Sarasota Fly Fishing


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Shallow Water Fly Fishing Charters in Sarasota!

Sarasota shallow water fly fishing charter

Shallow Water Fly Fishing Charters in Sarasota!

The topic of this post will be shallow water fly fishing charters in Sarasota. Sarasota is a beach resort city on the West Coast of Florida an hour or so south of Tampa. Many visitors come to Sarasota to enjoy the world famous beaches. However, there are also opportunities for anglers to do some shallow water fly fishing as well.

4 hour fly fishing charter in Sarasota – $450

6 hour fly fishing charter – $650

8 hour fly fishing charter – $850

Sarasota is blessed to be able to provide anglers with several excellent fly fishing experiences. Those who prefer the challenge of shallow water fishing can certainly pursue that in Sarasota and the surrounding waters. There is an abundance of shallow flats, oyster bars, and mangrove shorelines that hold a variety of Florida game fish species.

Shallow water fly fishing charters in Sarasota

Capt. Tom Reutter runs our shallow water fly fishing charters in Sarasota. He does so out of a 15 foot custom Backcountry skiff. This boat is well-suited to allow anglers to stalk wily game fish and enjoy some sight fishing opportunities. Generally speaking, this is a two-man operation, with Capt. Tom on the stern polling and the angler on the front casting.

Shallow water fly fishing charters in Sarasota

The primary species that anglers can expect to catch on a shallow water fly fishing charter in Sarasota our snook, redfish, spotted sea trout, and jack crevalle. Tarpon are also a possibility in the warmer months. Anglers can catch all of the species both blind casting and site casting.

There are quite a few options for shallow water fly fishing right in the heart of Sarasota. The section of Sarasota Bay north of the downtown area opens up a bit and has many miles of mangrove shorelines along with oyster bars and acres of pristine grass flats. This area provides good action all year long, though fly fishing can be difficult here if it is windy.

fly fishing the deep grass flats in Sarasota

At the southern end of our area the bay gets quite narrower. For the most part, we fish from Blackburn point bridge up to Stickney point bridge. The expansive grass flats are replaced by numerous oyster bars. Mangrove shorelines are plentiful as well. This area is most productive in the cooler months when fish migrate to escape the harsh conditions on the open flats.

Waters fished on Sarasota shallow water fly fishing charters

Anglers who are interested in a four hour shallow water fly fishing charter will do fine staying local and fishing these waters. However, more adventurous anglers seeking a bit more solitude as well as more fly fishing opportunities can experience some great action if they are willing to drive an hour or so. Charlotte Harbor to the south and Tampa Bay to the north are larger areas that experience less development and boat traffic.

Sarasota fly fishing

There are quite a few factors that come into play when deciding on the best place to fish. First and foremost are the goals of the angler, whether it be a certain species, technique, numbers of fish, or quality fish. Capt. Tom will take into account several factors. These include tides, wind, time of year, water clarity, and recent fishing action. He will then give his recommendation to the client based on the current conditions in the goal of the charter.

Shallow water fly fishing techniques

There are two basic techniques that anglers will use on a shallow water fly fishing charter in Sarasota. These are blind casting and sight casting. Many anglers consider casting a fly to a fish that he or she can see and then enticing it into taking the fly to be the ultimate challenge! They understand that they are forgoing numbers of fish in the hopes of catching a quality fish and seeing it all happen.

Several factors come into play when sight casting to fish in shallow water. Tides are obviously very important. Generally speaking, a low incoming tide is preferred as fish will stage in deeper water before moving up onto a flat, bar, or shoreline. On very low tides, which often occur in the winter, fish will stack up in small indentations called “potholes”. This literally can be fish in a barrel, though they can be easily spooked as well.

Sarasota fly fishing charter

Water clarity is certainly another factor when it comes to shallow water site fishing. If the water is not clear, neither Capt. Tom or the client will be able to see redfish, snook, or trout sitting on a bar or lying in a hole. Wind direction is another component that must be factored in as well as time of day and son angle.

While sight casting is both rewarding and challenging, anglers will catch more fish when blind casting in most situations. This involves working a likely fish holding area such as a mangrove shoreline or oyster bar and casting the fly out and retrieving it back in. Anglers may not see the fish at first, but there is usually a tell-tale flash when it takes the fly. Spotted sea trout in particular blend in so well on a grassy bottom that they are difficult to sight cast effectively.

At times, anglers will see surface action as a school of ravenous game fish has herded helpless bait fish up against the surface. This commonly occurs when encountering large schools of jack crevalle. This is great sport as jacks put up a terrific fight and will take just about any fly cast into the melee.

Best tackle and flies

The tackle used on shallow water fly fishing charters in Sarasota is pretty straightforward. An 8wt outfit is an excellent all round choice for most of bay species. Anglers can certainly go up or down in size as needed depending on the size of the fish being pursued as well as the conditions. A floating fly line is used and a 9 foot tapered leader with a bite tippet of around 25 pound test completes the rig.

top patterns for Sarasota fly fishing

Fly selection is pretty basic as well. Anglers will use both weighted and unweighted fly patterns. Top producers include Clouser Minnows, Lefty’s Decievers, Crystal Minnows, and gurglers. Most of these are tied with the hook riding up, reducing hangups in the grass. White is a very good all-around color. Redfish often respond to brown and red.

