An angler jumps a snook that he hooked while fly fishing in the back country of tampa bay


Shallow water anglers enjoyed good fishing on Quiet Waters Fishing trips run by Captain Brian Boehm. We fished the open flats as well as the back country over the last few weeks. Where we fished on any given day was dictated by the wind. Wind was a factor over the last few weeks, but we found plenty of places out of the wind where we could fish. Trips were run in Terra Ceia, The south shore of Tampa Bay, Charlotte Harbor, and Sarasota.

Bait has become plentiful on the flats again and the fish have responded. The abundance of bait attracted schools of jacks into the back country and onto the open flats. When this happened, we picked off a few jacks as schools rampaged through. Once the jacks moved out, we targeted the snook that came out to clean up the mess of injured bait that the jacks had left behind.

A fly angler holds up a snook that he caught on a surface fly

Snook have all but abandoned their winter haunts and habits. Snook have been aggressive and have longer feeding windows. They are still looking up for surface flies. Snook take surface flies in a variety of ways. Snook will suck the fly off the surface with a loud pop, while other times they will simply sip them. They’ll also slash at them and even roll on them. It seems that the way snook eat surface flies depends greatly on their mood and their surroundings.

Working surface flies slowly over snook has been an effective approach to teasing less active fish into action. The approach is comparable to slowly hopping a jig or finesse bait on the bottom, but instead of being on the bottom, it’s on the surface where snook are almost always looking. It can take multiple casts and retrieves to the same area to finally flip their switch to on.

An angler holds up a snook that he caught while fly fishing near tampa bay

The strong winds we’ve been experiencing have pushed baitfish up against the mangroves. Snook are setting up in these areas where they wait for opportunities to charge into the schools of bait and feed aggressively in short bursts. DT Specials and the Bigly Minnow were the most productive flies for us when we encountered these situations.

Creek mouths in the back country have been especially productive for snook when tidal or wind influences pushed water through them. In these situations, snook nosed into the current, looking for easy meals. We found that well-presented EP baitfish patterns, DT Specials, and the Bigly Minnow all worked on unsuspecting fish. Many of these fish were staged up in less than a foot of water. Taking time to quietly approach these fish and setting up shots was extremely important.

An angler pulls back against a redfish that is trying to take him into the mangroves


Redfish have been cruising the open flats and poking around in the back country. Solo fish were far less skittish and more receptive to offerings from sight fishing anglers. Near creek mouths and up against the mangroves were some of the best places to find redfish. Redfish swimming in schools were far more challenging to approach. Shrimp imitations are still catching fish, but over the last month, redfish have become far more intrigued with baitfish patterns.

Feeding redfish flies and lures when sight fishing is a process. The steps that go into feeding a redfish are fairly straight forward. Executing the process off the bow of a skiff in windy conditions adds challenges to this simple process.

An angler holds out a redfish that he caught while fly fishing in sarasota

There are few things more beautiful than feeding redfish fake food in clear shallow water. And there are few things more heartbreaking than pulling the fly you just fed to a redfish right back out of its mouth. Giving redfish a little more time to chew on the fly before getting tight to them is not the worst idea.

For now, we will continue targeting redfish and snook in shallow water. Tarpon season is right around the corner. We’ve seen a few smaller fish on the edges of bars, but they’ve been on the move.


Captain Brian Boehm
Quiet Waters Fishing
Sarasota, FL