| Sightfishing is one of my favorite ways to fish. The challenge of sighting, stalking and presenting a lure or fly to a
fish is unique and exciting in the saltwater fishing world. Generally, sightfishing trips are spent on the flats or along
mangrove edges. Some such locations are more productive than others. The trick is timing your arrival to maximize the
chances of feeding fish in the area. We will be poling the areas we fish for most of the trip, exploiting the best portions
of the tidal stages. If you desire a dedicated sightfishing trip, I am more than happy to indulge you!
You’ll encounter a variety of species on the flats we fish here between Bradenton and Boca Grande. A trip can be
tailored to seek a specific species like snook or redfish, or you can simply engage whatever presents itself. Most flats
hold multiple species anyway. You should expect to encounter snook, redfish, seatrout, Crevalle jacks and ladyfish, with
the occasional addition depending on season and time of day of pompano, permit, Spanish mackerel, sheepshead,
spadefish, snapper, black drum, cobia, tarpon, and gafftop sailcatfish. Every one of these species has its merits and all
provide good action on appropriately sized tackle, though some certainly are stronger and have more stamina than
others. I am not choosy about my quarry when sightfishing, I enjoy fishing for its inherent challenges, not for the allure or
appeal of any one species. This has led me to stalk and learn the tendencies of a whole variety of fish rather than
concentrating on one or a few of the more publicized glamour species when I’m sightfishing.
Sheepshead, in particular, provide an excellent and little recognized challenge to sightfishing. They are exceptionally
wary and supremely difficult to engage in the shallows. They are a true accomplishment for a sightfishing angler, even if
they receive little recognition as gamefish. They provide a thoroughly enjoyable fight and after the usual number of
spooked fish and refused offerings, I will guarantee a big smile when one is finally fooled and landed. They may lack
“snob” appeal, but for an angler who gets a kick of satisfaction out of fooling the most wary of fish, the sheepshead is
certainly among the wariest. This is especially true for fly anglers. In addition, when they are most common on the bars
and flats, redfish and snook can also be found in the same areas, often prowling for a meal.
A trip can also be planned to sightfish the portion of the tide typically most productive, and then switch to a
different tactic or style of fishing for other species or in different locations as dictated by the tidal changes for the
To get the most out of sightfishing trips, this more than any other type of trip, you will need a good pair of polarized
sunglasses. The higher the quality, the better you will be able to distinguish the fish under water. There is an acquired
skill to spotting fish in their natural habitat, even with good glasses, and until one develops the knack for spotting them,
fish will still be missed. Some are better at it than others. But without polarized glasses, it is extremely frustrating to
have fish right in front of you and be unable to see them for the lack of proper polarized lenses. Even inexpensive
polarized glasses will work far better than unpolarized sunglasses, though the better the lenses, the more you'll see.