Monthly Fishing Reports from Sarasota Area

Here’s the latest report from fishing guides in the area.

June Fishing Report—Capt. Rick Grassett

Rick Grassett is a Charter Captain with CB's Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key

Clark Keator, from Orlando, fights a tarpon on fly tackle while fishing the coastal gulf with Capt. Rick Grassett in a previous June.

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 should also be good on deep grass flats for a variety of species.

Tarpon           

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, 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 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 several hundred yards of space. Since fish may be moving both north and south, setting up too close to another angler may negatively affect their fishing. Tarpon fishing is very dependent on conditions and there are a lot of variables that need to come together to be successful.         

Use tackle heavy enough to land them as quickly as possible. When fly fishing, I use 12-weight rods and large arbor reels capable of holding 300-yards or more of backing. I use a variety of baitfish, shrimp or crab fly patterns fished on floating 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.

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, if you’re in the right spot, 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 be a good tarpon bait, especially when sight fishing.

Snook

Snook and reds remain closed to harvest south of State Rd 64 in Manatee County on the west coast of Florida, south to the south bank of Gordon Pass in Collier County. Reds and snook are catch and release only in that zone until May 31, 2022. Spotted Seatrout will reopen in the south zone with a 3 fish per person, bag limit and a 6 fish boat limit. Trout must be from 15”-19” with one allowed per vessel over 19”. Full regulations can be viewed at https://myfwc.com/  . This is great news for our fishery.

You should find snook 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.

Reds          

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. 

Spanish Mackerel, Bluefish, Pompano          

You may find Spanish mackerel, bluefish or pompano in passes or on deep grass flats this month. I like to drift deep grass flats 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 (40 or 50-pound) fluorocarbon when toothy fish are in the mix. 

False Albacore, Cobia, Tripletail          

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.

Seasonal Tips      

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 snook, reds, trout and more should also be good options. Our natural resources are under constant pressure, please limit your kill, don’t kill your limit!

Yearly Overview

January - It can be one of the toughest months of the year to fish. When the tide is low, look for reds tailing on shallow grass or reds, trout and more in potholes or around docks. When it is high, look on shallow grass flats on sunny afternoons. Action with trout, blues, Spanish mackerel, pompano and more on deep grass flats can be good depending on conditions.

March - 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 Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) should also be a good option this month.

April - This is a great month for snook, Reds, and trout on warm, shallow flats due to an increase in baitfish. Spanish mackerel, blues and pompano in passes or on deep grass flats. Tarpons, Spanish mackerel, false albacore (little tunny), cobia and tripletail should also make an appearance in back country areas and in the coastal gulf later in the month. 

May  - Tarpon, Spanish mackerel, tripletail, cobia and false albacore (little tunny) can be found along our beaches 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

July - There are lots of options this month, late season tarpon, snook in the surf or at night or fishing skinny water for reds or big trout. Tarpon fishing is best early in the day in shallow waters. 

September - Fishing dock lights before dawn is usually dependable for snook and more and is a great way to beat the heat. Juvenile tarpon and reds may also frequent dock lights this time of year. Fishing deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay is a good choice for action with a variety of species including trout, blues, and Spanish mackerel. 

November  - 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, there will also be plenty of action for a variety of fish on shallow and deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay. 

December - This is a good month for catch and release snook action around lighted docks in the ICW. Also, there is good action in the coastal gulf with false albacore (little tunny), Spanish mackerel and tripletail, depending on conditions.