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Capt. Rick Grassett’s Monthly Forecast for March 2020

There should be good action in shallow water during March. I waded into a shallow flat in a previous March and caught and released this nice red on a fly.

There should be good action in shallow water during March. I waded into a shallow flat in a previous March and caught and released this nice red on a fly.

There should be good action with reds, trout and snook in skinny water in March as baitfish become more plentiful. Look for Spanish and king mackerel, cobia, tripletail and false albacore (little tunny) in the coastal gulf. Night snook fishing in the ICW should also be a good option this month.

Snook, reds and spotted sea trout remain closed to harvest on the west coast of Florida. The Florida FWC has extended a temporary modification of regulations for reds, snook and trout, in the areas affected by the recent red tide. The area extends from Pasco County, south to the south bank of Gordon Pass in Collier County.

Reds, snook and trout are catch and release only in that zone until May 31, 2021. Full details including exact boundaries can be found by CLICKING HERE. This is great news for our fishery! Sarasota Bay is rebounding and the continued closure will make it even better.

This should be a good month for snook fishing at night around lighted docks and bridge fenders in the ICW. DOA Shrimp, CAL jigs with shad tails and small white flies, like my Grassett Snook Minnow, usually work well at night since glass minnows and shrimp are the predominate bait. Focus on shadow lines where light meets dark and fish strong tides for the best action. Although snook may also be found in rivers, creeks or canals in March, they will also start to move onto shallow flats, particularly on sunny afternoons when it’s warm. I like larger lures like CAL jigs with jerk worms, CAL 4” Shad Tails, DOA Baitbusters and the DOA PT soft plastic top water lure or wide profile flies like Clousers, Deceivers and EP flies, for snook on the flats.

Look for early season tarpon that may start to show in backcountry areas. These are usually adult resident fish that are making their way out of rivers and creeks. They may be “laid up” or rolling on deep grass flats, on edges of shallow flats or along bars when it is calm. An accurate cast with a DOA Shrimp, a Deceiver or Tarpon Bunny fly may result in an explosive strike! Look for them in areas of Sarasota Bay, lower Tampa Bay or in Gasparilla Sound on some of the same deep grass flats where you find trout.

Reds should be more active as the water warms and baitfish become more plentiful. Higher tides, as we head into spring, will allow them to spend more time feeding in shallow water. Look for them over shallow grass, along mangrove shorelines and around oyster bars when the tide is high. You should find them in potholes and along sand bars when the tide is low. I like the shallow flats of north Sarasota Bay for reds this month. I like 1/16-ounce CAL jigs with shad tails and jerk worms to locate reds. Fly anglers should score with my Grassett Flats Minnow fly, fished on a 10’-12’ leader. When using a long leader be sure you are able turn it over, otherwise you’ll need to shorten it until you can. The butt section should be at least 50% of the total length of the leader and stiff enough to transfer energy from your fly line to the leader.

You might also find reds around docks when the tide is low. Look for deep water under docks with a good tidal flow for the best action. A 1/8-ounce CAL jig with a shad tail or grub or a weighted fly fished on a clear intermediate sink tip fly line with a 6’ leader with should work well for dock fishing.

You may find big trout in skinny water in many of the same places that you find reds. Blind cast seams where grass meets sand or focus on light colored bottom, in potholes on top of sand bars, where you may be able to sight fish them. These big fish, usually females, are important to the health of our fishery.

You should also find trout plentiful on deep grass flats along with Spanish mackerel, blues, flounder or pompano. I like to make a series of drifts, casting ahead of the drift with CAL jigs with shad tails, DOA Deadly Combos or an Ultra Hair Clouser fly tied on a long shank hook and fished on a clear intermediate sink tip fly line to locate fish.

Also look for birds, bait showering out of the water or boils on the surface that will indicate fish feeding below. When mackerel and blues are around, you may need to add 6” of 40# to 60# fluorocarbon or wire to your leader. Top water plugs and fly poppers also work well when blues and mackerel are around and may help locate them by attracting them from further away.

Look for tripletail in the coastal gulf this time of year.

Look for tripletail in the coastal gulf this time of year.

Flounder may be found on sand or mud bottom areas on both shallow and deep grass flats or around docks. Pompano may skip on the surface when you drift or run past them, giving their location away. Fish deep grass flats with a mixture of grass and sand and a strong tidal flow for the best action.

