny), king and Spanish mackerel in the coastal gulf this month. Look for surface activity to find the mackerel and albies and cast small white flies or CAL jigs with shad tails to them.

I don’t usually target kings but will occasionally catch one around the edges of a feeding frenzy. Look for feeding frenzies that begin with ladyfish feeding in glass minnow schools and may end with everything else, including sharks or tarpon, joining the fray. Remember to “match the hatch” to be successful. You’ll need to add wire to your leader when toothy fish are around.

While you are looking for mackerel and albies in the coastal gulf, you can look for tripletail and cobia. However since stone crab traps haven’t hit the water yet this season, there are less places for them to be. In addition to abandoned crab trap floats, check channel markers, buoys and any floating debris. Artificial reefs are another good area to check. A DOA Baitbuster, DOA Airhead, 4” CAL shad tail or a wide profile fly should be good choices for cobia. Most tarpon flies also work well for cobia.

There are lots of options this month, but the key is usually to fish early or late for the best chance at success. An early start for snook or tarpon around lighted docks or bridges and then on to the flats for reds, trout and more is a good plan. There will also be good action in the coastal gulf for a variety of species. I usually tarpon fish as long as I can wherever I find them! Whatever you choose to do, please limit your kill, don’t kill your limit!

Capt. Rick Grassett

Rick is the owner of Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc. He's a full time fishing guide and outdoor writer based in Sarasota, FL. He’s been guiding since 1990 and is an Orvis-Endorsed fly fishing guide here at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters, the 2011 Orvis Out­fit­ter of the Year.


Capt. Jim Klopfer’s Monthly Forecast for Sept. 2015

Reported: August 30th, 2016 by Capt. Jim Klopfer

 

September is the month that redfish begin schooling up in Sarasota. The expansive shallow flats in Sarasota Bay are traditionally the most productive areas to fish. A low, incoming tide in the morning is preferred, allowing anglers to see the large schools of reds. As the tide rises, the fish will work up from the edges of flats and holes onto the grass to feed. Locating the fish can be difficult under flood tide conditions; there is just too much water up on the flat to effectively sight fish.

Speckled trout fishing has been outstanding this year and this should continue in September. Deeper flats will produce more fish, while the larger specimens may be found in shallow water. A Rapala Skitter Walk or X-Rap worked over bars at first light is a deadly technique for fooling gator trout. Along with trout, anglers fishing the deep grass will catch a variety of species this month including bluefish, Spanish mackerel, mangrove snapper, pompano, gag grouper, and ladyfish. Both live bait and artificial lures will catch plenty of fish. A Bass Assassin grub on a ¼ ounce jig head is a great choice for anglers who enjoy casting artificial lures. Olive (08) X-Raps and other plugs are also effective along with gold and silver spoons. A live shrimp under a popping cork is a time-proven technique for catching “specks” on the West Coast of Florida.

Snook will migrate back into the bays and provide great sport in September.

Snook will migrate back into the bays in September.

Snook will migrate from the beaches back into the bays. Both passes will be great spots to fish, especially on afternoon outgoing tides. The bars and mangrove shorelines along Siesta Key are prime spots as the fish move towards their fall feeding areas. Artificial baits will allow anglers to cover more water, while a well full of pilchards practically guarantees success.

Redfish, large speckled trout, jack crevelle, and mangrove snapper may also be encountered while pursuing the mighty snook. Lighted docks and bridges are snook magnets and will provide great action for anglers looking to catch fish and escape the summer sun. Live and artificial shrimp free lined in the tide are deadly, as are small white flies.

Surf fishing off the Siesta Key beaches should be good for snook, ladyfish, Spanish mackerel, pompano, and other species. Point of Rocks is the best spot as there is a lot of fish-holding structure, but any stretch of beach is likely to produce. Live bait such as shrimp and small bait fish works great. A #1 live bait hook with a short piece of leader and a split shot is the preferred rig. Spoons, plugs, and jigs are also effective baits in the surf.

