sarasota fishing report

Red tide affecting Sarasota fishing

Red Tide affecting fishing in Sarasota


The red tide moved further north in Sarasota Bay.  Fishing was decent, but on 8/10 the wind shifted west and that pretty much shut things down.  It seems to be easing up, so we shall see how it goes this week,  Capt Jim

Unfortunately, red tide has shown up off of the Sarasota beaches.  I hate to see the red tide affecting Sarasota fishing, but it does.  Patient anglers can still caught fish, the key being finding "clean" water on Sarasota fishing charters

Sarasota Fishing Report

Some of my favorite spots near Big Sarasota Pass and New Pass had red time move into it during the middle of the week.  It wasn't terrible and clients caught a few fish.  However, the dead fish floating nearby kind of take way some of the enjoyment.  The good news is that at least for now, the middle portion of Sarasota Bay has clean water and plenty of fish.  On Friday morning we ran across a couple large schools of jack crevelle.  They were terrorizing bait fish in three feet of water.  We got on them several times with a couple double-headers.

That bite slowed, so we eased out and worked grass flats in six feet to seven feet of water at Bishop's Pt., Buttonwood, and Stephen's Pt.  Action was steady with numerous  speckled trout to 18" being landed.  Jigs with Bass Assassin baits, Gulp Shrimp, and live shrimp were all effective.  Bluefish, mangrove snapper, gag grouper, ladyfish, jacks, and catfish were also caught.

Red Tide Tactics

While anglers can achieve success during periods of red tide, tactics do need to change.  Fishing with live bait fish can be difficult.  Red tide will move bait fish schools and it can be difficult to keep bait alive.  Running through one little patch can kill them all.  Live shrimp are not affected, it seems.  Anglers will do well by fishing fast and moving around until fish, and good water, are located.  Artificial lures such as the jig and grub combo work well.  Jigs allow anglers to cover a lot of water fairly quickly.  I wish my Sarasota fishing report did not include red tide affecting Sarasota fishing.  More info at the FWC site.

red tide affecting Sarasota fishing

Snapper and trout top the list

Snapper and trout were the highlights of Sarasota fishing report this week.

Snapper and trout top the list of species landed by clients this week.  My Sarasota fishing report features those species along with many others that hit live and artificial baits in Sarasota Bay.


Anglers did well on Sarasota fishing charters of late.  Speckled trout and mangrove snapper were the top catches.  Spanish mackerel, bluefish, flounder, sea bass, grouper, ladyfish, jacks, catfish, and were were also landed.  Gulp Shrimp on a jig head and live bait fish were equally effective.  The flats new New Pass were the top spots.  Radio Tower, Middlegrounds, and Bishop's Pt were all very productive.


As has been the case, the nost productive pattern on my charters has been to start off casting jigs at first light.  Either Bass Assassin Sea Shad baits and Gulp Shrimp on a 1/4 jig head worked well in six feet to ten feet of water over submerged grass.  On several morning the jig bite stayed strong.  On other mornings, or with young kids, a switch to live bait mid morning worked well.  Pilchards and threadfin herring were small, but just large enough for bay fishing.


Chumming the deep flats with live baitfish is a deadly technique in summer.  Bait fish are usually plentiful and easy to catch.  The smaller bait is actually advantageous.  More bait fish can fit in the well and the smaller chum gets the fish excited without filling them up.  Snapper and trout are attracted to the line of chum.  Catching them on a hooked bait is pretty easy after that.


I spent one morning trying for snook on the flats and docks in New Pass.  A topwater plug fooled one snook.  Live shrimp free lined under docks produced another.  It was quite breezy with storms, so we called it an early morning and went in.

snapper and trout


Sarasota Fishing Forecasts

Capt Jim Klopfer has been fishing in Sarasota, Florida since 1985.  He earned his USCG license in 1991has been running Sarasota fishing charters ever since.  In that time he has gained experience that only time can provide.  Here he shares that experience in his Sarasota fishing forecasts.  Capt JIm also shares a regular Sarasota fishing report.  Every year is different, but annual patterns tend to repeat themselves.  Our seasons do change, though the change is more subtle.  Slight changes in water temperature will trigger fish migrations.  The length of time the sun is out is a factor as well.  Tactics change with the seasons as well.  Water temperature, bait availability, and other factors will affect how fish feed.


