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Great Fly Fishing in Action in Sarasota Coastal Gulf

Capt. Rick Grassett
December 3, 2017
Sarasota - Saltwater Fishing Report

The fantastic action and conditions that we've had in the coastal gulf continued as fly anglers fishing with me, out of CB's Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key, had great action catching and releasing false albacore (little tunny) and tripletail on flies during the past week. Conditions and water temperature have been ideal, most of the time, for migratory species in the coastal gulf and action has been great! We also had some action catching and releasing trout on flies in Sarasota Bay.

Lynn Skipper, from Apollo Beach, fished with me on Tuesday, 11/21. We had wind and clouds that day so conditions were tough in the gulf. However, despite poor visibility we found several tripletail and Lynn caught and released his first tripletail on a fly. Great job!

Jim Collins, from Bradenton, and Peter Ryan, from CO, fished the coastal gulf with me on Wednesday, 11/22. Conditions were great and fish responded accordingly. They had non-stop action catching and releasing albies to more than 10-lbs and Peter also caught and released a tripletail on a shrimp fly pattern!

Click to Enlarge Photo

Click to Enlarge Photo

Mike Perez, from Sarasota, fished the coastal gulf with me on Saturday, 11/25. He also had great action catching and releasing numerous albies and a couple of tripletail on a variety of glass minnow fly patterns. Rod bending, drag screaming action, love this time of year!

Click to Enlarge Photo

Click to Enlarge Photo

Click to Enlarge Photo

The action continued the following week when Steve Traves, of Anna Maria Outfitters, and I fished the coastal gulf with our friend Rusty Chinnis, from Longboat Key, on Monday, 11/27. Conditions were great and we had great action catching and releasing numerous albies to more than 10-lbs on a variety of flies!

Rick and Nanette O'Hara, from Tampa, fished the coastal gulf with me on Tuesday, 11/28 and also had good action catching and releasing their first albies on a fly. In addition they caught and released trout on flies fished on sink tip fly lines on a Sarasota Bay deep grass flat to end the day!

Click to Enlarge Photo

Click to Enlarge Photo

Lynn Skipper, from Apollo Beach, fished with me on Thursday, 11/30. He also had good action catching and releasing several false albacore and a tripletail in the coastal gulf and trout in Sarasota Bay on flies. The tripletail ate a Gurgler fly off the surface like a giant bluegill eating a fly popper!

Click to Enlarge Photo

Click to Enlarge Photo

With the water temperature in the low 70's, action with Spanish mackerel, albies, tripletail and cobia in the coastal gulf should continue. 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 December 2017

You may find reds along with big trout concentrated in potholes, along the edges of bars or tailing on shallow grass flats on negative low tides this month. This is a good month for catch and release snook action around lighted docks in the ICW. Some lights will also have trout and reds making it possible to get a dock "slam". There may also be good action in the coastal gulf with false albacore (little tunny), Spanish mackerel and tripletail, depending on conditions.

Snook season closes on the west coast of Florida this month so all snook must be released. However, catch and release snook fishing around lighted docks can be good this month unless it gets too cool. I won't target snook following a strong cold front or if the water dips below 60 degrees, since they may be stressed at that time. However, it can be very good in December under normal conditions. Larger baitfish will thin out and snook will gorge themselves on glass minnows and small shrimp in the ICW at night. I like docks that have a good tidal flow and deep water under them. CAL jigs with shad tails and jerk worms, DOA Tiny TerrorEyz and DOA Shrimp are my favorite lures for snook at night. Fly anglers should do well with sink tip fly lines and small white flies. Fish peak tidal flows for the fastest action.

You might find reds in potholes or along the edges of flats and bars on negative low tides. They may also tail on shallow grass when the tide is low. Weedless rigged CAL shad tails and jerk worms, DOA Shrimp and lightly weighted flies with weed guards will work well in that situation. As the tide rises, reds will spread out and feed on shallow flats. You may also find them around docks this month. I usually let the stage of the tide tell me where to look for reds.

You may also find big trout in skinny water this month in many of the same areas where you find reds. The same lures and techniques that I use for reds will also work for trout in the same areas. I release all big trout (over 20") since they are usually females and I feel it is important that they are left in the water as breeders. You should also find trout on deep grass flats this month along with blues, flounder or pompano. Blues may sometimes feed on the surface, so bird activity may give their presence away. Pompano may skip when you drift or run past them and when that happens, circle back upwind and drift through the area casting ahead of your drift. Flounder prefer a mix of sand and grass, particularly in potholes or on the edges of bars. I like to drift and cast ahead of my drift with CAL jigs and a variety of plastic tails or DOA Deadly Combos. Fly anglers should score with sink tip fly lines and weighted flies, like Clousers or my Grassett Deep Flats Bunny fly, which behaves like a jig with a shad tail. I like the shallow flats of north Sarasota Bay for reds and trout in December and deep grass flats close to passes, on points and along sand bars for trout, blues, flounder and pompano.

There should still be good action in the coastal gulf with Spanish mackerel, blues, false albacore and tripletail. Rough or cold water later in the month may slow the action and move fish south or offshore. Look for terns either diving or hovering low over the surface of the water to find albies, blues and mackerel feeding on the surface. Once you've found them, cast top water plugs or CAL jigs with shad tails to catch them. Fly anglers should score with glass minnow fly patterns, poppers or Crease flies. Sometimes top water plugs or fly poppers will draw fish to the surface, especially over structure. You'll need to add wire or heavy fluorocarbon to your leader when blues and mackerel are around. Look for tripletail around crab trap floats or channel markers. Once you've located a fish, work back into the wind or current with an electric trolling motor to get into casting range and cast a DOA shrimp, a weedless-rigged CAL shad tail or lightly weighted fly with a weed guard to them. Try to make your first shot count since they are much tougher to catch once they know you're there.

There will be lots of options in December, although weather becomes more of a factor. When fishing flats, I usually let conditions and the stage of the tide determine when, where and what I will target. I like to fish the coastal gulf for false albacore and tripletail whenever conditions are good. Whatever you choose to do, please limit your kill, don't kill your limit!

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

Target Species:

snook, reds, trout, bluefish, false albacore, tripletail, Spanish mackerel

More Fishing Reports:

 

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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