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A barrier island off the coast of Sarasota, Siesta Key is a wonderful place to cast a line. It’s known for its beautiful, almost impeccable beaches, crystal clear waters, and incredible angling opportunities. Fishing in Siesta Key is your typical Floridian adventure. The deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico mixed with the Sarasota and Robert Bays provide the perfect nursery for hundreds of species.
Whatever you’re in the mood for, Siesta Key is at your disposal. Check what’s biting in the inshore waters and cast right from one of the local beaches, or go for a full offshore extravaganza where Billfish are in the cards.
In this guide, we’ll talk about the top fish species you can target in Siesta Key. As well as that, you’ll learn what’s the best way to go fishing and when to plan a trip. So, without further ado, let’s dive in.
What can I catch while fishing in Siesta Key?
A typical mixed bag in Siesta Key will impress even the most seasoned angler. If you decide to stay closer to shore, you can catch anything from Spotted Seatrout and Sheepshead to Flounder, Tarpon, Snook, Ladyfish, and Jack Crevalle.
On the other hand, there’s the mighty Gulf of Mexico with its impressive game fish. Snapper, Grouper, Jacks, and Cobia patrol the local reefs. Tuna, Wahoo, and Mahi Mahi hang out just a bit further offshore. Meanwhile, the big stars, such as Marlin, Sailfish, and Swordfish are waiting for you in the bluewater.
Here’s a look at our top picks in the area:
Snook fishing in Siesta Key is perhaps one of the most popular activities in the area. These fish are known for their strong fighting skills, challenging both novice and experienced anglers. While you can catch Snook throughout the year, they bite best from March through November, especially during the summer months.
Where to go looking for Snook? One popular spot is the mangrove shorelines along Roberts Bay. The shallow waters and the trees hanging over the water provide cover and food for the fish. You can also fish around docks, oyster bars, piers and structures, especially around Midnight Pass and Turtle Beach. If that’s not enough, check out the inlets and passes that connect Sarasota Bay to the Gulf.
Locals prefer fishing for Snook during incoming tides, when baitfish are swept into the passes and inlets. Live bait, jigs, and topwater plugs usually work well to entice the bite. Note: Snook are a catch-and-release species. Handle them carefully and release them unharmed.
Tarpons are among the most sought-after fish in the country, and Siesta Key is no exception. Who would say no to a nice Tarpon hunt in the summer? These acrobatic fish patrol the waters around bridges and inlets from May through September.
Fly fishing, artificial lures, live bait… locals go for a variety of techniques to get Tarpon to bite. If you’re up for a ride, head to the famous Boca Grande Pass, which is about 30 miles south of Siesta Key. If you decide to stay in the area, work the beaches along the Gulf, the passes, Venice Inlet, and the flats and sandbars near the beaches of Lido Key and Siesta Key.
Similar to Snook, Tarpon fishing is strictly catch-and-release. This is a protected species in Florida, so make sure you follow the necessary rules and regulations before you hit the waters.
There’s never a shortage of thrilling catches in Siesta Key, so the list continues with Redfish. These fish bite best in the fall and winter months, luring anglers with their powerful bursts of speed and strength.
Siesta Key is blessed with sandbars, shallow flats, and an abundance of bait fish, making it an ideal habitat for Redfish. You can start with Turtle Beach on the southern end of Siesta Key, Little Sarasota Bay on the east side, or Roberts Bay in the north. Look for shallow waters and mangrove-lines shorelines.
You can fish using various types of live bait, such as shrimp, pilchards, and pinfish on a jig head or under a popping cork. If you’d rather use artificial lures, consider carrying soft plastics and swimbait.
As you move to the nearshore waters of Siesta Key, you can encounter another superstar catch – Grouper. Gag, Red, Scamp, and Black Grouper are among the most popular targets along the rocky bottoms, wrecks, and reefs. Make sure you pack heavy-duty tackle to handle their power.
These bottom dwellers bite best during the winter months, from November through March when they move closer to shore. However, if you’re lucky, you can come across a few Groupers any time of the year. The key to a successful fishing trip is to look for artificial reefs, natural ledges, and underwater structures off the coast.
Some of the most productive Grouper spots in Siesta Key include the nearshore ledges and wrecks of New Pass, Longboat Pass, and Big Sarasota Pass. Offshore reefs and shipwrecks, such as the Charlotte Harbor Reef, are also prime spots.
It’s hard to picture a Florida Gulf Coast fishing trip without Snapper. In Siesta Key, you can come across Mangrove, Red, and Yellowtail, as well as Lane and Vermilion Snapper. Anglers typically target them during the summer months, although there are certain restrictions and closed seasons that you need to check in advance.
Vermilion Snapper, also known as Beeliners, hang out in waters between 150 and 900 feet deep. The 50 Fathom Ledge, located around 25 miles offshore from Siesta Key, is a good spot to target these fish. Yellowtail Snapper live a bit closer to shore, as well as Mangrove and Lane Snapper.
Overall, bottom fishing is the most productive technique around. Local anglers use live bait, such as shrimp and pinfish, although you can definitely experiment with artificial lures.
Tuna fishing in Siesta Key is an experience like no other. Anglers have the opportunity to target multiple different species of these hard-fighting fish, including Blackfin and Yellowfin. Tuna schools are sporadically found year-round but are most abundant in summer. If the conditions allow, you could target Yellowfin well into fall and all the way through December.
Trolling is the go-to technique for local anglers. You can use a combo of surface plugs, feathers, and soft plastics to entice Tune to bite. Alternatively, some anglers use live bait, such as pilchards, herring, or sardines.
