Myakka River and Freshwater Reports


I did a little scouting on the Manatee River the other day, to find decent action despite it being a bit early in the season.  Snook to 22", bass to 2 lbs, sunshine bass, bream, and ladyfish hit spinnerbaits and Rapalas.  The bite will improve as the water cools off!

Fishing report for Sarasota



Several anglers have commented on the lack of a recent river report.  The reason is simple, I really don't have one.  It has so unseasonably warm that the fish have not moved up into the area creeks and rivers, so I have only run a couple of trips, with fair results at best.  The forecast for the next 2 weeks continues to be warm and mild, so this "season" may not really happen at all.




It was an odd year on the Myakka River this season.  Unseasonably warm temperatures delayed the migration of snook up the river.  THen, El Nino rains had the river at flood stage for most of January.  Then, it warmed up quickly in March.  I ran a couple of charters this weeek, with anglers catching bass and small snook on fly and using Rapala X-Raps.


Sarasota fishing




This has been an unusual river season so far.  It was VERY warm up until Christmas, too warm, then cold with a lot of rain in January.  Right now the river is high, cold, and fast as we have had so much rain.  But, the cold should have pushed a bunch of fish up the river, and once the water level drops, fishing should be good.  Bass and snook hit Rapalas and flies, though the action has been quite sporadic.

Fishing reports




The unseasonably cool weather continues, slowing the migration of snook up into the rivers.  Still, most trips are producing several snnok and bass.  I had several fly fishing charters on the Myakka River that were productive.  A couple of good cold fronts should improve the fishing.





Unseasonably warm weather has delayed the river fishing, but in the last two weeks fishing both the Manatee River and Myakka River has been fairly productive.  As is the norm, the Manatee provides variety, with clients jumping juvenile tarpon, landing snook (mostly small), largemouth bass, gar, and snapper.  The Myakka River generally produces larger snook, and we landed fish to 30" in the last couple of weeks.  Rapala X-Raps in Firetiger, gold, and white fooled the fish.  Water temperatures are still in the low 70's, but several cold fronts are forecast and this should trigger a migration of fish up into the rivers.Sarasota fishing report



This is a bit out of the norm, but I just returned from a trip up to Maine.  My girlfriend and I did some fly fishing and whale watching, along with much eating, drinking, and sight seeing.  At Moosehead we stayed in a cabin at Wilsons on Moosehead Lake, and booked a fly fishing charter on the east outlet of the Kennebec River, as well as a Moose safari.  On both trips our guide was Scott, owner of the operation.  The cabins are rustic, but very comfortable with everything you need to enjoy a relaxing vacation.  Fishing was decent, although it was maybe a bit warm.  We caught land-locked salmon and native brook trout on fly, mostly small, with both of us missing a couple larger fish.  Swinging flies, nymphs under an indicator, and retrieving streamers all produced fish.  I also missed a few on surface patterns, I am just too slow!  Beth had never fly fished before, but Scott had her casting well enough and she landed several fish on her own.

We went on a moose safari the next afternoon; Beth was determined to see one.  Right at the start of the trip we came across one in the dirt road!  It was as startled as we were and took off on a run.  Those big old things are FAST!  We saw some awesome scenery, but no more moose, though I think I saw a bear.


We also stayed a couple nights in Bar Harbor.  We enjoyed some good seafood and did a little shopping, but the whale watching tour was the highlight.  We used Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co. and thoroughly enjoyed the trip.  The boat was comfortable and fast (a large catamaran) and the staff enthusiastic and friendly.  We saw dolphins, tuna, and a dozen or so fin whales.  The seas were a bit choppy at first but laid down and the afternoon was gorgeous.


Bar Harbor also hosts Acadia National Park, one of the prettiest places that I have ever visited.  The scenery is awesome and quite different from what I am used to in Florida.



This has been a good season for snook fishing in the Myakka River, with some VERY nice fish being landed!  Recent record high temperatures along with the full moon seems to have resulted in a push of the larger snook moving down river towards Charlotte Harbor.  Charters are producing more bass and gar, a sure sign that the snook fishing is winding down.



This has been a good "season" so far, with most charters producing at least a 26" snook, with quite a few larger fish, up to 20 pounds.  #10 gold Rapala X-Raps and gold and Firetiger Jointed BX Minnow plugs have been the most reliable baits.  On a recent trip, fly angler Mark Gillihan, an accomplished angler from Michigan, caught several small snook and bass and finished up the trip with a nice 27" snook; a great fish on fly!



