Siesta Key Fishing Charters
This page is all about Siesta Key fishing charters. It has all the information that an angler will need to enjoy a memorable day of fishing.
Who offers the best Siesta Key fishing charters? Capt. Jim Klopfer of adventure charters has been guiding in the Siesta Key area since 1991. He is very versatile and adapts the charters to fit the experience level and expectations of his clients. Capt. Jim is also very well-rounded and uses a variety of techniques to produce fish. The water surrounding Siesta Key offer anglers a wide variety of angling opportunities. There are many different species and many different methods in which they can be caught. Capt. Jim knows them all and works very hard for his clients! Siesta Key is also a family destination with world class beaches, restaurants and shops. There are activities for the entire family.
Capt Jim has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. Anglers who are interested in purchasing the equipment that he uses and writes about in his articles can do so HERE on the PRODUCTS page.
What kind of fishing will be done on Siesta Key fishing charters?
Siesta Key anglers have a variety of options to choose from. Anglers can drift the passes for ladyfish and pompano. Drifting the deep grass flats will produce speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish, sharks, jacks, and more. Experienced anglers can toss artificial lures towards shoreline cover in search of snook and redfish. Action and the inshore Gulf of Mexico can be fantastic when conditions are right!
Current conditions will play a huge factor when determining the type of fishing that will be done and species that will be targeted. Weather is certainly a primary factor. Safety is always the priority. Also, time of year will determine what species might be available at that time.
Spinning tackle is used on the vast majority of Siesta Key fishing charters. It is well-suited to casting the light live baits and artificial lures that are generally used. Spinning tackle is also easy for the novice angler to learn to use quickly. Even young children will be casting well enough to catch fish in a short time.
Capt. Jim can supply bait casting tackle and fly equipment when requested. Clients are more than welcome to bring their own tackle.
What species of fish are caught on Siesta Key fishing charters?
One of the attractions of fishing on the West Coast of Florida is the variety. On Capt. Jim’s best day, 19 different species of fish were caught! Commonly caught species include snook, redfish, jacks, speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, sheepshead, snapper, grouper, catfish, ladyfish, sharks, and more. Some species are available year-round while others are migratory.
The number of anglers and their experience levels are factors as well. There are things that Capt Jim can do with two experienced anglers that he can’t do with four novice anglers. Children are great fun, but they generally need action to keep them interested. On those Siesta Key fishing charters, the focus is quantity.
Snook are the premier inshore game fish in Florida. They are found in Siesta Key waters in decent numbers throughout the year. Snook are caught by anglers using live bait as well as on artificial lures. River snook fishing in the winter is a unique experience as anglers get a glimpse of “Old Florida”.
Redfish, also known locally as “reds” are second only to snook in popularity. They are numerous throughout the entire Gulf Coast. Redfish school up on the shallow flats, especially in late summer as they prepare to spawn. Sight casting to reds in shallow water is great sport! They are also caught under docks in the cooler months.
Speckled trout are the most targeted species on Siesta Key fishing charters. They are plentiful and available all year long. They hit hard, yet are not overly challenging for novice anglers. Live shrimp and the jig and grub are the two most productive baits.
Jacks are a great game fish! They grow large, reaching weights of 20 pounds locally. They have broad sides and pull extremely hard. While jack crevalle will hit live bait, it is so much more fun casting to them with lures. They are often found feeding on the surface.
Spanish mackerel are a terrific game fish. They are caught in the area mostly in the spring and fall. Mackerel are caught in the bay, passes, and out on the beach. They are aggressive and very fast! Spanish mackerel like fast moving lures and are often caught trolling. They will certainly hit a live shrimp or bait fish as well.
Bluefish are well known to northern anglers. They are a tenacious, hard-fighting fish. Blues are normally found in schools and this contributes to their aggressive nature. They like fast moving lures and are normally caught by anglers fishing for other species. The deeper grass flats are prime spots to catch them.
Pompano are a smaller cousin to the mighty permit. They only average a couple of pounds, however, they fight very hard for their size. Pompano are prized for their incredible fillets. They feed almost exclusively on the bottom. Shrimp and crabs are they preferred forage. Most pompano are caught by anglers using small jigs, but they will hit shrimp, sand fleas, and jigs.
Sheepshead are a member of the porgy family. They are a staple of Siesta Key fishing charters in the winter. Sheepshead school up near structure such as docks, bridges, and submerged rocks. They are rarely caught on lures, with shrimp being the top bait. Sheepshead fight hard and are very good eating.
Mangrove snapper are another structure oriented species found in Sarasota waters. They are a school fish and are normally found near structure. They are often caught alongside sheepshead in winter. In the summer time, they are also fooled by chumming with live bait. Snapper are fantastic eating!
Black drum are similar in appearance to sheepshead. They are also found the same time of year in similar locations. Docks are prime spots. They prefer shrimp and crab as forage. Smaller drum are excellent eating, however the larger fish can be wormy.