You may also find Spanish or king mackerel, false albacore (little tunny), cobia or tripletail in the coastal gulf this month. Look for diving or hovering terns to find Spanish mackerel or false albacore feeding on the surface. ¼-ounce CAL jigs with shad tails or jerk worms or top water plugs should work well for spin anglers. Fly anglers should score with small white flies, like my Grassett Snook Minnow or Ultra Hair Clousers fished on an intermediate sink tip fly line.

Run crab trap lines at various depths to find tripletail or cobia around crab trap floats. Fly anglers should score on tripletail with DOA Shrimp or lightly weighted flies with weed guards. Cobia may also be swimming on the surface as they migrate from south to north following warmer water and baitfish. DOA Baitbusters, Airheads, PT’s and large, wide profile flies, like Deceivers or EP flies would be good fly choices for cobia. In the absence of any fish on the surface, check out one of the many artificial reefs or natural hard bottom areas that may hold baitfish and predators. Drift over structure and cast DOA Baitbusters or weighted flies on fast sinking fly lines to get deeper in the water column to catch them.

Conditions are usually good during March and fishing should heat up. Flats and night snook fishing are usually good options this month. I like to check the coastal gulf when conditions are good, since you could find something really good happening there. Our natural resources are under constant pressure from red tides fueled by residential, agricultural and industrial runoff, freezes, increasing fishing pressure and habitat loss and degradation, please limit your kill, don’t kill your limit!

Capt. Rick GrassettCapt. Capt. Rick Grassett

Rick is the owner of Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc. He's a full time fishing guide and outdoor writer based in Sarasota, FL. He’s been guiding since 1990 and is an Orvis-Endorsed fly fishing guide here at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters, the 2011 Orvis Out­fit­ter of the Year.


Capt. Rick Grassett’s Monthly Forecast for Feb. 2020

Mike Perez, from Sarasota, waded a sandbar in a previous February with Capt. Rick Grassett and caught and released this big trout on a fly.

Mike Perez, from Sarasota, waded a sandbar in a previous February with Capt. Rick Grassett and caught and released this big trout on a fly.

Trout and redfish should be good shallow water options this month. You may also find trout along with blues, Spanish mackerel, pompano and flounder on deep grass flats. Look for sheepshead, flounder, reds and more around docks. Catch and release night snook fishing around lighted docks in the ICW may be a good option if it’s not too cold. Spanish and king mackerel and cobia may show up in the coastal gulf by the end of the month.

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 by CLICKING HERE →. Since these species are now closed, use tackle heavy enough to catch and release them quickly.

Keith McClintock, from Lake Forest, IL  had good action catching and releasing snook and in backcountry areas of Gasparilla Sound while fishing with Capt. Rick Grassett in a previous February.

Keith McClintock, from Lake Forest, IL had good action catching and releasing snook and in backcountry areas of Gasparilla Sound while fishing with Capt. Rick Grassett in a previous February.

Since snook are temperature sensitive, I won’t target them following strong fronts when water temperatures dip below 60 degrees. However, I have had some great night trips catching and releasing snook on flies in the ICW at night this time of year. Since larger baitfish aren’t that plentiful this time of year, snook will gorge themselves on glass minnows and shrimp. Small white flies, like my Grassett Snook Minnow, DOA Shrimp (3’ or the newer 2-3/4”), DOA Tiny TerrorEyz or CAL Jigs with shad tails and jerk worms will all work well.

You may also find snook in rivers, creeks or canals this month. Fishing may be good in these areas on a blustery day when it isn’t fit to fish anywhere else.

I like wider profile flies and lures in these areas due to the baitfish that may be found there. Fly anglers should score with wide profile baitfish patterns, such as Lefty’s Deceiver, fished on a sink tip fly line. Spin anglers should do well with CAL jigs and 4” swim baits and jerk worms, DOA Baitbusters or suspending plugs. Fish the deep spots, usually on outside bends, for the best action.

Stephen Liska, from Naples, FL, had good action catching and releasing reds in backcountry areas of Gasparilla Sound while fishing with Capt. Rick Grassett in a previous February.

Stephen Liska had good action catching and releasing reds in backcountry areas of Gasparilla Sound while fishing with Capt. Rick Grassett in a previous February.

You might find reds in potholes or along the edges of bars and shallow flats when the tide is low. As the tide rises, they will feed higher on shallow flats, particularly on sunny afternoons. I like 1/16-ounce CAL jigs with shad tails or jerk worms for reds in shallow water. If it is too shallow or grassy to fish an exposed hook, a Mustad or Owner weedless hook will allow you to fish plastic baits in these areas.

