Siesta Key Fishing Charters

Fishing Siesta Key, Siesta Key fishing charters

Siesta Key fishing charter is $400 for 4 hours, 1-4 anglers.

Visitors to Sarasota often choose fishing Siesta Key as an activity to enjoy.  Action and variety please anglers of all ages and experience levels.

Capt Jim Klopfer offers Siesta Key fishing charters to anglers fishing Siesta Key in Sarasota, Florida.  Siesta Key is a barrier island near Sarasota, Florida in the Gulf of Mexico, an hour south of Tampa.  While famous for it's white sand beaches, visitors fishing Siesta Key enjoy fantastic angling opportunities all year long.  The best way to experience this action is to go out with a professional captain.  Captain Jim Klopfer is out on the water over 200 days a year and has been guiding anglers in Sarasota since 1991.  Clients going out on fishing charters do very well on a variety of species using multiple techniques.

fishing Siesta Key

Many of my fishing charters involve families and children.  Kids are great fun!  Capt Jim loves the enthusiasm and for many clients, saltwater fishing is so different from what they are used to up home in the midwest.  Action can be fast and furious with several different species being landed on most trips.  Techniques and tactics are catered to the experience level and desires of the client.  Live bait is used with kids and when conditions are best suited for that.  Lures, especially jigs, are also very effective and are easy to use.  Most novice anglers will be casting well and catching fish after just a short lesson.


Siesta Key fishing tackle and baits

Most of the anglers fishing Siesta Key use light spinning tackle.  The grass flats surrounding Siesta Key are shallow and open; the use of heavy tackle is not required.  Live shrimp and small bait fish account for a lot of fish for clients.  Artificial lures such as jigs and plugs also fool a bunch of fish.  The simple lead head jig with a soft plastic trailer work very well most of the year, especially when the water is cooler.  Live bait does perform well in the summer.  Catching a well full of live bait and using them as chum to attract fish to the boat is a proven technique in Sarasota Bay.  Fly anglers are not to be left out, as any species that will hit a jig will also take a well presented fly.


Siesta Key fishing charters

Fishing Big Sarasota Pass

Big Sarasota Pass borders Siesta Key to the north and holds mackerel, bluefish, pompano, and ladyfish.  Drifting the pass with live bait and artificial lures is a productive technique that is a great option for anglers fishing Siesta Key.  Clients drop a jig down to the bottom and bounce it sharply as the boat drifts over the sand.  Live shrimp are fed out behind the boat.  Fish school up in large numbers at times and provide fast fishing!  Pompano are targeted, as well as Spanish mackerel, bluefish, jacks, and ladyfish.

Structure in Big Sarasota Pass holds sheepshead and snapper; both being both great sport and table fare.  Late winter and spring is a great time to catch sheepshead.  They school up in the rocks to spawn.  I live shrimp fished on the bottom near the rocky structure will fool them.  Snook will also stage in the deep structure in the summer time.


Siesta Key fishing charter

Fishing Siesta Key deep grass flats

Lush grass flats surround Siesta Key and offer great fishing!  Speckled trout are very popular, but Spanish mackerel, pompano, cobia, bluefish, jack crevelle, sea bass, grouper, snapper, flounder, ladyfish, and more are common catches throughout the year.  Drifting the grass flats in 5' to 10' of water and casting jigs or live bait is by far the technique that is employed on the majority of Siesta Key fishing charters.  It produced both action and variety for clients and is easy for novice anglers to do as well as the more experienced ones.  There are many days when artificial lures produce more fish than live bait does.  This is particularly true in the cooler months.  Chumming with live bait fish is very effective in summer.  Live shrimp produce all year.

Sarasota fishing

Fishing Siesta Key, snook and redfish

Oyster bars and mangrove shorelines dominate the backcountry portions of Robert’s Bay and Little Sarasota Bay.  Snook, redfish, trout, and jack crevelle thrive in this habitat and readily take a live or artificial bait.  Snook in particular are a highly sought-after species; it is the premier inshore gamefish in Florida.  Snook are similar to largemouth bass, they are "ambush predators" and take up station in a spot that will allow them to easily catch their prey.  Mangrove points, bars, docks, and other structures hold snook.  Refish, large trout, jacks, snapper, and other species will and other species will be encountered in the same areas.


