An angler holding up a snook on the flats for the camera.

Ben found this snook in clear shallow water

Quiet Waters fishing trips run out of CB’s Saltwater Outfitters in Sarasota, FL provided anglers with great opportunities at inshore gamefish in recent weeks. During the day, fishing around docks, on the flats and in skinny water had us around redfish, snook, and seatrout. At night, snook and jack crevalles kept us busy while fishing dock lights. Fishing trips were focused in Little Sarasota Bay, The northern reaches of Sarasota Bay, lower Tampa Bay, and the waters near Venice, FL.

It has been a great few weeks for anglers who enjoy hunting gamefish in shallow water. We found gamefish concentrated in hard to reach areas. These areas are best accessed by kayak or poling skiff. At one location we watched four separate boats run aground while trying to join us in the way back of a deep mangrove lined cove.


An angler holds a snook caught in a canal in Sarasota

Canal snook

We’re finding snook in a variety of areas right now. They are still stacked up in canals around certain docks. Jigging natural colored artificial shrimp lures off the bottom is an effective way to target these fish. In shallower water, snook were in depressions and sandy troughs on lower tides. We did best using soft plastics and getting casts as far away from the boat as possible. When the water was higher, we skipped soft plastics under mangroves. Using fluke style soft plastics rigged on a 1/8th ounce weedless hook was an effective way to target snook in clear shallow water.

Fishing dock lights at night continues to provide fly fishing anglers a great opportunity to target larger snook. Small glass minnow patterns and small shrimp flies have been the best option as of late. Anglers using spinning tackle did well when focusing casts and retrieves on areas that snook were using as ambush points. Yo-zuri lipped baits, soft plastic shrimp, and small swimbaits were all good choices.


An angler holds a monster redfish caught in very shallow water

A healthy redfish caught in shallow water on the Aquadream spoon

Reds have been hungry. Areas around sandbars, troughs, and depressions on the flats have produced quality fish.  If your boat can get into backcountry creeks and bays, then now is still a good time to get in there. The shallower the water gets, the more wary redfish can become. They can be a frustrating fish to target with artificial bait or fly in those conditions, but the experience of connecting with a solid redfish in skinny water compels you to keep coming back for more.

Aqua Dream ADL spoons are a must have for finding aggressive redfish. Using lightly weighted soft plastics is a solid move when redfish are more tentative or wary in shallow water. The lil john in natural colors is a wise choice. Smaller grub style soft plastics offer a more subtle presentation as well.


A young angler holding a speckled seatrout

A modest seatrout caught by Levi while I was poling him around

There is a dependable seatrout bite over deep grass. Most are class-size fish and are perfect for anglers who need constant action or children. If you find larger seatrout over deep grass, keep fishing that area as there are likely more. Larger seatrout have been in potholes, in seagrass at intermediate depths, and in shallow water. Paddle tails, suspending plugs, and topwater plugs early is a good approach to finding larger seatrout.

Looking Ahead

This is a great time to target gamefish on the flats. There is an abundance of sight fishing opportunities in shallow water right now. Redfish, snook, and sizeable seatrout are all in play in skinny water. We’re starting to see a few tarpon poking around familiar haunts. Opportunities to target tarpon more regularly will increase as we get into April. Dock light fishing for snook should continue to provide great action for anglers venturing out at night.

If you’re interested in a charter, you can contact Captain Brian Boehm by phone (941-400-6218), email (, or through the website

See you on the water soon!

Captain Brian Boehm
Guide at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters
Sarasota, FL