Fly anglers should score with lightly weighted flies, like Clousers or my Grassett Flats Minnow, with weed guards on floating lines with 10’-12’ leaders. You may also find big trout in skinny water in the same places you find reds. The same lures, flies and techniques that you use to target reds will work for big trout in those areas. I release all over slot trout since they are usually females and I feel that they are important to the health of our trout fishery.

You’ll find trout on deep grass flats. I like flats that have a good mix of grass and sand and good tidal flow. Flats that are close to passes are often good choices since water temperatures may be warmer there. Following fronts, silted up water will cover deep grass flats close to passes, often affecting fishing in those areas. Other good grass flats may be on points or around bars. I like to drift and cast ahead of my drift with CAL jigs and a variety of plastic tails, DOA Deadly Combos or weighted flies on sink tip fly lines to locate trout. Once you’ve located them you can shorten your drift or anchor on them.

In addition to trout, you may also find blues, Spanish mackerel, flounder or pompano, depending on water temperature and conditions, on deep grass flats. The technique to find them is the same as for trout, although there may be other clues. Pompano may “skip” on the surface when you drift or run past them giving their presence away. When that happens, set up a drift upwind of where you saw a pompano and cast ahead of your drift. Blues and Spanish mackerel may force bait out of the water or feed on the surface. You may need to add heavy fluorocarbon or wire when blues and mackerel are mixed with trout on deep grass flats.

Palmetto winter resident, Jerry Poslusny, had good action catching and releasing snook on flies in a previous February with Capt. Rick Grassett.

Palmetto winter resident, Jerry Poslusny, had good action catching and releasing snook on flies in a previous February with Capt. Rick Grassett.

Fishing docks is another good option this time of year, especially when the tide is low. You might find reds, sheepshead or flounder under docks. I like docks that are deep (3’ or more) and have a good tidal flow. Fish the end of long piers to find the deepest water. Also, look for big boats moored on docks or on boat lifts, which is also an indication of deeper water.

Older docks with lots of barnacle and oyster growth usually hold more baitfish and predators. I like CAL jigs with shad tails, grubs or jerk worms or weighted flies fished on sink tip fly lines when fishing docks. Be sure to let your jig or fly get down close to the bottom.

There may be some action in the coastal gulf by the end of the month with king and Spanish mackerel and cobia. When the water warms to the high 60’s to low 70’s, these fish will move into our area from the south as they migrate north. Look for Spanish mackerel on the surface or in passes. Cobia may be swimming on the surface, around buoys, channel markers and crab trap floats or over structure.

February can be a tough month to fish. With frequent fronts and cool water, fish aren’t always in an eating mood. If you’re able to pick good tides combined with favorable weather conditions, you should be successful. If you don’t have that luxury, you might do better by sleeping in and fishing later in the day when it’s warmer. Our natural resources are under constant pressure from red tides fueled by agricultural and residential runoff, freezes, increasing fishing pressure and habitat loss and degradation, please limit your kill, don’t kill your limit!

Capt. Rick GrassettCapt. Capt. Rick Grassett

Rick is the owner of Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc. He's a full time fishing guide and outdoor writer based in Sarasota, FL. He’s been guiding since 1990 and is an Orvis-Endorsed fly fishing guide here at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters, the 2011 Orvis Out­fit­ter of the Year.


Capt. Rick Grassett’s Monthly Forecast for Jan. 2020

Nick Reding, from St. Louis, waded a sand bar to catch and release this snook on a fly in a previous January with Capt. Rick Grassett.

Nick Reding, from St. Louis, waded a sandbar to catch and release this snook on a fly in a previous January with Capt. Rick Grassett.

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 by CLICKING HERE. 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.

Marshall Dinerman, from Lido Key, with a big trout caught and released on a CAL jig with a shad tail while fishing shallow water with Capt. Rick Grassett in a previous January.

Marshall Dinerman, from Lido Key, with a big trout caught and released on a CAL jig with a shad tail while fishing in shallow waters with Capt. Rick Grassett in a previous January.

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.

Keith McClintock, from Lake Forest, IL, with a nice snook caught and released on a CAL jig with a shad tail while fishing shallow water with Capt. Rick Grassett in a previous January.

Keith McClintock, from Lake Forest, IL, with a nice snook caught and released on a CAL jig with a shad tail while fishing shallow water with Capt. Rick Grassett in a previous January.

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.

Steve Kost, from Lakewood Ranch, with a nice bluefish caught and released on a Clouser fly while fishing deep grass flats in a previous January with Capt. Rick Grassett.

