Sarasota, Florida offers great fishing hotspots for all ages and skill levels of fishermen. By boat there are many options for a great day of fishing including Sarasota Bay and the boat rides up to Tampa or South to Charlotte Harbor. However, with a boat comes a lot of work and money to put into a fishing trip. Not to mention a time investment. So what do you do when funds are short, you may only have a half day and you still want to experience a day on the water with a fishing pole in your hand? Kayaks!
On a recent trip to Sarasota the Strictly Sail Kayak Fishing Team from Blue Ash Ohio, located near Cincinnati, spent a week on kayaks fishing the areas around Sarasota. One of the launch points they visited several days of their trip was South Lido Key Kayak Launch. Located On Lido key near St Armands Circle. We were greeted every day by Ranger Pete who if you get a chance, you should talk to for valuable fishing information in the area and if you’re lucky a life story that will keep you glued to his every word. Below are some of the fishing spots the Strictly Sail Fishing Team and Hobie Fishing Team had success as they spent the week kayak fishing.
As the Hobie fishing kayaks were launched the first canal on the left proved a great place to pick up some nice mangrove snapper at a location known as “the barge.” This structure is actually the remnants of a machine that was used to dredge the canal many years ago. This structure is deteriorating but because of the brick core, where the fires were fed to run the machine, it stands as a firm foundation for barnacles and oysters to cling to. The structure and habitat it provides is great for the snapper and there were even a couple puffer fish caught at this location. If you are unfamiliar with a mangrove snapper, the have teeth that many refer to as vampire teeth. Speaking from experience, if your hands are not big enough to fit around them, a pair of fish grips may save you bloody fingers. Everything caught here was off of live or frozen shrimp on the bottom. This proved to be the most successful bait all week.
Following the barge, the next spot was the drop off where the flats met the channel directly across from the barge. This drop-off provided a number of fish species. Grunts, sheepshead, grouper, stingray, ladyfish, catfish and sand perch to name a few of the species caught. These were caught off of shrimp and cutbait. The cutbait provided gag and red grouper that were undersized but still fun to catch. Whole pinfish, while targeting bigger grouper and sharks, only turned out some rays and catfish. We highly recommend using rod leashes when going for bigger grouper and sharks in case your rod holders fail in any way. There were a lot of keeper grunts caught here which proved to fill the table that evening quite nicely. The crab pots were targeted to give us a reference of where fish were hanging out as well as the bouys marked the drop off for us the length of the channel. As the sun set it was important to put out our all around lights early since the channel is very busy with boat traffic. You can pick these up on our online store which make you legal and safe on the water.. If you are looking for a good fight and a meal at the end of the day, the team recommends the deeper waters around Bird Key. These canals and docks supplied sheepshead reaching around 16 inches and some black drum over 20 inches. As January progresses and the water temperatures cool the sheepshead fishing should only improve. Once again the preferred bait was shrimp. Often times smaller pieces worked better for the bait stealing sheepshead for a good hook set. The first canal across from the launch has great fishing to the right and left along the docks and pilings. Make sure to stress safety and give yourself ample time when crossing the deeper channel because the boat traffic is heavy for most of the day.
Finally, on the windy days where the other areas may not be ideal, or you are looking for the trophy redfish or trout, check out the mangrove tunnels. If you come out of the launch and hang a right there will be an entrance to the tunnels on your right before you get to the beach. Tunnel number 4 provided the right habitat for trout and redfish. Exiting tunnel number 4, hang another right and there will be a cove. The team found that trout could be picked up by casting past the potholes and bouncing various swimbaits and jigs into them keeping them moving as to not snag the grasses.
Strictly Sail Fishing Team and Hobie Fishing Team members can attribute much of their success to the Hobie Mirage Kayaks provided by Strictly Sail located in Cincinnati, Ohio. If you have any questions about the areas mentioned above or would like to discuss the line of Hobie Mirage Fishing Kayaks, visit StrictlySailInc.com. Of course emails concerning tackle used or maybe you just want to share a fish story are welcome as well. We are excited about the growing sport of kayak fishing and enjoy the relationships and friendships gained along the way. No matter whether you are a die hard fishermen or just a weekend warrior, fishing out of a Hobie or another fishing kayak, you are helping the sport grow and become more accessible to the younger generations. We hope the next time you are kayak fishing in Sarasota this helps you find the fish!