Sarasota Bay Fishing Charters

Saltwater Light Tackle Sportsfishing with Captain Tony Blizzard

Sarasota Florida

Sarasota Bay Fishing Charters

Saltwater Light Tackle Sportsfishing with Captain Tony Blizzard

Charter FAQ's


Where will we fish?

Most of the time I will pick you up at the Ken Thompson Boat Ramp, just past Mote Marine on Ken Thompson Parkway.

New Pass is a short pass that connects the Gulf of Mexico with Big Sarasota Bay. With only a very short ride, we can be fishing in the Gulf or the Bay. We could also have runs of different fish in the pass it self. There are large grass-flats, artificial reefs, channels, and bridges on the bay and plenty of docks to fish. On the gulf side, we have plenty of artificial reefs and some good bottom within 3 miles of New Pass. We also fish along the beach or follow large schools of bait fish. Sarasota bay has three inlets to the Gulf: Big Pass and New Pass on the south end and Longboat Pass on the far north end. This gives the bay a good flow of water in and out and good food sources for Bay and Gulf fish.

Now this does not mean that we will catch fish 24/7/365 days a year, it just means that it is a good place to be when the fish start to chew. Wind speed and direction, tides, cold fronts and the weather in general, fish migrations, natural food in the water, bait-fish, shrimp, crabs etc. are just some of the things that will dictate where, how, and what we will fish for. We have a large variety of fish in this part of Florida and our options can change quickly. My motto is to get our rods bending first, and then we can pick the fish we want to fish for. 


I mostly use hand picked live shrimp for bait. The shrimp are caught on the bay at night, by shrimp boats that are rigged just for that. Hand picks are the largest of the shrimp caught that night. It might be the only place you go fishing that the bait could taste better then what you might be catching. We also use live fish and crabs. But some times we need to use good artificial bait like DOA shrimp on the grass flats, buck tails to bounce on the bottom in the passes for pompano, or fast moving spoons and diamond jigs for mackerel. We will do what ever it takes to put fish in the boat.

What should I bring?


Please CALL the night before the trip (7:30 PM to 9:30 PM) to confirm that the trip is a GO and to leave a local contact number or room number if needed.

Sun screen, sun glasses, a hat that will not blow off your head or has a chin strap, soft non marking shoes. Drinks and snacks, especially if you are bringing children. If you plan to take fish home, bring a cooler but leave it in the car. Storage is limited so just bring what you think you will need for a fishing trip, not a picnic. I have coolers built into the boat for fish and drinks.


A Summertime fishing trip is not a good place to get a new suntan! Sun-block helps but is not enough, especially for children. Shoes and socks, long pants, hat and long sleeved shirt are a must for most people coming from the North.

Shoes are very important for your safety! Sandals, Flip-Flops or barefooted won't work on a fishing boat. Don't be afraid to wear your new sneakers, the boat is clean and you won't be fishing in the bush. At least bring some clothes with you to put on when needed. Light colors are best, starting with white. Sun block is best applied at home before leaving for the charter. You can see what you are doing and apply it under your clothing more evenly. Greaseless type Sun blocks work better for fishing. I use Coppertone spe45 Sunblock Lotion, Waterproof/Moisturizing.

Dress warm on the cold days! If you plan on doing any outdoor activates during the winter months in Florida, you should bring a heavy jacket and pants with you. Standing on a boat for four hours in a cold wind can chill the heartiest. You may come from a much colder climate but you probably don't stand outside in the wind for four or more hours at a time. During the winter months we can have 80 degrees one day and 50 degrees the next.

What should I NOT bring?

Large coolers, blankets and beach towels.

Too much food and drink as in a picnic with all the trimmings, or we will not have room for the fish we catch.

People who don't like fishing or being on a boat.

What will we fish for or might catch?

My standard answer for this is "what ever is on the bite on the day you pick".

I know that this is not a satisfactory answer for most people unless you are familiar with South Florida fishing. The southern half of Florida has the largest number of fishable species in the USA. Most of the species can be caught year round but may be better at different times. Others do migrate in the spring and fall. Now this is where it gets hard. Our seasons are not easily definable by the month. Some winters are cold and some are warm, some are long and some are short. This will dictate the water temperature and when and what fish will run. We also need to look at the baitfish and how well they are doing because they may determine how long the predators might stick around. The abundance of each species will change each year and reach a low every 10 years. The species will also play off each other and push one another out. Large or small fish, it is the numbers that rule. Some years a species may stick around for months and some times only a week.

With so many species in the area at the same time and the climate also unpredictable, it would be unrealistic for me to try to predict what you would catch or fish for in any given week. The wind and water condition will also dictate what we fish for.