Steve Kost, from Lakewood Ranch, with a nice bluefish caught and released on a Clouser fly while fishing deep grass flats in a previous January with Capt. Grassett.

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!

Capt. Rick GrassettCapt. Capt. Rick Grassett

Rick is the owner of Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc. He's a full time fishing guide and outdoor writer based in Sarasota, FL. He’s been guiding since 1990 and is an Orvis-Endorsed fly fishing guide here at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters, the 2011 Orvis Out­fit­ter of the Year.


Capt. Rick Grassett’s Monthly Forecast for Dec. 2019

Mireya Castillo from Salt Lake City, caught and released a nice bluefish in a previous December.

Mireya Castillo from Salt Lake City, caught and released a nice bluefish in a previous December.

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, 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 by CLICKING HERE. Since these species are now closed, use tackle heavy enough to catch and release them quickly.

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. 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 to fish shallow flats for reds and snook and deep grass flats that are close to passes, on points and along sand bars for trout, blues, flounder and pompano in December.

There should still be some action in the coastal gulf with Spanish mackerel, blues, false albacore and tripletail, although earlier in the fall was disappointing for false albacore. 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. Our natural resources are under constant pressure from red tides fueled by agricultural, industrial and residential runoff and discharges, freezes, increasing fishing pressure and habitat loss and degradation, please limit your kill, don’t kill your limit!

Capt. Rick GrassettCapt. Capt. Rick Grassett

Rick is the owner of Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc. He's a full time fishing guide and outdoor writer based in Sarasota, FL. He’s been guiding since 1990 and is an Orvis-Endorsed fly fishing guide here at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters, the 2011 Orvis Out­fit­ter of the Year.


Capt. Rick Grassett’s Monthly Forecast for Nov. 2019

Mangrove Coast Fly Fishers member Jim Cannon, from Bradenton, with a nice false albacore (little tunny).

You may find blues, Spanish mackerel and pompano mixed with trout on deep grass flats this month. You should 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 false albacore, tripletail, Spanish mackerel, blues and more should explode!

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.

Mike Perez, from Sarasota, with a nice tripletail he caught and released in Sarasota on flies with Capt. Rick Grassett in a previous November.

You should 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.

Reds will spread out on shallow grass flats in November. You should 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. 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 quartering 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.

Keith McClintock, from IL, with a nice Red he caught and released in sarasota Bay in a previous November.

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 or 1/8-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.

Marshall Dinerman, from Lido Key, with a nice bluefish caught and released in Sarasota Bay on CAL jigs with shad tails on a trip with Capt. Rick Grassett.

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 5½” jerk worms or the DOA SnakeKoil 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.

Our natural resources are under constant pressure from red tides fueled by agricultural, industrial and residential runoff and discharges, freezes, increasing fishing pressure and habitat loss and degradation, please limit your kill, don’t kill your limit!

Capt. Rick GrassettCapt. Capt. Rick Grassett

Rick is the owner of Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc. He's a full time fishing guide and outdoor writer based in Sarasota, FL. He’s been guiding since 1990 and is an Orvis-Endorsed fly fishing guide here at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters, the 2011 Orvis Out­fit­ter of the Year.


Capt. Rick Grassett’s Monthly Forecast for Oct. 2019

Fishing should turn on this month. Schools of reds will begin to break up and scatter on shallow flats. There should also be good action with snook and big trout in shallow water. Snook will gorge themselves at night around lighted docks in the ICW. There should also be good action in the coastal gulf with Spanish mackerel, false albacore (little tunny), tripletail and cobia. You might also still find tarpon anywhere from upper Charlotte Harbor and Tampa Bay to along the beaches.

Mangrove Coast Fly Fishers president, Ken Babineau, with a tripletail he caught and released on a fly while fishing the coastal gulf with Capt. Rick Grassett in a previous October.

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 www.myfwc.com. Since these species are now closed, use tackle heavy enough to catch and release them quickly.

Snook will move from passes and the surf as water temperature cools and days get shorter. They will stage around docks and bridges in the ICW and along sand bars, potholes and along mangrove shorelines. They may blow up on top water plugs or fly poppers in shallow water early or late in the day. CAL jigs with shad tails and jerk worms or DOA Shrimp should work well around docks and bridges and on shallow flats. The 4” CAL shad tail should work very well on the flats since larger baits will be prevalent there. I like larger flies, like Lefty’s Deceiver and my Grassett Flats Bunny, for snook on the flats for the same reason. Fly anglers should also score with small white flies or Gurglers around lighted docks and bridge fenders. Fish peak tidal flows for the best action.

