Fishing Forecast

What’s coming up on our local waters to target with our fly rods?


 

Capt. Rick Grassett’s Sarasota, FL Fly Fishing Forecast for February 2016

 

            Trout and redfish should be good shallow water options in Sarasota Bay 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. Catch and release night snook fishing around lighted docks in the ICW may be a good option if it’s not too cold. Spanish mackerel, king mackerel and cobia may show up in the coastal gulf by the end of the month depending on conditions.

 

Snook season remains closed this month, so use tackle heavy enough to catch and release them quickly. Since they are temperature sensitive, I won’t target them following strong fronts when water temperatures dip below 60 degrees. However, I have had some great night trips catching and releasing snook on flies in the ICW at night this time of year. Since larger baitfish aren’t that plentiful this time of year, snook will gorge themselves on glass minnows and shrimp. Small white flies, like my Grassett Snook Minnow, glass minnow patterns or Shrimp Gurglers will all work well.

 

You may also find snook in rivers, creeks or canals this month. Fishing may be good in these areas on a blustery day when it isn’t fit to fish anywhere else. I like wider profile flies in these areas due to the baitfish that may be found there. Fly anglers should score with baitfish patterns, such as Lefty’s Deceiver or my Grassett Deep Flats Bunny, fished on a sink tip fly line. Fish the deep spots, usually in bends in the river, for the best action.

 

You might find reds in potholes or along the edges of bars and shallow flats when the tide is low. As the tide rises, they will feed higher on shallow flats, particularly on sunny afternoons. Fly anglers should score with lightly weighted flies with weed guards on floating lines with 10’-12’ leaders.  My Grassett Flats Minnow fly is my “go to” fly for fishing skinny water. You may also find big trout in skinny water in the same places you find reds. The same flies and techniques that you use to target reds will work for big trout in those areas. I release all trout over 20” since they are usually females and I feel that they are important to the health of our trout fishery.

 

You’ll also find trout on deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay and silver trout may mix with them on deep grass flats close to passes. I like flats that have a good mix of grass and sand and good tidal flow. Flats that are close to passes, such as the Midleground, Radio Tower and Marina Jack flats, are often good choices unless the water is dirty. Following fronts, silted up water will cover deep grass flats close to passes, often affecting fishing in those areas. I like to drift and cast ahead of my drift with weighted flies, like my Grassett Deep Flats Bunny or Ultra Hair Clouser flies, on sink tip fly lines to locate trout. Once you’ve located them you can shorten your drift or anchor on them.

 

In addition to trout, you may also find blues, Spanish mackerel, flounder or pompano, depending on water temperature and conditions, on deep grass flats. The technique to find them is the same as for trout, although there may be other clues. Pompano may “skip” on the surface when you drift or run past them giving their presence away. When that happens, set up a drift upwind of where you saw a pompano and cast ahead of your drift. Blues and Spanish mackerel may force bait out of the water or feed on the surface. You may need to add heavy fluorocarbon or wire when blues and mackerel are mixed with trout on deep grass flats. I like to use Ultra Hair Clouser flies, tied on long shank hooks leaving a portion of the hook shank exposed as a bite guard, when toothy fish are around.

 

Fishing docks is another good option this time of year, especially when the tide is low. You might find reds, sheepshead or flounder under docks. I like docks that are deep (3’ or more) and have a good tidal flow. Fish the end of long piers to find the deepest water. Also, look for big boats moored on docks or on boat lifts, which is also an indication of deeper water. Older docks with lots of barnacle and oyster growth usually hold more baitfish and predators. I like weighted flies, like Clousers, fished on sink tip fly lines when fishing docks. Be sure to let your fly get down close to the bottom and strip with a distinct pause to keep it low in the water column.

 

There may be some action in the coastal gulf by the end of the month with Spanish mackerel, king mackerel and cobia depending on conditions.  When the water warms to the high 60’s to low 70’s, these fish will move into our area from the south as they migrate north. Look for Spanish mackerel on the surface or in passes. Cobia may be swimming on the surface, around buoys, channel markers and crab trap floats or over structure.

 

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. If you don’t have that luxury, you might do better by sleeping in and fishing later in the day when it’s warmer. Whatever you choose to do, please limit your kill, don’t kill your limit!

 

Tight Lines,

Capt. Rick Grassett

IFFF Certified Fly Casting Instructor

Orvis-Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters

Orvis Outfitter of the Year-2011

Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc.

www.snookfin-addict.com, www.snookfinaddict.com and www.flyfishingflorida.us

E-mail snookfin@aol.com

(941) 923-7799

IMG_2854aIMG_2122a

February should be a good month for catch and release night snook fishing and for Spanish mackerel, blues, trout and more on deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay. Frank Zaffino, from Rochester, NY, had good action fly fishing for snook and Spanish mackerel in a previous February with Capt. Rick Grassett.