Species caught on Sarasota shallow water fly fishing charters

Anglers casting a fly in shallow water are liable to hook a variety of species. However, there are several species that are most often encountered in this situation. These are snook, redfish, spotted sea trout, and jack crevalle. Tarpon of all sizes from juveniles that weigh a few pounds to giants weighing over 150 pounds can be encountered at any time.


Sarasota fly fishing charters

Snook are the premier inshore saltwater game fish species in Florida. They are similar in habits to largemouth bass, having a large mouth and a broad tail. Snook are ambush predators and are often found around some type of structure such as and oyster bar or mangrove shoreline Man made structure, especially docks, will hold plenty of snook.


spring Sarasota fly fishing

Redfish are a very popular inshore saltwater species. They lend themselves well to sight fishing as they are often found feeding in very shallow water. Redfish also tend to school up, making them easier to find. Anglers will often encounter telling redfish, which happens when the redfish puts his nose down into the bottom to feed and the tail protrudes through the surface.

While redfish are plentiful in this area at times, they can be incredibly difficult to catch as well. Our redfish tend to be a bit more educated than in some other parts of the country. Long accurate casts are often required. One productive technique is to park the boat and get out and wade. This allows anglers to approach much closer to the redfish as well as being very stealthy and quiet.

Spotted sea trout

Sarasota fly fishing charters

Spotted sea trout are plentiful all along the west coast of Florida. It may sound counterintuitive, but the larger spotted sea trout are found in shallow water while the larger numbers of size trout hold over the deeper grass flats. Trout are well camouflaged and can be incredibly difficult to spot in the water, especially over a grassy bottom. Most fish are caught by anglers blind casting.

In the winter, especially on the low negative tides, spotted sea trout will drop down into potholes. As mentioned above, these are depressions in a shallow flat. They can be a small is a couple feet across or as large as 100 feet across. It is amazing how many trout can be pulled out of one hole when conditions are right.

Jack crevalle

Sarasota rivers

Jack crevalle are the bruisers of the flats. They grow quite large, pushing 15 pounds in the Sarasota area. It is very easy to spot a school of jacks cruising along in 2 feet of water. The good news is that they are generally very aggressive and rarely turn down a well presented fly. Once hooked, the fight is on!


fly fishing for tarpon in Sarasota

Tarpon are arguably the most glamorous inshore saltwater species. They did not earn their nickname the Silver King for nothing! Depending on the time of year, anglers have the chance to catch juvenile tarpon in the 10 pound range as well as mature spawning tarpon that go well over 100 pounds. Juvenile tarpon are often caught in the backcountry when pursuing other species.

Anglers targeting giant tarpon will use a different set of tackle and techniques. Heavy fly rods in the 12wt range are used to subdue fish of this size. Also, it is really not done in shallow water but instead and flats between 4 feet deep and 10 feet deep. Anglers will cast to fish that are rolling on the surface as well as those that can be seen cruising throughout the water column. This is truly big-game fishing and can be challenging, but the reward is the fish of a lifetime!

In conclusion, this article on shallow water fly fishing charters in Sarasota will give visiting anglers all of the information they need to decide if this is an experience they would like to enjoy!

Fly Fishing for River Snook

fly fishing for river snook

Fly fishing for river snook!

The topic of this article is fly fishing for river snook. Snook are arguably the number one inshore saltwater game fish species in Florida and parts of the Caribbean. They are very similar inhabits to largemouth bass. Snook are ambush predators with a large mouth and a big broad powerful tail.

While the majority of snook caught my anglers fly fishing is done so on the inshore saltwater flats and out on the beaches, they can be landed in river environments as well. In the cooler months, snook migrate from the open saltwater flats into these tributary creeks, rivers, and even residential canals.

Many game fish species migrate saltwater to fresh. However, snook are one of the few species that do so for reasons other than spawning. These fantastic game fish can’t tolerate high levels of salinity as well is absolute freshwater. The reason they migrate up into these rivers in the winter is to escape the harsh conditions on the open flats.

Fly fishing for river snook

Snook can actually start to die if exposed to water temperatures below 55° for any length of time. Water temperatures can drop drastically, 10 to 15° in just a few days on the open flats. River waters are dark and warmer and have deep holes. All of this offer sanctuary to snook in the wintertime.

Fly fishing for river snook

My name is Capt. Jim Klopfer and I am a fly fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida. We are blessed with several rivers which offer anglers excellent opportunities to land a snook on fly. As far as I know, I am the only one offering these types of charters. I really enjoy them is not only do anglers have the chance to catch a trophy, the scenery is awesome and for the most part it is fairly easy fishing, long casts and precise presentations are not required.

There are several aspects of river snook fishing that are advantageous to fly anglers. Rivers tend to concentrate fish as they migrate up the river. There is much less water in a river system than there is in a large open estuary. Within the rivers themselves, certain spots such as deep holes on outside bends further make locating fish easier.

Sarasota fly fishing charters

Another benefit of fly fishing for snook and rivers is that there is almost always some type of protection. Some of the rivers open up a little bit, but in many situations a lease shoreline can be found to make fly casting relatively easy, even on breezy day. Finally, River trips offer a solitude that is not found on the open waters.

