Capt. Rick Grassett’s Sarasota FL Fly Fishing Forecast for May 2018

Tarpon fishing will take off during May as migratory fish arrive along our beaches. Also look for Spanish mackerel, tripletail, cobia and false albacore (little tunny) in the coastal gulf. Snook will move into passes and the surf and reds and trout should feed heavily on shallow flats as baitfish become more plentiful. Blues, Spanish mackerel and more mixed with trout on deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay should also be good options.

According to Captain Rick’s Grassett Sarasota Florida Fly Fishing Forecast for May 2018, the resident tarpon are usually the first to show up as they make their way out of rivers and creeks. As migratory tarpon start to arrive this month, we should have schools of tarpon moving both north and south along our beaches. Early arriving tarpon may be more aggressive due to less fishing pressure early in the season. Fly anglers should do well with a variety of baitfish or crab fly patterns fished on floating or intermediate sink tip fly lines. I’ve done well with Lefty’s Deceiver, Tarpon Bunny and Tarpon Toad flies in dark colors. Staking out or anchoring in shallow water on their travel route should result in some shots at fish. The best angle is a “head on” shot, followed by a quartering shot. A perpendicular shot may work if it’s timed perfectly, although casting too far beyond their line of travel will usually spook them. I use a push pole if I need to adjust my position to make a cast.

Snook season is closed on the west coast of Florida this month. Since they will be spawning, use tackles heavy enough to catch and release them in a timely manner and handle them gently. Larger snook will mostly be females and should always be supported horizontally rather than hung vertically by the jaw. Small white flies, like my Grassett Snook Minnow, work well at night. One of the most fun ways to target snook is to walk the beach and sight cast flies to them in the surf.

Higher tides this month will mean that reds will spend more time feeding on shallow flats. Look for them along mangrove shorelines and around oyster bars when the tide is high and in potholes or along sandbars when the tide is low. When fishing shallow water for reds, be as quiet as possible. I prefer to use a push pole or wade. Reds are one of the most challenging species to catch on a fly. Since they can be very spooky, I often wade for them when fly fishing to keep a lower profile. I like a 12’ or longer leader on a floating fly line. Wide profile baitfish patterns work well this time of year since many reds are feeding on larger baitfish. You’ll also find big trout in many of the same shallow areas that you find reds. The Terra Ceia Bay area, north Sarasota Bay and Gasparilla Sound are all good areas for reds this month.


This is one of my favorite months of the year. If battling a big tarpon isn’t for you, you should have plenty to do on both shallow and deep grass flats or in the coastal gulf. I’ll be spending my time targeting tarpon in the coastal gulf unless conditions won’t allow it. Fly fishing for tarpon is the pinnacle of fly fishing! Whatever you choose to do, please limit your kill, don’t kill your limit!

Grassetts Snook Minnow From Orvis

Capt. Rick Grassetts Snook Minnow From Orvis

Trout will be plentiful on deep grass flats. Drifting and casting ahead of the drift is usually the most productive method. I like Ultra Hair Clouser flies on sink tip fly lines for trout or other species that were found there. Look for flats that have a good mix of grass and sand and good tidal flow. The Middleground and Radio Tower flats, Stephens Point and Bishops Point are all great trout areas in Sarasota Bay.

You may also find pompano, bluefish and Spanish mackerel on the same deep grass flats where trout are plentiful. They can be targeted in the same way as trout, but you may need to use wire or heavy fluorocarbon leader when toothy fish are around. You may find Spanish and king mackerel, little tunny, cobia and tripletail in the coastal gulf. Keep your eyes open for surface activity such as diving birds, breaking fish or baitfish being forced out of the water which could indicate the presence of mackerel, blues or little tunny. 8 or 9-weight fly tackle should be heavy enough, although your tarpon fly tackle is not too heavy for cobia. Look for cobia either swimming on the surface or around navigational markers or buoys. I have also found cobia swimming with schools of tarpon before. Tripletail may be found around crab trap floats or buoys. When fly fishing for tripletail, a floating line on an 8 or 9-weight fly rod with a shrimp or baitfish fly pattern, like my Grassett Flats Minnow, should get the job done.


There should be good action on deep grass flats during March. Alan Sugar, from MI, caught and released this nice trout on an Ultra Hair Clouser fly while fishing Sarasota Bay with Capt. Rick Grassett in a previous March.

Grassetts Flats Minnow from Orvis

Capt. Rick Grassetts Flats Minnow from Orvis

Rattlin Jack Men’s UPF 50 Fishing Silver King Performance Long Sleeve Shirt

Rattlin Jack Men’s UPF 50 Fishing Silver King Performance Long Sleeve Shirt by Rattlin Jack.

Tight Lines,

Capt. Rick Grassett

FFI Certified Fly Casting Instructor

Orvis-Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters

Orvis Outfitter of the Year-2011

Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc. and


(941) 923-7799


Capt. Rick Grassett, Sarasota Fly Fishing Guide

See Capt. Rick Grassett Sarasota Florida Fly Fishing Forecast for February 2018