Monthly Fishing Reports from Sarasota Area

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

October Fishing Report—Capt. Rick Grassett

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

October should be a great month to fish shallow water. Jon Yenari from Sarasota had good action with reds and snook on CAL jigs with shad tails while fishing Gasparilla Sound with Capt. Rick Grassett in a previous October.

Fishing should turn on this month. Schools of reds will begin to break up and scatter on shallow flats. There should also be good action with snook and big trout in shallow water. Snook will gorge themselves at night around lighted docks in the ICW. There should also be good action in the coastal gulf with Spanish mackerel, false albacore (little tunny), tripletail and cobia. You might also still find tarpon anywhere from upper Charlotte Harbor and Tampa Bay to along the beaches.

Tarpon           

Tarpon will still be an option this month. I find them in upper Charlotte Harbor this time of year. Look for them feeding in ladyfish schools or rolling in deep water to find them. . You’ll also find juvenile tarpon from 10 to 30-pounds in many creeks and canals.  I’ve also found tarpon feeding in the coastal gulf in October. They are usually scattered over a broad area, feeding in bait schools. This “reverse migration” may only last for a short while but it can be really good!

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 has reopened in that 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”. Snook, trout and reds are closed to harvest through October 11 in all Manatee County waters north of State Rd 64. Full regulations and details can be viewed at https://myfwc.com/ .

Snook will move from passes and the surf as water temperature cools and days get shorter. They will stage around docks and bridges in the ICW and along sand bars, potholes and along mangrove shorelines. They may blow up on top water plugs or fly poppers in shallow water early or late in the day. Fish peak tidal flows for the best action.

Reds       

Big schools of reds that are more common in August and September will break up into smaller schools, singles and doubles by the end of the month. As water cools and baitfish school up, reds will feed in shallow water. I like to pole my flats skiff to hunt for reds in shallow water. Focus on baitfish or mullet schools to find reds. CAL jigs with shad tails, including the 4” CAL shad tail and DOA Baitbusters are some of my favorite lures to locate reds with. If the tide is very low, weedless-rigged CAL shad tails or DOA Shrimp rigged backwards will work well in the thick turtle grass. Once I’ve located fish, wading is often the best way to approach them when fly fishing. I like a long leader (12’) on a floating fly line with a lightly weighted fly with a weed guard, like my Grassett Flats Minnow. When you have good sunlight, you may be able to sight fish them on light colored bottom, like sandbars or potholes.

Trout       

You’ll also find big trout in many of the same areas in shallow water. I would approach locating big trout the same way as reds. Focus on baitfish or mullet schools to find them and use the same lures and flies to catch them. Some of the best action that I’ve experienced with big trout was at first light with big trout feeding in baitfish schools in very shallow water. 

You’ll find trout of all sizes on deep grass flats. Wherever there are small trout, there may be a few “gators” around since big trout will eat small ones. Mixed with trout there should also be blues, Spanish mackerel or pompano. In addition to focusing on bait and birds, I like to drift and cast ahead of the drift with CAL jigs and shad tails or DOA Deadly Combos or a lightly weighted fly on a sink tip fly line to find fish. When toothy fish are around add 6”of heavy fluorocarbon (60-lb) or wire to prevent cut offs. You may find tripletail or cobia around buoys, crab trap floats or channel markers in inside waters or the coastal gulf. 

False Albacore or Spanish Mackerel       

Look for Spanish and king mackerel or false albacore in the coastal gulf. I look for diving terns or “breaking” fish to find them. Once you’ve located feeding fish, a CAL jig with a shad tail or jerk worm or a size specific top water plug will work well for spin anglers. Fly anglers should score with small olive, chartreuse or white flies, poppers and Crease flies. You’ll need wire or heavy fluorocarbon when mackerel are in the mix. You may also find a few kings around the edges of feeding frenzies. I don’t usually target kings, but I will catch a few when fishing breaking mackerel or albies. You can also look for tripletail or cobia around crab trap floats, buoys or channel markers while searching for mackerel or albies in the coastal gulf.

Seasonal Tips      

October is one of my favorite months. It’s nice to do something different, so I like to fish the coastal gulf for mackerel, false albacore, tripletail and cobia when conditions are good. There should also be good action on shallow flats with reds, trout and snook or tarpon of all sizes in upper Charlotte Harbor. Night snook fishing in the ICW heats up as the water cools down.   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

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. 

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. 

August - Tarpon will move into estuaries this month. You may also find juvenile tarpon in creeks, canals and turning basins. Reds should be schooling on shallow flats and big trout will prowl the same waters at dawn. Also look for trout on deep grass flats mixed with blues, pompano, Spanish mackerel and more. 

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. 

October - Schools of reds will begin to break up and scatter on shallow flats. There should also be good action with snook and big trout in shallow water. Snook will gorge themselves at night around lighted docks in the ICW. There should also be good action in the coastal gulf with Spanish mackerel, false albacore (little tunny), tripletail and cobia. You might also still find tarpon anywhere from upper Charlotte Harbor and Tampa Bay to along the beaches.

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.