The rocks and bridges in Big Pass will be excellent spots to target mangrove snapper this month. These tasty saltwater panfish will be migrating out of the bay and into the Gulf of Mexico. Slack tides are the best times to drop a live shrimp or bait fish along the structure. Don’t be surprised if a big snook intercepts a bait meant for a mang!

Capt. Jim Klopfer

Jim's Adventure Charters is a family oriented guide service that caters to anglers of all skill levels in a relaxed, fun environment. He can accommodate up to 4 anglers on his 20′ Key West bay boat. Charters are customized to the clients schedule, experience, expectations, and location.


Capt. Rick Grassett’s Monthly Forecast for August 2016

Reported: August 3rd, 2016 by Capt. Rick Grassett

 

Tarpon will move to inside waters of Sarasota Bay, Charlotte Harbor and Tampa Bay this month. You may also find juvenile tarpon in creeks, canals and turning basins. Reds will school on shallow flats and big trout will prowl the same waters at dawn. Also look for trout on deep grass flats mixed with blues, pompano, Spanish mackerel and more. Catch and release snook fishing should be good around lighted docks at night or in the surf. Look for false albacore (little tunny) to show up in the coastal gulf later in the month.

August is a great month to fish dock lights before dawn and then move on to the flats at daylight. Will Travis, from Houston, TX, caught and released this snook on flies while fishing dock lights in Sarasota Bay with Capt. Rick Grassett in a previous August.

August is a great month to fish dock lights before dawn.

Tarpon addicts will still be able to get their fix this month. You should still find a few tarpon in the coastal gulf early in the month. Drifting live baits or casting flies, DOA Baitbusters, DOA Shrimp, DOA Airheads and 4” CAL shad tail should all work. As tarpon thin out along beaches, they will move to inside waters where you may find them schooling around bridges or rolling on deep grass flats. They will also feed in schools of ladyfish that are feeding on the surface. You should also find juvenile tarpon from 10 to 30-pounds in creeks, canals and turning basins. Your snook tackle will work fine for smaller tarpon although you’ll need a leader of 40 to 60-pounds to keep them from going through it. Fly anglers should score with 8 or 9-weight fly rods, sinking lines and scaled down tarpon flies.

Snook season remains closed this month so handle them gently and use tackle heavy enough to catch and release them quickly. You’ll find them around lighted docks and bridges in the ICW and in the surf. Small white flies, like my Grassett Snook Minnow, DOA Shrimp or CAL jigs with shad tails and jerk worms should all work well. The same lures and flies will work at night and in the surf, although you should be observant of what size baits are in those areas.

Reds should be schooling in Sarasota Bay during August. Seth Jaeger, from Louisville, KY, caught and released reds, jacks and bluefish on top water plugs all out of the same school of fish while fishing with Capt. Rick Grassett in a previous August.

Reds should be schooling in the Bay during August.

Reds will school up this month. You’ll find them on shallow flats of north Sarasota Bay, lower Tampa Bay and Gasparilla Sound. They’ll be easier to find in shallow water when the tide is low. Look for “nervous” water when it is slick calm or a slick patch of water when there is a ripple on the water. They may push a wake that looks like a boat wake. I try to be as quiet as possible in shallow water, poling to locate them. Once you’ve located a school of reds, try to get ahead of them to intercept them, much like tarpon fishing. If you work around the edges of the school, you may be able to catch a few of them before they spook. We often also find big jacks, blues and other predators in the mix along with reds. Top water plugs and fly poppers or Gurglers may draw some big bites. The DOA Airhead and 4” CAL shad tail should also be a hit with schooling reds.

Trout fishing should be good this month. You may find a big trout in skinny water at first light. Focus on mullet or bait schools to find them. Top water plugs, fly poppers or Gurglers should be very effective at that time of day. I always release big trout over 20”, since they are usually females that may be full of roe. I like the same areas for big trout that I like for reds.