False albacore are one of the top light tackle game fish on the planet! They are really small tuna fish. Albies are extremely fast and will take a lot of line on it’s initial run. They are found in the inshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Spring and fall are best. Small lures that imitate bait fish are the most productive.
Siesta Key fishing seasons
Winter fishing on Siesta Key
Anglers taking out Siesta Key fishing charters and winter will target sheepshead and black drum under docks, bridges, and other submerged structure. These species do not mind cold, churned up water. A live shrimp fished on the bottom will catch them. A couple of nice days will have fish on the deeper grass flats as well. Speckled trout, bluefish, mackerel, and ladyfish are all available.
Snook migrate up into residential canals as well as creeks and rivers in the winter. This concentrates them in a small area. Phillippi Creek and the grand Canal on Siesta Key are prime examples. Nearby rivers offer anglers a chance to catch a trophy snook. Capt. Jim is the only guide who offers these Siesta Key fishing charters to visiting anglers. He toes his John boat to the Myakka, Manatee, and Braden River’s to give clients a unique experience.
Spring fishing on Siesta Key
Spring fishing can be very good on Siesta Key. Rising water temperatures will have the snook and jacks moving out of creeks and canals and onto the flats to feed. Experienced anglers target them with shallow diving plugs and other artificial lures.
The passes and flats will provide excellent action for spring anglers on Siesta Key fishing charters. Speckled trout, pompano, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, jacks, and other species will keep the rods bent. Anglers can cast a jig or drift a live shrimp.
When the seas are calm in the winds are light, action and the inshore Gulf of Mexico can be fantastic! The area off of Point of Rocks on Siesta Key is a known hot spot. Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, false albacore can be site fished as they feed on the surface.
Summer fishing on Siesta Key
Fishing can be terrific in summer. However, anglers must adapt to the heat. The best approach is to be on the water at first light and fish until mid-morning. Live bait fish are thick on the flats. It is easy to load up the bait well in short order. Then, chumming the deep flats will produce non-stop action with a lot of variety.
Anglers seeking the ultimate challenge target giant tarpon in summer. These fish average 75 pounds and fish approaching 200 pounds are hooked each season. This is definitely a trip for the seasoned angler. It requires patience as the fish are hunted and then stalked.
Fall fishing on Siesta Key
Fishing can be fantastic in the fall! Cooler temperatures and fewer tourists make it a joy to be on Siesta Key in the fall. The falling water temperature has the fish in a feeding mood. The flats are generally full of ladyfish and trout, with other species mixed in. Snook and jacks are taken in the backwater spots.
Just like the spring, action on the beaches can be outstanding in the fall. In fact, it is often times more reliable in the fall as weather patterns are more stable. Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, and false albacore are sight fished a mile or so off of the Siesta Key beaches.
What is provided on Siesta Key fishing charters?
Capt. Jim provides clients with everything that they will need on a Siesta Key fishing charter. He has a fishing license that covers all of his guests. All fishing rods, tackle, and bait is provided. A cooler with ice and waters is on board as well. The boat has all of the required United States Coast Guard safety gear.
Anglers going out on Siesta Key fishing charters need only bring their personal effects. This would include appropriate clothing for the current weather, cameras or phones, hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen. The vast majority of charters occur in the morning and clients are usually back on the dock before lunchtime. However, they are welcome to bring drinks and snacks along. They can put these in the cooler on the boat or bring a small personal cooler for themselves.
Capt. Jim likes to touch base with clients the afternoon or evening before the charter. He will discuss the current fishing, weather forecast, and any other factor that will affect the fishing trip. These include the number of anglers, experience level, and expectations. Some clients prefer to use their own equipment. This is perfectly fine and should be brought up when discussing the upcoming Siesta Key fishing charter.
Where do we meet when going out on Siesta Key fishing charters?
The meeting spot will be determined based on several factors. These include the location that the client is staying, current fishing situation, and weather forecast. Strong winds are fairly common, especially in the winter, and will effectively eliminate parts of Sarasota Bay. Capt. Jim likes to schedule the meeting spot to maximize the fishing experience. This is another thing that is discussed in the aforementioned phone call.
The preferred meeting spot for clients going out on Siesta Key fishing charters is a boat ramp in downtown Sarasota. Its official name is Centennial Park and it is known locally as the 10th St. boat ramp. It is located on the northwest corner of 10th St. and Tamiami Trail. It is an ideal location as it starts the trip right in the heart of the best fishing spots as well as quick access to the Gulf of Mexico.
Bay Island Park is another spot that Capt. Jim regularly meets his clients that. It is on the southwest side of the Siesta Dr., Bridge. This makes it convenient for anglers staying on Siesta Key as a do not have to leave the key itself. This can be advantageous during peak traffic times. It is also very protected from a Northwest when. However, during periods of low tides it can be difficult getting in and out of the boat. This is a consideration for less mobile clients.
Can we take fish home to eat on Siesta Key fishing charters?
