An angler holds a snook that he caught while fly fishing at night

Fly and light tackle anglers found success in shallow water, and on dock lights on recent fishing trips with Quiet Waters Fishing, run out of Sarasota, FL. While we’re catching fish in the morning, the early afternoon bite has been better. Snook have been a more reliable target than redfish as of late on the flats and in the back country. Dock lights have been consistently good over the past few weeks. We’re mainly finding snook on dock lights, but we are catching seatrout, redfish, and even jumped a tarpon on a recent trip.

An angler holds up a beautiful back country snook caught in tampa bay

Red tide is certainly a factor in west central/south west Florida and there are areas around Sarasota that have been greatly impacted. If you’ve fished longer trips with me in the past, you know that I have a preference for running my 6 and 8 hour trips north of Sarasota in Manatee County. That area remains untouched by red tide and our fishing trips have been unaffected. However, if you are fishing in Sarasota or south in Venice, you will need to be selective of areas and do your best to find clean water with active fish.

An angler holds up a snook for the camera that he caught while fly fishing

Traditionally, I run my dock light trips either in Sarasota, or in Snook Alley out of Nokomis. That area has been impacted by red tide and I have moved those trips to the north as well. Though it’s a longer drive to fish north, the dock light trips that I’ve run up there have been very successful. We have switched primarily to smaller winter style flies on dock lights, while working in shrimp patterns situationally. A two inch Vudu shrimp and small suspended lipped plugs is all that has been necessary to find success using light tackle on the dock lights.

An angler holds a redfish that he caught while fishing dock lights with a fly rod

Until recently, wind has continued to be a factor on shallow water day trips. Wind tends to impact fly anglers more than their light tackle brethren. With that said, we’ve been able to find plenty of areas out of the wind and around fish. Redfish and even snook have not been the easiest fish to pattern right now as we remain stuck in the fall-winter transition. Class-size and even larger seatrout have been the easiest fish to pattern. We are seeing larger seatrout in shallower water which is a welcome site.

An angler holds a redfish that he caught while fishing the flats in Florida

Suspending lipless plugs, topwater plugs, and soft plastic paddletails have all proved to be effective ways for targeting seatrout on light tackle. For snook and redfish, we’ve been using 3-4 inch paddletails, 4 inch swimbaits, and smaller finesse style paddletails. The best flies over the past few weeks have been the bigly floating minnow, EP baitfish patterns, and smaller shrimp patterns.

An angler fights a snook in the back country of the bow of a poling skiff

There is no way of knowing how long the red tide in the area will linger, so you will need to use your discretion and find the clean water. The other option is to fish waters farther away from red tide. A great place to consider would be brackish rivers. Red tide does well in saline environments, so getting into more brackish water tends to be a good option.


Thanks for reading,
Captain Brian Boehm
Quiet Waters Fishing