Flats fishing trips with Captain Brian Boehm of Quiet Waters.
A page designed for fly anglers fishing the Gulf Coast
Learn about the night game for snook, tarpon, redfish, and more.
Enjoy pictures and thoughtful writing
Learn how to target Snook, Redfish, Tarpon, and more.
Shallow Water Fishing
Thanks for discovering the home of Quiet Waters, a specialized flats fishing guide service based out of Sarasota, Florida. If your interest or passion involves the finer things like fly fishing or using light tackle with artificial baits to target inshore fish, then this may be the shallow water guided experience you are seeking.
The shallow flats and clear water around Sarasota offer unique opportunities for serious anglers during the day. Snook, redfish, and seatrout are the main inshore gamefish we target on the flats. In Sarasota, tarpon are a great option for much of the year. Quiet Waters offers a variety of sight fishing trips in shallow water that are specifically designed for anglers that love to hunt fish.
To chat with Captain Brian about a fishing trip, Click Here. or you can text/call 941-400-6218
About Captain Brian Boehm
Captain Brian Boehm is the owner of Quiet Waters Fishing. Brian is an experienced and talented guide. He spent his youth learning and fishing the waters along the Gulf Coast of Sarasota, Florida before moving to the Midwest with his parents and siblings for high school. He started his own family with his wife Kate in Wisconsin. Together they moved their young family of five down to Florida. They can’t imagine living or raising a family anywhere else.
Being a saltwater guide is a natural fit for Captain Brian. He loves what he does and you won’t find many other guides that work as diligently as he does to put his anglers on quality fish. He has a low-key, yet fun personality and is incredibly patient. He loves talking and teaching fishing and enjoys general conversations about the gift of life.
The Shallow Water Species
There are three main species of gamefish that we target in the shallow waters around Sarasota. Those species are snook, redfish, and larger seatrout. During certain times of the year we can add tarpon to that list. There are plenty of other great fish that we will target on the flats, but these four make up the inshore grand slam.
Snook, a premier skinny water gamefish, are masters at using shallow water to ambush prey. Additionally, they naturally use shallow water to regulate their body temperature during the heat of the summer and the cold of the winter.
During seasonal movement patterns, snook will cruise Sarasota’s shallow water in groups, or on their own. Other times, they present themselves as stationary casting targets – waiting motionless near structure until they’re activated by the ill-conceived movement of their future prey. As long as the angler notices their presence before the snook notice ours, we’ve got a shot.
Redfish love eating and they work hard to scrounge up food. Covering water to find more food is built into their operating system. We like our redfish on the move, distracted by the prospect of food. If reds aren’t tipped off to your presence in skinny water, they will treat you to some ridiculously close encounters. Seeing a careless redfish casually cruising in a foot of water is as pure as it gets.
Larger seatrout do not follow size-class seatrout protocols. They are not followers, they are free thinking alphas known as gator trout or even tween trout. And they’re generally the fish we see the least of in skinny water. They like to have deeper water nearby to slide off to in case of danger. That does not exclude them from being in skinny water, it just limits where in skinny water we will find them.
Fishing for tarpon in skinny water is a seasonal occurrence. It happens in a few locations around Sarasota, FL. When conditions are right, tarpon will crawl up onto sandbars or even shallow grass flats. Tarpon are one of my favorite fish to target in skinny water when the conditions are right.
Quiet Water Blog Posts
The past month of Quiet Waters trips, run out of CB’s Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key, featured consistently cool weather. Cold water temperatures changed where and when we targeted our favorite inshore species like snook, redfish, and...
It’s winter – a great time to find large seatrout in shallow water. It’s prime time for tossing big plugs at gator trout in skinny water. On Christmas Eve, I took out the Orange Crush and we found a few good ones in shallow water. The seatrout we found had...
The Shallow Water Calendar
The species we target in skinny water and the areas we target fish, vary depending on the season. Water levels from tidal activity fluctuate throughout the year. Negative low tides put a limit on the shallow water areas that can be fished, but big high tides push water and fish into places that normally have neither.
Compared to other parts of the country, our tidal swings are minimal. This means very little to the fish since these are the only tides they have ever known. Following is a skinny water calendar. It forecasts what fish will be doing in shallow water throughout the year and the areas suitable to hold fish during that part of the season.
Winter reintroduces fish in skinny water to negative low tides. This is an ideal time to know where the deeper holes are on a shallow flat. Redfish, will hunker down in these holes and wait for the tide to come back in. Early winter redfish are far less nervous and wary than late winter redfish and multiple fish can be pulled from one hole.
Fishing in the many brackish rivers around Sarasota, FL is an excellent winter option. Shallow bays and creek mouths become a playground for redfish. Snook enjoy some of the same areas of the rivers as redfish do, but are most frequently found near points.