Sarasota fly fishing charters

Best river snook tackle and flies

A 9wt outfit with an intermediate sink tip line is perfect for this type of fishing. Anglers can drop down to an 8wt and get by with that fine. However, the larger outfit will come in handy on a windy day as well as when hooking a large snook or even a jack crevalle. Since the water is tannin stained and dark, a short leader of 6 foot or so is fine. I like to use 3 1/2 feet of 50 pound leader followed by 2 1/2 feet of 30 pound tippet.

Snook flies are fairly basic, I use a Crystal minnow most of the time. Clouser Minnow patterns also work well. Weighted flies, whatever choice, work best fly fishing for river snook as it is usually current present. Unweighted flies generally will not sink down in the water column far enough. White would be my top color, followed by gold, copper, black, and fire tiger. Generally speaking, location and presentation are more important than the fly pattern itself.

Read more about the best fly patterns for Sarasota

As mentioned above, this is fairly easy fly fishing for the most part, the rivers that I fish are wide enough that there are generally few back casting issues. 40 to 50 foot casts are all that are required. Anglers do not need a ton of great skill to catch snook on fly and rivers, however they do need patients as this is more of a quality game as opposed to big numbers of fish.

River snook fishing techniques

fly fishing Little Sarasota Bay

The technique that I use when fly fishing for river snook is fairly simple. However, like all fishing techniques, there are nuances that apply. Tides are a factor in all types of saltwater fishing, and river snook fishing is no exception. It is always best when fly fishing to drift with the current. Otherwise, as soon as the cast is made the current will put a bell in the line. This not only affects the presentation but also affects the hook set as well.

The prevailing technique is to simply drift with the current while casting the fly to likely fish holding spots. Fallen trees are top spots as summer floods will erode the bank and cause these trees to fall into the water. Limestone ledges are also excellent spots where snook will lie in ambush. Outside bends in the river channel are top spots as there will be deeper water present and generally debris and other types of cover will be deposited there.

Little Sarasota Bay fly fishing

The fly is cast out and allowed to sink several seconds. With the rod tip held low near the surface of the water, the fly is stripped back in. In most cases, a fairly aggressive 18 inch strip followed by a pause of a second or two works best. However, as in all fishing, it is best to vary the retrieve until a productive pattern emerges. When the fish takes, the angler pulls hard with the stripping hand to get the point of the hook started in the fishes mouth, then the rod tip is raised. This is called a strip set and is the best way to fish a streamer fly and saltwater.

Other game fish caught river fly fishing

An added benefit to fly fishing rivers in the winter time is that other species will be encountered as well. Most anglers do not mind and interloper interrupting the snook fishing.

Sarasota rivers

Jack crevalle are often caught on my river fishing charters by anglers targeting snook. Fish to 15 pounds are caught on a regular basis. Jacks have large broadsides and put up a terrific battle on a fly rod. They are often encountered feeding aggressively on the surface, this only adds to the fun and excitement.

Depending on the river that we choose to fish, largemouth bass are also a possibility. While most fish average around 2 pounds, they are chunky and healthy and give a good account of themselves on a fly rod. Bass will most often hit very close to the bank as opposed to other species which will chase the fly in. Occasionally, a fish to 5 pounds is caught.

Juvenile tarpon will be found in these inshore rivers as well. These fish average 15 to 40 pounds and are fantastic sport! Anglers will catch them blind casting but often times it will be seen rolling right out in the middle where a quick accurate casts may result in a take. Tarpon tend to prefer the deeper holes.

fry fiswhing for river snook

Gar do not make the list of top game fish for many anglers. However, they will readily take a fly and often times put up a very spirited battle, frequently jumping several times out of the water. Add to the fact that they are large, some are pushing 6 feet long, and most anglers don’t mind being interrupted with one while casting for snook.

Best rivers in Sarasota for fly fishing

There are three rivers that I fish here in the Sarasota area. These are the Myakka River, Manatee River, and Braden River. Each has its own personality and advantages and disadvantages.

The Myakka is the prettiest of the three. It has been designated a wild and scenic river which means limited access and development. This is truly old Florida and has a very unique feel to it. On many trips, anglers will not see anyone else fishing and maybe just a few kayakers. The Myakka River is the best choice for anglers seeking a trophy snook in a unique environment. However, it gives up less in terms of numbers and action; there will be days when no fish are hooked.

The Braden River is the closest in terms of driving time to Sarasota. It is a tributary of the Manatee River. It has a fair mix of both developed areas and those where no human activity is seen. The Braden River is an excellent choice for anglers seeking large jacks as they move in from Tampa Bay. Plenty of nice snook are caught as well. Anglers may also encounter juvenile tarpon, snapper, ladyfish, and redfish. This is true saltwater and no freshwater species exist.

The Manatee River is a bit of a combination of the two. It offers the best chance for variety as anglers can catch all of the freshwater and saltwater species here. It is a pretty River, but there is a fair amount of human activity and the locals tend to run through the no wake zones, even though it is illegal. It is also a bit fickle at times.

In conclusion, this article on fly fishing for river snook will give anglers some great tips and techniques when fishing these serene and overlooked waters!