Most fish species make some type of migration.  Resident fish such as speckled trout, snook, and redfish stay in a relatively small area, but do change locations.  A cold winter will push them into deeper water in channels and creeks and canals.  As it warms up they will move out into the bays to feed up.  In the summer they will seek the depths of cooler water while snook move out onto the beaches.


Other fish species mgrate through the area, called "pelagic" species.  They include Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, tarpon, false albacore, sharks, cobia, and more.  Pelagic fish generally school up in good numbers.  They also are very much keyed in to bait.  Bait fish migrate as well and this in turn affects the pelagic species movements.  Sight casting to schools of fish that are feeding voraciously on the surface is incredibly exciting!  Any lure, bait, or fly that is cast into the melee is instantly devoured!  We also have other fish that are seasonal.  These include sheepshead, pompano, bluefish, flounder, sea bass, and more.  While these species are occassionally taken all year long, there are specific times when they are much more plentiful.  All of the fish movements, locations, and techniques will be explained in these Sarasota fishing forecasts.

Sarasota winter fishing forecast

Sarasota fishing forecasts

Sarasota winter fishing forecast

Weather is the overwhelming factor in winter fishing in Sarasota.  While winters are much milder than other parts of the country, we still experience them.  The water temperature will be the lowest all year, sometimes into the upper 40's!  That is cold for our fish species.  Here is my Sarasota winter fishing forecast.  My weekly Sarasota fishing report will have current conditions and information.

Deep flats:

Cold water will push fish off of the flats and into deeper holes.  Speckled trout will be found in channels with deeper water, as will ladyfish and other species.  A free lined live shrimp is very effective.  After a couple of warm days, fish will move back out onto the flats.  Fish that are on the grass flats will be a bit deeper.  Flats in 8 feet to 10 feet of water will be more productive.  Bluefish, jacks, trout and pompano will take a 1/4 ounce jig with a grub tail.  Smaller baits, no longer than 4", are generally more productive.  By the end of winter, the deep flats should be very productive with Spanish mackerel joining the party.


When the winds ease up for a couple of days and the water clears, both passes can be very productive.  It is important for the water to be "clean".  When it is, ladyfish wil be piled up in Big Sarasota Pass and New Pass.  Mackerel, pompano, bluefish, jacks, and other species will be caught as well.  Drifting with the tide while casting or vertically jigging is a proven technique.  Live shrimp either on a jig head or free lined will also catch a lot of fish.


Structure such as docks, bridges, seawalls, and rocky bottom will hold fish in the winter.  Any quality Sarasota fishing forecast will include bottom fishing for sheepshead and snapper.  This is very easy fishing as anglers simply find some good structure and fish live or frozen shrimp on the bottom.  Flounder, black drum, redfish, and more will also be landed.  Sheepshead are a very popular winter target for Sarasota anglers.  They will bite in cold, dirty water.  On windy days, docks in residential canals offer some protection.


Surf fishing will depend greatly on wind.  Wind churns the water u, making it rough and dirty.  Fishing is poor under these conditions.  However, when the water is calm and clean, silver trout, whiting, pompano and more will be caught.  I live shrimp or piece of shrimp on a #1 hook with just a bit of weight works well.  A shrimp tipped jig is a great choice as well.

Creeks and Rivers:

In the winter, snook and jack crevelle migrate up into area creeks and rivers.  Rivers have deep holes and darker water.  This results in significantly higher water temperatures.  Gamefish seek the warmer water, as well as the forage.  Capt Jim offers anglers visiting Sarasota a unique oportunity, fishing for large snook in area rivers.  The Myakka River, Manatee River, and Braden River all hold snook, big jacks, redfish, and more.  Read about it HERE.  Rapals plugs and swim baits are generally used as it allows anglers to cover a lot of water.  The scenery is also very cool!  I hope you enjoyed my Sarasota winter fishing forecast!

