Inshore anglers on recent fishing charters with Quiet Waters out of CB’s Saltwater Outfitters had good success fishing the flats and dock lights for snook, redfish, seatrout, and other inshore species. Snook and redfish provided good action on trips into brackish rivers where some gamefish move during our winter months. Based out of Sarasota, FL, Quiet Water trips are run as far north as lower Tampa Bay and as far south as Charlotte Harbor.
Cold fronts began moving through our area on a regular basis over the last month. The fronts bring with them a blast of cold air from the north and strong winds. On days when fronts moved through, waiting for the water to warm, or waiting until evening to fish dock lights is a wise choice. Fly fishing anglers who fished dock lights on days when fronts moved through, were rewarded with great sight fishing opportunities in wind protected areas. They found good action on snook, redfish, and even tripletail. Schools of jack crevalle were busy hunting bait on the flats and up the rivers. Large jacks are a great fish for testing the drag on your reel
We found snook everywhere on recent trips. There are still plenty of snook on the flats. Negative low tides can really congregate a lot of snook into small areas on the flats. Finding these holes can be very rewarding. On higher tides, fishing mangrove shorelines where glass minnows and shrimp were present was effective. Anglers did well fly fishing for snook on dock lights using glass minnow pattern flies, the JT clouser, and a variation of Lefty’s chum fly. In brackish rivers, their normal winter haunts, snook were caught using the Aqua Dream ADL series spoon and topwater plugs. Points and in shallow coves near creek mouths were the best places to locate them.
Targeting larger seatrout on the flats is a worthy pursuit. Once seatrout approach the 20” mark in our area, they begin to behave like a different fish. Inshore anglers fishing the shallow flats found a few this month. Soft plastics like paddle tails on 1/8 oz. jigheads and suspending plugs were effective at targeting larger trout over the last month. For class size seatrout, the deeper grass in Sarasota Bay is beginning to show better production. Additionally, there are stretches of grass in Little Sarasota Bay and Blackburn Bay that are yielding these class-size seatrout. The same goes for lower Tampa Bay. Drifting slowly over these areas and jigging soft plastics near the bottom produced fair action, but you will have to work through ladyfish, mackeral, and other species to get to the trout.
This is a great time of year to find redfish in our area. They’re all over the flats right now. We found a few dock lights in Sarasota, loaded with redfish. We’re also seeing plenty of redfish in brackish rivers and creeks. For shallow water redfish, it’s going to be hard to find a better producer than the Aqua Dream ADL series spoon. You can cover water quickly and it really flips the switch for redfish. Once the switch is flipped, they’ll do just about anything to get the spoon. Fly fishing anglers excelled fishing for redfish on dock lights using the JT clouser. In brackish rivers, redfish were spread out cruising and working mud bottomed coves. Spoons, plugs, and soft plastics were all good baits to use on these fish.
Negative low tides in the morning should continue to congregate fish on the flats. Finding fish in our brackish rivers should be a good bet. Redfish and snook have provided the best action in brackish rivers to date. We are also hooking up with jack crevalles and we are seeing good size fish in large schools moving around in the rivers. Areas in Sarasota Bay, Little Sarasota Bay, and Blackburn Bay should provide some ideal conditions to target large seatrout.
See you on the water soon!