Monthly Fishing Reports from Sarasota Area
Here’s the latest report from fishing guides in the 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
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.
Spotted sea trout fishing should also be good this month. Regulations have changed 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”. In my opinion it’s important to protect larger trout, which are usually female breeders. Full regulations and details on trout and other species 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. CAL jigs with shad tails and jerk worms or DOA Shrimp should work well around docks and bridges and on shallow flats. The 4” CAL shad tail should work very well on the flats since larger baits will be prevalent there. I like larger flies, like Lefty’s Deceiver and my Grassett Flats Bunny, for snook on the flats for the same reason. Fly anglers should also score with small white flies or Gurglers around lighted docks and bridge fenders. Fish peak tidal flows for the best action.
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. DOA Baitbusters and Swimming Mullet are my top producing lures for large tarpon. Fly anglers should score with many of the same flies that work for sight casting to them along the beaches. I use 12-wt fly tackle with a floating or clear intermediate sink tip line for large tarpon. You’ll also find juvenile tarpon from 10 to 30-pounds in many creeks and canals. Spin anglers should score with DOA Shrimp or TerrorEyz on snook tackle. Fly anglers can handle the smaller fish on 8 or 9-wt fly rods with sink tip fly lines and a scaled down version of any fly that large tarpon will eat. 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!
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.
Blues, Spanish Mackerel, False Albacore
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. A DOA Shrimp or CAL jig with a shad tail will work well for tripletail. Fly anglers should score with lightly weighted flies with a weed guard. A DOA Baitbuster or 4” CAL shad on 20 to 30-pound class spinning tackle or a wide profile tarpon fly on a minimum of 9-weight fly tackle will get the job done with cobia.
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.
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!
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.
February - February can be a tough month to fish. With frequent fronts and cool water, fish aren’t always in an eating mood. If you’re able to pick good tides combined with favorable weather conditions, you should be successful. Trout and redfish should be good shallow water options this month. You may also find trout along with blues, Spanish mackerel, pompano and flounder on deep grass flats. Look for sheepshead, flounder, reds and more around docks.
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.