Snook fishing continues to be productive in the Myakka River, with decent numbers of fish in the 22" to 28" range being landed, along with the occasional lunker.  As always Rapala plugs continue to fool the wily snook.  The two top producers have been the #10 gold X-Rap Slashbait and the Firetiger Jointed BX Minnow.  One day they preferred the X-rap, the next the BX Minnow; toss them both!  Bass numbers are diminishing from earlier in the season.



Some unusually moderate weather over the Christmas holiday resulted in water temperatures climbing a bit too high.  But, recent cold fronts resulted in the temps dropping into the low 60's, which is about right for winter snook fishing.  Trophy fish continue to be landed on Rapala plugs.  Largemouth bass in the pound and a half range are also being caught.  The water level is low this time of year, so higher tide stages are best



Snook fishing in the Myakka River continues to be a bit hit-or-miss, though we had one great afternoon where clients landed several bass and snook, with one going 27" and the other pushing 20 pounds!  Rapala X-Raps in gold and Firetiger Jointed BX Minnows were the top producers.  It is looking like this is going to be a better season for bass, we are hooking several on each trip, perhaps it is the cooler weather?  The specks are still biting at Lake Manatee, though they are much more scattered out as they move to the banks to spawn.



Snook fishing continues to improve in the Myakka River with each passing cold front.  There are decent numbers of snook in the 18" to 24" range from the I-75 Bridge upriver to the dam.  Larger fish should move in as it cools off.  Largemouth bass are also being caught on most trips.  Rapala X-Raps continue to be productive.



The crappie (speckled perch) also continues in Lake Manatee from the state park to the SR 64 bridge.  Small jigs, Beetlespins, Roadrunners, and live minnows are all productive.  The best bite is from first light to mid-morning.



Snook are beginning to migrate up into the Myakka and Manatee rivers as the first real cold fronts move through.  Recent charters produced snook to 25" on Rapala X-Raps ( #10 gold) and Jointed BX Minnows in Firetiger.  More fish will move up, including the larger specimens, as the water temperature in Charlotte Harbor drops.  The speckled perch bite continues to be good in Lake Manatte between the SR 64 bridge and the state park.  Road Runners and jigs are producing best in water between 10 and 22 feet deep.



Summer is over and it is time to get back to some freshwater and river fishing!  We did have a LOT of rain in September, and the Myakka was at flood stage for several weeks.  The water is receding, however it is still high and fast; not really fishable.  I have spent some time on both Upper Myakka Lake and Lake Manatee this week.  Upper Myakka Lake produced a few bream and tilapia, but Lake Manatee was better, giving up some nice bream, small bass, and the big news; the speckled perch (crappie to out northern friends) bite is heating up!  Specks are schooled up on the channel edges in 8' to 15' of water and are hitting small brightly colored jigs, Beetle Spins, Road Runners, and of course, live minnows.  The fish should move up shallow as it cools off.  We actually caught a 22" snook in the lake on a topwater plug!  The largemouth bite has been a bit slow but should improve with cooling water temperatures.  Snook will start to show up in both rivers shortly.

Sarasota speckled perch


With Spring Break and the tourist season in full swing, I stay very busy with my saltwater charters and don't get to do much freshwater fishing.  I did have a bass charter this morning, and since they were staying in St Petersburg, I met them at Lake Manatee.  Action was steady, they landed a dozen bass, 2 went close to 5 pounds, along with a nice channel cat.  Rapala Skitterprops and white spinnerbaits caught most of the fish.

Lake Manatee bass


Snook fishing continues to be decent in the Myakka River, although rising water temperatures may get the fish moving towards Charlotte Harbor.  The numbers are down, but quality fish are still being caught and I am seeing an increase in the number of largemouth bass being landed.  As always, Rapala plugs produce the most fish, though anglers targeting bass will do well using soft plastic baits.

nice Sarasota bass


A recent cold snap dropped water temperatures significantly in the area.  This seems to have resulted in decent numbers of snook migrating up the area rivers.  As of today, the temperature was in the low 60's, which is perfect!  Largemouth bass and snook bit well, hitting Rapala plugs cast toward the shoreline.

Doc with a big Myakka River snook


I did a little prospecting on the Manatee River on a day off.  The Manatee generally provides more variety, but less snook, at least for me.  I caugfht a nice 3 lb bass, an eating-sized catfish, a ladyfish, and a 4 lb jack, all on gold X-Raps.  I was a bit discouraged to see a lot of developement on the river, part of the attraction is the solitude and scenery.


