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Find A Guide

Sarasota Bay

Sarasota County, Florida.

Sarasota Bay ends in Longboat Key, Florida.

53174539.61 miles (85576152.75 sq kilometers)

About The Sarasota Bay

About Sarasota Bay, FL

Designated as one of the 28 estuaries of national significance in the United States, Sarasota Bay is situated on the west coast of Florida. It is flanked by Charlotte Harbor and Tampa Bay and is separated by Longboat Key, Lido Key, Casey Key, and Siesta Key from the mainland and Gulf of Mexico. It is the deepest and biggest bay in the area and boasts clearer water compared to the smaller bays in its general vicinity in the south. 

Like many bodies of water in the southwest part of Florida, though, Sarasota Bay is plagued by the occurrence of red tide, a phenomenon caused by the periodic recurrence of the algae Karenia brevis in high concentration which releases toxic chemicals and affects the wildlife in the water body. It can cause irritation to any humans exposed to infected beaches as well. 

However, in recent years, through the efforts of the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program and the city, there has been much improvement in the overall health of Sarasota Bay, resulting in better water quality, restored habitats, and wider seagrass coverage. Because of these improvements now bring more fresh water via Whitaker Bayou, Bowlees Creek, and Hudson Bayou.

Sarasota Bay Fishing Description

All About Fishing in Sarasota Bay, FL

Sarasota Bay is rich in a wide variety of saltwater fish species, thanks to the estuary’s healthy and diverse habitats. It is primarily known for its seagrass beds, but its mangrove shorelines, passes, creeks, docks, and artificial reefs attract plenty of fish as well. Because it is a Florida waterbody, expect great year-round fishing here. However, expert anglers point to spring and fall as prime seasons for fishing. Summers bring plenty of bait for game fish, so it’s the perfect season for anglers who want to target bigger catch.

The most popular way to fish here is to jig while drift fishing the deep grass flats. These submerged flats are rich in bait such as shrimp, baitfish, and crabs, so naturally, they attract plenty of game fish species such as bluefish, Spanish mackerel, speckled trout, redfish, and ladyfish. Most of the time, artificial lures work better here than live bait, so it’s better to bring both to test the waters with. Moving around the water is key here to target an area that’s particularly active with fish. 

Bottom fishing with shrimp in passes such as Big Sarasota Pass and New Pass, particularly near artificial reefs and other structures, is another fruitful fishing technique to use in the area. There you can catch plenty of sheepshead, which gather up in schools during winter, as well as snapper, grouper, and flounder, and many other bottom fish.

If you want to truly test your mettle as an angler, try fly fishing for tarpon in Sarasota Bay using Black Death, Cockroach, or Puglisi baitfish patterns. Target those slow-moving schools of Tarpon right by the surface and work patiently so as not to trigger the fish species’ known aggressiveness. 

Sarasota Bay Seasonal & Other Description

Fishing Seasonality

Sarasota Bay is a year-round fishing destination. However, it is most productive during spring and fall. Summer sees great action, too, because baitfish are abundant for bigger predatory fish species.

When the water starts warming up during the spring, certain fish species are actively looking to feed in the deeper grass flats. These include speckled trout, ladyfish, Spanish mackerel, and more. Spring migrations will see the emergence of king and Spanish mackerels and cobia in the area as well. Get closer to shore along the shallow grass flats, oyster bars, and mangrove shorelines in Little Sarasota Bay and Roberts Bay to target snook, bigger speckled trout, and redfish. If you come back here during the fall and you will find essentially the same species that were here during spring. Nearing the end of February and until April, you will see schools of sheepshead mixed in with grouper, and mangrove snapper near the structure in the Sarasota Bay passes. 

During summer, fishing the deeper submerged flats can be productive with plenty of smaller fish that attract the bigger predators. The best times to fish during this season is during the first light of day and at night when it’s less hot.

While winter may not be as fruitful as all the warmer seasons, you can still catch some action if you go to the deeper parts of the water, at least 10 feet. Here you can target sheepshead, snapper, redfish, snook, black drum, and jack crevalle.

Sarasota Bay Fishing Charters & Fishing Guides

address

Clearwater, FL

24ft - 6 guests

Starting as low as

$400

address

Anna Maria Island, FL

24ft - 6 guests

Starting as low as

$450

address

Holmes Beach, FL

24ft - 6 guests

Starting as low as

$400

Temperature and Optimal Seasons

Fishing Seasonality

Sarasota Bay is a year-round fishing destination. However, it is most productive during spring and fall. Summer sees great action, too, because baitfish are abundant for bigger predatory fish species.

When the water starts warming up during the spring, certain fish species are actively looking to feed in the deeper grass flats. These include speckled trout, ladyfish, Spanish mackerel, and more. Spring migrations will see the emergence of king and Spanish mackerels and cobia in the area as well. Get closer to shore along the shallow grass flats, oyster bars, and mangrove shorelines in Little Sarasota Bay and Roberts Bay to target snook, bigger speckled trout, and redfish. If you come back here during the fall and you will find essentially the same species that were here during spring. Nearing the end of February and until April, you will see schools of sheepshead mixed in with grouper, and mangrove snapper near the structure in the Sarasota Bay passes. 

During summer, fishing the deeper submerged flats can be productive with plenty of smaller fish that attract the bigger predators. The best times to fish during this season is during the first light of day and at night when it’s less hot.

While winter may not be as fruitful as all the warmer seasons, you can still catch some action if you go to the deeper parts of the water, at least 10 feet. Here you can target sheepshead, snapper, redfish, snook, black drum, and jack crevalle.

Sarasota Bay Weather Forecast

Fri

88°F

Clear

Highs