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Capt. Rick Grassett’s Monthly Forecast for June 2019

Tarpon should be plentiful in the coastal gulf this month as big schools of fish migrate along our beaches. Also look for cobia, tripletail and false albacore (little tunny) in the coastal gulf. Catch and release snook fishing should also be good in and around passes and in the surf. Fishing should also be good on deep grass flats for a variety of species.

June should be a great month for tarpon in the coastal gulf. Capt. Rick Grassett leaders a tarpon caught and released by a client in the coastal gulf in a previous June.

June should be a great month for tarpon in the coastal gulf. Capt. Grassett leaders a tarpon caught and released by a client in the gulf.

Tarpon fishing should be strong this month as schools of fish increase in size and numbers. They will head offshore to spawn close to new and full moons. Set up in travel lanes along the beach at first light in the morning and cast live crabs, baitfish, DOA Baitbusters, and Swimming Mullet to them. I travel well offshore along the beach in the morning to avoid disturbing schools of tarpon that may be traveling close to the beach.

Once you’ve reached the area you intend to fish, ease into the beach with an electric trolling motor and set up in your spot. You can anchor or drift, depending on conditions. Give other anglers several hundred yards of space. Since fish may be moving both north and south, setting up too close to another angler may negatively affect their fishing. Tarpon fishing is very dependent on conditions and there are a lot of variables that need to come together to be successful.

June should be a great month to fly fish for tarpon in the coastal gulf. Jeb Mulock, from Bradenton, FL caught and released this one on a fly while fishing with Capt. Rick Grassett in a previous June.

Jeb Mulock, from Bradenton, FL caught and released this one on a fly while fishing with Capt. Rick Grassett in a previous June.

Use tackle heavy enough to land them as quickly as possible. When fly fishing, I use 12-weight rods and large arbor reels capable of holding 300-yards or more of backing. I use a variety of baitfish, shrimp or crab fly patterns fished on floating or intermediate sink tip fly lines.

The shallower the water, the easier it is to get your fly in front of a fish when fly fishing. Stakeout or anchor in travel lanes to get shots at them.

When spin fishing, I usually drift a couple of live baits under a float while we wait for tarpon schools to pass by. Blind casting with DOA Baitbusters or Swimming Mullet, if you’re in the right spot, can also be productive when fish are moving past you but not showing well on the surface. The CAL 4” Shad Tail/Swimbait with a heavy weedless hook is also a good tarpon bait, especially when sight fishing.

Snook, reds and now 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 the recent 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. Trout are not a good candidate for catch and release fishing, so I would avoid them altogether.

You should find snook in the surf, in passes and around docks and bridges in the ICW near passes. You can walk the beach and sight fish them in the surf with fly or spinning tackle. Small baitfish fly patterns, CAL jigs with shad tails and jerk worms or DOA shrimp should all work well. The same lures and flies that work in the surf will also work well at night. Snook will congregate in passes around the new and full moons to spawn. They will usually be in deep channels in these areas. Bouncing a DOA TerrorEyz or Baitbuster in bridge channels or passes can be an effective technique in these areas.

Fishing for reds should also be good in June. Look for them over shallow grass along mangrove shorelines or around oyster bars when the tide is high. You’ll find them in potholes or edges of flats when the tide is low. Topwater plugs will work well, especially early in the day. I like to cover water with CAL jigs and shad tails or jerk worms to find them. Fly anglers should score with baitfish fly patterns like my Grassett Flats Minnow or Gurglers.

You may find Spanish mackerel, bluefish or pompano in passes or on deep grass flats this month. I like to drift deep grass flats and cast ahead of my drift with CAL jigs and shad tails or jerk worms or DOA Deadly Combos. Fly anglers should score by drifting and casting ahead of the drift with Ultra Hair Clouser flies tied on long shank hooks on an intermediate sink tip fly line. You’ll need to add a few inches of heavy (40 or 50-pound) fluorocarbon when toothy fish are in the mix.

