Venice Jetty Fishing Forecast for April 2018
This is a great month for snook on shallow flats or around the lighted docks and bridges in the ICW at night. Reds and trout will also be more active as the water warms and baitfish become more plentiful. You might find Spanish mackerel, blues and pompano in passes or on deep grass flats.. Look for Spanish mackerel, false albacore (little tunny), cobia and tripletail, in the coastal gulf this month. Tarpon should also make an appearance in back country areas and in the coastal gulf later in the month.
Tarpon will become more plentiful this month as resident fish make their way out of rivers and creeks and early arriving migratory fish begin to show along beaches, particularly by the end of the month. Water temperature in the gulf is a key factor with 80 degrees being an optimum temperature. As the water warms towards that, fish will become more plentiful. Resident fish may be rolling on deep grass flats in some of the same places that you find trout, laid up on edges of shallow grass flats or along sand bars. Spin anglers might score with a DOA Shrimp, Baitbuster or 4” CAL Shad Tail while fly anglers might connect with a black Deceiver or Tarpon Bunny fly. Keep your tarpon tackle, rigged and ready, this time of year so you’re able to take advantage of any opportunity that arises.
Snook season remains open this month, but will close on April 30th (full regulations can be found at www.myfwc.com).
They should be staging on flats, around sand and oyster bars, on points of islands and around docks and bridges close to passes in the ICW. Fish peak tidal flows for the best action. Docks and bridges in the ICW from Sarasota to the Venice Inlet are usually productive for snook in the spring.
Reds will spend more time feeding on shallow flats due to more plentiful bait.
You might also find blues, Spanish mackerel, pompano or flounder mixed with trout on deep grass flats. The same lures, flies and techniques that you use to find trout on deep grass will work for these species, too. You’ll need to tip your leader with wire or heavy fluorocarbon when blues and mackerel are around. I prefer heavy fluorocarbon and long shank hooks whenever possible, since that usually won’t affect the trout bite. Blues and mackerel usually don’t feed on the surface in the bay like they do in the open gulf, but you may see bait showering or boils indicating fast moving fish, feeding just below the surface. Pompano may “skip” when you run or drift past them giving their location away. When that happens, circle back upwind and drift the area. Flounder are often found in potholes, on the edges of bars or on mud bottom.
Venice Jetty Fishing Forecast for March 2018
There should be good action with reds, trout and snook in skinny water in March as baitfish become more plentiful. Look for Spanish and king mackerel, cobia, tripletail and false albacore (little tunny) in the coastal gulf. Night snook fishing in the ICW should also be a good option this month.
Snook season reopens this month. This should be a good month for snook fishing at night around lighted docks and bridge fenders in the ICW. DOA Shrimp, CAL jigs with shad tails and small white flies, usually work well at night since glass minnows and shrimp are the predominate bait. Focus on shadow lines where light meets dark and fish strong tides for the best action. Although snook may also be found in rivers, creeks or canals in March, they will also start to move onto shallow flats, particularly on sunny afternoons when it’s warm. Use larger lures like CAL jigs with jerk worms, CAL 4” Shad Tails, DOA Baitbusters and the new DOA PT soft plastic top water lure or wide profile flies like Clousers, Deceivers and EP flies, for snook on the flats.
Look for early season tarpon that may start to show in backcountry areas. These are usually adult resident fish that are making their way out of rivers and creeks. They may be “laid up” or rolling on deep grass flats, on edges of shallow flats or along bars when it is calm. An accurate cast with a DOA Shrimp or Baitbuster or a Deceiver or Tarpon Bunny fly may result in an explosive strike! Look for them in areas of Sarasota Bay, lower Tampa Bay or in Gasparilla Sound on some of the same deep grass flats where you find trout.
Reds should be more active as the water warms and baitfish become more plentiful. Higher tides, as we head into spring, will allow them to spend more time feeding in shallow water. Look for them over shallow grass, along mangrove shorelines and around oyster bars when the tide is high. You should find them in potholes and along sand bars when the tide is low.
You might also find reds around docks when the tide is low. Look for deep water under docks with a good tidal flow for the best action. A 1/8-ounce CAL jig with a shad tail or grub or a weighted fly fished on a clear intermediate sink tip fly line with a 6’ leader with should work well for dock fishing.
You may find big trout in skinny water in many of the same places that you find reds. Blind cast seams where grass meets sand or focus on light colored bottom, in potholes on top of sand bars, where you may be able to sight fish them. You should also find trout plentiful on deep grass flats along with Spanish mackerel, blues, flounder or pompano. Make a series of drifts, casting ahead of the drift with CAL jigs with shad tails, DOA Deadly Combos or an Ultra Hair Clouser fly tied on a long shank hook and fished on a clear intermediate sink tip fly line to locate fish. Also look for birds, bait showering out of the water or boils on the surface that will indicate fish feeding below. When mackerel and blues are around, you may need to add 6” of 40# to 60# fluorocarbon or wire to your leader. Top water plugs and fly poppers also work well when blues and mackerel are around and may help locate them by attracting them from further away. Flounder may be found on sand or mud bottom areas on both shallow and deep grass flats or around docks. Pompano may skip on the surface when you drift or run past them, giving their location away. Fish deep grass flats with a mixture of grass and sand and a strong tidal flow for the best action.