 

Capt. Rick Grassett’s Sarasota, FL Fly Fishing Forecast for May 2015

Tarpon fishing will take off during May as migratory fish arrive along our beaches.  Also look for Spanish mackerel, tripletail, cobia and false albacore (little tunny) 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. Blues, Spanish mackerel and more mixed with trout on deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay should also be good options.

Resident tarpon are usually the first to show up as they make their way out of rivers and creeks. As migratory tarpon start to arrive this month, we should have schools of tarpon moving both north and south along our beaches. Early arriving tarpon may be more aggressive due to less fishing pressure early in the season. Fly anglers should do well with a variety of baitfish or crab fly patterns fished on floating or intermediate sink tip fly lines. I’ve done well with Lefty’s Deceiver, Tarpon Bunny and Tarpon Toad flies in dark colors. Staking out or anchoring in shallow water on their travel route should result in some shots at fish. The best angle is a “head on” shot, followed by a quartering shot. A perpendicular shot may work if it’s timed perfectly, although casting too far beyond their line of travel will usually spook them. Be quiet, using your trolling motor sparingly, especially in shallow water. Even though your 4-stroke outboard sounds quiet, it is no substitute for an electric trolling motor. I use a push pole with an occasional assist from a trolling motor if I need to adjust my position to make a cast.

Snook season is closed on the west coast of Florida this month. Since they will be spawning, use tackle heavy enough to catch and release them in a timely manner and handle them gently. Larger snook will mostly be females and should always be supported horizontally rather than hung vertically by the jaw. Small white flies, like my Grassett Snook Minnow, work well at night. One of the most fun ways to target snook is to walk the beach and sight cast flies to them in the surf.

Higher tides this month will mean that reds will spend more time feeding on shallow flats. Look for them along mangrove shorelines and around oyster bars when the tide is high and in potholes or along sandbars when the tide is low. When fishing shallow water for reds, be as quiet as possible. I prefer to use a push pole or wade. Reds are one of the most challenging species to catch on a fly. Since they can be very spooky, I often wade for them when fly fishing to keep a lower profile. I like a 12’ or longer leader on a floating fly line. Wide profile baitfish patterns work well this time of year since many reds are feeding on larger baitfish. You’ll also find big trout in many of the same shallow areas that you find reds. The Terra Ceia Bay area, north Sarasota Bay and Gasparilla Sound are all good areas for reds this month.

Trout will be plentiful on deep grass flats. Drifting and casting ahead of the drift is usually the most productive method. I like Ultra Hair Clouser flies on sink tip fly lines for trout or other species that be found there. Look for flats that have a good mix of grass and sand and good tidal flow. The Middleground and Radio Tower flats, Stephens Point, Bishops Point and near Buttonwood Harbor are all great trout areas in Sarasota Bay.

You may also find pompano, bluefish and Spanish mackerel on the same deep grass flats where trout are plentiful. They can be targeted in the same way as trout, but you may need to use wire or heavy fluorocarbon leader when toothy fish are around. You may also find Spanish and king mackerel, little tunny, cobia and tripletail in the coastal gulf. Keep your eyes open for surface activity such as diving birds, breaking fish or baitfish being forced out of the water which could indicate the presence of mackerel, blues or little tunny. 8 or 9-weight fly tackle should be heavy enough, although your tarpon fly tackle is not too heavy for cobia. Look for cobia either swimming on the surface or around navigational markers or buoys. I have also found cobia swimming with schools of tarpon before. Tripletail may be found around crab trap floats or buoys. When fly fishing for tripletail, a floating line on an 8 or 9-weight fly rod with a shrimp or baitfish fly pattern, like my Grassett Flats Minnow, should get the job done.

This is one of my favorite months of the year. If battling a big tarpon isn’t for you, you should have plenty to do on both shallow and deep grass flats or in the coastal gulf. I’ll be spending my time targeting tarpon in the coastal gulf unless conditions won’t allow it. There is something about casting a fly to a giant fish in shallow water! Whatever you choose to do, please limit your kill, don’t kill your limit!

 

Tight Lines,

Capt. Rick Grassett

IFFF Certified Fly Casting Instructor

Orvis-Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters

Orvis Outfitter of the Year-2011

Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc.

www.snookfin-addict.com www.snookfinaddict.com and www.flyfishingflorida.us

E-mail snookfin@aol.com

(941) 923-7799

Mike Perez tarpon 1Mike Perez tarpon2

 

Fly fishing for tarpon in the coastal gulf will be a good option this month. Mike Perez, from Sarasota, FL, caught and released this one last May on a fly while fishing the coastal gulf in Sarasota with Capt. Rick Grassett.


Capt. Rick Grassett’s Sarasota, Fl. Fly Fishing Forecast for March 2015

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 ICW should also be a good option this month.

