Sarasota Fishing Spots: Best Places to Catch Fish

Sarasota is a resort city on the west coast of Florida, just south of Tampa Bay near islands and Gulf beauty. While Siesta Key is famous for white, sandy beaches, restaurants and shopping, Sarasota offers visitors some excellent fishing as well. To find the best places, read about these Sarasota fishing spots picked by a local angler at Fishing Lido Key.

Best Sarasota Fishing Spots Picked by Captain Jim Klopfer

sarasota fishing spots family

Photo: Fishing Lido Key

Sarasota Fishing Spots: What to Expect

Sarasota is similar to the east coast in geography. There is a mainland and barrier islands — termed “keys” on the west coast — with a wide, shallow bay in between them. Then, the Gulf of Mexico extends many miles to the west. Most of the fishing takes place in Sarasota Bay and the inshore waters of the Gulf.

Anglers fishing the Sarasota area have the opportunity to catch a variety of species. Most trips produce a half-dozen species, and often times more. A sample of species include: speckled trout, snook, redfish, bluefish, pompano, jack crevalle, sheepshead, grouper, snapper, drum, flounder, ladyfish, Spanish mackerel, false albacore, sharks, ladyfish and catfish.

One great aspect about these Sarasota fishing spots is experience and expertise are not needed to achieve success. The water is fairly shallow, open and easy to fish. Live bait is often used, especially with children. More experienced anglers do well casting artificial lures and flies.

Drift Sarasota Bay Glass Flats

The best approach is to drift grass flats in Sarasota Bay. These areas consist of submerged vegetation in water that measures between 4 feet and 10 feet deep. Shrimp, crabs and bait fish seek refuge in the grass. This in turn attracts game fish. Additionally when the water is clear, these grasses are easily spotted.

Anglers drifting flats either fish with live shrimp or artificial lures. Live shrimp are either fished under a noisy float or free lines out behind the boat. This provides easy fishing and anyone can do it! Top targets include speckled trout, mackerel, pompano, bluefish and ladyfish.

Artificial lures catch a lot of fish on the flats and often times out fish live bait. Lures excite fish and trigger them to strike. Lures also allow anglers to cover a lot of water as they work more aggressively. The top lure by far is the jig-and-grub combo. It consists of a soft plastic grub that resembles shrimp and bait fish on a ¼-ounce jig head.

sarasota fishing spots bay

Photo: iTrip Vacations®

Big Sarasota Pass and New Pass

Big Sarasota Pass and New Pass connect Sarasota Bay with Gulf of Mexico. Passes are inlets, and fish use them to migrate between bodies of water. They also rank among the best Sarasota fishing spots.

Anglers drifting passes bounce a jig off the bottom and catch tasty pompano. Ladyfish, bluefish, jacks and mackerel will also respond. Free lining a live shrimp will produce when the tide is not running too swiftly.

Abundant structure in the passes hold bottom fish as well. Sheepshead, drum, snapper, grouper, flounder and others hold near submerged rocks, ledges, and seawalls, as well as under docks and bridges. For basic bottom fishing, simply lower a shrimp to the bottom. Again, this is a technique that anyone can learn in a short time.

More experienced anglers may opt to target snook, redfish and jack crevalle. These are larger and more challenging species. Anglers cast lures along shore line structure, very similar to freshwater fishing for bass. These species also respond to live bait fished around structures. Anglers will catch fewer fish, but perhaps the fish of a lifetime!

sarasota fishing spots gulf mexico

Gulf of Mexico

In spring and fall, action in the inshore Gulf of Mexico can be fantastic when conditions are good. Spanish and king mackerel, false albacore, cobia, and sharks move in close to shore to feed on hordes of bait fish. Often times, visitors see feeding on the surface. This offers excitement, as just about any lure or bait cast into the water draws a strike.

Anglers have several options when fishing in Sarasota. They can keep it simple and just fish from the shore. This produces plenty of fish.
For more adventure, anglers can also rent boats. For the best local experience, choose a Sarasota fishing charter and take advantage of many years of fishing experience a charter captain offers.

Enjoy reading about the best Sarasota fishing spots? Find more Sarasota vacation tips and ideas. Then search vacation homes in Sarasota.


Article and main photo by: Captain Jim Klopfer at Fishing Lido Key, (941) 371-1390.