Photo (a snook) by Captain Rick Grassett

Gulf Catch: August fishing reports and Fall outlook

Fishing in the Florida Gulf Coast waters around Sarasota Bay was productive in August for snook, Spanish mackerel and other times of great fighting fish! Learn more in this month’s report.

August is a transitional month for fishing in the Sarasota Bay. There is a lot of activity and things happening in the water due to the heat, rainfall and migration of different schools of fish through this vibrant and active area.

The forecast

Captain Rick Grassett, who operates out of CB's Saltwater Outfitters and writes monthly forecasts on, predicted tarpon would move to inside water of Sarasota Bay, down south in Charlotte Harbor, and up north in Tampa Bay. Schools of red fish could be found on shallow flats as well as big trout at dawn. Fishing deep grass flats, Grassett wrote, would offer anglers a nice mix of trout, bluefish, pompano and Spanish mackerel. Snook, a prized fish for its fight, could be found around lighted docks at night or travelling up and down the surf.

Shark hunting

There is a mix of fishing opportunities guests can pursue in Sarasota's coastal waters. Take for example Captain Brandon Naeve's six-hour trip had visitors hooking up on sharks this month. According to the captain, the second season for large sharks happens late August as small Tarpon leave the rivers due to the heavy amounts of rain bringing in more freshwater. Large bull sharks, lemon sharks, big black tip sharks and sometimes a hammerhead venture onto the flats to attack these tarpon.

Big Pass

Captain Jim Klopfer reported mid-August that his fishing clients caught a wide variety of species on charters in Big Pass, the largest pass near the city of Sarasota that opens up to the bay. Using live shrimp and pilchards around structure, anglers caught ladyfish, jack crevelle and Spanish mackerel. On deep flats, Spanish mackerel, mangrove snapper, gag grouper, silver trout and more ladyfish were caught. Klopfer reported that chumming with live pilchards has proved the most consistent technique for both action and variety.

Middle Grounds

Another popular location for many guides to take their clients has been the Middle Grounds. These “grounds” – an expansive area of grass flats in Sarasota Bay is well known by locals for trout, pompano, cobia, bluefish and many other species of fish. Captain Bruce Burkhart reported that drifting through this area, around eight to 10 feet of water, was a productive technique for catching bluefish, jack crevelle, ladyfish, grouper, snapper and trout.

Fall outlook

In the coming weeks, similar tactics should generate similar results. Great fishing should be ahead as cooler days drop water temperatures in October and the later months of Fall. In years past, captains have reported that bait is thick in the bays and out on the beach in mid-Fall, attracting a variety of game fish. It's a great time of year to try out new angling tactics! As always, check out for the latest fishing reports and book your outdoor adventure through one of our great charter or cruise services!