Fly Fishing Little Sarasota Bay

fly fishing Little Sarasota Bay

Fly Fishing Little Sarasota Bay

The topic of this article will be fly fishing Little Sarasota Bay. Little Sarasota Bay, or “the little bay” as it is known locally is south of Sarasota Bay. It offers anglers good fly fishing opportunities and has several advantages over the larger more open areas of Sarasota Bay. For the most part, this is a cool water fishery as the water warms up quite a bit in summer and there’s also the infusion of rainwater that can result in the salinity being a bit too low.

Little Sarasota Bay runs basically from Siesta Dr., Bridge south to Blackburn point bridge. The environment is a bit different than Sarasota Bay, being dominated much more by oyster bars and mangrove shorelines than grass flats. In years past, there were some large expanse of grass flats, but these seem to have disappeared. Midnight Pass closed in the early 80s. This results in Little Sarasota Bay fishing more like a backwater as it is a long way from the Gulf of Mexico.

Siesta Skiff

My name is Capt Jim Klopfer and I am a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida. I have always enjoyed fishing the oyster bars, mangrove shorelines, and flats in Little Sarasota Bay. I recently added a 15′ Siesta Skiff to my fleet. I use it for river fly fishing charters, but it is perfect for a one angler fly fishing charter as well.

Fly fishing Little Sarasota Bay

Little Sarasota Bay offers fly anglers good opportunities for the primary game fish in our area. The snook is king and is the most highly sought-after inshore game fish. Redfish are also available and are easier to catch in this area as the water is not quite as clear. Jacks can be found cruising the bars in search of food. Speckled trout, generally larger than average in size, will take a fly cast out towards and oyster bar.


Sarasota fly fishing report


There are several advantages of fishing Little Sarasota Bay. One major one, particularly in the winter when weather can be a factor, is the fact that due to its smaller size it is more protected. The certainly makes it easier for anglers casting a fly. Another aspect is that the fishing spots are very close together. I will often work down the edge of and oyster bar or mangrove shoreline casting for redfish and look and then simply drift off into deeper water where speckled trout and ladyfish are an option.

Tackle and flies

And 8 wt is perfect for this situation. I most often use an intermediate sink tip line, but anglers can certainly use a floating line as well it’s most of the areas fish are fairly shallow. I just find the intermediate sink tip line to be more versatile. I use a 9 foot leader consisting of 5 feet of 50 pound fluorocarbon leader followed by 4 feet of 30 pound fluorocarbon leader. Most of the time I’m using a weighted fly, so the leader turns over fine.

Sarasota flshing flies

I keep fly selection fairly simple. Snook are the primary targets, a #1/0 white Crystal minnow would be my first choice. For all round fishing, it is tough to beat a #1 or #1/0 Clouser Minnow pattern in white or chartreuse over white. If I had to pick one fly to fish with all the time in Sarasota, that latter chartreuse over white Clouser would be it. The third fly I use is a D.T Special, usually white. It works well on the open flats.

Tides, techniques, and tactics

Tactics and techniques used to catch snook, redfish, jacks, and other species are the same in Little Sarasota Bay as they are in other places. A low, incoming tide is preferred when chasing redfish. The lower water concentrates fish on edges as there is not enough water on top of the bar for them to get up and scatter out.

Read more about fly fishing for snook in Sarasota

The best tide for catching snook is a high, outgoing tide. Snook will stage at certain spots to take advantage of the title flow to feed. Top spots would include cuts and a mangrove shoreline, spots where small creeks enter the Bay, and the tips of oyster bars. Snook will be caught around docks and other man made structures as well.

Little Sarasota Bay fly fishing

Jack crevalle are nomadic predictable and can be encountered just about anywhere in Little Sarasota Bay in the cooler months. They will often run bar up creeks, especially if it gets quite cold. Fly anglers will catch them by blind casting, but what is even more fun and exciting is to run across a school of jacks feeding aggressively on the surface. When this occurs, a strike is a virtual certainty.

One thing I have learned about fishing Little Sarasota Bay over the years is that it definitely fish is best on higher tide stages. In some areas, oyster bars drop off sharply to slightly deeper water. This is not as much the case with the little bay. The result is that on very low tides, especially negative low tides, there just isn’t enough water around the edges of the bars. Anglers can catch fish in the deeper residential canals and other locations. However, generally speaking, I definitely prefer to fish the higher tide stages.

Little Sarasota Bay fishing

Drifting the flats in Little Sarasota Bay

I will drift the open flats in Little Sarasota Bay as well. This is usually done when targeting speckled trout, ladyfish, pompano, and other species. Sometimes bluefish and Spanish mackerel will move up that far into the Bay. The most reliable spots for doing this are the large flats south of Spanish point on either side of the bay. These areas tend to have the most reliable grass beds.


The technique for drifting the flats is quite simple. As the boat drifts along, anglers cast the fly out in front, allow it to sink a few seconds, then retrieve it back in. Often times in winter the ladyfish in particular will stack up down in this section. While perhaps not as glamorous to some anglers, they put up as good a battle on fly as any other 2 to 3 pound fish. Drifting the flats for trout, jacks, ladyfish, and other species is an excellent option for a novice angler or for one looking for more action.

As is almost always the case, conditions and angler expectations determine where and how I fish. As mentioned earlier, due to the relative small size of the Bay, there is almost always a protected side to fish. Once the wind picks up over 15 mph, fly fishing is tough no matter where you go.