Most of this type of fishing is done using artificial lures.  Lures allow anglers to cover a lot more water than they can with live bait.  Rapala plugs, Bass Assassin jigs, and weedless spoons are the top baits.  I will certainly anchor up and fish docks with live shrimp or bait fish as well.  When the water temperature in Sarasota Bay drops into the low 60's, snook and jacks will move up into creeks and residential canals.  Phillippi Creek is a proven hot spot.


Siesta Key fishing charters

The beaches along Siesta Key provide great action as well.  Surf casters do well on whiting and pompano using live or frozen shrimp fishing Siesta Key.  Jigs, spoons, and plugs will also catch fish.  Spanish mackerel, false albacore, sharks, and other species move through in the spring and again in the fall.  These "pelagic" species are great sport on both light spinning tackle and on fly.  When the winds are light and the bait fish move in close, the fishing can be nothing short of fantastic!  If that is not enough, giant tarpon migrate through the area in summer and offer world class angling to those willing to take on the challenge!

Sight casting to schools of "breaking" fish is very exciting!  It can truly be a fishing frenzy as mackerel and false albacore terrorize helpless bait fish.  Just about and bait, lure, or fly that gets close to the fish will be destroyed.  Sharks will hover nearby and will hit a bait fish or chunk of cut mackerel.

Siesta Key fishing charters

Siesta Key river fishing charters

We are blessed in Florida with a wide variety of angling options, but river fishing is my personal favorite. The solitude, scenery, and wildlife are worth the trip alone, and the chance to land trophy fish casting artificial lures on fairly light tackle is just icing on the cake. Best of all, this method is pretty simple and straight-forward for anglers willing to put in a little time and effort.


The west coast of Florida from mid-state south has a myriad of rivers, creeks, and canals that hold snook. These can be productive all year, but I focus on them in the cooler months. Snook will migrate into these areas in the winter to escape the harsh conditions on the flats. Most rivers have deep holes, warmer water, and plenty of forage. As an added bonus, largemouth bass are fairly numerous and will be caught using the same lures and techniques. Juvenile tarpon, jack crevelle, catfish, and gar are also common catches.

fishing Siesta Key

There are several advantages to fishing rivers. Unlike vast open waters of bays and lakes, the fish are relatively confined into a smaller space. They will migrate up and down river, and only time on the water will give anglers the experience that is required to score on a consistent basis. Another advantage, and one that I have used as a fishing guide, is that rivers offer protection from high winds that frequently occur in the winter. In fact, these are often the most productive days to fish. Lastly, fishing pressure is usually very light.


I choose to fish with shallow diving plugs in rivers, they cover a lot of water, hang up infrequently, and the hook-up ratio is good. In the tannin waters, I have found gold/black and Firetiger to be the most consistent producers. Often times the fish will hit on the pause as the bait just hangs there motionless, seemingly helpless. I like a 7’ Medium action rod, a quality spinning reel with a good drag spooled with 40 lb braided line with a 24” piece of 40 lb fluorocarbon leader.


The best spots in most rivers will be the outside bends. Choose a stretch of river that has twists and bends; that will generally be better than those with long straight sections. Current flow will gouge a deep hole and concentrate fish. Add in some cover such as fallen trees and the result is perfect structure to hold a trophy fish. Depth is critical in river fishing. Most Florida rivers will “undulate”. Two stretches of bank may look the same, but if one has 18” of water and the other has 6’, the latter will produce much more consistently. This depth change will usually not be apparent from the surface, so a bottom machine will help in locating the more productive stretches.


