Plentiful Tapon & Good Flats Action in Sarasota
Anglers fishing with me on my Action Craft flats skiff the Snook Fin-Addict, out of CB's Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key, caught and released tarpon, trout, bluefish, redfish and Spanish mackerel during the past couple of weeks. Tarpon are plentiful and many are in large schools along Sarasota beaches. As is sometimes the case they become finicky and focused on migrating and spawning rather than eating, especially early in the season. We worked everything from singles, doubles and small schools to a couple of massive schools of hundreds of fish during the past couple of weeks.
West winds in the early part of the week of May 16th forced us to fish Sarasota Bay rather than tarpon in the coastal gulf, although action was good. My friends Russell and Annette Johnson, from Clovis, NM, and son Kyle and fiancée, Becky from Oklahoma City, visited Sarasota that week and fished with me on Tuesday and Wednesday. Russell and Kyle had steady action with trout to 3-pounds on CAL jigs with shad tails in Sarasota Bay on Tuesday, 5/17. The best action was on deep grass flats on the west side of the bay. Russell and Annette fished with me on Wednesday, 5/18, and caught and released trout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel and a red on CAL jigs with shad tails and DOA Deadly Combos. West winds eased up and allowed us to fish the east side of the bay where they had good action at Stephens Point. Later in the week they tarpon fished with my son-in-law, Capt. Andy Cotton. They had a great day, jumping 4 tarpon and leadering 2 of them on live crabs off Siesta Key on Friday, 5/20.
Winds switched back to the east when Bill Moore, from Libertyville, IL and his brother, Chris Moore from Coos Bay, OR, tarpon fished with me later that week from 5/19 through 21. Schools of little tunny (false albacore) blitzed the beach one day off of Longboat Key. Chris connected with one on a CAL jig with a shad tail and the fish made a smoking run! We found tarpon very finicky coming off the full moon and they repeatedly swam through our baits and refused them. They were in a better mood by Saturday, 5/21, when Chris jumped an 80-pounder and fought it to the boat after numerous jumps and an hour long battle. A hammerhead shark stalked our fish right at the boat but never attacked, so the fish swam off unharmed.
Clark Keator and his son, Clark, from Orlando, FL, fished a couple of days with me last week. Young Clark, jumped and landed a 90-lb tarpon on a live crab on Monday, 5/23. We measured both length and girth to get an accurate weight estimate and took a DNA sample of the fish for Mote Marine Laboratory's tarpon research program. I had a couple of experienced tarpon anglers who have caught and released numerous tarpon with me in the past, on Wednesday and Thursday, 5/25 and 26. We had lots of quality shots with both fly and spin tackle but the tarpon ignored us.
Conditions were great for sight fishing on Friday, 5/27, and tarpon got in a better mood. We jumped a tarpon on a fly and had a couple of hard follows. We also had a tarpon try to eat a CAL shad tail fished at the surface on a weedless hook. A very exciting strike!
Next week's tides are great, particularly the outgoing tides in the afternoon, as we approach the new moon on June 1st. Fishing tarpon along the beaches, trout, reds and more on both shallow and deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay and snook in the surf or in the ICW at night should all be good options next week.
Capt. Rick Grassett
Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc.
FFF Certified Fly Casting Instructor
www.flyfishingflorida.net and www.snookfin-addict.com
Russell Johnson's Sarasota Bay CAL jig trout caught & released with Capt. Rick Grassett.
Clark Keator's 90-lb Sarasota tarpon caught & released with Capt. Rick Grassett.
About The Author: Captain Rick Grassett
Company: Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc.
Area Reporting: Soutwest Florida
Bio: Capt. Rick Grassett, owner of Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc., is a full time fishing guide and outdoor writer based in Sarasota, FL. He has been guiding since 1990 and is an Orvis Endorsed Outfitter fly fishing guide at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters in Sarasota. Specializing in fishing with flies and lures on light spinning tackle, Capt. Rick fishes the bays, back country and coastal gulf waters from Tampa Bay to Charlotte Harbor in his 18’ Action Craft flats boat. He is a Federation of Fly Fishers certified fly casting instructor. Destination fishing trips are another specialty of Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service. Capt. Rick has lead groups of fly anglers to remote fishing locations around the world. Crane Meadow Lodge, MT, Los Roques, Venezuela, Andros Island Bonefish Club and Bonefish Bay Club in the Bahamas are several destinations where he has hosted groups in the past. Capt. Rick is a field editor for Saltwater Angler magazine and a monthly columnist for the Tampa Tribune. He has written articles for The Fisherman magazine and Orvis News. In addition to writing for these publications, he has been featured in articles in Florida Sportsman, Sportfishing, The Fisherman and Fly Fishing in Saltwater magazines. Capt. rick's web site, www.snookfin-addict.com features weekly fishing reports, current photos and and monthly fishing forecasts. He also maintains a second website that is specific to fly fishing and fly casting instruction, www.flyfishingflorida.net.