In addition to tarpon look for Spanish mackerel, false albacore, cobia, and tripletail in the coastal gulf this month. Although none of them may be thick, I’ve encountered all of them before in June. Keep your eyes open for bird activity or “breaking” fish to find albies and mackerel. Cobia and tripletail may be found around crab trap floats; however, I’ve seen cobia swimming with tarpon schools before. Medium spinning tackle and a DOA Shrimp or CAL jig will get the job done for all of them, although your tarpon tackle would also work well for a big cobia. An 8 or 9-weight fly rod with a floating or clear sink tip fly line is adequate to catch everything except a big cobia, in which case your 12-weight tarpon fly tackle will work well.

There are lots of options in inshore waters or the coastal gulf this month. If pulling on a 100-pound tarpon isn’t for you, fishing pressure is usually light inshore this month so snook, trout and more should also be good options. 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 March 2019

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.

Look for tripletail in the coastal gulf during March.

Look for tripletail in the coastal gulf during March.

Snook and reds remain closed 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 the recent red tide. The area extends from Pasco County, south to the south bank of Gordon Pass in Collier County.

Reds and snook are catch and release only in that zone until May 10, 2019. Full details including exact boundaries can be found HERE. In addition, FWC has also added trout over 20” to the closure in the same area.

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 new DOA PT soft plastic topwater 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 or Baitbuster or 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 a good option during March. Chuck Hempfling, from IL caught and released this one on a CAL jig with a shad tail while fishing the backcountry of Gasparilla Sound near Boca Grande with Capt. Rick Grassett in a previous March.

Reds should be a good option during March. Chuck Hempfling, from IL caught and released this one on a CAL jig with a shad tail.

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 to 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.

Trout fishing should be good during March. Alan Sugar, from MI, caught and released this one on an Ultra Hair Clouser fly while fishing Sarasota Bay with Capt. Rick Grassett in a previous March.

Trout fishing should be good during March. Alan Sugar, from MI, caught and released this one on an Ultra Hair Clouser fly.

You may find big trout in skinny water in many of the same places that you find reds. Blind cast seams where the grass meets sand or focus on the light colored bottom, in potholes on top of sand bars, where you may be able to sight fish them. FWC has also added trout over 20” to the emergency closure on the west coast of Florida through May 10, 2019. These fish 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.

Topwater plugs and fly poppers also work well when blues and mackerel are around and may help locate them by attracting them from further away. 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.

Spanish mackerel should be a good option during March. Tony Merlis, from NH, caught and released this one on an Utra Hair Clouser fly while fishing Sarasota Bay with Capt. Rick Grassett in a previous March.

Spanish mackerel should be a good option during March. Tony Merlis, from NH, caught and released this one on an Utra Hair Clouser fly.

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 topwater 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 a 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 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 Feb. 2019

Trout and redfish should be good shallow water options in Sarasota Bay 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.

Night snook fishing is usually very good during winter unless water temperatures drop too low. Martin Marlowe, from NY, with a snook caught and released on a Grassett Snook Minnow fly while fishing dock lights at night in the ICW with Capt. Rick Grassett in a previous February.

Martin Marlowe, from NY, with a snook caught and released on a Grassett Snook Minnow fly while fishing dock lights at night in the ICW.

Catch and release night snook fishing around lighted docks in the ICW may be a good option if it’s not too cold and Spanish and king mackerel and cobia may show up in the coastal gulf by the end of the month.

Snook and reds remain closed 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 the recent red tide. The area extends from Pasco County, south to the south bank of Gordon Pass in Collier County. Reds and snook are catch and release only in that zone until May 10, 2019. To view full details including exact boundaries click here.

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.

Keith McClintock, from Lake Forest, IL, with a nice trout both caught and released on a CAL jig with a shad tail while fishing Gasparilla Sound near Boca Grande on a couple of trips in a previous February with Capt. Rick Grassett.

