CB’s Monthly Fishing Forcast

Capt. Jim Klopfer’s Monthly Forecast for July 2014

Reported: July 1st, 2014 by Capt. Jim Klopfer


In July's heat early morning is the most reliable time to fish.

The heat makes morning the most reliable time to fish

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!

Action on the deep grass flats from the north end of Siesta Key to Long Bar 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 Cotee 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. Periods of rain will help cool the water down. 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. Long Bar is an excellent spot to look for schooling reds. The large flat to the north has numerous pot holes and bars. On the west side of the bay, the prime area is from the Moorings north to Sister Keys. A low, incoming tide is best, fish are difficult to locate on a flood tide. Artificial baits are generally more effective when hunting these fish, gold spoons and soft plastics allow the angler to cover a lot of water and not get hung up in the shallow grass. Live shrimp and white bait can be used effectively once the fish are located. The largest trout prefer very 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 attracts 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.

Capt. Jim Klopfer’s Monthly Forecast for June 2014

Reported: May 31st, 2014 by Capt. Jim Klopfer


June will find Sarasota beaches lined with anglers in search of the ultimate gamefish, tarpon, especially early in the month. Catching these giants is really not complicated. Rig a 25 lb spinning outfit with 36” of 80lb flourocarbon leader and a 5/0 hook, then position the boat 100 yards off the beach and cast a live crab, pinfish, sardine, lure, or fly at any pod that presents itself. A trolling motor helps considerably as far as boat positioning is concerned, but fish can be caught without one. Be courteous to anglers that are already working a school.

One benefit of the popularity of tarpon fishing is that pressure in the bay will be light. With many anglers “out on the beach” the bays are relatively un-pressured. Bait will be plentiful, those proficient in cast-netting will have no problem filling their live-wells with frisky pilchards. Once the well is filled, you can choose to anchor up on a likely spot or drift across a large flat. Live shrimp is also deadly on most species, but as we move into summer the pinfish become more of a problem. Anglers casting artificial baits will do well with scented soft plastics, Rapala X-Raps, and spoons.

Nice catch… you go girl!The flats around both passes and north to Buttonwood Harbor will be productive for speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, pompano, bluefish, and ladyfish. Shrimp under a popping cork, live pilchards, and artificial lures are all productive baits. Topwater baits are great fun first thing in the morning on large speckled trout, target bars in shallow water around Long Bar, Whale Key, and Buttonwood Harbor. The deeper flats in 5-7 feet of water will be productive, but the trout will generally be smaller. 3” Gulp shrimp in new penny, natural, or glow and Cotee grubs in olive, rootbeer/gold on a ¼ oz jig head will account for plenty of fish.

Redfish will begin to school up on the shallow flats, particularly in the north bay. Long Bar and Tidy Island on the east side and Buttonwood Harbor on the west side are the top spots. A low, incoming tide is preferred, the fish will move up onto the flats with the rising tide. Scented soft plastics, weedless spoons, and topwater plugs work well for those who prefer to cast artificial lures. Live bait can be extremely effective, anchoring up and fishing potholes is a proven technique.

You can count on one thing in June in Sarasota, it is going to be hot! One way to beat the heat is to fish in the evening and at night. Snook are nocturnal by nature and feed heavily in the dark. Working lighted docks and bridges is the most popular night fishing method. Anchor a cast away up-current of the light, then toss a live or artificial shrimp, baitfish, small jig, plug, or fly into the shadow line of the light. You may also catch mangrove snapper, speckled trout, ladyfish, jacks, and maybe even a tarpon fishing the bridges at night.

Beach fishing for snook was fabulous last season, and it should be good again this summer, especially with the mild winter that we had. Walk the beach in the morning, looking for snook in the surf line. Cast out a small spoon, plug, or jig in front of any snook that you spot. This is a great time to break out the fly rod, white baitfish patterns are best.

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 June 2014

Reported: May 31st, 2014 by Capt. Rick Grassett


June should be a good month to fly fish for tarpon in the coastal gulf. Sarasota winter resident, Mike Perez, caught and released this one on a fly while fishing the coastal gulf recently  with Capt.Rick Grassett.

June should be a good month to fly fish for tarpon.

Tarpon should be plentiful in the coastal gulf this month as big schools of fish migrate along our beaches. Also look for cobia, triple tail 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 strong on shallow grass flats of Sarasota Bay.

Tarpon fishing should be strong this month as schools of fish increase in size and numbers. They will head off shore 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, plugs, DOA Bait-busters 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. I use 7’, 20#-40# class spinning rods and Quantum Boca or Cabo 60 reels with 50-pound Power Pro braid. 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 Bait-busters or Swimming Mullet can also be productive when fish are moving past you but not showing well on the surface. The new DOA Airhead with a heavy weedless hook should also be a good tarpon bait, especially when sight fishing.

When fly fishing, I use 12-weight rods and large arbor reels capable of holding 250 to 300-yards of backing with 25-pound tippet. I use a variety of baitfish, shrimp or crab fly patterns fished on intermediate sink tip fly lines. The shallower the water, the easier it is to get you 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 Bait-buster 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”. I like the flats of north Sarasota Bay for reds and big trout in June.

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 triple-tail 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 triple-tail triple-tail triple-tail triple-tail triple-tail triple-tail triple-tail 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 will 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.