Some places are just designed for fishing. Bordered by the North Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, and riddled with lakes and rivers, Florida offers no shortage of fishing diversity. Plenty of sun, warm waters, and excellent boating areas make it a go-to for any fisherman and the fish certainly agree. The Sunshine State is one of the premiere fishing locations in the world and caters to all, from the pier caster to the lake fisherman or in-shore, near-shore and off-shore boaters, but there is no denying the real action to be found is waiting out on the ocean.
So, grab your fishing gear and get ready to check out the top fishing spots in Tampa, Florida that every fisherman with access to a boat needs to fish at least once:
The Flats of Tampa
Tampa is known for its flats fishing, where you can find the King of the Tampa Bay Flats, the redfish, spotted sea trout and snook, or the seasonal tarpon. We recommend outfitting your boat for a day on the water with your Fishmaster T-Top to keep you shielded from the sun, because you will need your energy for these fish! The redfish is an adrenaline-boosting catch with stamina that makes for a long, thrilling fight.
What flats are best for these fish? You cannot go wrong with Wheedon Island Flats and Fort de Soto Flats. Either location will keep your line reeling throughout the day.
Photo courtesy of visitflorida.com
The Tampa Sunshine Skyway Bridge
Separating Tampa Bay from the Gulf you can find the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Known to most for its picturesque night lights, for fishermen this bridge is a fishing paradise. From black sea bass and snook to king mackerel, pompano to grouper you can hook almost anything from the bridge. Here’s what we recommend:
Start your day at the Skyway Bridge Fishing Piers where you can stock up on baitfish. Then, take your bait and make your way to the rocks located to the west of the Skyway Piers where you can find solid grouper fishing. Once you have had your fix of grouper, turn on the engine and travel a short distance to the Skyway Bridge. Anchor under it near one of the pylons, cast out and wait for some action from grouper, snapper, sheepshead and tarpon (during season, of course).
More than just a relaxation hot spot, Egmont Key is a prime spot for catching seatrout, snook, grouper, and snapper. Grouper is the number one catch inside Tampa Bay’s Egmont Shipping Channel, but if you make your way here you will be able to find king mackerel (during the Spring and Fall runs) and the RARE but occasional bluewater fish, bonito. If you are really looking for a thrill, then this area also offers some amazing shark fishing. Just be sure to take all safety precautions, as you should with any fishing adventure.
Photo courtesy of visitflorida.com
You can also find the trophy fish tarpon in the Channel, but if you are looking for a true tarpon heaven, then you definitely need to visit the Northern Mouth of Egmont Key Channel or a little further south in Passage Key. The season typically spans from around April to August, but for the best bites you should go out between May and July at the peak of their migration. Around this time, tarpon can range anywhere from 80 to up to 200 pounds, so be ready for a long fight. Bring plenty of water and stay under the shade of your Fishmaster T-top to keep up your strength when you hook a big one (just remember you legally cannot land/boat the tarpon, so bring them up to the edge, snap a photo and then release them).
The Reefs of Tampa
As you probably know, the only way you will really catch fish is by going to where the fish are… and fish love structures, so fishermen love the reefs. Tampa’s reefs offer some of the best fishing you can find in the area, and there are a lot of them to choose from. So, where should you go?
- Inshore Reefs of Pinellas Beaches
These reefs offer a healthy variety of fish you can find, from grouper and snapper to the seasonal king mackerel and tarpon.
- Clearwater Reef
Clearwater’s beaches are always at the top of fishing lists, so it only makes sense that the reef is a must-fish. Similar to the inshore reefs, here you can find a sampling of reef fish and king mackerel.
- St. Pete Beach Reef
Perhaps the best reef on this list, and considered the best fishing spot in Pinellas County, the St. Pete Beach Reef located five miles from Passe-A-Grille entry is riddled with fish-favorite-structures. Start by looking for the reef’s foundation, sunken bridge materials from the Old Corey Causeway and Skyway Bridge, then check the 200-foot barge located about 50 feet to the east of the reef’s center to find reef fish and Kings. For an added sense of adventure, see if you can find all 10 U.S. Army tanks and fish away.
Where to next?
Here we have included some of the most popular, reliable ocean fishing spots around Tampa, but trust us when we say this list is far from conclusive. Once you have made your way through these spots, use our Where to Fish map to find the perfect spot for your next day on the water. For a change of pace, you can take to the local lakes and rivers for a change of pace and scenery with some freshwater fishing - boat optional!