Madeira Beach is the archetypal Gulf Coast beach town, with white sandy shores, clear warm waters, and several docks full of awesome charter boats. It may sound corny, but Madeira Beach fishing charters have something for everyone. Fish the calm shallows of the Tampa Bay or head to the furthest reaches of the Gulf of Mexico, it’s completely up to you. As if that’s not enough, every habitat is bursting with some of the hardest fighters and the tastiest treats in the sea.
Types of fishing
With so many fisheries and species to choose from, you’re going to have a hard time picking where to start. Every charter has its own unique appeal and some are best at certain times of year. Here are a few of the top options, to help you make up your mind.
Inshore Bays and Flats
The waters around Madeira Beach are some of the most productive in the state. Redfish, Speckled Trout, Flounder, and Sheepshead will fill your coolers with a ton of great food fair. If you’re here strictly for the sport, the area’s seasonal populations of Bonefish, Snook, and Tarpon will put even the most experienced anglers through their paces
Most of the inshore action happens in the local Boca Ciega Bay, but you can also head around the corner to Tampa Bay if you want to experience this iconic fishery. The fishing is great every day of the year, but the area really comes into its own when the Tarpon roll into town. May through July, you can target Trout, Redfish, Snook, Permit, and Tarpon, all on the same trip. This gives you a real chance of landing an Inshore Grand Slam and, more importantly, is seriously good fun!
Head out through John’s Pass and into the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico and you can hit a dozen reefs and wrecks without losing sight of land. The Madeira and Treasure Island Reefs are within easy reach on a half day trip, and are full of Snappers, Groupers, Porgy, Grunt, Tripletail, and Hogfish. The great thing about these spots is that the waters are calm, the journeys are short, and the bite is almost constant. This makes them perfect for family trips.
Don’t worry about getting bored, though. There are plenty of hard fighters to keep skilled sportfishers happy. During the spring and fall, Barracuda and King Mackerel can be found hunting around the local reefs and wrecks. You’d better get your baits in quick if you don’t want to lose a fish!
Deep Sea Fishing
Madeira Beach deep sea fishing is a little different to what you might expect. You’ll be fishing anywhere from 30 to 100 miles out, depending on how much time you have, and can find Mahi Mahi, Sailfish, and Tuna on the troll. The difference is that these aren’t your target species.
What most Madeira Beach fishing guides mean by “deep sea fishing” is heading way out into federal waters in search of huge bottom fish. Snowy, Scamp, Red, Black, and Gag Grouper are all on the menu, depending on how far you go, as are Red, Mutton, and Lane Snapper. If that’s somehow not enough fish for you, you can always troll for Mahi Mahi and Blackfin Tuna on your way to the reefs.
There are some specialists who run multi-day trips way out to the edge of the continent. You have to run 130 miles to hit 100 feet of water. Head another 20 miles, though, and the floor drops almost 2,000 feet down to rock bottom. Very few anglers get the chance to fish these waters, but those who do talk of legendary lands brimming with monster Marlin. Tall tales? Head out there and let us know!
How much does it cost?
Inshore charters usually run 4-6 hours and cost around $100 an hour. Nearshore reef trips cost around the same, with full day charters coming out a little cheaper. After that, it’s a case of the further you go, the more it costs. Extended 10 and 12-hour trips are common, and can cost as much as $1500. A lot of them run on a “no fish no pay”, though, so you’re literally guaranteed to get your money’s worth.
If you’re planning on fishing the local bays for Redfish, Snook, and other shallow-water favorites, you’ll find few surprises in Madeira Beach. Light spinning rods are the go-to tackle here, with the choice of live bait (usually Shrimp, Pinfish, or Crab) or artificial lures (topwater plugs, spoon, jerk baits - it all depends on your target species). During Tarpon season, fly fishing is an obvious hit. Silver Kings are never more at home than on the end of a 12-weight fly rod, and nothing brings them in quicker than the Black Death.
Out on the reefs, you’ll have the same mix of live bait, with the option of jigs and plugs if that’s more your style. Chumming is a popular tactic, drawing the fish close as you drift over the reef or anchoring up and waiting for them to come to you. You’ll probably hit several reefs over the course of the day, especially on longer trips. This gives you plenty of time to troll for King Mackerel, Blackfin Tuna, Mahi Mahi, or Sailfish, depending on how far out you go. You’ll usually save your baits for the bottom fishing and troll lures, allowing you to cover more ground at speed.
Need to Know
Seasonality for different species changes year on year and is different in state and federal waters. You should always establish where you’ll be going when you book a trip and your guide will advise you on your limits and options. Fishing licenses are not required aboard registered Madeira Beach fishing charters. The only things you really need to bring are some sunscreen, a spare layer of clothing, and some Dramamine if you suffer from seasickness. Oh, and the biggest cooler you can lay your hands on. Maybe two or three, just to be on the safe side.