Anglers fishing with me on my Action Craft flats skiff, the Snook Fin-Addict out of CB's Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key, caught and released trout, blues and Spanish mackerel in Sarasota Bay on flies, CAL jigs with shad tails, DOA Deadly Combos and top-water plugs and snook and blues at night on flies in the ICW near Venice during the week of Jan. 20.
Nick Reding, from Longboat Key, fished Sarasota Bay with me on Jan. 20. He caught and released trout, blues and ladyfish on Ultra Hair Clouser flies near Bishop Point. Anna Maria and Sarasota winter residents, Bill Morrison and Gary Marple, also fished Sarasota Bay with me Jan. 21. They had steady action fishing deep grass flats with Spanish mackerel and trout at Stephens Point on Ultra Hair Clouser flies.
The warmest water of the day is in the evening, especially when an outgoing tide flushes out water that is warmed on shallow flats by the afternoon sun. That was the case on the evening of Jan. 22 when Phil Rever, from Sarasota, and Steve White, from Raleigh, N.C., fished the ICW near Venice with me. They caught and released a dozen or more snook on my Grassett Snook Minnow fly. With the water temperature in the low 60s that night, snook were happy, healthy and swimming away strong when released. They also caught and released five or six blues in the 3- to 4-pound class and lost flies to a few others. Blues are often encountered in the cooler water that we have in winter in the same areas that we find snook at night. They are sometimes so aggressive in a spot that they can push the snook out, although it's not a problem since the blues fight as good as or better than the snook!
I monitor water temperature closely this time of year, and when the water temperature dropped a little more on Jan. 23, we decided it was best to cancel that night's snook fly fishing trip. Since snook may become stressed when water temperatures drop into the 50s, I avoid catching them at that time. More cold air poured in as another reinforcing front passed through on the morning of Jan. 24. We decided to wait for more civilized conditions.
It was a little warmer and less windy on Jan. 25 when Marshall Dinerman, from Atlanta, fished Sarasota Bay with me. We fished deep grass flats on both sides of the bay, where he caught and released numerous trout and a few blues on CAL jigs with shad tails, DOA Deadly Combos and top-water plugs.
Fishing deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay for trout, Spanish mackerel, blues and more should continue to be a good option. Look for reds and big trout in potholes on negative low tides as we approach a new moon this week. They may also feed on shallow grass flats on sunny afternoons when the tide is high.
Capt. Rick Grassett
Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service Inc.