Sarasota spring fishing forecast

Sarasota fishing forecasts

Spring is a fantastic tme of year to be fishing in Sarasota.  The biggest question anglers have to answer is what to fish for!  Just about every species is available this time of year.  Sheepshead are still present early and tarpon will have shown up by lsate spring, with just about everything else in between.  Sarasota spring fishing can be fantastic!  Anglers can check current condions on my Sarasota fishing report.



Both the deep and shallow grass flats will come alive in spring.  Speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, pompano, jacks, ladyfish, and more will be caught on grass flats in 5" to 10' of water.  The flats near the passes will be very productive.  Anglers drift with the wind and tide and cast their baits out, searching for a school of fish.  Most fish will be found in schools or bunches.  Live shrimp and  a 1/4 ounce jig are the two most popular baits.  Shrimp can be fished undr a float or just free lined out behind the boat.


Snook, redfish, jacks, and trout will move into the shallow flats as they warm up and forage becomes available.  It seems like a contradiction, but the largest fish often inhabit very shallow water.  Artificial lures that cover a lot of water are often the best choice.  Plugs, weedless spoons, and light jigs are the top choices.  Low, incoming tides are best.  A live hand picked shrimp can work very well in water that is just a tad deeper.



Both passes will be great options for anglers Sarasota spring fishing.  The rocks in Big Pass will still hold sheepshead, though their numbers will be dwindling.  Snapper will still be plentiful.  Drifting the passes while bouncing a jig will produce a LOT of ladyfish along with mackerel, blues, and pompano.


Inshore Gulf of Mexico:

When conditions are right, fishing the inshore Gulf can be world class.  East winds will result in calm, clear water.  Hordes of bait fish will move in, followed by the predator fish.  This is one of my favorite types of Sarasota fishing charters.  Spanish mackerel and false albacore will be seen feeding actively on the surface.  King mackerel, sharks, and even tarpon will be mixed in, especially .  Casting small spoons, jigs, plugs, and flies is great sport!  A chunk of cut mackerel on a large hook with a steel leader will catch some fun sized sharks.



Surf anglers Sarasota spring fishing should do well when the water is clear.  Trout, whiting, pompano, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, flounder, and ladyfiish will be caught using both live shrimp and lures.  High tides are best.

Sarasota summer fishing forecast

Sarasota fishing forecasts

Many of the clients that go out on a Sarasota fishing charter are surprised to learn that fishing can be outstanding in the summer.  The key is the abundance of bait throught the inshore bays and passes and out on the beach.  Catching bait and using it as chum is extremely effective.  It is very hot, however, and fishing needs to be done early or late.  Heat indexes are very high mid day and the fish normally don't bite as well.  View my current Sarasota fishing report for up to date information.  Get out there early and do some Sarasota summer fishing!


Fishing on the deep grass flats from 6' to 10' is outstanding in summer.  What I like to do is start out at first light casting jigs.  That bite will last an hour or two, depending on the breeze and overcast.  Once that slows, I move in and load up on bait.  Using my cast net, I fill the well with small live monnows.  I then anchor up-tide and up-wind of a good flat.  Live minnows are tossed out behind the boat, attracting gamefish up behind.  Speckled trout, mackerel, snapper, grouper, bluefish, ladyfish, and more will readily take a live bait in this situation.  Action on the shallow flats will depend on water temperature.  If it gets too warm, fish will move off deeper.  But, as long as the water temperature hangs arounf 85 degrees and bait is present, anglers should succeed.

Snook fishing:

Snook fishing is very good in summer as well.  Just keep in mind that they are out of season and must be eleased immediately.  Anglers Sarasota summer fishing for snook will find them in the passes and out on the beaches.  Live bait works well when fishing the passes.  The water is deep in spots and the current can be swift.  Large pilchards and threadfin herring along with shrimp, pinfish, and grunts all work well.  Heavier jigs with a large swimbait tail can also produce vertically jigged while drifting.  Out of the beach, it is a completely different situation.  While anglers can use bait, artificial lures and flies work well, and are a better option for shore fishermen.  Any small, white jig, plug, or fly will fool them.  Snook can be seen right i the surf line, cruising the beach.  Sight casting to snook is great sport!