Fishing Siesta Key, spring


Siesta Key Beach is world famous and attracts many visitors in March.  In fact, it just won the prestigious award for " Best Beach”.  Young ladies flock to the famous white sand beaches during Spring Break to soak up the sun.  But many come to fish, too.  This time of year, families make up the majority of my charters and most of these trips include at least one female angler.  Sarasota offers great family-friendly fishing for a variety of species.  Vast experience is not required, just basic skills and the desire to have a good time.


Deep grass flats are very productive, offering reliable spring time fishing.  Speckled trout, silver trout, pompano, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, bluefish, jack crevelle, mangrove snapper, gag grouper, cobia, sea bass, and flounder are all regular catches.  Both anchoring up and drifting are equally productive, depending on the tide and wind. 


   The most popular artificial lure in this area is the jig/grub combo.  This is a lead head jig with a plastic tail which imitates a shrimp or bait fish.  D.O.A Lures manufacture a full line of effective products; my personal favorite is the gold shad tail on a ¼ ounce white jig head.  The lure is cast out in front of the boat as it drifts across the flat.  It is allowed to sink several seconds then is retrieved back with a twitching motion.  Most strikes come as the bait falls.


   While artificial lures catch plenty of fish during Spring Break, live bait is the most reliable producer on my Sarasota fishing charters, especially with anglers with limited experience.  Live shrimp are purchased and “whitebait” is cast-netted up on the flats.  “Whitebait” is a Florida term for small white or silver baitfish, mostly pilchards and threadfin herring, that migrate into the area in the spring.  A well full of either live shrimp or frisky pilchards practically guarantees success.


Marcel Hamburger lives in Houston, TX and has fished with me for several years now.  He usually brings his two children Morgan and Grant.  Morgan never gets out-fished.  Never.  She has perfected the art of drifting a live bait across the flats.  She casts her bait out and lets it drift behind the boat with the rod tip held low.  When a fish takes the bait, she does not jerk, which is a common mistake.  Instead, she just reels up the slack while slowly raising the rod tip.  Most of the time, the result is a fish in the boat.


   Anchoring up on the edge of a grass flat that drops off into deeper water and fishing with live bait can be deadly.  One trip from several years ago comes to mind and it is a story that I have told many times on the boat.  John Brennan from Brookfield, WI visits Siesta Key regularly for Spring Break, and he usually treats his daughters Laura, Cari, and Theresa to a Sarasota fishing charter.  I filled the well with twelve dozen shrimp and loaded up the Brennan clan.  After anchoring up on the edge of a flat near Bird Key, we experienced non-stop action free lining live shrimp.  I believe the final tally was 119 fish landed, not counting the ones that jumped off.  Spanish mackerel, speckled trout, and ladyfish, kept rods bent the entire time.  It was so hectic, poor John barely got the chance to fish!


Fishing Siesta Key Passes


   Big Sarasota Pass lies to the north of Siesta Key.  It is a fish highway that connects Sarasota Bay to the Gulf of Mexico.  March is a prime month for fishing the pass.  The same methods that produce on the flats will also work in the deeper water of the pass.  Jigs bounced on the bottom and free lined live bait will catch pompano, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, and loads of ladyfish. 


   Last March the Manby family, friends of the Brennan’s who also reside in Brookfield, WI had a great morning catching large mackerel in Big Pass.  Maria and Jeff along with their three girls Ashleigh, Julia, and Abigail were my guests that morning.  The tide was low and had just turned to come in and we were free lining live shrimp.   The bite was a little slow, just a couple of ladyfish, when Julia’s rod bent double and the drag started screaming.  I knew right away that it was a big mackerel.  Julia fought the fish like an expert and it was landed and tossed on ice, destined for dinner at Clayton’s that evening.  Several minutes later the same thing was repeated.  Then again.  What the heck?  Four baits in the water, same hook, same rig, but she catches all the fish?


“I jiggle it”, she stated.  And the now-famous “Julia Jiggle” was born.  Any time I am on a charter and the bites are slow in coming, I instruct my clients to “jiggle it”.  Action is sure to soon follow.