Keith McClintock, from Lake Forest, IL, with a nice trout both caught and released on a CAL jig with a shad tail while fishing Gasparilla Sound.

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.

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.

February is a good month for big trout in skinny water. Mike Perez, from Sarasota, waded a Sarasota Bay sand bar with Capt. Rick Grassett and caught and released this big trout on a fly in a previous February.

Mike Perez, from Sarasota, waded a Sarasota Bay sand bar with Capt. Rick Grassett and caught and released this big trout on a fly.

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 trout over 20” 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.

February is usually a good month for reds and trout in skinny water. Stephen Liska, from Naples, FL, with a red.

Stephen Liska, from Naples, FL, with a red.

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. Tipping a jig with small piece of fresh shrimp will up your odds for sheepshead. If you use too much it will ruin the action of your jig.

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. Whatever you choose to do, 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. 2019

You may find reds and big trout concentrated in potholes of Sarasota Bay 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.

Wading clear shallow flats and bars is a good winter tactic for big trout, snook and reds. Nick Reding, from St. Louis, with a nice snook caught and released on a Grassett Flats Minnow fly while wading a Sarasota Bay sand bar in a previous January.

Wading clear shallow flats and bars is a good winter tactic for big trout, snook and reds.

Snook and reds remain closed 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 the recent red tide. The area extends from Pasco County, south to the south bank of Gordon Pass in Collier County. Reds and snook are catch and release only in that zone until May 10, 2019. Full details including exact boundaries can be found by clicking here.

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.

Rick Grassett with a trout caught and released on a Grassett Flats Minnow fly while wading a Sarasota Bay sandbar in a previous January.

Rick Grassett with a trout caught and released while wading in a Sarasota Bay sandbar.

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 of Gasparilla Sound and lower Tampa Bay 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. The DOA Crab also fishes very well in shallow water and can be deadly on reds in potholes or tailing in shallow grass.

January is a good month for Reds.

January is a good month for 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. Sheepshead feed more with their nose, so if you can’t get them to eat your jig, try tipping it with a small piece of fresh shrimp. Too large of a shrimp tip on your jig will ruin the 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.

You’ll find trout on deep grass flats in Jan.

You’ll find trout in and around deep grass flats in Jan.

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 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. 2018

Mireya Castillo, from Salt Lake City, UT, with a nice bluefish caught on a fly while fishing with Capt. Rick Grassett in a previous December.

Mireya Castillo, from Salt Lake City, UT, with a nice bluefish caught on a fly.

You may find reds along with big trout concentrated in potholes, along with 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 and reds remain closed 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 the recent red tide. The area extends from Pasco County, south to the south bank of Gordon Pass in Collier County. Reds and snook are catch and release only in that zone until May 10, 2019. Full details including exact boundaries can be found at www.myfwc.com

Lynn Skipper, from Apollo Beach, FL,with a false albacore (little tunny) caught and released on a fly while fishing with Capt. Rick Grassett in a previous December.

Lynn Skipper with a false albacore (little tunny).

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.

Mike Perez, from Sarasota, with a nice snook caught and released on a top water plug while fishing Sarasota Bay with Capt. Rick Grassett in a previous December.

Mike Perez, from Sarasota, with a nice snook he caught and released on a top water plug.

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 the south shore of Tampa Bay and Gasparilla Sound for reds and trout 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 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 topwater plugs or CAL jigs with shad tails to catch them.

Walter Poxon, from MN, with a nice pompano caught on a CAL jig with a shad tail while fishing Sarasota Bay with Capt. Rick Grassett in a previous December.

Walter Poxon, from MN, with a nice pompano caught on a CAL jig with a shad tail.