So, where can you find Tuna in Siesta Key? Feel free to fish the reefs, ledges, and wrecks off the coast. Tuna are most active and feed more aggressively during certain times of the day, so it’s never a bad idea to pay attention to the tides.
Where can I go fishing in Siesta Key?
Now that we’ve covered some of the most popular fish species in Siesta Key, let’s take a look at some of the best fishing spots in the area:
- Midnight Pass. The pass connects the Gulf of Mexico and Little Sarasota Bay, offering an excellent habitat for fish. The area is known for its abundance of anything from Snook to Redfish.
- Siesta Key Beach. A perfect spot for an inshore adventure, Siesta Key Beach is favored by surf fishermen. Snook, Redfish, and Pompano are all available here.
- New Pass. New Pass is a good spot for an offshore fishing adventure, with depths ranging from 40 to 80 feet. You can target Grouper, Snapper, and many other species.
- Big Sarasota Pass. This area is a popular spot for both inshore and offshore fishing in Siesta Key. Big Sarasota Pass connects the Gulf of Mexico and Sarasota Bay and provides excellent fishing for whatever’s in season.
- Turtle Beach. Located on the southern end of Siesta Key, Turtle Beach is a good spot for shore fishing and wading, as well as kayaking in the nearby channels and flats.
- Lido Key. This nearby island offers grass flats, deep channels, and artificial reefs, where you can fish for Tarpon, Redfish, and many more, depending on the season.
In addition to these, you can also venture out into the offshore waters to see what’s biting. Siesta Key is a good launching spot to reach the bluewater and target bigger fish. You can start by fishing the 50 Fathom Ledge and then move even further into the Gulf.
How can I go fishing in Siesta Key?
Now that you know what to target and where to start your Siesta Key fishing adventure, it’s time to discuss how you can go about it. To make the most of your fishing trip, it’s important to understand the different fishing techniques and when to use them. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular fishing methods in Siesta Key.
Bottom Fishing in Siesta Key
If you got your eyes set on Snapper, Grouper, Triggerfish, and Amberjack, you’ll most likely do some bottom fishing. This is a pretty straightforward technique that involves dropping a baited hook to the bottom of the ocean floor and waiting for a bite.
Look for structures such as rocks or coral reefs – Siesta Key Bridge and the nearshore and offshore reefs are great starting points. The Point of Rocks is a popular spot on the southern end of Siesta Key, too, while some bay and inlet areas can also produce good results if you’re targeting Flounder.
Trolling in Siesta Key
Trolling is a popular technique if the list of your potential targets includes Kingfish, Marlin, Tuna, and Mahi Mahi, along with Spanish Mackerel, Bonito, and Wahoo. To get these monsters to bite, you’ll need to drag a lure or bait behind your boat as it moves at a certain speed. How fast you need to troll and how far off the coast you need to go depends on the fish you’re targeting.
There are various spots in Siesta Key that are perfect for trolling. You can look for areas with high concentrations of bait fish, such as the deep waters near the Venice Inlet, the Siesta Key reef system, and the artificial reefs off Lido Key.
Sight Fishing in Siesta Key
Sight fishing is a good technique for catching big game fish in Siesta Key, such as Tarpon and various types of Sharks. Redfish, Snook, and Permit are also among your potential catches, although you’ll want to keep in mind that these elusive fish can be tricky to catch. It’s important to make a gentle cast to not spook the fish while also being accurate and stealthy.
Sight fishing is essentially spotting the fish and casting to them directly. The key is finding the right spot with good water clarity, which can be in shallow flats, mangrove-lined creeks, points, channels, docks, and deeper waters.
Drift Fishing in Siesta Key
Drift fishing in Siesta Key involves using live bait or lures while drifting with the current. This technique works when fishing for Grouper, Snapper, Cobia, and Kingfish as an alternative to trolling and bottom fishing. The key is to maintain the right speed and depth while keeping the bait in the strike zone.
Local anglers often go drift fishing in the artificial reefs off the coast, and you can even hit the waters of the nearby Sarasota if you don’t mind a short boat ride.
Fly Fishing in Siesta Key
Fly fishing might not be the most used technique in the area, but some Siesta Key anglers swear by this method to land Snook and Tarpon. If you’re an avid fisherman who knows the right fly pattern, the fish behavior, and the tides, give it a try.
Some of the best spots for fly fishing in Siesta Key are the shallows, the nearshore waters, and the mangroves. Here, you can spot Redfish and Seatrout, along with Snook. If you’re lucky, you might even come across Tarpon. Plan your trip around incoming and outgoing tides when the water is moving and the fish are more active.
When should I go fishing in Siesta Key?
Fishing in Siesta Key is a year-round activity, but, as we’ve discussed, certain species are more abundant during specific months. During the winter, the water temperature drops, and the fishing can slow down a bit. However, you can still look for Flounder and Trout around mid-morning and early afternoon.
The water temperature starts to warm up in spring, which means that many species become more active. Inshore, you can look for Redfish and Snook, while some species of Snapper and Grouper bite in the offshore waters.
The hot summer months are generally the best time to fish in Siesta Key. Almost everything is in season and biting. Fall is also a good time to get a mixed bag, especially if you head out early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
Siesta Key Fishing FAQs
Fishing in Siesta Key: Catch Memories That Last a Lifetime
On this barrier island, good fishing is almost guaranteed. Fishing in Siesta Key is a truly unforgettable experience. From the moment you arrive, you’ll be surrounded by some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, crystal clear waters, bays, inlets, and the Gulf of Mexico. Inshore or offshore, the waters of Siesta Key are teeming with life. Let the adventure begin!
This article originally appeared here and was republished with permission.