After it gets bright and starts to warm up, drop out to deeper grass flats (4’ to 8’) for trout, blues, Spanish mackerel and more. I like to drift and cast ahead of my drift with CAL jigs and shad tails or jerk worms or an Ultra Hair Clouser fly fished on a sink tip fly line. I make a series of drifts to locate fish and then shorten the drift or anchor depending on conditions. Ladyfish may feed in glass minnow schools and if they stay up long enough, it will attract trout, blues, mackerel, tarpon or sharks. Wide profile plastic baits or flies fished slowly around the edges of breaking fish will help keep ladyfish off your lure or fly and give you a chance to catch a tarpon. When blues, Spanish mackerel or sharks are in the mix add 6” of wire or heavy fluorocarbon. Also look for tripletail around crab trap floats, buoys or channel markers in inshore waters this month. A CAL shad tail or DOA shrimp rigged weedless or my Grassett Flats Minnow fly with a weed guard should get the job done.

You might find false albacore (little tunny) or Spanish mackerel in the coastal gulf this month. Look for baitfish to find them. The Tampa Bay ship channel from the Skyway Bridge to Egmont Key is often one of the first areas where I find them this time of year. Small white flies, like my Grassett Snook Minnow, poppers or Crease flies should all work well. Spin anglers should score with CAL jigs and shad tails. You’ll need to add wire or heavy fluorocarbon when toothy fish are around.

Even though it is one of the hottest months of the year, there are lots of options this month. I usually tarpon fish as long as I can either in the coastal gulf or in inside waters. An early start for snook or tarpon around lighted docks or bridges and then on the flats for reds, trout and more is a good option. Whatever you choose to do, please limit your kill, don’t kill your limit!

Capt. Rick Grassett

Rick is the owner of Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc. He's a full time fishing guide and outdoor writer based in Sarasota, FL. He’s been guiding since 1990 and is an Orvis-Endorsed fly fishing guide here at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters, the 2011 Orvis Out­fit­ter of the Year.


Capt. Jim Klopfer’s Monthly Forecast for August 2015

Reported: August 1st, 2016 by Capt. Jim Klopfer

 

There is a little secret here on Siesta Key; the fishing is terrific in August! Many anglers assume that the heat slows down the action, but this is far from true. The reality is that due to daily rain showers, the water temperature is actually lower in August than it is in June. Hordes of bait fish cover the flats. This combination results in excellent conditions for anglers to succeed. The best action will be early morning, late afternoon, and at night.

Snook love the infusion of fresh water into the bay. Snook migrate back into the bays after spawning out on the beach in August. Shallow diving plugs such as the Rapala X-Rap are very effective baits. They cover a lot of water and produce explosive strikes. Scented soft plastics also work well. Live shrimp, pinfish, and pilchards will also catch a lot of snook, particularly once the fish are located. Outgoing tides at first light and in the evening are the best times to fish.

Redfish will begin to school up in large numbers in August. The bars south of Siesta Drive are worth a try. Weedless gold spoons and scented soft plastic baits on a 1/8 ounce jig head are proven baits. Hand-picked shrimp cast into pot holes is a deadly technique, too. Low, incoming tides are best.

Mangrove snappers will provide great action in August.

Mangrove snappers will provide great action in August.

The deep grass flats on the north end of Siesta Key will be good spots to target speckled trout. High tides in the morning will produce plenty of fish. Spanish mackerel, pompano, bluefish, ladyfish, jack crevelle, sharks, small gag grouper, and mangrove snapper will also be caught by anglers drifting the deep grass.

A live shrimp under a popping cork works very well. A jig with a grub tail is the preferred artificial bait but plugs and spoons are also effective.

The bars from CB’s Saltwater Outfitters at Stickney Pt. south to Blackburn Pt. will hold some very nice trout along with a few redfish. This area does not get a lot of pressure in the summertime. This is an early morning bite and a high tide is preferred.