Tarpon will still be an option this month. I find them in upper Charlotte Harbor this time of year. Look for them feeding in ladyfish schools or rolling in deep water to find them. DOA Baitbusters and Swimming Mullet are my top producing lures for large tarpon. Fly anglers should score with many of the same flies that work for sight casting to them along the beaches. I use 12-wt fly tackle with a floating or clear intermediate sink tip line for large tarpon. You’ll also find juvenile tarpon from 10 to 30-pounds in many creeks and canals of the Peace or Myakka Rivers. Spin anglers should score with DOA Shrimp or TerrorEyz on snook tackle. Fly anglers can handle the smaller fish on 8 or 9-wt fly rods with fast sinking fly lines and a scaled down version of any fly that large tarpon will eat. I’ve also found tarpon feeding in the coastal gulf in October. They are usually scattered over a broad area, feeding in bait schools. This “reverse migration” may only last for a few days but it can be really good!

Big schools of reds that are more common in August and September will break up into smaller schools, singles and doubles by the end of the month. As water cools and baitfish school up, reds will feed in shallow water. I like to pole my flats skiff to hunt for reds in shallow water. Focus on baitfish or mullet schools to find reds. CAL jigs with shad tails, including the 4” CAL shad tail and DOA Baitbusters are some of my favorite lures to locate reds with. If the tide is very low, weedless-rigged CAL shad tails or DOA Shrimp rigged backwards will work well in the thick turtle grass. Once I’ve located fish, wading is often the best way to approach them when fly fishing. I like a long leader (12’) on a floating fly line with a lightly weighted fly with a weed guard, like my Grassett Flats Minnow. When you have good sunlight, you may be able to sight fish them on light colored bottom, like sandbars or potholes.

You’ll also find big trout in many of the same areas in shallow water. I would approach locating big trout the same way as reds. Focus on baitfish or mullet schools to find them and use the same lures and flies to catch them. Some of the best action that I’ve experienced with big trout was at first light with big trout feeding in baitfish schools in very shallow water.

October is a great month to fly fish the coastal gulf.

You’ll find trout of all sizes on deep grass flats. Wherever there are small trout, there may be a few “gators” around since big trout will eat small ones. Mixed with trout there should also be blues, Spanish mackerel or pompano. In addition to focusing on bait and birds, I like to drift and cast ahead of the drift with CAL jigs and shad tails or DOA Deadly Combos or a lightly weighted fly on a sink tip fly line to find fish. When toothy fish are around add 6”of heavy fluorocarbon (60-lb) or wire to prevent cut offs.

You may find tripletail or cobia around buoys, crab trap floats or channel markers in inside waters or the coastal gulf. A DOA Shrimp or CAL jig with a shad tail will work well for tripletail. Fly anglers should score with lightly weighted flies with a weed guard. A DOA Baitbuster or 4” CAL shad on 20 to 30-pound class spinning tackle or a wide profile tarpon fly on a minimum of 9-weight fly tackle will get the job done with cobia.

Look for Spanish and king mackerel or false albacore in the coastal gulf. I look for diving terns or “breaking” fish to find them. Once you’ve located feeding fish, a CAL jig with a shad tail or jerk worm or a size specific top water plug will work well for spin anglers. Fly anglers should score with olive, chartreuse or white flies, poppers and Crease flies. You’ll need wire or heavy fluorocarbon when mackerel are in the mix. You may also find a few kings around the edges of feeding frenzies. I don’t usually target kings, but I will catch a few when fishing breaking mackerel or albies. You can also look for tripletail or cobia around crab trap floats, buoys or channel markers while searching for mackerel or albies in the coastal gulf.

October is one of my favorite months. It’s nice to do something different, so I like to fish the coastal gulf for mackerel, false albacore, tripletail and cobia when conditions are good. There should also be good action on shallow flats with reds, trout and snook or tarpon of all sizes in upper Charlotte Harbor. Night snook fishing in the ICW heats up as the water cools down. Our natural resources are under constant pressure from red tides fueled by agricultural, industrial and residential runoff and discharges, freezes, increasing fishing pressure and habitat loss and degradation, please limit your kill, don’t kill your limit!

Capt. Rick GrassettCapt. Capt. Rick Grassett

Rick is the owner of Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc. He's a full time fishing guide and outdoor writer based in Sarasota, FL. He’s been guiding since 1990 and is an Orvis-Endorsed fly fishing guide here at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters, the 2011 Orvis Out­fit­ter of the Year.


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