   There is much more to fishing than just catching fish.  The time a family spends together is priceless.  I humbly feel privileged to be a part of it.  Friendships have been forged and to see the kids grow up each year is exciting.  Experience your own Spring Break, Sarasota style!


Fishing Siesta Key, summer


  All three rods were bent deep as I tried to keep the bedlam under control.  Sweat was dripping from my forehead and it was only nine o’clock in the morning.  The heat was one reason, the other was that I was scrambling to keep my client’s hooks emptied of a fish and then re-baited.  It was non-stop action as nearly every pilchard that hit the water was devoured within seconds.  Welcome to summertime fishing Sarasota!


   Many anglers are surprised when I tell them that fishing Sarasota in the heat of summer is outstanding.  Some of my best days, especially when it comes to quantity, come in July and August.  The reason for this is the abundance of live bait fish that flood into the bays at first light.  Pilchards and threadfin herring are thick on the shallow grass flats near the Venice Inlet.  A few tosses of the cast net will usually result in a well full of bait.  After that, success is practically guaranteed.  A few handfuls of live chum will bring speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, mangrove snapper, ladyfish, jacks, and sharks right up to the boat.  Bait fish are easiest to catch at first light, especially on a high tide.  Grass flats near both passes are good spots to load up the well.


While fishing Sarasota can be spectacular in the heat of summer, it does require a few tactical changes.  The prime low-light periods of dawn and dusk will be very productive, as will fishing at night.  Getting up early is a requirement, not an option.  Get out there early, catch bait or take advantage of the early morning low light conditions to cast artificial lures.  On most days the bite winds down by late morning.  By then it is usually just too hot to fish, anyway.


   Fishing Sarasota at night is another productive option in July.  Evenings are pleasant, just monitor the weather; thunderstorms are an issue this time of year.  Snook in particular will be caught around the lighted docks and bridges throughout the area.  Speckled trout, redfish, snapper, ladyfish, and even tarpon will also be caught at night.  Plugs, jigs, flies, and live bait will produce around lighted structure.  Successful anglers will quietly approach a likely spot and either anchor or use a trolling motor to work the spot.  Shore bound anglers will score at the area bridges, too.  The prime spot is a cast away on the up-current side just on the fringe of the lighted area.  Outgoing tides are preferred, but as long as the water is moving the fish will bite.


Bass Assassin Sea Shad jigs are productive lures, as are small plugs such as the (08) size Rapala X-Rap.  Live shrimp free lined in the current can also be deadly.  Medium sized shrimp work best on a 1/0 short shank hook for clients fishing Sarasota.  Large hand-picked shrimp don’t look natural and are usually not as effective.    Spinning tackle with a 2’ piece of 30 lb fluorocarbon leader is best for tossing lures and live bait.  Glass minnows are a primary forage around lights and small white flies are effective imitations.  A 7 or 8 weight rod with an intermediate sink tip line and 8 foot piece of 30 lb fluorocarbon leader works well.


   Another productive July techniquewhen fishing Saasota is beach fishing for snook.  This is a great opportunity for anglers without a boat to experience the thrill and challenge of sight fishing.  Anglers will hit the beach around 8:00 a.m., by then there is enough sunlight to spot the fish.  Walking north will put the sun behind, making it easier to see the snook.  Quite often, they will be right in the surf line, inches from the edge.  Live bait will work but it cumbersome to carry around.  Artificial lures are more convenient and catch plenty of fish.  Small light colored lures are best.  A delicate presentation is required so as not to spook the fish in the shallow water.  A 1/8 ounce white bucktail jig works great, as do small plugs and soft plastic baits.

   This is a terrific situation to catch a snook on a fly rod.  White bait fish patterns are productive.  The fly lands very softly in the water and will not spook the snook.  Since the fish are in open water for the most part, the chance of them breaking off is greatly diminished.  A seven or eight weight outfit with a floating line and eight feet of 30 lb fluorocarbon leader is the standard rig.