Sarasota sees a strong tarpon migration each year in late May and summer.  These fish average 75 pounds and grow over 200 pounds.  Tarpon are the ultimate gamefish and the opportunity to cast to them with relatively light tackle is a unique one.  This is not for every angler.  There will be days that no fish are hooked.  Tarpon fishing is "big game" fishing and the success rate is lower than that with smaller fish.

Sarasota fall fishing forecast

Sarasota fishing forecasts

Fall is an awesome time to be in Sarasota!  The weather is usually fantastic with cooler temperatures and the crowds are non-existent.  Angling opportunities abound as fishing is good both inshore and in the coastal Gulf of Mexico.  Fall is generally the best time to target Spanish mackerel and false albacore in the Gulf.  Check out my Sarasota fishing report for current information.

Inshore, flats, and passes:

Just about every inshore species will be available this time of year for anglers Sarasota fall fishing.  Speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, jacks, pompano, snapper, and ladyfish will be caught on the deep flats.  Jigs, plugs, and live shrimp will all produce.  Chumming with baitfish will be effective until the bait leaves, which is normally around Thanksgiving, but every year is different.  Snook will move back into the bays and scatter out and feed as winter approaches.  Topweater plugs, jigs, and live bait will produce around oyster bars, mangrove shorelines, and docks throughout the area.  Redfish will be schooled up in large numbers on the shallow flats, especially up north near Long Bar.  Weedless spoons and light soft plastic baits work well, but these fish can be spooky!  Passes should be thick with ladyfish, with pompano, Spanish mackerel, and bluefish mixed in.

Inshore Gulf of Mexico:

I fish the beaches just off of Sarasota whever I get the chance in fall.  The opportunity to sight cast to breaking schools of ten pound false albacore using light tackle is great sport!  On my Sarasota fishing charters, I like to sit out on the beach or slowly idle around in Search of fish.  The three artificial reefs off of Lido Key in Sarasota and off Point of Rocks on Siesta Key.  Rapala plugs and Bass Assassin jigs are cast out into schools of breaking fish and worked quickly.  A hook up is almost assured, especially with mackerel.  Sharks are still fairly plentiful and will hit a piece of cut bait such as mackerel.










Big Sarasota snook surprises client!

After 27 years of guiding, I am still surprised to see new things.  This week Mitch French was free lining a small pilchard out behind the boat.  Something big grabbed it and dumped the spool.  After a scramble to chase it down, we landed a 35" snook!  That was a big SArasota snook.  In normal action, the bite on the deep grass flats has been steady.  Gulp Shrimp produced early then a switch to lve bait worked better later in the morning.  Fresh cut bait worked well, too.  Speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, jacks, grouper, snapper, sharks, ladyfish and more were landed.  Just about ecery grass flat in 6' to 10' of water held fish.  This action should continue all summer.

Sarasota fishing report

Wind, tide, and water clarity are all important issues when deciding where to fish.  Recent rains helped cool the water off, however is also stains it.  The floating mossy weed has definitely thinned out, which is a good thing.  Whenever possible, choosing a spot where the wind and tide move in the same direction is very beneficial.  Speckled trout have been the most plentiful species caught on Sarasota fishing charters.  Trout hit both jigs and live bait fish.  Chumming with live bait is a fantastic technique that produces a lot of fish.  Spanish mackerel will show up in the chum and feed more aggressively.  Adding more chum will keep them fired up.


My Sarasota fishing report would not be complete without a mention of snook and tarpon.  Snook fishing has been good in Big Sarasota Pass and New Pass.  There are also plenty of fish out on the beach.  Outgoing tides are best for fishing the pass for Big Sarasota snook.  A high, incoming tide is preffered for the beach.  It has been a disappointing season for tarpon in 2018.  West wind, a bit of red tide, and fishing pressure were all factors.

big Sarasota snook

Summertime family Sarasota fishing charters

Summer means a bunch opf families visiting Sarasota and Siesta Key and Lido Key, and for me running my fishing charters, that means families with children.  The goal on these trips is action and vartiety, keeping the rods bent and the kids excited is very important.  I switched over to primarily fishing with live bait as this is the best approach to achieving that goal.  My Sarasota fishing report includes speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, jack crevelle, gag grouper, mangrove snapper, ladyfish, catfish, and more.  The deep grass flats near both passes were the best spots.  Getting out there early was crucial, it has been VERY hot!  We started at 6:30 and finished up by 10:30.  Most charters produced around 50 fish.

