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Good Action on Sarasota Bay Flats and Coastal Gulf

Capt. Rick Grassett
November 4, 2017
Sarasota - Saltwater Fishing Report

Anglers fishing with me, out of CB's Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key, had good action catching and releasing trout and bluefish in Sarasota Bay and tripletail, Spanish mackerel and false albacore (little tunny) in the coastal gulf on flies, CAL jigs with shad tails, jerk worms and DOA Shrimp during the past week. As anticipated, with the water temperature down to the mid 70's, action turned on in the coastal gulf.

Marshall Dinerman and a guest, both from Atlanta, fished Sarasota Bay with me on Monday, 10/23. We worked deep grass flats on the east side of the bay and they had steady action catching and releasing trout on DOA Deadly Combos.

Click to Enlarge Photo

Fly anglers Ken Babineau, from Sarasota, and Mike Mcadaragh, from Longboat Key, fished the coastal gulf with me on Friday, 10/27. It was still breezy following a front earlier in the week, but they had numerous sight casting opportunities at tripletail, hooking a couple and catching and releasing one. Although the fish were small, it is still fun to sight cast to them since it requires pinpoint casting accuracy in sometimes challenging conditions.

Hal Lutz, from Parrish, FL and Jeb Mulock, from Bradenton, also got in on the action with tripletail on Saturday, 10/28 with Hal catching and releasing his first tripletail on a fly. They also had some action catching and releasing Spanish mackerel and had a couple of shots at false albacore (little tunny) that were blitzing glass minnow schools.

Click to Enlarge Photo

Click to Enlarge Photo

Click to Enlarge Photo

Fly anglers Jim Collins, from Bradenton, FL and Dave Graham, from Evergreen, CO, fished with me on Tuesday and Thursday, 10/31 and 11/2. We worked deep grass flats on the east side of Sarasota Bay on Tuesday and they had steady action catching and releasing numerous trout and several nice bluefish on Ultra Hair Clouser flies. We fished the coastal gulf on Thursday and it was on fire! They had great action catching and releasing Spanish mackerel and 7 or 8 albies on my Grassett Snook Minnow fly. Although you usually have to work hard for them, the fish stayed up all day long, blitzing glass minnow schools and giving us steady action. Jim's last fish of the day was a 12-pounder that took him deep into his backing, around a crab trap float and around the boat several times!

Click to Enlarge Photo

Click to Enlarge Photo

Massimo Giardina and Tatiana Migliaretti, from Switzerland, fished Sarasota Bay with me on Wednesday morning, 11/1. They had good action catching and releasing trout on CAL jigs with shad tails and 4" jerk worms and Ultra Hair Clouser flies in the morning. We fished the coastal gulf in the afternoon and they had good action catching and releasing numerous Spanish mackerel and a couple of nice albies on CAL jigs with shad tails and Ultra Hair Clouser flies. They finished the day with a 5-lb tripletail on a 2.75" DOA Shrimp!

This should be just the start of good action with Spanish mackerel, albies, tripletail and cobia in the coastal gulf. There should also be good action with trout and more on deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay. Shallow water action for snook, trout and reds is improving due to cooler water. Fishing lighted docks and bridges in the ICW for snook with flies and DOA Lures should also be a good option.

Tight Lines,
Capt. Rick Grassett
FFI Certified Fly Casting Instructor
Orvis-Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide at CB's Saltwater Outfitters
Orvis Outfitter of the Year-2011

Sarasota Fishing Forecast:

Capt. Rick Grassett's Sarasota, FL Fishing Forecast for November 2017

As the water cools this month there will be many changes. You may find blues, Spanish mackerel and pompano mixed with trout on deep grass flats. You'll also find larger trout in skinny water along with reds. Snook will stage around bars and on shallow flats as they make their move towards winter areas. Action in the coastal gulf with Spanish mackerel, blues, false albacore, tripletail and more should explode!

You'll find snook staging around docks and bridges in the ICW and along sand bars and in potholes on shallow flats. They may be along mangrove shorelines when the tide is high. I like CAL jigs with 3" and 4" shad tails, surface walking top water lures like the new DOA "PT" and DOA Baitbusters in shallow water for snook. CAL jigs with shad tails or jerk worms, DOA TerrorEyz, DOA Shrimp and small white flies, like my Grassett Snook Minnow, will work well around dock and bridge fender lights. Fish the strongest tides for the best action. I like the flats of north Sarasota Bay and the ICW between Sarasota and Venice for snook in November.

Reds will spread out on shallow grass flats in November. You'll find them along bars, in potholes or around docks. Look for them along mangrove shorelines when the tide is high, but they are just as likely to be roaming with mullet schools in shallow water. CAL jigs with shad tails, grubs or jerk worms and gold spoons should work well for reds in shallow water. Fly anglers may score with lightly weighted flies, such as Clousers, spoon flies or my Grassett Flats Minnow fly. I catch a lot more reds wading than from the deck of my boat, so keep a low profile.

You may also find big trout along with reds in shallow water this month. Although anglers may keep one trout over 20", I release all trout over 20" since they are usually females that may be full of roe. The same lures and flies that you use for snook and reds in shallow water will also work for trout. You'll also find trout on deep grass flats in water from 3' to 7' deep. I like to drift and cast ahead of my drift with CAL jigs, DOA Deadly Combos or weighted flies on sink tip fly lines to locate trout. In addition to making a series of drifts to find fish, look for baitfish on the surface or birds to find them.

You may also find blues, Spanish mackerel, flounder or pompano on deep grass flats this month. The techniques to find them is the same as for trout, although blues and Spanish mackerel may feed on the surface making them easier to find. Likewise with pompano, that may skip on the surface when you run or drift past them. When that happens, circle back upwind and drift back through the area, casting ahead of your drift. I like a 1/16-ounce chartreuse CAL jig head with a gold grub for pompano. You'll need to add wire or heavy fluorocarbon when toothy fish are around to keep them from biting you off. You may find flounder on a mixture of grass and sand, particularly on the edges of bars or in potholes.

There should be good action in the coastal gulf with false albacore (little tunny), Spanish and king mackerel, blues, tripletail or cobia. Look for Spanish mackerel, blues or false albacore feeding on the surface to find them. Diving terns or terns hovering just above the surface of the water and moving fast will give their presence away if they aren't on top. CAL jigs with shad tails and jerk worms and top water plugs will work well. Fly anglers should score with small white flies, Ultra Hair Clousers, poppers or Crease flies. Look for tripletail around crab trap floats and cast DOA Shrimp, CAL jigs with shad tails or DOA TerrorEyz to them. Cobia may also be found around crab trap floats, swimming on the surface or over structure. They will require medium-heavy spinning tackle or at least a 9-weight fly rod. Larger baits like DOA Baitbusters, CAL jigs with 5" jerk worms or the DOA Snake should work well for cobia on spinning tackle. Fly anglers should score with wide profile baitfish patterns.

This a great month for fishing the flats or the coastal gulf. Since the action in the coastal gulf is seasonal and will end when it gets cooler, I like to fish there when conditions allow it. However, if that's not for you or if conditions won't allow it, there will be plenty of action for a variety of fish on shallow and deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay. 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

Target Species:

reds, snook, trout, Spanish mackerel, blues, pompano, tripletail, false albacore

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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 CBs 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.

Contact Info:

Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc.
2447 Waneta Drive
Sarasota, FL 34231
Phone: 941-923-7799
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