Tarpon Action Still Good in Sarasota
<p>Tarpon fishing remains good off Sarasota beaches, although conditions recently have made sight fishing in shallow water challenging. Anglers fishing with me on my Action Craft flats skiff the Snook Fin-Addict, out of CB's Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key, jumped several tarpon and landed two on flies, DOA Baitbusters and live bait. I also spent a couple of days over in Stuart, FL at the annual DOA Guide/Outdoor Writer Festival, where we caught and released snook, trout, flounder, black drum and jacks.
The DOA event is held out of River Palm Cottages and Fish Camp, "A Cool Place to Stay", on the banks of the Indian River in Jensen Beach, FL. It is the perfect spot for a weekend getaway. Not only is it right on the Indian River, it has a Florida Keys atmosphere with a nice Tiki Hut, dockage for boats and they're pet friendly. Outdoor writers, sponsors and guides were matched up daily to fish the fertile waters of the Indian and St. Lucie Rivers. Tarpon to 100-lbs, snook to 30-lbs, trout to more than 10-lbs, reds and permit were caught and released on DOA baits by anglers participating in the event.
Capt. John Irwin, from Charleston, SC, fished the Indian and St. Lucie Rivers with me on Monday, 6/27. The action wasn't fast, but we caught a variety of species including snook, trout, flounder and black drum on DOA TerrorEyz, DOA shrimp and CAL jigs with shad tails. Capt. Dave Lear, from Tallahassee, FL and Rusty Chinnis, from Longboat Key, FL, fished with me on Tuesday, 6/28. We caught and released a couple of snook on DOA shrimp in the St. Lucie Inlet and a couple of nice trout on a sandbar in the Indian River near River Palm Cottages.
Back in Sarasota conditions weren't great for tarpon fishing, although fish were aggressive; free jumping, tail slapping and eating baits off the surface. Overcast skies, thunderstorms and rough water caused fish to be deep in the water column requiring quick presentations. Despite poor conditions, we had numerous shots at tarpon each day. The issue was seeing a fish soon enough to make a presentation and get your fly deep enough in the water column. An angler on my boat on Wednesday, 6/29, jumped 3 tarpon on Deceiver and Tarpon Rat flies and landed one of about 70-pounds. Two tarpon were hooked with only 20' of line outside the rod tip.
The Notari family, from Longboat Key, FL and IL, tarpon fished with me on Wednesday and Thursday, 7/6 and 7. Josh Notari, from IL, battled a large tarpon, estimated at 130-lbs, to the boat after a long fight on Thursday. The big fish ate a pinfish and dragged us more than 5 miles into the gulf and 7 or 8 miles from where we hooked the fish. They also jumped a tarpon on a DOA Baitbuster and had a couple of other bites on pinfish. Friday, 7/8, was blown out with the passing of a tropical wave that brought heavy rains and high winds to southwest Florida.
Tarpon preferred pinfish over crabs when using spinning tackle but they were also aggressive on flies, tracking many of the presentations we made to them. Dark flies have accounted for most of the tarpon jumped and caught by fly anglers this season. We are in my favorite part of the season to fly fish for tarpon, lots of singles, doubles and small schools that have already spawned and are excited about feeding!
Tarpon action in the coastal gulf should continue to be good as we approach a full moon next week. Action has been best on afternoon outgoing tides. Flats action in Sarasota Bay for trout, Spanish mackerel, blues and more should be a good option although the best action is usually early in the morning before heat becomes an issue. Catch and release snook fishing around lighted docks and bridge fenders close to passes should also be a good option and is a great way to beat the heat.
Capt. Rick Grassett
Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc.
FFF Certified Fly Casting Instructor
www.flyfishingflorida.net and www.snookfin-addict.com
Capt. Rick Grassett Indian River DOA shrimp trout
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.