I had a good trip with Ken Langham and his mate Ian, both from the UK.  Using the new Rapala Jointed BX Minnow, they landed snook to 28", bass, and gar, and jumped a tarpon.  A Thanksgiving cold front should move more fish up into the river.


The water level and temperature are good and conditions are excellent in the Myakka River.  Snook fishing has been very good with most trips resulting in at least one 30" fish.  Rapala plugs are the most consistent producers; they allow anglers to cover a lot of water fairly quickly.  The stretch from Tamiami Trail up-river to I-75 has been best.  This is a unique charter for the client who is looking for something different.


Snook fishing in the river is pretty slow this time of year.  The water is too warm.  Once it starts raining (snook like the infusion of fresh water) they will bite better.  Tilapia are plentiful and will hit worms and small lures.  Fishing in Upper Myakka Lake and the freshwater portion of the Myakka River has been decent for bluegill and other panfish using Beetlespins and worms.  The water level in the river is perfect; around 11.5 feet.


Snook are still biting in the Myakka River, but the water is warming up a bit too much.  Temperatures are around 70 degrees and this gets thje fish moving towards Charlotte Harbor.  Still, there are enough around to make it productive.  Bass fishing was a bit below average this season; perhaps it was just not cold enough.  As always, Rapalas are the best producer.  Chris caught this one on untra-light spinning tackle using a tiny Rapala Husky Jerk.


Massacred the bluegill and other panfish this morning at Upper Myakka Lake. The water is pretty low, but still fishable. Black Beetlespins and live wigglers caught over 50 fish with many between 6" and *' along with a 16" largemouth. Good fun and great eating!!



   This has been a very good year for snook fishing in the Myakka River.  We have had a very mild winter up to this point; it was actually getting a bit too warm.  But, several fronts are set to move through which will get the temps back down into the low 60s where they belong.  Rapala X-Raps have been the most consistent producer though we caught plenty of fish on black spinnerbaits as well.  Bass, bluegill, gar, and baby tarpon are also occassional catches.  Doug Forde is the manager at CB's Saltwater Outfitters in Sarasota and caught this nice fish on Jan 15.


   The water level and temperature is just about perfect for fishing in the Myakka River.  Snook are migrating up from Charlotte Harbor and are hitting plugs.  Bass are also being caught on plugs and soft plastic baits.  This is a unique fishing charter that offers anglers the opportunity to catch a big snook on light tackle with incredible scenery and solitude.

   The water level is low in the Myakka in the state park.  Tilapia are thick and hitting live worms.  Some are fairly large, up to 4 pounds.  Som bream are mixed in.


The water level has come down and is just about perfect in the Myakka River in the State Park.  Bait fish are everywhere!  Big bluegills, shellcracker (redear sunfish), and other bream are taking worms, lures, and flies.  The areas just off the current are best.  Large catfish are also being caught on worms and are great sport on ultra light tackle.  Snook are being caught near the 41 bridge by anglers using Rapala and Bomber plugs.  The average size is small but fishing will improve as it cools off.

The Myakka River is still at flood stage and basically un-fishable.  However, fishing in Upper Myakka Lake and Lake Manatee is very good, particularly early and late.  Speckled perch (crappie) are starting to bite in decent numbers and should improve as the water cools.  Small spinnerbaits and jigs cast or trolled work well when the fish are scattered about.  Bluegill are hitting black Beetlespins and live worms.  They still have some roe and should bite good as we get up on the full moon.  Bass are hitting the same Beetlespins as the bream along with the larger models.  With the water this high, weedless soft plastics pitched into openings are also producing fish, especially after the sun gets up.

An unusual amount of rainfall results in the rivers and lakes being very high for this time of year.  Good for the lakes, not so good for river fishing.  Lake Manatee and Upper Myakka Lake are producing speckled perch (crappie) and bream, along with some bass.  The spec fishing will improve as it cools off.  Small Beetlespins and Road Runners work best for those who fish with lures.  Live minnows are good for crappie while worms will catch more bream and catfish.

Myakka River video;

Myakka River Fishing is a site dedicated to fishing the magical Myakka River in Sarasota, Florida. The Myakka is the state’s only “Florida Wild and Scenic River”. It flows some 70 miles from it’s headwaters in Hardee and Manatee Counties all the way down to Charlotte Harbor. The last 20 miles or so of the Myakka River are tidal and brackish. There is very little development along the entire river, it still retains a charm and feeling of serenity. This truly is the real Florida!