My first experience fishing with Captain Rick Grassett of Sarasota was in the fall of 2013. About six months prior, he and I consulted about specific dates. The two days that he chose for us to fish landed smack dab in the midst of a huge southerly baitfish migration graced by fair skies and light winds.
Our early predawn start rewarded us with lots of snook under the dock lights of Sarasota Bay. Once the sun rose, we headed out to the Long Bar and continued to catch snook supplemented by chunky seatrout. On this first day we used the balance of our hours to fish the shallow flats to catch a redfish. An hour before quitting time, I caught and released a nice redfish and completed my Sarasota Slam.
The first three hours of day two were a carbon copy of the fast snook and then, trout action as the day before. But Rick and I were determined to meet up with the parade of baitfish schools barely a football field off the beach of Sarasota’s famed Coastal Gulf. Once we entered these grounds from the north side of Longboat Key, we sped over to a wreck loaded with huge Spanish mackerel that exploded our silver topwater plugs. Within an hour of this insane action, the Gulf waters eupted in a froth of action as huge schools of mackerel and big bonito (A.K.A. albies) savaged the terrified baitfish.
And the beauty of these two marvelous days of sportfishing was that it was done casting only artificial lures. Besides the aforementioned topwater plugs, Rick had a veritable tackle shop of D.O.A. soft plastic lures aboard his Action Craft skiff- and they all worked marvelously.
A Year Later-
Almost twelve months later after this marvelous trip, my friend Alan Williams and I were headed back to fish with Captain Rick in the midst of this stupendous fall season. The logistics would be the same. Our lodgings was the Inn on Siesta Key, a wonderful Key West-style venue right across from one of the finest beaches in the world. Each of the next two mornings Alan and I would meet Rick around dawn at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters, his base of operations and an astonishing multi-purpose retail, charter, and boat rental enterprise dedicated to the marine life of boating, fishing, and so much more. As Alan and I headed north along Siesta Key Beach towards the Inn, we noticed a cloud configuration that could a spectacular sunset. And it delivered beyond our expectations.
As Alan and I ate dinner, we both wondered whether this spectacular cloud display did not presage an impending weather system. We checked the weather back at our room at the Inn and the TV weatherman confirmed that a cold front was headed our way in Sarasota. We estimated that our first day of fishing with Rick would not be badly affected by the front, but day number two would indeed feature blowy frosty winds from the north.
By the time we met Rick at CB’s the first morning, he already had a game plan in place that would factor in the approaching front. When we first launched his skiff, The Snookfin-Addict, Rick headed straight for a pass to fish the open Gulf for mackerel and albies. Although the front had not yet arrived, the pass was too churned up to let us through. Rick turned the skiff and headed to a southwestern shore of Sarasota Bay. He slowly idled onto some shallow flats and when he spotted large schools of jumping mullet, he cut the engine. As he poled about a hundred yards towards our target area, he explained that there should be redfish and snook amongst the mullet.
Alan requested a topwater plug and Rick complied. My own feeling was that an approaching front might keep these fish lower in the water column, so I asked Rick to give me a light spinner rigged with a D.O.A. swimbait. While we did see a couple large schools of redfish, they were spooky and on the move. The snook, however were hungry and eagerly attacked my soft plastic lure.
We also caught a few nice trout on the flats but were now hunkering for some variety. So Rick headed for the deeper flats of central Sarasota Bay. The wind was increasing so he put out a sea anchor to give us a perfect drift. It was here that we hit a jackpot with our D.O.A. jigs and caught flounder, grouper, jacks, ladyfish, seatrout, and bluefish.
Day two dawned with 30 M.P.H. winds out of the north and air temperatures in the fifties. This caused Rick to launch in Little Sararsota Bay. This gentleman of a captain fished these conditions all the way down to Englewood to give us some satisfaction. Alan was top rod with a snook and a flounder for the day.
As always, fishing with Captain Rick was a pleasure, I hope to fish with him again soon.
Captain Rick Grassett