What is the best time of year to go fishing in Sarasota?
As a charter boat captain in Sarasota, this is a question that I get asked quite often. Many who ask me this are surprised when I tell them that fishing is outstanding all summer long. There are several different options that visiting anglers can take advantage of in Sarasota during this time of year.
The key to the fishing in summer is simple; bait, a lot of it! Millions of small bait fish move into the area when it gets warm. Schools of bait fish, mostly scaled sardines and threadfin herring, are found on the beaches, in the passes, and out on the flats. This abundance of forage in turn attracts the predator fish.
Anglers seeking action and variety will do well to fish the deep grass flats. This technique produced many different species including speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, sharks, grouper, snapper, jacks, ladyfish, and catfish. Sarasota Bay has acres of submerged vegetation; we call them “grass flats”. The grass attracts both bait and game fish. In the summer, water temperatures will average in the mid 80’s, sending the fish to the deepest grass in the area. The best action will be found in 6′ to 10′ of water.
The two techniques that work best are drifting while casting lures and anchoring and fishing with live bait. I have a strategy that works well for me on fishing charters. I like to hit the water at first light and begin the trip casting jigs as we drift the flat. Fish tend to be more active during low light conditions. Then, as the sun comes up and that bite slows, I will fish with live bait. This two-pronged approach has proven to be a successful strategy that maximizes the time out on the water.
Chumming with live bait fish is incredibly productive in the summertime! Using my cast net, I load the bait well with hundreds of frisky baits. I then anchor over grass in 6′ to 8′ of water and begin tossing live baits out behind the boat. This induces a fishing frenzy and fast action soon follows. This is a great situation for children and novice anglers as it is not technically challenging.
Snook school up in Sarasota in the passes and out on the beaches in the summer. Snook are the premier inshore game fish in Florida. They grow quite large and put up a terrific fight! The best approach is to fish with live bait near structure such as rocks, bridges, and docks. Anglers can also sight fish for snook off of the area beaches. They will be seen cruising the shoreline. Lures and live baits are gently cast ahead of the fish.
Anglers seeking the ultimate fishing challenge can choose to target the mighty tarpon. These fish average 75 pounds with specimens pushing 200 pounds being caught every season. Tarpon show up in mid May and stay around until late July. Live crabs and bait fish are cast in front of schools of tarpon as they ease across the surface. Live baits can be fished under floats when no fish are showing.
In conclusion, anglers looking to experience some great fishing will do well to book a Sarasota fishing charter while on their summer vacation. It will be hot and an early start is required. However, the great fishing and life long memories will make it worth losing a little sleep!
Photos courtesy of Captain Jim Klopfer,