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Good Action in Sarasota for a Variety of Species

Capt. Rick Grassett
January 7, 2020
Sarasota - Saltwater Fishing Report

Anglers fishing with me recently, out of CB's Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key, had good action with trout, blues, Spanish mackerel and pompano on deep grass flats, reds in skinny water and snook and blues at night. Fly anglers fishing deep flats with me scored with trout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel and pompano and snook and blues in the ICW at night. Spin fishing anglers also had good action on deep flats and catching and releasing reds on CAL jigs with shad and grub tails in shallow water.

Click to Enlarge Photo

Click to Enlarge Photo

Fly anglers Alan Sugar and Ray Hutchinson, from MI, had good action catching and releasing trout and Ray caught and released his first pompano on a fly. Dave and Shara King and family, of King Outfitters in Dillon, MT fished a couple of trips with me. Dave is an outfitter/guide in Montana whom I've fished with for many years, so it was good to show them our fishery. The whole family got in on the action on a rainy, windy day on one of the trips and Dave and Shara had great action catching and releasing nice snook and bluefish on my Grassett Snook Minnow fly on a night trip.

Click to Enlarge Photo

Click to Enlarge Photo

Click to Enlarge Photo

Marshall Dinerman, from Lido Key, and his son-in-law, Alex, fished with me and Marshall caught and released a couple of nice reds including an over slot fish! Keith McClintock, from Lake Forest, IL, fished a couple of days with family members and they did very well catching and releasing numerous reds on CAL jigs with shad and grub tails. Matt Schenk and Dylan Lewis, both from CO, had fast action catching and releasing blues, Spanish mackerel, pompano and trout on Clouser flies on another trip.

Click to Enlarge Photo

Click to Enlarge Photo

Fishing shallow flats for catch and release reds and snook should be a good option now. Fishing deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay is a good choice for action with a variety of species including trout, pompano, blues and Spanish mackerel. Our natural resources are under constant pressure from red tides fueled by industrial, agricultural and residential runoff, freezes, increasing fishing pressure and habitat loss and degradation, 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

Sarasota Fishing Forecast:

Capt. Rick Grassett's Sarasota, FL Fishing Forecast for January 2020

You may find reds and big trout concentrated in potholes in January. Action with trout, blues, Spanish mackerel, pompano and more on deep grass flats can be good depending on conditions. There should also be good catch and release snook action in rivers, creeks and canals this month, although fishing docks for snook and other species is also a good option. It may be worth checking the coastal gulf for tripletail, cobia, false albacore (little tunny) and more when it's warm.

Snook, reds and spotted seatrout are closed to harvest on the west coast of Florida. The Florida FWC has enacted a temporary modification of regulations for reds and snook, in the areas affected by last year's red tide. The area extends from Pasco County, south to Gordon Pass in Collier County. Reds, snook and spotted seatrout (of any size) are catch and release only in that zone until May 31, 2020. Full details including exact boundaries can be found at https://myfwc.com/news/all-news/redtide-sw/ . Since these species are now closed, use tackle heavy enough to catch and release them quickly.

Snook are very temperature sensitive, so I won't target them if the water temperature dips below 60 degrees. However, fishing lighted docks in the ICW at night with lures and flies can be very good in January. Small white flies, like my Grassett Snook Minnow, Gurglers and shrimp fly patterns will work well for fly anglers. Spin anglers should score with CAL jigs with shad tails or 4" jerk worms, DOA Tiny TerrorEyz and DOA 2-3/4" & 3" Shrimp. Fish peak tidal flows for the best action.

You should also find snook in rivers, creeks and canals this month. Fish deeper water in outside bends to locate snook where you may catch them with CAL jigs and shad tails or jerk worms, DOA Baitbusters or diving/suspending plugs. You may also find reds, juvenile tarpon and even largemouth bass in the same areas depending on salinity.

Reds should be a good option this month. You'll find them concentrated in potholes when the tide is low. Fly anglers should score with lightly weighted flies fished on a 10'-12' leader with a floating fly line. Reds feed on crustaceans this time of the year, so crab and shrimp fly patterns should work well. They may tail on shallow grass flats when the tide is low. You'll need weedless rigged plastic baits or flies with weed guards to target tailing reds. A CAL shad tail on a weedless hook or a DOA shrimp rigged weedless and fished backwards are a couple of my favorite lures for tailing reds.

You may also find reds around docks, along with snook, sheepshead, flounder and more. Little Sarasota Bay has numerous oyster bars and docks that often hold reds in January. Work CAL jigs slowly along the bottom for the best action. You're likely to find big trout in many of the same areas that you find reds. The same lures, flies and techniques that are used for reds will also work for big trout.

You'll also find trout on deep grass flats in January along with blues, Spanish mackerel, pompano, flounder and more. I like to drift and cast ahead of my drift with CAL jigs and a variety of plastic tails and DOA Deadly Combos. Since trout can sometimes hold very tight to a particular spot or area, try to cover as much water as possible to find them. Once you've located fish you can shorten your drift or anchor on them. A GPS can be useful for this type of fishing since the breadcrumb trail will allow you to duplicate your drift. A drift anchor will slow your drift so you can fish it more thoroughly or make it easier for fly anglers to move their fly. My favorite deep grass flats, have a good mix of grass and sand with a strong tidal flow.

Even though there may not be much happening in the coastal gulf this month in the way of sight fishing it may be worth a look when it is warm. Migratory species such as king and Spanish mackerel, cobia and tripletail probably have moved further south, however they could reappear during warm ups. Also look for false albacore (little tunny) when it's warm since they may move from offshore to inshore depending on where baitfish are located.

January can be one of the toughest months of the year to fish. However if you are able to choose when to fish based on tides and weather, it can be good. Action is usually good as weather fronts approach. Following fronts, fishing may be tough for a couple of days so afternoons may fish better at that time. I'll let the stage of the tide determine where to look for fish. When the tide is low, look for reds tailing on shallow grass or reds, trout and more in potholes or around docks. Look for reds or big trout cruising on shallow grass flats on sunny afternoons when the tide is high. Our natural resources are under constant pressure from red tides fueled by agricultural, industrial and residential runoff, freezes, increasing fishing pressure and habitat loss and degradation, 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:

reds, snook, trout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, 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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