Siesta Key Fishing Adventures
Siesta Key Fishing Adventures

Fish On!

Simple solutions to fishing in Sarasota County – the where, the how, and the when to help land that prize catch.

Ah, the allure of a lunker. The tug on the line, the pull up, reel down battle between human and fish, the first glimpse of what’s on the end of the hook, and the thrill of landing it. Quite the rush and quite the goal for many visiting Sarasota. Be it redfish, snook, sheepshead, cobia, tarpon, sea trout, whiting, and more, Sarasota fishing is a bucket list goal for many. But there is often an obstacle – the red tape preventing this aspiration. Getting on the water, finding the gear, and determining licensing may all stand in one’s way from tarpon glory. Luckily, when there’s a will, there’s a way. And I have many ways.

Where to Get the Gear

If you’re a novice fisherperson or on vacation, you may not have poles, line, tackle, and bait conveniently at your disposal. To just give something new a try or to save the hassle of lugging your lines from home, rentals make life just that much easier.

Hart’s Landing, located under the Ringling Causeway bridge, rents out poles with a free side of fishing knowledge. Call ahead to ensure their supply.

New Pass Bait Shop exudes everything old Florida style, from the décor to the knowledge that comes from being in business since 1929. Learn from the masters.

Where to Fish

Visit one of Sarasota’s fishing-approved piers and set up your gear, no license required. The aforementioned Hart’s Landing is adjacent to the largest - the Tony Saprito Pier, located at 420 John Ringling Causeway. At the downtown Sarasota end of the Ringling Bridge, veer off and curve underneath for this hidden fishing gem. The Venice Pier extends 700 feet over the Gulf and, because of the varied depth of water as the pier progresses, a variety of fish can be caught, including mackerel, snook, ladyfish, and even sharks. Papa's Bait & Snack Shop lies in the center of the pier, selling shrimp, sardines, and squid.

Charter a boat for a stress-free day on the water. All About Fishing and CB’s Saltwater Outfitters provide fishing charters throughout Sarasota County. The knowledgeable captains will bring all you need – fishing licenses and coordinates to the hot spots included – to ensure a successful day on the water. Tarpon- and snook-specific trips are available. Fish on!

A stroll through the grounds of the historic and beautiful Phillippi Estate Park will bring fishing enthusiasts to tucked-away dock in a prime spot located on Phillippi Creek. Enjoy the calm waters spewing from the Gulf and cast out for snook, redfish, and sheepshead, and keep a safe eye open for otters and manatees.

The Venice Jetty is nature’s pier. Set up shop and cast out in search of grouper or snapper as dolphin frolic in the surrounding waters.

The Beach. Wade in a few feet (far away from swimmers and sandcastle builders, of course) and cast for whiting as the waves splash and the breeze drifts by. The far end of Lido Beach at South Lido Park or Point of Rocks on Turtle Beach are popular locations for this activity. If you are a Florida resident, this license is free, but mandatory.

Ken Thompson Park on City Island, conveniently located near New Pass Bait Shop, offers stunning views from its dock and shoreline to distract anglers during the idle time between “fishing” and “catching.”

Rent a boat, kayak, SUP, or canoe, load up on (rented) gear, pack up your sunscreen and water, and venture out into the Gulf or Bay for some aquatic adventures. Economy Tackle rents Hobie kayaks and SUPs; CBs Saltwater Outfitters off Siesta Key rents boats along with fishing gear. If you’re stationed closer to Englewood or Venice, both SUP Englewood and Silent Sports Outfitters provide convenient hook ups.

Free Fishing Days

Fishing licenses are not required on the first Saturday and Sunday in June, the first Saturday in September, and the Saturday following Thanksgiving. Size, quantity, and other rules still apply. Learn more.


If you are fishing off a licensed pier or a chartered boat, a fishing license is not required. However, if you plan on renting a boat, kayak, SUP, whatnot, and captaining it yourself, or to fish from land or a structure that isn’t permitted, you will need a license. This also applies to catch and release. Obtaining a 3- day ($17), 7-day ($30), or annual ($47) non-resident Florida fishing license is easy and can be accomplished online or via the telephone. Many storefronts, including Economy Tackle and All About Fishing, both on Tamiami Trail, sell them as well. If you’re not sure if you need a license, review the Florida Fish and Wildlife Website beforehand. Better safe than sorry. A fishing trip ending in a massive catch is far superior to one that ends in a massive fine.