A tarpon jumps out of the water to fight a fish

Quiet Waters fishing charters, run out of Sarasota, FL were focused on tarpon over the last two months. Adult tarpon are still around, but their numbers dwindle more every day. We mixed in some shallow water flats trips and dock light trips as well. The Sarasota area enjoyed a full tarpon season with healthy numbers of fish swimming and very good water conditions for sight fishing.

All Quiet Water trips run for the tarpon migration are fly fishing trips. It’s the one time of year that I offer only fly fishing. For all other charter offerings, we do both light tackle/spin and fly, but tarpon season is different. There is a monumental difference between feeding a tarpon a live crab or pinfish versus feeding them a fly. Feeding tarpon flies is a special challenge and we embrace the challenge.

A tarpon makes one last run

Tarpon trips were run as far north as Anna Maria Island and as far south as Nokomis. We spent time posted up for tarpon off of Longboat Key, Lido Key, Siesta Key, and Casey Key. Location often depended on where the most fish were or where the most tolerable sea conditions existed. It was a successful tarpon season by all measures.

When we weren’t tarpon fishing, we were targeting fish on the dock lights at night. Dock light fishing has been extremely productive over the last few months. We ran both light tackle and fly trips on dock lights. Small shrimp lures and lipped plugs worked best on light tackle.

We used a variety of flies to target fish on the dock lights. Small flies are still working well in situations where there isn’t much tidal current. On dock lights where there was good tidal flow, we used larger sized flies to target fish. Shrimp and Baitfish patterns worked well. Surface flies like the pencil popper worked well situationally. Coming tight to a snook that just exploded on a surface fly is good clean fun.

An angler poses with a snook that he caught while fly fishing the dock lights

We are consistently finding juvenile tarpon on dock lights. We targeted juvenile tarpon with light tackle and on fly. Again, smaller shrimp lures and lipped plugs worked best on light tackle. On fly, EP baitfish patterns, small shrimp patterns, and the JT clouser were effective at fooling these smaller tarpon.

The shallow flats in the waters around Sarasota and Bradenton are still holding redfish and snook. There are some stretches of flats that have been impacted by the heat. In these areas, the grasses are stressed and small algal blooms exist. We don’t spend much time in these areas as they rarely hold the fish that we are targeting.

We did well using paddletails on jig heads for snook in shallow water. Soft plastic jerk baits fooled plenty of snook as well. When fly fishing for snook, we found our best success using the bigly floating minnow and the DT Special.

An angler holds a juvenile tarpon that he caught while fly fishing the dock lights

As we move further into the summer, we should begin to see more juvenile tarpon throughout area waters. We should continue to see the numbers of juvenile tarpon on dock lights increase. Snook and reds can be found in shallow water in the morning. Finding deeper and cooler drop-offs near shallow flats is not a bad place to check in the afternoon. Snook continue to roam the beach. We’ve seen schools of reds out in the Gulf as well. There are plenty of opportunities out there to catch fish.

Thanks for reading,

Captain Brian Boehm
Quiet Waters Fishing
Sarasota, FL