In conclusion, this article on fly fishing Little Sarasota Bay will help anglers understand the options available to them and help them achieve success on this smaller, underrated little body of water!


Fall Fly Fishing in Sarasota

Fall fly fishing in Sarasota

Fall Fly Fishing in Sarasota

This article will thoroughly cover fall fly fishing in Sarasota. Fall is an excellent time to fish the West Coast of Florida. Sarasota waters offer fly anglers a variety of fly fishing opportunities, both inshore and in the Gulf of Mexico.

My name is Capt. Jim Klopfer and am a fly fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida. Fall is one of my favorite times of year for several reasons. First off, the weather is usually very pleasant, being cool in the morning and then warming up nicely by lunchtime. It seldom rains this time of year. Tourist traffic is also lower, meaning less pressure on the fish. Finally, and most importantly, fish are often actively feeding ahead of the cooler months.

Fall fly fishing in Sarasota

Anglers fly fishing in Sarasota during the fall have several options to choose from. These include fishing the deep grass flats for trout and other species, shorelines and oyster bars for snook and jacks, working the passes for ladyfish and mackerel, and chasing surface action on false albacore and Spanish mackerel in the inshore Gulf of Mexico.

Fly fishing the inshore Gulf of Mexico


Chasing busting schools of surface feeding Spanish mackerel and false albacore is probably my favorite way to fly fish in Sarasota. While working shorelines for large snook and jacks is fun, it’s hard to beat the excitement of seeing fish terrorizing helpless bait fish on the surface. Spanish mackerel will hit just about anything that moves while the false albacore can be fussier at times, especially when feeding on tiny glass minnows.

Sarasota flats fishing

The approach is pretty straightforward, though as in any type of fishing there are nuances that increase the odds of success. The ideal set up is to be a cast away from the feeding fish up wind of them. This allows the angler to make a nice easy cast to the feeding fish. Spanish mackerel will often stay up on top for quite a while, however false albacore can pop up for a few seconds and then disappear quickly. This can get frustrating! However, persistent anglers will almost always get a few shots if they hang in there.

I like to have two outfits rigged and ready to go for this type of fishing. On a 7wt or 8wt outfit I will have an intermediate sink tip line and a leader with a 40 pound bite tippet. This is for the Spanish mackerel. If they are very aggressive, I may even use a short piece of wire leader to help reduce or prevent cutoffs. The second outfit is a 9wt with a floating line and 20 pound bite tippet. False albacore do not have teeth and are a bit more line shy.

Sarasota fly fishing charters

Spanish mackerel are not at all fussy about fly selection in this situation. There is no need to spend a bunch of time tying fancy flies. I like to use a quick and easy to tie D.T Special variation that I tie on a long shank hook which helps reduce cutoffs. False albacore can be a bit fussier. It is good to have a bit of selection including Clouser patterns, glass minnow patterns, and Crystal minnow patterns. White is an excellent all round color.

Fly fishing the deep grass flats in Sarasota Bay

Anglers seeking action and variety often choose to drift the deep grass flats in Sarasota Bay. This is a technique that I use quite often on my fly fishing charters as it does not require advanced casting skills in order to have a successful day. The technique involves drifting across submerged grass beds in water between 5 feet deep and 8 feet deep. This is where the majority of the forage that game fish feed on are found.

Sarasota fly fishing charters

As the boat drifts along with the wind and tide, the angler cast the fly out ahead of the drifting boat. A sinking fly such as a Clouser Minnow is tough to beat. The fly is allowed to sink and then stripped back in using a fairly aggressive strip and pause retrieve. Anglers can catch speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish, jacks, pompano, and other species employing this technique. While long cast can be helpful, long as an angler can cast 30 or 40 feet, he or she should can catch some fish.

Fly fishing the passes

There are two passes that connect the Gulf of Mexico with Sarasota Bay. The term pass is synonymous with inlet, they are the same thing just termed differently on the Gulf Coast. These passes are deep and swift and are used by migratory species to swim in and out of Sarasota Bay. Both passes also have extensive sandbar systems were fish will get up and feed at times.

fly fishing for ladyfish

Ladyfish are virtually guaranteed for anglers fly fishing the passes in Sarasota. The biggest obstacle can be getting the fly down deep enough, especially if there is a swift current. An intermediate sink tip line with a fairly heavy fly will get the job done. Serious anglers will use a full sinking line to get the fly down quickly. These sinking lines are effective, however are a bit cumbersome and difficult, especially for novice anglers.

The good news is that the fish species that are found in the passes often feed at the surface or high up in the water column. These primarily include ladyfish, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, and jacks. Pompano will be found on the shallow bars as well as the occasional juvenile permit.

Fly fishing for snook, jacks, and redfish

Many anglers that visit Florida enjoy trying to catch snook, redfish, and jacks while fly fishing. This is definitely a more challenging type of fishing that is more about quality than it is about quantity. Anglers will definitely work harder for a take, but the result is almost always a decent fish.

Sarasota fly fishing report

As the water starts to cool off and the days become shorter, the mangrove shorelines, oyster bars, docks, and shallow flats will hold these game fish as they migrate from the passes and beach towards their winter staging areas. Covering the water is very important as these fish are constantly moving. However, they are also often actively feeding as they try to put on some weight for the winter.