Snook will be in skinny water at first light on some of the coldest mornings. The shallow water heats up first and snook take full advantage of this. Dark bottoms and oyster bars hold the most heat and are a good place to start looking for snook on winter mornings. But don’t overlook a light patch of sand either. We’ve seen snook stacked up over sand on cold mornings.
By the end of winter, both the angler and the fish are ready for the end of negative low tides. Redfish are tired of having lures and flies plunked on their heads when they’re huddled together in hole on low tide. They become skittish. Anglers are eager to get back out to their favorite spring flats.
Spring brings boundless optimism for both anglers and fish. Clear water and the renewed presence of baitfish marks the beginning of spring fishing in skinny water. Fish are energized as the water temperature warms and nears 800 Fahrenheit. The grass flats come to life and sandy swaths are peppered with snook.
In spring, redfish roam across the shallow grass flats searching for meals on rising tides. At times, the water seems almost too clear and anglers wish for just enough wind to disturb the glassy surface of the water to conceal their intentions to the fish. Anglers welcome the rare unannounced visit of a cobia. There’s no place more special to hook a cobia, than the skinny water of the flats.
Fishing in the beginning of summer has similarities to the spring. Water temperatures haven’t peaked and fish remain active in shallow water. Juvenile tarpon fishing in the shallow waters of brackish rivers around Sarasota, FL can be phenomenal in the beginning of summer.
Eventually, the oppressive heat of the summer settles in and brings traditional shallow water fishing to a screeching halt. Some snook and redfish can still be found in shallow water, but they tend to be most active at night when the water has had time to cool. Night fishing in skinny water can be rewarding, but requires some local knowledge to enjoy.
The cooler water of the Gulf of Mexico is a sanctuary for fish in summer. The shallow sand flats, also known as the beach, will provide anglers with excellent sight fishing opportunities. Snook will be swimming in the skinny water near the trough in high numbers. Recently, schools of redfish have been doing the same thing during the dog days of summer.
Right when it seems that summer heat will never end, fall creeps in. Fall offers cooling relief and shorter days. The change is barely noticeable at first, but a slight cooling of the water temperature will reactivate shallow water fish.
The incredible phenomenon of schooling redfish in skinny water happens in fall. Some redfish schools are massive and unmistakable as they plow through shallow water. Other schools are less conspicuous – filled with tentative fish.
In fall, snook are more willing to move longer distances to chase down a well-placed plug, soft plastic, or fly. Seatrout begin spending more time in shallow water and will exhibit careless aggression towards topwater and subsurface plugs. Fishing in back country areas begins to pick up as fall progresses.
The Places We Fish are Special
Following is some writing that I did while reflecting on the beauty of the back country
First Light in the Back Country
Where the flats meet the forest, sits the wild outpost of the back country. It remains untouched by the plague of progress. Its magnificent beauty is amplified within the deepest reaches. The wildest fish live in seclusion, inhabiting secret coves and hidden creeks.
Mangroves spill over the edges of misshapen islands. Oyster bars well-up from the depths of coves, blossoming at the surface. Herons and egrets work slowly, keeping long hours. Pelicans work furiously in short windows and then they rest. Ibis eagerly dig through shoreline substrate for goodies.
Under the surface, mullet rule the back country by majority. They are everywhere. Dozens of snooklets curiously crowd around a single mangrove branch despite miles of other options. Wise old snook stay tethered to the corner of their favorite island. Grass beds and oyster bars are subjected to rigorous daily inspections by redfish and seatrout.
The back country is rugged perfection in motion. It is God’s country. When night arrives, calm settles over the back country. Winds relent and birds take to their roosts. Schools of bait settle safely behind islands, thankful for a reprieve from constant danger. Sly snook lay motionless near the bottom. The back country rests until morning.
The night’s peaceful reign is ended by a dim glow emerging from the east. Rays of light begin to beam from the horizon. They spread west through darkness, nudging the back country out of slumber. Silhouettes of mangrove islands materialize out of darkness. Stars in the night sky are erased by the new day.
Swirls and boils begin to mar the water’s surface. A surging wake sends baitfish spraying into the air. Muffled cracks, disguised as phantom gun shots, are in fact mullet crashing down in a distant cove. Squawks from grumpy herons announce the sunrise. Light floods into the back country – colors emerge.
Nervous brown pelicans, still in their roost, chatter about the last place they found bait and fret over the dreaded arrival of ‘those pesky white pelicans’. A group of ibis streak across the sky. Their wings whisper as they pass. The egrets and herons take their places in the shallows and a wise old snook prepares to pillage a school of mullet. The back country is awake once more.
To book a fishing trip with Captain Brian, Click Here. or you can text/call 941-400-6218