Sarasota fishing report

Fair fishing on Siesta Key; conditions were challenging

My Sarasota fishing report is fair at best as conditions have not been the best of late.  For some reason, the water in Sarasota Bay remained murky and a kind of brown color.  I am not sure if it was due to the persistent wind, or perhaps the rain, but the stained water makes the fishing a bit tough.  Still, persistent anglers caught speckled trout to 21", snook, ladyfish, jacks, gag grouper, snapper, ladyfish, catfish, and a small cobia this week.  Gulp Shrimp and Bass Assassin jigs fooled most of the fish while free lined live shrimp also accounted for fish.  The flats in the middle of the bay were best, with Bishop's Pt. being the top spot.  Docks in New Pass hels snook while bridges produced mangrove snapper, jacks, and a small cobia on live shrimp.  I am hoping the water clears up and the baitfish show up; that will really crank up the summer fishing.

Sarasota fishing report

Weather is an issue for anglers in Sarasota

Mother Nature has made fishing in Sarasota a bit challeging of late.  It has been breezy with som rain and with Tropical Storm Alberto bearing down, we can expect more of the same for several days.  Also, I was on vacation for a week or so, did some bass fishin in Indiana.  In between the weather, clients landed speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish, and more on the deep grass flats using jigs and live shrimp.  Rapala plugs and live hand-picked shrimp fooled snook, redfish, mangrove snapper, and jack crevelle along mangrove shorelines and under docks in Robert's Bay.  Tarpon are showing up, but the wind is hindering the fishing.

Sarasota fishing report

Speckled trout pleasing anglers in Sarasota!

The trout bite continues to be very good on grass flats in 5' to 8' of water in Sarasota Bay and is the highlight of my Sarasota fishing report.  Bass Assassin jigs and live shrimp did well at Middlegrounds, Bird Key flats, and Stephen's Pt.  Speckled trout to 23" with quite a few nice ones in the 16" to 20" range were caught by clients.  Spanish mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish, grouper, and sailcats were mixed in.  Ladyfish and mackerel hit jigs and shrimp in Big Pass and sheepshead and gag grouper took live shrimp at the Ringling Bridge.

Sarasota fishing report

Decent fishing for persistent clients on Siesta Key!

Weather was once again a factor this week as a pretty strong front moved through early in the week, impacting my Sarasota fishing report.  The bite was strong on Sunday as we drifted the flats casting Bass Assassin jigs and catching a bunch of fish.  Monday and Tuesday were nasty, and it was still breezy Wednesday but got better each day after that.  Speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, and ladyfish hit jigs and free lined shrimp on the deeper flats.  The areas north of New Pass had cleaner water and those spots were more productive., with Bishop's Pt. and Stephen's Pt. being best for me.  I ran across a bucket while up on plane and saw a tripletail under it.  A live shrimp cast toward it was instantly devoured!  The passes and nearby docks are loaded up with sheepshead, if you want a few for dinner, fine, but please don't keep too many as they are easy to catch while schooled up to spawn.  Redfish and snook hit live shrimp under docks south of Phillippi Creek.

Siesta Key fishing charters

Steady fishing on the Sarasota flats around cold front.

Mother Nature had an impact this week as a fairly strong front moved through mid-week.  Clients on fishing charters experienced fast action on Monday and Tuesday as the front approached.  Speckled trout and ladyfish were plentiful at Marina Jacks and Marker #5 and hit Bass Assassin Sea Shad baits.  Sheepshead, mangrove snapper, Key West grunts, and gag grouper hit shrimp in Big Pass.  Docks in Robert's Bay held snook and grouper.  I got back out on Friday afternoon as the winds subsided, and expected to find the water churned up.  I was pleasantly surprised to find the water fairly clear, considering.  Middlegrounds and Bishop's Pt were the top spots with anglers landing pompano, speckled trout, grouper, ladyfish, a blacktip shark, and a small cobia casting Gulp Shrimp on a jig head.

Sarasota fishing report