An 8wt outfit with an intermediate sink tip line is perfect for this type of fishing. Anglers can bump up to a 9wt when fishing for large snook and jacks around heavy cover such as docs and bridges. An intermediate sink tip line with a 9 foot leader ending with a 30 pound fluorocarbon bite tippet is the set up that I use the most.

Anglers can use a wide variety of fly patterns using this technique. More often than not, I will use a chartreuse over white or all white Clouser Minnow pattern. It’s a great all round fly that has excellent action and the water. White is pretty much considered the go to color for snook. Other patterns include deceivers, Crystal minnows, and really any other baitfish or shrimp pattern. As in much fly fishing, location and presentation is more important than the actual fly pattern.

Sarasota fly fishing charters

The last few years we have experienced some chili whether around Thanksgiving. The result of this was to push the jacks and snook up into area creeks, rivers, and residential canals. A really enjoy this type of fishing for couple of reasons. This does not require a long cast and the creek often provides some protection from the wind. These are also fairly small areas which tend to concentrate the fish.

Snook in these creeks and canals will usually hold tight to structure. Docks, mangrove shorelines, and oyster bars are top spots. Seawalls and riprap will hold fish as well. Jacks will be found in the spots as well is right out in the open. While they don’t seem to school up and feed on the surface is much, they can often be seen in large bunches moving through the water just under the surface. Most of the very large jack crevalle that my anglers catch are done so fishing creeks and rivers in the cooler months.

In conclusion, this article on fall fly fishing in Sarasota will give visiting anglers an idea of the options and species that are available to them during this excellent time of year to fish!

Sarasota Fly Fishing in Summer

Sarasota fly fishing in summer

Sarasota Fly Fishing in Summer

In this article I will cover Sarasota fly fishing in summer. While it is very hot, there are a few patterns that are productive. A couple include world class opportunities to sight fish for large fish. For the most part, mornings are best, with night being an option as well.

There are a couple of fish migrations that anglers fly fishing in Sarasota need to be aware of. First off is giant tarpon which migrate up the coast on their annual spawning run. Also, snook move out of the back water areas and into the passes and out on the beaches.

Sarasota summer fly fishing

The deep grass flats can also be very productive. This is a great option for fly anglers seeking action as opposed to trying for something more challenging. It is the best trip for novice fly fishers. Speckled trout are plentiful with ladyfish, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, jacks, and other species mixed in.

Sarasota Fly Fishing in Summer – 3 main patterns!

I will cover the three primary fly fishing options for anglers visiting the Sarasota area. These are pretty much applicable to much of the Gulf Coast of Florida.

Fly fishing for tarpon in Sarasota

Tarpon are considered by many anglers to be the ultimate game fish, and for good reason. There are very few circumstances where anglers can cast a fly at fish well in excess of 100 pounds! Tarpon migrate through the area starting in late spring with June and July being the prime months.

fly fishing for tarpon in Sarasota

These are large fish, some pushing 200 pounds! Therefore, heavy tackle is required. I mostly use a 12 wt outfit with a sink tip line. Long leaders with a 60 lb bite tippet work well. Fly selection varies, but it really is more about presentation and finding the “right” fish than it is fly pattern.

We fly fish for tarpon in two different ways; out on the beaches and on the shallow bars near the passes. Fish out on the beach are found in schools swimming or milling several hundred yards off shore. The key is to find slow moving fish and get a fly in front of them. There can be very difficult to get to bite, but once it happens it is very exciting!

Anglers can also catch tarpon fly fishing in Sarasota in the summer on the bars. Both passes have extensive sand bars. Tarpon will swim over these bars. This occurs in water that is much more shallow than out on the beach. This makes it easier to get a fly in front of them, but they are also very spooky. Anchoring in a “lane” and waiting for a prime shot is the best bet.

Fly fishing for Sarasota snook

Snook are definitely a good option for anglers Sarasota fly fishing in summer. Snook have a very distinct seasonal migration. In the winter, they move up into creeks, rivers and residential canals. In the summer, not school up in the passes and out on the area beaches, where they spawn. This provides a couple of unique fly fishing opportunities.

Structure in both Big Sarasota Pass and New Pass will hold good numbers of snook in the summer time. These structures include docks, bridges, rocks, seawalls, and ledges. Flats with grassy bottom will also hold fish as well. The best time to fish the passes for snook is early in the morning or at night. For the most part, these spots are quite deep and it can be difficult getting a fly down to them during the brighter parts of the day.

night snook fly fishing

Night fishing around the lighted docks and bridges can be extremely productive. It also has the advantage of having anglers avoid the daytime heat and sun. Lights attract bait fish and shrimp which in turn attracts snook. Small a bait fish and shrimp patterns work very well. Several patterns have been invented just for this type of fishing. Clouser and Crystal minnow patterns work well.

Tides are very important for this type of fishing. The water needs to be moving in an outgoing tide is preferred. The general technique is to anchor the boat 40 feet or so off of the light along with being a bit up tide. The fly is cast out and allowed to drift through the light with the angler using short strips. This is the best option for anglers looking for numbers of snook on fly in the summer time.

Beach fishing for snook

There is a world-class sight fishing opportunity for fly anglers in Sarasota and all along the West Coast of Florida. This is to cast to snook as they cruise the beaches in the summer time. Many of these fish are small, in the 18 inch to 24 inch range. However, there are some trophy female fish mixed in as well.