My boat and tackle is designed to fish both inshore and offshore and allows us to take advantage of what ever Mother Nature offers. When using live bait, you never know what you are going to hook-up with. While fishing for a 15" trout, you could hook-up with a 5' tarpon. That is what makes it so much fun.

Below is a chart of some of the more popular species, this may help you paint a better picture. I also have my Old fishing reports posted on my web site, back to 1997. You can pick out a week and see what we did in the past.

  Amberjack   -   -   OFFSHORE   Year round, Winter is best for large fish,   80+Lbs.
  Barracuda   -   -   OFFSHORE   Summer is the best time but some stay year round.
  Baitfish, Collage   INSHORE   COASTAL   OFFSHORE   Seasons and locations will differ do to species.
  Black Drum   INSHORE   COASTAL   -   Year Round
  Bluefish   INSHORE   COASTAL   OFFSHORE   Winter is best for the big schools, some hang around all year.
  Cobia   INSHORE   COASTAL   -   Year round, Spring & Fall best
  Dolphin   -   -   OFFSHORE   Summer, Long trips, 20 miles +
  Flounder   INSHORE   COASTAL   OFFSHORE   Year Round
  Goliath, Jewfish   INSHORE   COASTAL   OFFSHORE   Summer is best. Adults, mainly offshore around the 50' depth
  Grouper   INSHORE   COASTAL   OFFSHORE   Year Round
  Jack Crevalle   INSHORE   COASTAL   OFFSHORE   Year Round
  King Mackerel   -   COASTAL   OFFSHORE   Winter, Water temp around 70º
  Ladyfish   INSHORE   COASTAL   -   Year Round
  Little Tunny   -   COASTAL   OFFSHORE   Year Round
  Permit    INSHORE   COASTAL   OFFSHORE   Year Round, Summer best
  Pompano   INSHORE   COASTAL   -   Year Round, Spring & Fall best
  Redfish   INSHORE   -   -   Year Round
  Redfish, Bulls   -   COASTAL   -   Winter
  Sailfish   -   -   OFFSHORE   May, June. Rarely caught!
  Seabass, Black   INSHORE   COASTAL   -   Year Round
  Sharks   -   COASTAL   OFFSHORE   Year Round
  Sheepshead   INSHORE   COASTAL   -   Year round, winter is best when they school up.
  Snapper, Mangrove   INSHORE   COASTAL   OFFSHORE   Year Round
  Snapper, Yellowtail   -   -   OFFSHORE   Summer
  Snook   INSHORE   COASTAL   -   Year round but will run up the rivers if the water gets too cold.
  Spanish Mackerel   INSHORE   COASTAL   OFFSHORE   Year Round, Winter best
  Spotted Seatrout   INSHORE   COASTAL   -   Year Round
  Tarpon   INSHORE   COASTAL   -   May & June for the beach run, all summer on the bay
  Tripletail   INSHORE   COASTAL   -   Oct. - May, we follow the stone crab marker buoys
  Tuna, Blackfin   -   -   OFFSHORE   Spring & Fall, by-catch when fishing other species.
  Whiting   INSHORE   COASTAL   -   Winter

Can we target fish?

Targeting fish works when you have plenty of time for the hunt and the meter is not running.

Our objective will be to fish for whatever is on the bite in a relatively short period of time that you will have. Unlike other areas in the north, and especially in fresh water, we have a lot of different species here, that we might fish for.

Mother Nature will dictate where, how and what we will fish for. Our options are always different and we never know what they might be until we leave the dock that morning. My boat is equipped to do many types of fishing and we hope, one of them is working for us that day. If you lived here, you could target a fish and only fish when that species was hot or you thought it might get hot. On a charter, we need to find the action, whatever that might be or it may turn out to be just a boat ride. Sometimes it turns out just the way we want it to and sometimes it does not, that's why we can call it Sportfishing.

What time of day is best?

During the winter, morning and afternoon have equal possibilities.

During the summer, July through September mornings are best and we often start an hour earlier.

I do not book afternoon trips during the summer months, this is due to the storms and heat.

During the summer, first light and last light, just before and after sunrise and sunset, are peek feeding times for most wildlife.

How far out do you go?

I do Bay and Coastal fishing trips!

For bay trips, there’s normally an 8 to 10 minute boat ride, depending on the time of year and where the fish have been biting, before we start fishing.

For coastal trips in the Gulf of Mexico, I have reefs as close as 1 mile off shore, so there would be a 15 to 20 minute boat ride before you’re fishing on The Gulf. Exactly where we fish depends on the time of year, what we are trying to catch, and where the fish are biting.

I do not go into the gulf if it is windy or if waves are over 2 feet.

Can we bring children?

Yes! Definitely bring them on bay fishing trips.