   The large schools of tarpon will have broken up but there will still be plenty of fish out there.  Although they don’t “show” as well, they eat better!  Point of Rocks, Grassy Point, and the Venice Pier are good spots to try.  Again, get out there at first light and either cast to rolling fish or drift a pinfish out behind the boat under a float.  Fish until mid-morning, then call it a day.


   There are plenty of ways to fish Sarasota and catch fish in July and still beat the summertime heat!


Fishing Siesta Key, fall


Contrary to popular belief, autumn does arrive in Florida, although the changes can be fairly subtle.  While still fairly warm, evening temperatures are a tad lower and the days are a little shorter.  Fish are very much in tune with these changes and it affects their behavior.  In Sarasota where I fish, on the west coast, the arrival of Spanish mackerel and false albacore just off the beaches in the inshore Gulf of Mexico officially signals the fall fishing season.  This is great sport and it does not require a large boat or fancy gear to take advantage of this bonanza.


The reason for this fantastic fall fishing Siesta Key is simple; bait, and LOTS of it!  As the water and land temperatures drop, the weather pattern changes.  The sea breezes will be gone and high pressure systems will bring northeast winds both during the day and in the evening.  The result will be clear, calm water along the beaches, attracting huge schools of baitfish which in turn attracts the gamefish.  Saltwater fishing can be pretty basic, “Find the groceries; find the fish”.  Other species will also be encountered when fishing “Out on the beach”.  Jack crevelle, bluefish, ladyfish, king mackerel, cobia, sharks, and even tarpon will follow the forage to take advantage of the abundance of forage.


As a full-time fishing guide, I rely on live bait a majority of the time to provide action for my clients who book a Siesta Key fishing charter.  In this application, artificial lures are not only extremely productive but are a lot of fun to fish!  Quite often schools of “breaking” fish will be seen terrorizing the helpless baitfish on the surface.  Opportunistic gulls and terns will be picking at the scraps as well.  This is a sight that will stir any angler’s soul and is the perfect situation to use an artificial lure.  The strikes will be immediate and savage!  Of course, a frisky live baitfish or shrimp will very seldom go unmolested when fall fishing Siesta Key.


My “go to” lure for fishing the inshore Gulf is #8 Rapala X-Rap slashbait.  It perfectly mimics the small pilchards, glass minnows, and threadfin herring that the gamefish are feeding on.  Olive is my favorite color with white being a close second.  The lure is simply cast out into the bait and retrieved back with sharp twitches and a pause in between.  X-Raps can also be trolled along when there is not any surface activity; they are a great “locator” bait.  The venerable jig and grub combo also works well, with the 4” Bass Assassin Sea Shad being my personal favorite.  Silver spoons will also produce plenty of fish for anglers fall fishing Siesta Key.  The same tackle that is used for speckled trout and redfish will work fine in this application.  My preferred rig is a 10 lb spinning outfit with monofilament line, the last 5’ doubled with a Spider Hitch, then 30” of 30 lb fluorocarbon leader is added using a double Uni-knot, then the lure or hook completes the rig.


Fly anglers can certainly take advantage of this situation as well.  An 8wt outfit with a weight forward floating line is a good choice.  The leader should be 8’ of 30 lb fluorocarbon and any small white fly will produce well, with D.T. Special and Clouser Minnow patterns being the most popular.  Fly anglers do well fall fishing Siesta Key!


Once rigged up and ready, it is time to go fishing!  Often times the fish will be schooled up just outside the passes, particularly on an outgoing tide.  Any bird or surface activity should be investigated.  Sometimes just a couple of terns diving will clue an angler into the location of a school.  If nothing is happening at the pass, simply cruise down the beach on plane but at as slow a speed as possible in order to completely scan the area.  Once a school of actively feeding fish is located, determine whether they are mackerel or albies.  Spanish will generally stay up in the same spot for a longer period of time.  False albacore can be much more difficult to get on, they move fast and change directions constantly.  But, there is no greater sport than catching a big albie on light tackle or fly!