Sarasota fly fishing report

The technique is fairly simple and straightforward. Anglers simply walk along the beach 10 feet or so from shore where they are a bit above the water. Not only is a boat not needed, it can actually be a hindrance since it is difficult to get a boat close to shore with any kinds well and anglers are looking into the sun. As they walk along, they scan the water from the shoreline to about 10 feet out in search of fish. Once cited, the angler determines which way they are moving and then gets in front of them and cast the fly.

Due to the fact that these beach areas are open water, anglers can go lighter on the tackle. I like to use an 8 wt outfit with an intermediate sink tip line, though anglers can certainly get by with a floating line as well. Any small white bait fish pattern will work, including a Crystal minnow, Shminnow, Clouser, or D.T. Special.

Deep grass flats are productive in summer

Anglers seeking action and variety when Sarasota fly fishing in summer will do best to drift the deep grass flats, particularly in North Sarasota Bay from the middle grounds north. Large patches of submerged grass in water between 6 feet deep and 8 feet deep will hold a variety of forage such as bait fish and crustaceans. This in turn holds the game fish species.

fly fishing report Sarasota

Speckled trout are virtually guaranteed for anglers casting a fly and drifting the deep grass flats for most of the year, in the warmer months are no exception. The water temperature is usually in the upper 80s and anglers need to get the fly down a bit in the water column. Therefore, I opt for an intermediate sink tip line and a weighted fly, with the Clouser Minnow being tough to beat. I like chartreuse over white or olive over white on a #1 hook.

The technique is not complicated. As the boat drifts along, anglers cast the fly out in front of the boat. The line in fly are allowed to sink for several seconds and then stripped back in using aggressive 18 inch strips with a pause in between. Quite often the take occurs on this pause. The angler uses the strip set to come tight and then slowly lifts the rod up.

Sarasota flats fishing

This technique is definitely the best choice for novice anglers and for those looking for action. Occasionally a large fish is hooked, but fish in the 1 to 3 pound range are the norm. Speckled trout are numerous with bluefish, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, jacks, and pompano all being distinct possibilities.

Anglers without a boat can take advantage of this type of fishing as well. Most shallow grass flats drop off to deeper water at some point. A couple of spots that come to mind are south Lido Beach in the flats off of the Ringling mansion. Anglers can wait into the water until about waist deep and they cast the fly out into 6 foot to 8 foot of water and experience the same action.

In conclusion, this article on Sarasota fly fishing in summer will help anglers understand the options available to them during this very hot but productive time of year!

Fly Fishing in Sarasota in Spring

Fly Fishing in Sarasota in Spring

This article will thoroughly cover fly fishing in Sarasota in spring. Like most fishing situations, spring is an excellent time of year to toss a fly. The water temperatures are rising and fish are moving from their winter haunts to the flats and back water areas. Many species spawn in spring as well.

My name is Capt Jim Klopfer and I run fly fishing charters in Sarasota. Spring is one of my favorite times to fish. The weather is usually mild and there are quite a few options that fly anglers can choose from. Just about every species that inhabit Sarasota can be caught during the spring time!

Fly fishing in Sarasota in spring

Sarasota fly fishing in spring

Anglers can catch a variety of species using several different techniques when fly fishing in Sarasota in the spring. The deep grass flats will provide action and variety. Speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish, jacks, pompano, and other species will take a fly. The passes will hold fish as well. Action on the beach can be excellent when conditions are right. Snook, redfish, and jacks are caught along the mangrove shorelines.

For the most part, I use an 8wt Orvis outfit for the majority of my Sarasota fly fishing charters. An intermediate sink tip line is very versatile and works well in most situations. Fly selection is pretty basic, with a 1/0 chartreuse over white Clouser Minnow being my top fly. Crystal Minnow and D.T. Special patterns are also effective.

Top techniques for spring fly fishing in Sarasota

Sarasota fly fishing charters

There are several different techniques that I use on my Sarasota fly fishing charters in the spring. These are drifting the deep grass flats, fishing the passes, working the inshore Gulf of Mexico, and trying for snook and reds in the backwater areas. All of these techniques can be productive this time of year.

Fly fishing the deep grass flats in Sarasota

Fly fishing the deep grass flats is a technique that I use quite often, especially with clients who are not as experienced. It is the easiest way to catch a fish on a fly. This technique also produces quite a bit of variety as many species roam these flats in search of food.

The technique is pretty straightforward. As the boat drifts along, anglers cast a fly (usually a Clouser) out in front of the boat. The fly is allowed to sink then stripped in fairly aggressively. As long as the angler can cast 30-40 feet, he or she can catch fish! This produces a lot of speckled trout, which are one of out primary resident species.

fly fishing the deep grass flats in Sarasota

Along with trout, anglers will encounter other species as well. Spanish mackerel strike hard and put up a great battle, often making a long initial run. Bluefish pull very hard as well. Ladyfish usually leap high out of the water when hooked. Jacks and pompano put up a determined bulldog fight.

There are a lot of these deep grass flat areas to fish in Sarasota Bay. This is helpful as wind can be an issue in spring. There are times when seeking a lee shore is desired. I will sometimes anchor to stop the boat or slow the drift. Ideally, we fish a flat where the wind and tide are moving in the same direction.

