Capt. Rick Grassett’s Sarasota, FL Fly Fishing Forecast for August 2017
Tarpon will move to inside waters of Sarasota Bay, Charlotte Harbor and Tampa Bay this month. You may also find juvenile tarpon in creeks, canals and turning basins. Reds will school on shallow flats and big trout will prowl the same waters at dawn. Also, look for trout on deep grass flats mixed with blues, pompano, Spanish mackerel and more. Catch and release snook fishing should be good around lighted docks at night or in the surf. Look for false albacore (little tunny) to show up in the coastal gulf later in the month.
Tarpon addicts will still be able to get their fix this month. You should still find a few tarpon in the coastal gulf early in the month. As tarpon thin out along beaches, they will move to inside waters where you may find them schooling around bridges or rolling on deep grass flats. They will also feed in schools of ladyfish that are feeding on the surface. You should also find juvenile tarpon from 10 to 30-pounds in creeks, canals and turning basins. Fly anglers should score on juvenile tarpon with 8 or 9-weight fly rods, sinking lines and scaled down tarpon flies.
Snook season remains closed this month so handle them gently and use tackle heavy enough to catch and release them quickly. You’ll find them around lighted docks and bridges in the ICW and in the surf. Small white flies, like my Grassett Snook Minnow or Gurglers, should all work well. The same flies will work at night and in the surf, although you should be observant of what size baits are in those areas.
Reds will school up this month. You should find them on shallow flats of north Sarasota Bay, lower Tampa Bay and Gasparilla Sound. They’ll be easier to find in shallow water when the tide is low. Look for “nervous” water when it is slick calm or a slick patch of water when there is a ripple on the water. They may push a wake that looks like a boat wake. I try to be as quiet as possible in shallow water, poling to locate them. Once you’ve located a school of reds, try to get ahead of them to intercept them, much like tarpon fishing. If you work around the edges of the school, you may be able to catch a few of them before they spook. We often also find big jacks, blues and other predators in the mix along with reds. Fly poppers or Gurglers may draw some big strikes!
Trout fishing should be good this month. You may find a big trout in skinny water at first light. Focus on mullet or bait schools to find them. Fly poppers or Gurglers should be very effective at that time of day. I always release big trout over 20”, since they are usually females that may be full of roe. One of the largest trout that I have seen caught and released on a fly was a 7 ½-pound fish that blew up on a Gurgler, fished in glass minnow schools! I like the same areas for big trout that I like for reds.
After it gets bright and starts to warm up, drop out to deeper grass flats (4’ to 8’) for trout, blues, Spanish mackerel and more. I like to drift and cast ahead of my drift with an Ultra Hair Clouser fly fished on a sink tip fly line. I make a series of drifts to locate fish and then shorten the drift or anchor depending on conditions. Ladyfish may feed in glass minnow schools and if they stay up long enough, it will attract trout, blues, mackerel, tarpon or sharks. Wide profile flies, such as Enrico Puglisi style flies, fished slowly around the edges of breaking fish will help keep ladyfish off your lure or fly and give you a chance to catch a tarpon. When blues, Spanish mackerel or sharks are in the mix add 6” of wire or heavy fluorocarbon. Also look for tripletail around crab trap floats, buoys or channel markers in inshore waters this month. My Grassett Flats Minnow fly with a weed guard should work well for tripletail. A weed guard is important since it may help you avoid hooking the crab trap float or line.
You might find false albacore (little tunny) or Spanish mackerel starting to show up in the coastal gulf this month. Look for baitfish to find them. The Tampa Bay ship channel from the Skyway Bridge to Egmont Key is often one of the first areas that they will show up early in the season. Small white flies, like my Grassett Snook Minnow, poppers or Crease flies should all work well. You’ll need to add wire or heavy fluorocarbon when toothy fish are in the mix.
Even though it is one of the hottest months of the year, there are lots of options this month. I usually tarpon fish as long as I can either in the coastal gulf or in inside waters. An early start for snook or tarpon around lighted docks or bridges and then on to the flats for reds, trout and more is a good option. Whatever you choose to do, please limit your kill, don’t kill your limit!
Capt. Rick Grassett
FFI Certified Fly Casting Instructor
Orvis-Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters
Orvis Outfitter of the Year-2011
Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc.