Capt. Rick Grassett’s Sarasota, FL Fly Fishing Forecast for November 2018
As this is being written, the red tide outbreak in our area has improved significantly. Latest counts show very little to no red tide in Sarasota and Manatee Counties in the coastal gulf and inshore waters. You may find blues, Spanish mackerel and pompano mixed with trout on deep grass flats. You should also find larger trout in skinny water along with reds. Snook will stage around bars and on shallow flats as they make their move towards winter areas. Action in the coastal gulf with false albacore, tripletail, Spanish mackerel, blues and more should explode!
Remember that snook and reds are off limits on portions of the west coast now. The Florida FWC has enacted a temporary modification of regulations for reds and snook, in the areas affected by the recent red tide. The area extends from Pasco County, south to the south bank of Gordon Pass in Collier County. Reds and snook are catch and release only in that zone until May 10, 2019. I applaud them for taking this action to protect our fishery. Full details including exact boundaries can be found at http://myfwc.com/news/news-releases/2018/september/26/comm-red-tide/ .
You’ll find snook staging around docks and bridges in the ICW, along sand bars and in potholes on shallow flats. They may be along mangrove shorelines when the tide is high. Small white flies, like my Grassett Snook Minnow, should work well around dock and bridge fender lights. Wider profile flies like Lefty’s Deceiver or EP flies should be good choices for snook in shallow water. Fish the strongest tides for the best action. I like the ICW between Sarasota and Venice at night for snook in November.
Reds will spread out on shallow grass flats in November. You should find them along bars, in potholes or around docks. Look for them along mangrove shorelines when the tide is high, but they are just as likely to be roaming with mullet schools in shallow water. Fly anglers may score with lightly weighted flies, such as a Clouser or my Grassett Flats Minnow fly, fished on a 12’ leader with a floating fly line. I catch a lot more reds by wading after I have located them than I do from my boat, so keep a low profile.
You may also find big trout along with reds in shallow water this month. The same flies that you use for snook and reds in shallow water will also work for trout in shallow water. You’ll also find trout on deep grass flats in water from 3’ to 7’ deep. I like to drift and cast quartering ahead of my drift with weighted flies, like Clousers or my Grassett Deep Flats Bunny, on sink tip fly lines to locate trout. In addition to making a series of drifts to find fish, look for baitfish on the surface or birds to find them.
You may also find blues, Spanish mackerel, flounder or pompano on deep grass flats this month. Ultra Hair Clouser flies are a good choice for any of these species. The techniques to find them is the same as for trout, although blues and Spanish mackerel may feed on the surface making them easier to find. Likewise with pompano, that may skip on the surface when you run or drift past them. When that happens, circle back upwind and drift back through the area, casting ahead of your drift. You’ll need to add wire or heavy fluorocarbon when toothy fish are around to keep them from biting you off. You may find flounder on a mixture of grass and sand, particularly on the edges of bars or in potholes.
There should be good action in the coastal gulf with false albacore (little tunny), Spanish and king mackerel, blues, tripletail or cobia. Look for Spanish mackerel, blues or false albacore feeding on the surface to find them. Diving terns or terns hovering just above the surface of the water and moving fast will give their presence away if they aren’t on top. Fly anglers should score with small white flies, Ultra Hair Clousers, poppers or Crease flies. Look for tripletail around crab trap floats. I’ve done well on tripletail with my Grassett Flats Minnow and shrimp fly patterns. A weed guard is important to help prevent snagging the crab trap line. Cobia may also be found around crab trap floats, swimming on the surface or over structure. They will require 9 or 10-weight fly tackle. Fly anglers should score on cobia with wide profile baitfish patterns such as Deceivers or Tarpon Bunnies.
This a great month for fishing the flats or the coastal gulf. Since the action in the coastal gulf is seasonal and will slow when it gets cold, I like to fish there when conditions are good. However, if conditions aren’t good, there should be plenty of action with a variety of fish on shallow and deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay. Our natural resources are under constant pressure from red tides fueled by agricultural and residential runoff, freezes, increasing fishing pressure and habitat loss and degradation, 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.
www.snookfin-addict.com, www.snookfinaddict.com and www.flyfishingflorida.us
(941) 923-7799 (office-land line)