While Capt. Jim vigorously practices catch and release, he does not mind if clients want to take a couple fish home for a meal. He will fillet the fish and put them in a Ziploc bag with ice. However, Capt. Jim likes to keep the emphasis of the trip on catching fish and having fun. Sarasota Bay gets a lot of fishing pressure and the resource must be managed responsibly.
The state of Florida is quite strict in its management of fishing resources. And, this is how it should be. Limits for several species are quite generous. These would include Spanish mackerel and sheepshead. However, just because the limit is for example 10 fish per day, clients will not be keeping that many fish. Again, the goal is a great day out on the water with friends and family and perhaps a few fish in the box for a meal. Anglers can find all the current Florida fishing regulations on the FWC website.
Fishing the Siesta Key grass flats
The deep grass flats surrounding Siesta Key provide anglers with excellent action all year long. The most productive flats are those that are between 5 feet deep and 10 feet deep. The submerge grass is home to crabs, shrimp, and bait fish. This in turn attracts the predator fish. Drifting in anchoring on the deep grass flats is probably the most commonly used angling technique on Siesta Key fishing charters.
Fishing the deep grass flats is fairly easy, even for novice anglers. Fish are less spooky in the deeper water. Also, casting accuracy is not an issue in the open water. Many different species are found in this environment. Commonly caught species include speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, pompano, bluefish, snapper, grouper, sharks, ladyfish, catfish, jacks, and even the occasional tarpon or cobia.
Both live bait and artificial lures are productive on the deep grass flats. Anglers casting one quarter ounce lead head jigs with a grub body score consistently. This is usually done while drifting, allowing anglers to cover a lot of water in search of fish. Live shrimp and bait fish can be drifted out behind the boat as well. A live shrimp fished under a popping cork can be deadly in the right conditions.
Fishing shallow on Siesta Key
Snook, jacks, redfish, and big trout are often caught in water that is quite shallow. It seems odd to many visiting anglers that the larger fish are caught in shallower water. However, larger fish are less apt to fall prey to birds and other predators. Larger fish also can tend to be loners as opposed to being found in schools.
This type of fish and is generally best suited for more experienced anglers. It requires more patience and some decent casting skills. Capt. Jim runs the boat from the bow using his trolling motor, keeping the boat and prime casting position. Anglers then work cover such as mangrove shorelines, oyster bars, docks, and holes using artificial lures such as shallow diving plugs and soft plastic baits. This is a quality over quantity fishing situation. This type of fishing does not produce the numbers that fishing the deeper grass flats will. However, it generally results in larger fish being caught.
Fishing in Big Sarasota Pass
Big Sarasota Pass lies on the north side of Siesta Key. It separates Siesta Key from Lido Key. This is a large pass with abundant structure on the Siesta Key shoreline. It has submerged flats, sandbars, and deep drop-offs. Big Sarasota Pass is an excellent spot to fish most of the year.
Anglers drifting the pass on Siesta Key fishing charters can experience fast action with ladyfish and other species. Ladyfish will school up in the pass in huge numbers at times. Anglers can catch them bouncing a jig along the bottom as the boat drifts or by free lining a bait out behind the boat. Pompano, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, and other species are commonly landed as well.
Submerged structure is plentiful on the north side of Siesta Key in big Sarasota Pass. Much of the structure is in water that is deeper than most parts of Sarasota Bay, up to 25 feet deep. This provides excellent habitat for bottom dwelling species such as gag grouper, mangrove snapper, drum, redfish, and sheepshead. The sheepshead fishing can be terrific in winter and is a staple of Capt. Jim on Siesta Key fishing charters.
Big Sarasota Pass is great for children and novice anglers
For the most part, this is fairly easy fishing. Anglers simply drop a baited hook down to the bottom with a little bit of weight and wait for a bite. Small children and novice anglers have no problem catching fish when the bite is on. Sheepshead are very interesting looking, fight very hard, and taste great.
Snook will school up in big numbers in the pass from May through August. While many fish move out onto the beaches to spawn, quite a few fish stage in the passes well. This is a great time to catch a trophy snook. Live bait is generally the best approach as the fish are often down quite deep in the water column. Live pin fish, large shrimp, and live sardines are the top baits.
Fishing off of the Siesta Key beaches
When “fishing the beach” is mentioned it is referring to a stretch of the inshore Gulf of Mexico from close to shore to a couple miles out. In the spring and again in the fall, huge schools of bait fish will move into this area. This will attract predator fish such as Spanish and king mackerel, false albacore, tarpon, cobia, and sharks.
When the bite is on, the fishing can be incredible! It is very exciting to be able to see fish feeding aggressively on the surface and then cast a lure into them. In most cases, a bite is all but guaranteed. Spanish mackerel are quite easy to catch, while false albacore are a bit fussier. Trolling with heavy tackle is used when targeting king mackerel. Fresh chunks of Spanish mackerel are floated out behind the boat on heavy spinning tackle to draw strikes from cruising sharks.
In conclusion, this page explaining Siesta Key fishing charters will give anglers the information they need when considering a charter.