In either case, patience will pay off!  Charging into the school on plane will usually shut down the bite.  Instead, cut the motor up-wind of the fish and drift down on them until in casting range or use the electric trolling motor if so equipped.  Trolling the edges will also work well but avoid driving through the middle of the school.  Sarasota County has an extensive artificial reef program with 3 nice reefs within 2 miles of shore just off Lido Key.  These are a great back-up plan (as is any reef or hard bottom area) in the event that surface activity is absent as they almost always hold bait and fish.


Later in the morning as the sun comes up, particularly if the water is clear, anglers will do well to look for bait balls.  These appear as large dark spots in the water.  NEVER pass up a nice, big ball of bait as there will usually be predator fish on the edges.  Anglers seeking larger game will score consistently on sharks by putting out a chunk of mackerel under a cork on a larger rig with a steel leader.  Free-lining a large live threadfin herring at the edges will also produce some larger fish.  Do not be surprised if a cobia, king mackerel, or even a tarpon are hooked as well fall fishing Siesta Key.


Shore bound anglers can get in on the action as well.  While false albacore seldom venture in close enough to be caught from land, Spanish mackerel, jacks, bluefish, ladyfish, and more will often cruise within casting range while feasting upon the abundance of forage.  The same lures, baits, flies, and techniques that produce for anglers in boats will also allow surf casters to achieve success.


Fishing Siesta Key, winter


   The key to angling success is the ability to adapt to ever-changing conditions.  February tactics are unique.  Severe fronts move through on a weekly basis, drastically changing the water temperature and clarity.  Wind will prevent anglers from fishing the open waters in north Sarasota Bay.  Extreme low winter tides will chase fish off the flats.  So, let’s go through a typical winter weather cycle that would be experienced on a fishing charter in the winter.


   A severe front has just moved through.  The water temperature has dropped several degrees and there is a blue-bird sky with bright sun and a northeast wind.  The northeast wind will fight the tide, making it even lower than normal.  And it can be downright chilly.  Flats near the passes will be flooded with dirty water from the churned up Gulf of Mexico.  Finding clean, protected water will be a priority when employing February tactics.


Finding protection from the wind


   The area south of Siesta Drive down to Blackburn Pt. usually stats clearer and offers protection from the north wind.  Oyster bars, canals, and docks will be good places to soak a shrimp for sheepshead, drum, and other species.  On low tide the trout, pompano, and ladyfish will concentrate in deeper water.  This can be the Intracoastal channel or any deep water.  As the tide floods the flats and the day warms up the fish will move out of the holes and onto the nearby flats.  Casting jigs and live shrimp while drifting the flats is the preferred technique.


   After a couple of days the wind will shift to the southeast and it will be warm and sunny.  The water in the passes will be clearer and fishing will be good throughout the area.  Both passes will hold pompanp, bluefish, and ladyfish.  Jigs, spoons, and live shrimp will all produce.  Taking advantage of these favorable conditions is an aspect of February tactics.


This is the best time to surf fish for whiting, silver trout, pompano, flounder, and more.  The water will be clean and calm with an east wind.  A live shrimp or piece of frozen shrimp fished on the bottom works best.


   Any Structure in or near the passes should be thick with sheepshead.  Bottom fishing with live or frozen shrimp will produce the best.  Anchoring a cast away up-current and allowing the bait to drift back to the structure in a natural manner is the best presentation.  A #1 live bait hook on a 2’ piece of 30 lb leader and a bit of weight is the best rig.  Use just enough weight to barely hold the bottom.


   Grass flats in four to seven feet of water will be good for speckled trout, silver trout, pompano, bluefish, sea bass, flounder, and ladyfish.  Again, drifting and casting jigs and live shrimp works best.  The flats near the passes are always a goiod place to start but any flat can produce.  The key is to keep moving until fish are located; don’t spend too much time in an unproductive spot.  Gold, rootbeer/gold, olive, and glow are popular colors.  Scented baits such as Gulp! Can make the difference on a tough day.


