Lido Key is on the St. Armands barrier island on the Gulf Coast of Central Florida. On the east side is the big city of Sarasota. Other barrier islands to the north and south combine to form the Sarasota Bay between the island and mainland Florida. One thing that sets this area of Florida apart from most of the state is the Pansy Bayou. This shallow-water estuary is full of seagrass and is set aside as a manatee sanctuary. Only residents are allowed into the smaller bay. You can watch manatees from the shores. The Gulf side of the island has sparkling white beaches for the family members who prefer to spend their day in the water rather than on it. With easy access to the cultural attractions in Sarasota, Lido Key makes a great family vacation destination.
Great news for anglers is this part of Florida is outside the restricted zone to the north. When it comes to bull redfish, New Pass between Lido Key and Longboat Key is a great place to be when the tide is running. The moving water works like a food conveyor belt, sweeping plenty of prey species through the pass. Redfish know this and hang out waiting for lunch to come by. In the pass, use big baits, hand-sized pinfish or big menhaden to attract the monster reds. Use medium tackle so you have enough power to turn one of these huge fish. On the south end of Lido Key, South Lido Beach features more beaches on the Gulf side and marsh woodlands on the east side. When the tide is right, reds pour into these waters. Sight fishing for reds means throwing gold spoons, shrimp jigs or live shrimp. Reds typically school, so cast to the edge and slowly reel past the fish. This part of Florida is also home to snook, pronounced like hook. Live bait free-lined is the best way to catch one of the linesides. Bucktails, grubs and shrimp-imitating lures also catch these fish. Use medium gear; 20-pound test is ideal. Trout are plentiful in the bay, if you know where to look. Lido Key fishing charters keep an eye on local reports to know where the specks are. Live and artificial shrimp under a popping cork is one of the best ways to catch trout. The same rig works equally well on reds. If you think you are tough enough, then tarpon will test your mettle. The silver kings hit big pinfish, menhaden and blue crabs. If you really want to fight a bruiser, then use bait big enough to take home for supper. Goliath grouper are catch-and-release only. Some of these giants are caught so often the guides have nicknames for them. Your guide will get pictures and video for you to take home to impress everyone with your fishing ability. On the beachside, Spanish mackerel hit anything silver. Use black swivels to keep them from cutting your line. Spinner and blacktip sharks are caught close to the beach and provide a show when hooked. These sharks will smash big topwater jerk baits for a heart-stopping strike.
Giant grouper that you can take home are found offshore. Warsaw grouper get almost as big as the goliath. This is just one of many reef fish that are found on the natural and artificial reefs and the wrecks off Lido Key. Snapper, amberjack, other groupers, hogfish and more hang out on the bottom structure. The fish can’t resist live and cut bait dropped straight over the side. For a real challenge, try your hand at jigging. Just remember, bigger lures catch bigger fish and deep-water jigging can be a workout. Pelagics, fish that do not stay in one place, are typically caught trolling. Wahoo, mahi mahi, king mackerel, sailfish, marlin and tuna are caught anywhere from the surface to the deeps. Experienced Lido fishing charters guides will set outriggers with dusters and bubblers tipped with a cigar minnow or ballyhoo. Closer to the boat is the place for mid-depth lures. Deep-running lures are trolled right off the back of the boat with a downrigger. Reef fish also fall to lures and baits pulled behind a downrigger.
When you are ready to make memories for a lifetime, Lido Key is the place to be. FishAnywhere has the top guides who will make sure you have the best trip possible. Let’s make it happen. Book a trip today.