Fly anglers should score with glass minnow fly patterns, poppers or Crease flies. Sometimes topwater 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 the 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 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 Nov. 2018

Jon Yenari, from Sarasota, had good action catching and releasing snook and reds on plugs on a trip in Gasparilla Sound near Boca Grande with Capt. Rick Grassett in a previous November.

Snook and reds should be good options during Nov.

As this is being written, the red tide outbreak in our area has improved significantly. Latest counts show very little to no red tide in Sarasota and Manatee Counties in the coastal gulf and inshore waters.

You may find blues, Spanish mackerel and pompano mixed with trout on deep grass flats. 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!

Remember that snook and reds are off limits on portions of the west coast now. The Florida FWC has enacted a temporary modification of regulations for reds and snook, 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 and snook are catch and release only in that zone until May 10, 2019. I applaud them for taking this action to protect our fishery. Full details including exact boundaries can be found at www.myfwc.com/news/news-releases/2018/september/26/comm-red-tide/.

Kyle Ruffing (bottom), both from Sarasota, had good action catching and releasing snook and reds on plugs on a trip in Gasparilla Sound near Boca Grande with Capt. Rick Grassett in a previous November.

Kyle Ruffing, from Sarasota, had good action with reds.

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. I like the ICW between Sarasota and Venice at night for snook in November.

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.

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

Mike Perez with a tripletail he caught and released.

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 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.

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.

Nanette Hara, from Tampa, with a big false albacore caught and released on flies on a couple of different trips with Capt. Rick Grassett in a previous November.

Nanette O’Hara, from Tampa, with a big false albacore.

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 topwaterng fast will give their presence away if they aren’t on top.

CAL jigs with shad tails and jerk worms and topwater 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 5½” 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. 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.


CB’s Fishing Charters

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Our Guides offer exciting Fishing Adventures for anglers of all ages from novice to the expert. We offer Inshore, Backcountry and Offshore fishing charters for both fly-fishing and spin anglers.Sarasota and her surrounding areas have much to offer as an estuary for some of the most targeted gamefish species in the world. Those species include tarpon from mid-May through July, Snook, and Trout and Redfish (to name a few) that are found in and around the Sarasota & Charlotte Harbor area waters year-round.

Inshore Fishing

(4) Hours $400.00
(6) Hours $600.00
(for 1 to 3 anglers + $50 for 4th)

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(4) Hours $500.00
(6) Hours $750.00
(for 1 to 3 anglers + $50 for 4th)
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Tarpon Fishing

(Mid-May thru July)
(6) Hours $700.00
The clear blue-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico offer sight-fishing for tarpon at its best from May through mid-July. Tarpon of 120 pounds or more jumped daily during the season on fly, plug and spin tackle. Even though the water ranges from 12 to 25 feet in depth, many of the fish are encountered on the surface or just below.
Limited to 2 anglers per trip.

Snook Alley Evening Trip

Night Snook Fishing
(4) Hours $500.00
(for 1-2 anglers + $50 for 3rd)
A portion of the intercoastal waterway between Sarasota and Venice that many claim has one of the largest populations of snook found anywhere in the state. Most of the snook fishing takes place at night around lighted docks. Literally, dozens of snook will cruise around the structures and feed on bait that is attracted by the lights. It is night sight fishing that can be fast, furious and fun! Redfish and speckled trout also are encountered on these trips.

Charlotte Harbor

(6) Hours $570.00
(8) Hours $900.00
(for 1-2 anglers + $50 for 3rd)

Fly-Casting Instructions

Private Instructions
$75.00 per person/per hour

2-hr minimum for the initial session. Limited availability, usually a weekend morning when not guiding that day.

Instructional Fly-Fishing Trip

(4) Hours $400.00

Put the casting skills you have learned to use on the water. This will give you an opportunity to deal with fishing situations from the deck of a boat or by wading. Learn how to cast under mangroves and docks and how wind and current affect different fishing situations. You may have an opportunity to practice sight fishing, which is one of the most rewarding forms of fly-fishing.