Hot bite before a weather change


   After a couple of days of nice weather, another front will approach.  As this occurs the wind will turn south, then southwest and start to blow fifteen to twenty knots.  Often times the fish will bite like crazy as they sense the weather change coming.  The south wind will flood the bays with water, tides will be higher than normal.  This is a good time to target snook and reds in shallow water.  Casting gold spoons or jigs will fool them.


   Trout will be actively feeding on the deep flats.  The wind will require anglers to find a little protection.  The west side of Sarasota Bay north of New Pass has excellent flats and is protected on a south wind.  Structure in Big Pass on the north end of Siesta is also protected and is a great spot for sheepshead.


   Snook move up into the creeks and canals in winter and the high afternoon tides are a good time to target them.  Plugs and jigs cast are to structure and worked back in an erratic manner.  Big jack crevelle will also seek refuge in these areas in the cooler months.


   As the front moves through the wind will turn northwest and blow hard.  This pretty much shuts down fishing for a day or two.  The wind will shift northeast and the whole process will repeat itself.


   Be aware of the effects of local weather patterns and you can be very successful fishing in February.


Frequently Asked Questions


Q:  Do visiting anglers fishing Siesta Key need a fishing license?

A:  Most out of state anglers fishing from shore, bridges, or boats do need to purchase a fishing license.  The exeption to this is when fishermen visiting Florida go out on a fishing charter.  The state of Florida required all charter boat captains to purchase a license which covers their clients.  This is a very convenient, saving anglers the time and expense of buying a license in the morning before a fishing trip.  Anglers who would like to review Florida fishing regulations and/or purchase a license can do so at the FWC site HERE.

Q:  Where are the best spots when fishing Siesta Key?

A:  Siesta Key offers both anglers from shore and those with a boat the oportunity to catch fish.  All of the Siesta Key beaches can be productive at one time or another.  Both bridges going to Siesta Key hold fish all year long.  Anglers with boats do well in Big Sarasota Pass and on the grass flats throughout the area.  Docks also hold a lot of fish.  Click HERE to view a detailed fishing map of Capt Jim Klopfer's favorite spots.

Q:  What species are caught when fishing Siesta Key?

A:  One of the great aspects of fishing Siesta Key is the variety of species that are landed by both local and visiting anglers.  The mighty tarpon is caught off of Siesta Key beaches.  Snook are the premier inshore game fish.  Speckled trout, pompano, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish, and more please anglers fishing the flats.  Sheepshead, mangrove snapper, gag grouper, and black drum are caught using live shrimp under docks and other structure.  Clich HERE for Capt Jim Klopfer's monthly fishing forecast for Siesta Key.

Q:  When fishing Siesta Key, is it better to rent a boat or take out a fishing charter?

A:  It depends on the goals of the fishermen, as well as the number of people going.  Renting a pontoon boat is a great option, especially for larger groups with kids.  A large boat with a cover and high sides works well for larger groups with more casual anglers.  A Siesta Key fishing charter will cost a little more money, but clients will almost certainly catch more fish.  As a full time charter boat captain, Jim is out on the water over 200 days a year.  That gives him the ability to stay on top of the fish along with having a boat set up to fish.

Q:  Which works better, live bait or artificial lures?

A:  Both can be very effective when used in the proper application.  Live shrimp are best for more casual anglers who want to cast a bait out and let it do the work.  Some species such as sheepshead, are only taken on bait.  Anglers fishing structure will usually do best using bait.  Lures are a great choice for anglers fishing the beach and who want to move around.  Dragging a bucket of shrimp around can be a nuisance.  The same goes for anglers fishing from a drifting boat, lures allow them to cover more water.

Q:  Can visiting anglers keep fish to eat when fishing Siesta Key?

A:  Yes, they can!  Many of the species available are good to eat.  It is very important to be aware of the rules and regulations regarding fish species and the size limits, bag limits, and seasons.  Fish that are going to be kept should be put on ice right away.  Also, fish must be landed whole.  This means that fish can not be cleaned until the angler is done fishing and back to the car, dock, or home.  Full regulations along with species identification can be found HERE.