Shallow water anglers on recent Quiet Waters fishing trips fished waters as far south as Placida and as far north as Tampa Bay. We fished dock lights in Sarasota as well as dock lights throughout the Venice and Nokomis area for snook and other species at night. Fly anglers enjoyed some beautiful days sight fishing in shallow water. We found large seatrout, healthy redfish, and plenty of snook before and after the last cold front that came through.
During the day we found snook in a variety of locations. Areas with warmer water temperatures and deeper holes provided the ideal places for snook to hang out. During winter months, we normally focus on redfish and seatrout in the morning, but we found a fair amount of active snook early on trips over the last week. EP baitfish patterns worked best early in the day. In the afternoon we switched to the bigly floating minnow fly and took numbers of fish on the surface. Surface flies are one of the best ways to target snook – even in the winter. Light tackle anglers did best with smaller paddletails like the slim swimz.
At night, we continued to have no problems finding snook on the dock lights. Larger baits are being ignored in favor of more diminutive offerings. Flies are out-fishing artificial baits at the moment. However, baits like the 2” Vudu shrimp and suspended lipped plugs are still taking fish. For fly anglers, something extremely small will serve you best. We’re using flies as small as size 8 right now. Bead-chain eyes, a crystal chenille body, and a marabou tail is about all you need on your flies right now.
Winter low tides are dictating where we’re finding our redfish. We are seeing tailers on occasion, but are more frequently finding our fish over mud or sand. Seaducers, EP baitifish patterns, and worm style flies have gotten the most looks. Fly anglers that want to improve their sight fishing skills should practice becoming accurate at close range (50 feet and closer). Casting for distance is great, but you’ll be kicking yourself later if you struggle executing close shots.
Anglers using artificial lures have done best with paddletails, ned rigs, and Aquadream spoons. Sight fishing with light tackle is not much easier than doing it with a fly rod. The main issue that arises with light tackle sight fishing is the disruptive nature of a lure entering the water. Anglers that are able to drop lures in the water softer, will fair much better. This is also why we use extremely small lures when sight casting to most fish. The smaller/lighter the lure, the less disruptive it will be when it enters the water.
We are seeing a good amount of large seatrout in shallow water. Some, were so large that we initially mistook them for redfish. These are big seatrout. We were able to connect with a few nice fish on fly, but the extraordinarily large fish refused our offerings this time around. We caught healthy seatrout in shallow water on EP baitfish patterns and on the surface with the bigly floating minnow. Suspending lipless plugs and paddletails worked well for light tackle anglers.
There are still plenty of class-size seatrout available in the deep grass. If you’re the type of angler that cares little about quality and just wants quantity, then the deep grass is probably the place for you. A clouser deep minnow on an intermediate line is all you will need there. We generally move around until we find fish and then focus more casts on the areas where the fish tend to be. You will also find other species like bluefish, mackeral, ladyfish, and pompano mixed in with the seatrout on the deep grass.
Thanks for Reading,
Capt. Brian Boehm
Quiet Waters Fishing