You may also find Spanish or king mackerel, false albacore (little tunny), cobia or tripletail in the coastal gulf this month. Look for diving or hovering terns to find Spanish mackerel or false albacore feeding on the surface. ¼-ounce CAL jigs with shad tails or jerk worms or top water plugs should work well for spin anglers. Fly anglers should score with small white flies, like a Snook Minnow or Ultra Hair Clousers fished on an intermediate sink tip fly line..
Run crab trap lines at various depths to find tripletail or cobia around crab trap floats. Fly anglers should score on tripletail with DOA Shrimp or lightly weighted flies with weed guards. Cobia may also be swimming on the surface as they migrate from south to north following warmer water and baitfish. DOA Baitbusters, Airheads, PT’s and large, wide profile flies, like Deceivers or EP flies would be good fly choices for cobia. In the absence of any fish on the surface, check out one of the many artificial reefs or natural hard bottom areas that may hold baitfish and predators. Drift over structure and cast DOA Baitbusters or weighted flies on fast sinking fly lines to get deeper in the water column to catch them.
Conditions are usually good during March and fishing should heat up. Flats and night snook fishing are usually good options this month. Check the coastal gulf when conditions are good, since you could find something really good happening there. Fish on!
Venice Jetty Fishing Forecast for February 2018
Redfish should be good shallow water option in the Venice Inlet area this month, maybe a stray trout. Look for sheepshead, flounder, reds and more around docks. Catch and release night snook fishing around lighted docks in the ICW may be a good option if it’s not too cold and Spanish and king mackerel and cobia may show up in the coastal gulf by the end of the month.
Snook season remains closed on the west coast this month, so use tackle heavy enough to catch and release them quickly. Since they are temperature sensitive, I wouldn’t target them following strong fronts when water temperatures dip below 60 degrees. There can be some great night fishing in the ICW. Since larger baitfish aren’t that plentiful this time of year, snook will gorge themselves on glass minnows and shrimp. Small white flies, like the DOA Shrimp (3’ or the newer 2-3/4”), DOA Tiny TerrorEyz or CAL Jigs with shad tails and jerk worms will all work well.
You may also find snook in rivers, creeks or canals this month. Fishing may be good in these areas on a blustery day when it isn’t fit to fish anywhere else. Wider profile flies and lures will work in these areas due to the baitfish that may be found there. Fly anglers should score with wide profile baitfish patterns, such as Lefty’s Deceiver, fished on a sink tip fly line. Spin anglers should do well with CAL jigs and 4” swim baits and jerk worms, DOA Baitbusters or suspending plugs. Fish the deep spots, usually on outside bends, for the best action.
You might find reds in potholes or along the edges of bars and shallow flats when the tide is low. As the tide rises, they will feed higher on shallow flats, particularly on sunny afternoons. 1/16-ounce CAL jigs with shad tails or jerk worms for reds in shallow water should work. If it is too shallow or grassy to fish an exposed hook, a Mustad or Owner weedless hook will allow you to fish plastic baits in these areas. Fly anglers should score with lightly weighted flies, like Clousers, with weed guards on floating lines with 10’-12’ leaders. You may also find big trout in skinny water in the same places you find reds. The same lures, flies and techniques that you use to target reds will work for big trout in those areas. You could release all trout over 20” since they are usually females that are important to the health of our trout fishery.
You’ll find trout on deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay, not to many deep grass flats close to the Venice Inlet but they are being caught. Flats that have a good mix of grass and sand and good tidal flow are good to look for. Flats that are close to the Venice Inlet and all passes are often good choices since water temperatures may be warmer there. Following fronts, silted up water will cover deep grass flats close to passes, often affecting fishing in those areas.
You can drift and cast ahead of your drift with CAL jigs and a variety of plastic tails, DOA Deadly Combos or weighted flies on sink tip fly lines to locate trout. Once you’ve located them you can shorten your drift or anchor on them.
In addition to trout, you may also find blues, Spanish mackerel, flounder or pompano, depending on water temperature and conditions, on deeper grass flats. The technique to find them is the same as for trout, although there may be other clues. Pompano may “skip” on the surface when you drift or run past them giving their presence away. When that happens, set up a drift upwind of where you saw a pompano and cast ahead of your drift. Blues and Spanish mackerel may force bait out of the water or feed on the surface. You may need to add heavy fluorocarbon or wire when blues and mackerel are mixed with trout on deep grass flats.
Fishing docks is another good option this time of year, especially when the tide is low. You might find reds, sheepshead or flounder under docks. Good spots are docks that are deep (3’ or more) and have a good tidal flow. Fish the end of long piers to find the deepest water. Also, look for big boats moored on docks or on boat lifts, like by Crows Nest, which is also an indication of deeper water. Older docks with lots of barnacle and oyster growth usually hold more baitfish and predators. Its good to use CAL jigs with shad tails, grubs or jerk worms or weighted flies fished on sink tip fly lines when fishing docks. Be sure to let your jig or fly get down close to the bottom. Tipping a jig with small piece of fresh shrimp will up your odds for sheepshead. If you use too much it will ruin the action of your jig.
There may be some action in the coastal gulf by the end of the month with king and Spanish mackerel and cobia. When the water warms to the high 60’s to low 70’s, these fish will move into our area from the south as they migrate north. Look for Spanish mackerel on the surface or in passes. Cobia may be swimming on the surface, around buoys, channel markers and crab trap floats or over structure.
February can be a tough month to fish. With frequent fronts and cool water, fish aren’t always in an eating mood. If you’re able to pick good tides combined with favorable weather conditions, you should be successful. If you don’t have that luxury, you might do better by sleeping in and fishing later in the day when it’s warmer.
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