 

Snook season reopens this month on the west coast, although personally I will continue to ask clients to release them while the population is still rebounding from the freeze of 2010. This should be a good month for snook fishing at night around lighted docks and bridge fenders in the ICW. I like the area known as “snook alley” from Little Sarasota Bay to Venice. Small white flies, like my Grassett Snook Minnow, usually work well at night since glass minnows and shrimp are the predominate bait. Focus on shadow lines where light meets dark and fish strong tides for the best action. Although snook may also be found in rivers, creeks or canals in March, they will also start to move onto shallow flats, particularly on sunny afternoons when it’s warm. I like larger profile flies, like Clousers, Deceivers and EP flies, for snook on the flats.

 

Look for early season tarpon that may start to show in backcountry areas. These are usually adult resident fish that are making their way out of rivers and creeks. They may be “laid up” or rolling on deep grass flats, on edges of shallow flats or along bars when it is calm. An accurate cast with a Deceiver or Tarpon Bunny fly may result in an explosive strike! Look for them in areas of Sarasota Bay, lower Tampa Bay or in Gasparilla Sound on some of the same deep grass flats where you find trout.

 

Reds should be more active as the water warms and baitfish become more plentiful. Higher tides, as we head into spring, will allow them to spend more time feeding in shallow water. Look for them over shallow grass, along mangrove shorelines and around oyster bars when the tide is high. You should find them in potholes and along sand bars when the tide is low. I like the shallow flats of north Sarasota Bay for reds this month. Fly anglers should score with my Grassett Flats Minnow fly, fished on a 12’ or longer leader. When using a long leader be sure you are able turn it over, otherwise you’ll need to shorten it until you can. The butt section should be at least 50% of the total length of the leader and stiff enough to transfer energy from your fly line to the leader.

 

You might also find reds around docks when the tide is low. Look for deep water under docks with a good tidal flow for the best action. A clear intermediate sink tip fly line with a weighted fly and a 6’ leader should work well for dock fishing.

 

You may find big trout in skinny water in many of the same places that you find reds. Blind cast seams where grass meets sand or focus on light colored bottom, in potholes on top of sand bars, where you may be able to sight fish them. I release all big trout (over 20”), since they are usually females that are often filled with roe. You should also find trout plentiful on deep grass flats along with Spanish mackerel, blues, flounder or pompano. I like to make a series of drifts, casting ahead of the drift with an Ultra Hair Clouser fly tied on a long shank hook and fished on a clear intermediate sink tip fly line to locate fish. Also look for birds, bait showering out of the water or boils on the surface that will indicate fish feeding below. When mackerel and blues are around, you may need to add 6” of 40# to 60# fluorocarbon or wire to your leader. Fly poppers also work well when blues and mackerel are around and may help locate them by attracting them from further away. Flounder may be found on sand or mud bottom areas on both shallow and deep grass flats or around docks. Pompano may skip on the surface when you drift or run past them, giving their location away. Fish deep grass flats with a mixture of grass and sand and a strong tidal flow for the best action.

 

You may also find Spanish or king mackerel, false albacore (little tunny), cobia or tripletail in the coastal gulf this month. Look for diving or hovering terns to find Spanish mackerel or false albacore feeding on the surface. Small white flies, like my Grassett Snook Minnow or Ultra Hair Clousers fished on an intermediate sink tip fly line, will work well for them.

 

Run crab trap lines at various depths to find tripletail or cobia around crab trap floats. Fly anglers should score on tripletail with lightly weighted flies with weed guards. Cobia may also be swimming on the surface as they migrate from south to north following warmer water and baitfish. Large, wide profile flies, like Deceivers or EP flies would be good fly choices for cobia.  In the absence of any fish on the surface, check out one of the many artificial reefs or natural hard bottom areas that may hold baitfish and predators. Drift over structure and cast weighted flies on fast sinking fly lines to get deeper in the water column to catch them.

 

Conditions will improve during March and fishing should heat up. Flats and night snook fishing are usually good options this month. I like to check the coastal gulf when conditions are good, since you could find something really good happening there. Whatever you choose to do, please limit your kill, don’t kill your limit!

 

Tight Lines,

Capt. Rick Grassett

Orvis Endorsed Outfitter Guide 

CB’s Saltwater Outfitters-2011 Orvis Outfitter of the Year

IFFF Certified Fly Casting Instructor

Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc.

(941) 923-7799

www.snookfin-addict.com , www.snookfinaddict.com and www.flyfishingflorida.us 

E-mail snookfin@aol.com

Mike Perez Redfish

Shallow water action should pick up in March as baitfish become more plentiful in shallow water. Mike Perez, from Sarasota, FL, caught and released this big red on a fly in a previous March while wading a Sarasota Bay flat with Capt. Rick Grassett. Capt. Rick Grassett file photo

Burt Benjamin Spanish Mackerel

There should be good action in March on deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay with Spanish mackerel, blues, pompano and trout. Burt Benjamin, from CT, caught and released this one last March on an Ultra Hair Clouser fly while fishing Sarasota Bay with Capt. Rick Grassett. Capt. Rick Grassett file photo.