In the last several years mangrove snapper fishing has been outstanding! Grass flats that drop off into deep water with some current flow should produce plenty of nice snapper this month. Live bait works best and baitfish will usually catch larger fish than shrimp. A 1/0 live bait hook tied on a 24” piece of 20 pound flourocarbon leader with just enough split shot to get to the bottom is the simple but effective rig.

Surf casters should have opportunities for snook, the beach fishing for snook this year has been outstanding. Small artificial lures such as white jigs and small plugs work well, while live shrimp and baitfish will score more consistently. Other species such as Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, drum, trout, pompano, and flounder will be taken as well. The best conditions are an east wind and incoming tide.

Capt. Jim Klopfer

Jim's Adventure Charters is a family oriented guide service that caters to anglers of all skill levels in a relaxed, fun environment. He can accommodate up to 4 anglers on his 20′ Key West bay boat. Charters are customized to the clients schedule, experience, expectations, and location.


Capt. Jim Klopfer’s Monthly Forecast for July 2015

Reported: July 2nd, 2016 by Capt. Jim Klopfer

 

July fishing can be excellent, but tactics need to be a little different and windows of opportunity are smaller. It is simply too hot to fish in the middle of the day. Early morning will be the most reliable time to fish, evenings are good too, but frequent thunderstorms can make planning a trip difficult. Anglers who don’t mind fishing in the dark will have success at night, and they will beat the summer heat!

Sarasota resident Doc Dojutrek shows off a typical Siesta Key Snook.

Doc Dojutrek shows off a typical Siesta Key Snook.

Action on the deep grass flats from the north end of Siesta Key should be very good for speckled trout, along with bluefish, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, pompano, and jacks. A high tide in the morning is favored for anglers to drift the flats and cast Bass Asassin jigs, Rapala plugs, spoons, and live shrimp under a popping cork. Netting up a bunch of shiners and chumming the deep flats will usually result in non-stop action.

The flats and oyster bars south of CB’s Saltwater Outfitters at Stickney Pt. down to Blackburn Pt. will hold some nice trout in July, and that area gets very little pressure in the summertime. The key is water temperature; if it is too high the bait and gamefish will not be there. Redfish and snook will also cruise the bars and shorelines in search of prey. Areas that drop off quickly into three or four feet will be the most productive spots.

A hand-picked shrimp is deadly fished early in the morning on a high tide. Anglers choosing artificial lures will score with topwater and shallow diving plugs, scented soft plastics, and weedless gold spoons.

Redfish will begin to school up in July and can be caught in very shallow water. The largest trout also prefer shallow water, so don’t be surprised if a “gator” intercepts an offering meant for a redfish. These fish should be released unharmed, they are the female breed stock and are crucial to a healthy trout fishery.

Night fishing will be exciting and productive in July. Lighted docks and bridges attract glass minnows and shrimp, which in turn attract the gamefish. Snook are abundant, but trout, reds, jacks, ladyfish, and snapper will also be caught at night. Live shrimp works very well free lined in the current with little or no weight. A 24” piece of 25 lb flourocarbon leader and a 1/0 live bait hook is the basic rig. Lures will also catch fish, but can be difficult to cast at night. Fly fisherman will score with a small white snook fly such as the Grassett’s Snook Minnow tied on a #4 hook.

Tarpon will still be plentiful in the Gulf of Mexico, although the anglers will not be. The large schools will have broken up, and although the fish don’t show as well, they eat better. Pinfish and crabs drifted out 6 feet under a cork at first light will catch tarpon in July. Point of Rocks on Siesta Key is a proven spot to fish.

Capt. Jim Klopfer

Jim's Adventure Charters is a family oriented guide service that caters to anglers of all skill levels in a relaxed, fun environment. He can accommodate up to 4 anglers on his 20′ Key West bay boat. Charters are customized to the clients schedule, experience, expectations, and location.