Fly fishing the passes

There are times in the spring when fish, particularly ladyfish, will be thick in Big Sarasota Pass and New Pass. This is a good prospect as fish are concentrated in a relatively small area. The biggest challenge can be getting the fly down deep enough, especially in heavy current.

catching ladyfish on a fly rod

Fortunately, there are shallow bars in the passes as well. Game fish will corral bait fish up against these bars, often times being seen feeding on the surface. This is great sport as a take is virtually guaranteed! Spanish mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish, and jacks will all be caught this way.

Fly fishing the inshore Gulf of Mexico

I really love fly fishing the inshore Gulf of Mexico off of the Sarasota and Siesta Key beaches! When conditions are optimum, the fishing can be truly world class. East winds will have the water clear and flat. This will attract huge schools of bait fish of various sizes, from tiny glass minnows to hand sized sardines.

False albacore fishing

This abundant forage attracts the game fish. Spanish mackerel are the primary species and are at times found in large schools. False albacore, jack crevalle, ladyfish, bluefish, and even cobia are also found feeding on the bait.

For the most part, this is visual fly fishing, which is part of what makes it so exciting. When mackerel, jacks, bluefish, and ladyfish are feeding, just about any fly cast out into the action will draw a strike. White bait fish patterns are best. False albacore can be much more fussy and at times multiple fly changes will be needed.

Fly fishing for snook and redfish

Anglers coming to Florida often want the challenge of targeting snook and redfish on the flats and in the backwater areas. This is definitely an option for those anglers with good casting skills and experience. This is a “quality over quantity” situation. While the numbers may be low, this can produce a trophy snook or red.

spring Sarasota fly fishing

Snook are easier to catch on fly and redfish, in my opion. They are much like a saltwater version of largemouth bass. Snook are structure oriented and relate to docks, bridges, oyster bars, mangrove shorelines, sea walls, and really any structure. White is the top color. Often times, anglers will catch jack crevalle while persuing snook, a most welcome interruption!

Redfish are usually found in shallow water and are extremely spooky. Anglers need to be very quiet or better yet wade. Red and brown is a proven color combination. Redfish will be scattered out in spring, before they school up in summer.

Species caught by anglers fly fishing in Sarasota in the spring time

One of the aspects of fly fishing in spring in Sarasota is the variety. Just about every species that will take a fly can be caught this time of year. Most techniques can produce multiple species.


Sarasota fly fishing report

Snook are the premier inshore game fish in the southern half of Florida. They are available all year long. In spring, they migrate out of Sarasota creeks, rivers, and residential canals as the water warms up. The snook are scattered out, but fairly aggressive and in the mood to feed. A high, outgoing tide is best.


Sarasota fishing report

Many anglers want to catch a redfish on fly when visiting Sarasota. In all honesty, they are very difficult to catch in my area. Reds are usually found in very shallow water and are therefore quite easily spooked. They also get a lot of pressure. Working the oyster bars can produce them along with other species. Wading can be the best approach.

Speckled trout

fly fishing for speckled trout

My clients catch a lot of speckled trout wen fly fishing in Sarasota. Trout are available all year long and are usually fairly cooperative. Spring is definitely an excellent time to catch them as the water temperature is usually perfect and forage is available. Numbers of trout are caught in deep water while the larger trout are often found alone in shallow water.

Spanish mackerel

fly fishing for Spanish mackerel

In my opinion, Spanish mackerel are an underrated and under appreciated saltwater game fish species. Spring and fall are the best times to catch them in Sarasota. Fly anglers can encounter mackerel on the deep flats, in the passes, and out on the beach. You really never know where they will show up, which is definitely part of the fun! Spanish like a very fast and aggressive retrieve and put up a terrific fight once hooked. Many are lost to their razor sharp teeth.

Jack crevalle

Sarasota river fly fishing

Jack crevalle are terrific game fish! They use their broad sides to pull very hard. Jacks usually school up in large numbers, which adds to their aggressiveness. They are often found feeding on the surface. In the spring, they are usually caught in the same areas as snook, cruising the backwater oyster bars and shorelines. Jacks love docks as well.


fly fishing for pompano

Pompano do not grow large, but put up a determined battle and are fantastic to eat. They are caught on the flats and in the passes. The primary challenge is getting the fly down where pompano feed. Small weighted flies in bright colors work best.

False albacore

fly fishing sarasota gulf

There is no better game fish that anglers can catch when fly fishing in Sarasota in spring that false albacore. They are caught in the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico. False albacore can be fussy and difficult to fool. They are also fast and move around a lot. I bump up the tackle to a 9wt or 10wt for false albacore. They make a blistering run deep into the backing when hooked.


fly fishing for bluefish

Sarasota bluefish average a couple of pounds. They put up a great fight on the light tackle that I use on my Sarasota fly fishing charters. While I seldom target bluefish, they are welcome interlopers when casting for trout or other species. Most are caught on the deep grass flats.


fly fishing for ladyfish

Some anglers disrespect ladyfish and call them trash fish, I am not one of those anglers! Ladyfish have saved the day for me and my anglers on many occasions. Ladyfish fight hard, leaping high up out of the water. They are caught year-round in just about all locations.

In conclusion, this article on fly fishing in Sarasota in spring will help anglers understand the options and opportunities that are available to them.