Half-day fishing trips are best for children. After that, it becomes more of an endurance challenge than a fun day for them.

For coastal trips on The Gulf, it really depends on the child. Like with adults, some children get seasick, others do not.

What about the deposits?

Deposits are not required but please let me know AS SOON AS POSSIBLE if you are unable to make a scheduled trip.

Do you take Deep Sea bookings?

No, I do not.

Because of the shallow waters in the Sarasota area, you need to go out at least 30 miles offshore for deep-sea fishing and I do not go that far out.

Why we go fishing

Sport fishermen go fishing for the fun of fishing and a nice day on or around the water.

We always hope for the big-one but never know when it will come. Fishing in Florida is enjoyed year round and only bad weather stops us from going. One day you could fill a cooler and the next day we may catch nothing, but every day on the water is a winner for most fishermen. Like any other leisure sport, you'll go back to play, win or lose. Your success at fishing is measured by a lifetime of pleasant memories and journeys to and on the water.

I am only one person, can you team me up?

Probably not.

Most guide boat trips are personal style fishing adventures for family, friends or just your self. I do not have enough standbys to mix and match for the kind of custom fishing I do. I do take plenty of groups out that mix and match them selves, but that is taken care of by the group.

Where do you fish?

Offshore and inshore!

I am docked on the New Pass inlet, so I can be offshore within five minutes. We might fish one or the other or both in a four hour trip. A base trip covers all of Sarasota bay and up to six miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.

Where we fish for that day will depend on the weather, sea conditions, and fish. I do not book a trip for offshore fishing only because of the size of my boat. The advantages of fishing on a boat of my size are speed and flexibility and the option of fishing for all species when available.

Can I use a fly rod?

Yes, but you need to bring your own fly rod. I do not supply them.

What kind of flies for Florida?

The primary food sources of the gamefish we target with fly fishing and spin fishing are:

Crab, Shrimp, Baithfish, Mullet

Therefore, a majority of the fly patterns we use represent those food sources. Please peruse the photos below to see the types of flies we use to target the following fish species in the Florida Gulf Coast areas of Charlotte Harbor, Boca Grande, Punta Gorda, Placida, and Gasparilla Island:

Tarpon, Snook, Redfish, Seatrout, Ladyfish, Tripletail, Cobia, Pompano, Permit, Bluefish, Bonita

Will I get seasick?

We never know for sure and people do get seasick.

Seasickness can be avoided in most cases if I have the cooperation of my passenger. I have never had any one get sick while fishing on the bay yet! When offshore, you need to alert me to the first signs of feeling uncomfortable, which I usually notice before you say anything. With a quick return to bay fishing, seasickness can usually be avoided.

Seasick pills can be taken a half hour before getting on the boat and you can get seasick patches by subscription. It would also help if you do not over indulge the night before and get good night's sleep.

I had a woman ask me one time: I have never been on a boat, do you think I will get seasick? I asked her if she ever got motion sickness. She told me that if she rolled over in bed too fast, she would become nauseated. I told her I felt that there was a very good chance for her to get seasick. She went fishing anyway. We fished the bay and it was windy and a little choppy but she never got sick. I also have had people tell me that they were old sailors and never got sick, but they only lasted about five minutes out on the Gulf before getting sick.

How far ahead do I make reservations?

As soon as you know for sure when you will be here!

Some people book for the following year, and some the day before. You must consider your window of time and whether it is a holiday or the busy season.

I have never been fishing. Is that OK?

Over half of my customers fall in to that category!

Guide boats are the best place for a beginner to learn how to fish. It is a hands-on fishing trip with a personal coach. My objective is not to fish for you but to teach you how to catch your own fish.

Can I bring my own tackle?

Yes! If you are not sure you would like to bring it, here is a rule of thumb you can use.

If you are skilled enough to tie your own rigs, and your line, rod, and reel are in good condition you may enjoy using your own gear. If you are a novice and not skilled in tying knots and not familiar with your tackle, you would probably find it easier to use mine. If you do bring your own rod, please don't bring a big tackle box. I have all the terminal tackle and lures you will need.

Do you have a head (toilet) on board?

No, I do not have a head (toilet) on board.

No, I do not. It’s really not needed when fishing in Sarasota Bay. There are 3 bait shops that have facilities; we are, normally, only minutes from one of them, if we have to make a quick pit stop.


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Saltwater Light-Tackle Sportfishing with Captain Tony Blizzard

Saltwater Light-Tackle Sportfishing with Captain Tony Blizzard

Sarasota Bay Fishing Charters
1708 Ken Thompson Pkwy
Dock 3
Sarasota, FL 34236


Sarasota Bay Fishing Charters
1708 Ken Thompson Pkwy
Dock 3
Sarasota, FL 34236


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