Tarpon Return in Sarasota Following TS Debby
<p>Good conditions and tarpon returned last week following TS Debby, although following a full moon on Tuesday, 7/3, they weren't aggressive. Conditions ranged from poor to terrible for more than a week as TS Debby approached, hovered in the northeast gulf and finally moved on. After the rough surf and big swell subsided we were left with muddy water mixed with flood water runoff for a few more days. However, anglers fishing the coastal Gulf of Mexico off Sarasota with me on my Action Craft flats skiff the Snook Fin-Addict, out of CB's Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key, recently had numerous shots at tarpon with a fly and caught and released one early last week. We are still seeing some large schools of tarpon, that may not have spawned yet, as well as singles, doubles and small schools traveling both north and south.
I saw something on Monday, 7/2, that I've never seen before in 22 years of guiding and more than 30 years on the water in Sarasota, an endangered smalltooth sawfish. The big fish, approximately 7'-8' long was swimming in clear, shallow water with a small cobia following. I paralleled the prehistoric fish for several minutes and we got a good look at it as we cast to the cobia. In addition to its "saw", the fish is distinguished by an extra fin between its dorsal and tail fins. We also had several shots at tarpon with a fly and a DOA shrimp on spinning tackle that day.
Randy Honaker, from OH, his son, Randy, Jr. from Tampa, FL, and son-in-law, Justin, tarpon fished with me on Tuesday, 7/3. Tarpon were plentiful on the incoming tide. They had shots at numerous schools of tarpon, which were mostly moving north. Randy, Jr. jumped and landed a 65-pound tarpon on a bunny fly out of a small school of 8 or 10 fish. A great job with his first tarpon on a fly!
We had lots of shots at tarpon with a fly the rest of the week. Although we had a few leans and follows, we didn't have any other bites. Large schools of tarpon look impressive, but sometimes pre spawn tarpon are so focused on migrating to spawn that eating becomes secondary to them. Late in the season, singles, doubles and smaller schools of tarpon are fish that may have already spawned and are usually more aggressive when it comes to eating.
Tarpon should be in a better mood next week as we approach the quarter phase of the moon on Tuesday. Fly anglers should do best with tarpon in shallow water when visibility is best. Trout, blues and redfish should also be good options in Sarasota Bay. Fish the bay early for the best action due to heat later in the day.
Capt. Rick Grassett
FFF Certified Fly Casting Instructor
Orvis- Endorsed Outfitter Guide
CB's Saltwater Outfitters-2011 Orvis Outfitter of the Year
Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc.
www.flyfishingflorida.net and www.snookfin-addict.com
Capt. Rick Grassett landing Randy Honaker, Jr's, Sarasota fly tarpon
Capt. Rick Grassett prepares to release Randy Honaker, Jr's, Sarasota fly tarpon
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.