Sarasota to Bonita Beach

March 22-24

This weekend is going to be absolutely beautiful. Sunny days with low temperatures in the 50’s and highs close to 80. Tides are also very good thanks to the full moon. The low at the passes will be around 8:30AM with an afternoon high just after lunch. Keep in mind you have to adjust the tide time according to where you plan your fishing trip. The farther back you are in the backcountry from the pass, the more time you’ll have to add or subtract from the the highs and lows for that area.


It’s been fairly windy over the past few days, so the reports from offshore were pretty meager. Based on the forecast I’d plan to hit the deep stuff on Saturday or Sunday or both. The snapper bite in about 70 feet of water has been very good and I look for that to continue. Anglers have been getting lots of large mangrove snapper caught on all sorts of cut bait. There have also been grunts and porgies in the mix.

The grouper bite has also been good in the deeper water. Some nice reds were caught on recent trips along with a few gags and blacks. Cut bait worked for the reds, but live pinfish were the ticket for the others.

Kingfish (king mackerel) are being trolled up in 35 to 45 feet of water. Put a spread of 3 lures off the stern and keep the colors bright. Also make sure to keep the speed up to around 5 mph or better. That will most certainly get their attention.

It was much too sloppy in the Gulf for tarpon early in the week, but there were a few reports from close in to the beaches. The bite wasn’t all that great thanks to the wind but they were there. Things should return to normal this weekend and the waters will clear enough to be able to sight them from a tower.

The spanish mackerel are running the nearshore waters in big schools. Inbound tides have been the most productive, especially right at the turn of the tide from low to high. They’ve been a bit spooky, so make a slow approach and use a lure that you can make long cast with. One of my favorites are Rat-L-Traps in mostly silver colors. They cast a mile and can be retrieved quickly to get a mackerel’s attention.


Springtime brings an interesting mix to the backcountry. Along with the usual redfish, seatrout, ladyfish and jacks there’s often surprise spanish mackerel, bluefish, sharks and even big tarpon. Be ready for most anything!

Just about all bay locations are reporting pompano catches. The best has been Estero Bay near the passes and on the open flats. Small jigs tipped with fresh live shrimp ought to work just fine. There are also seatrout mixed in. It seems they have finally started to make a comeback in Estero Bay. There aren’t too many big ones, but the numbers are much improved.

Redfish are staying close to the mangroves along with a good number of black drum. The water has stayed cool enough for the black drum to hang around with their cousins a bit longer. Both will go for live shrimp on jigs, just so long as they are cast well up under the overhanging branches. There have also been a few surprise flounder mixed in.

Yep, those sheepshead are still biting very well and haven’t spawned out just yet. I got good reports of some in the 4 to 6 pound range, all caught around dock pilings while using live shrimp for bait.

On Foot

It rained all day here on Tuesday and a good part of Wednesday. Water levels came up nicely in the canals and ditches that flow from inland to the Gulf of Mexico. The bass bite is back on again near the weirs and they are also bedding in just about all lakes and ponds. There’s also an abundance of cichlids, tilapia and bluegill feeding along the edges of canals, especially where there’s rock riprap. Go with artificials for the bass and live worms for the others.

Have a great weekend and please take a kid fishing.

Capt. Rob Modys

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