St. Pete Beach Fishing Charters
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Fishing in St. Pete Beach
You can pass your time in St. Pete Beach fishing anywhere between the deep sea and the shore itself. This small town west of St. Petersburg is known for white sandy beaches, numerous barrier islands, and picture perfect views. You will find the streets bustling with tourists, and the waters teeming with fish. From the flats and backwaters of Tampa Bay to the depths of the Gulf of Mexico, anglers of all types can land their next trophy here.
Though slightly overlooked, the waters of St. Pete Beach are one of the most productive fishing hot spots around Tampa. Here you will find some of Florida’s most prestigious species, whether they are swimming inshore, nearshore, or offshore. Don’t know where to start? Not to worry—there’s a chance to try it all. With a variety of St. Pete Beach fishing charters to choose from, the hardest part is simply deciding.
In St. Pete Beach, fishing inshore means making your way around Tampa Bay. This includes many possibilities, from the grassy flats and backwaters to structures such as bridges, docks, and the roots of mangrove trees.
The calm, shallow waters of the bay are ideal for family fishing trips. Children and first time anglers of any age can enjoy casting lines inshore without worrying about long boat rides and seasickness. As with many inshore fishing charters in the Tampa Bay area, you can expect to catch Redfish, Speckled Trout, Flounder, Sheepshead, King Mackerel, Bonefish, Snook, Tarpon, and a variety of sharks.
Of course, the prize of inshore fishing in St. Pete Beach is the majestic Silver King: Tarpon. Unbeknownst to many, the Tarpon fishing here is just as good as in Boca Grande—some say that it’s even better! You can fish for Tarpon in St. Pete Beach from May through July. Adding Redfish and Snook to your target list could win you the bragging rights to an inshore “Grand Slam.”
What are my options and how much do they cost?
Half day inshore trips in St. Pete Beach typically last four hours and will cost roughly $400. A standard full day trip lasts eight hours, and the cost might range anywhere from $550 to $800. You are able to target the same species on both half day and full day charters, but as any angler knows, a few extra hours on the water gives you a chance to catch more fish. This is why some captains in the area also offer six hour trips, often for $550-$600. This ¾ day trip is a compromise for those who want to catch a lot of fish but can’t spend all day on the water.
Many St. Pete Beach fishing guides who specialize in inshore fishing also offer trips exclusively dedicated to catching Tarpon. If you are really committed to landing a Tarpon, you should spend six to eight hours on the water, however, some captains also offer half day Tarpon trips. Tarpon fishing charters in St. Pete Beach range from $600 to $1,000, depending on the length of the trip. Six hour trips typically cost around $600, while eight hour trips could cost anywhere between $800 and $1,000.
Nearshore fishing in St. Pete Beach takes you into the Gulf of Mexico, where you can dabble in some excellent bottom fishing without losing sight of shore. Every angler tends to define “nearshore” a little bit differently, but you can expect that a nearshore charter will keep you within Florida state waters, somewhere between two and nine miles from shore. This often involves fishing the area’s numerous artificial reefs and wrecks for some of the best eating fish in the area, so come aboard hungry!
What can I expect from a nearshore fishing trip?
Fishing nearshore gives you a chance to widen your horizons by targeting a few inshore species while adding bottom fish to the mix. You can fish for a variety of Snappers and Groupers, Porgy, Grunt, Tripletail, and Hogfish, while reeling in sharks, Cobia, and other species found inshore. In spring and fall, you can troll on your way to the fishing grounds for Barracuda and King Mackerel.
Nearshore trips usually last four to six hours. As with inshore fishing, more time on the water gives you a chance to make the most of it. Nearshore charters are priced much like inshore charters, ranging from $400 for a half day trip to less than $800 for a full day. Some local fishing guides combine the option for inshore and nearshore fishing in a single package.
Offshore Deep Sea Fishing
Offshore fishing in St. Pete Beach will take you farther into the Gulf of Mexico, leaving state waters behind. While aboard an offshore charter, you are likely to find yourself between 30 and 100 miles from the coast. These offshore—or “deep sea”—charters are all about locating really big fish. You can catch game fish such as Tuna, Sailfish, and Mahi Mahi while fishing over 30 miles away from shore; however, many local anglers are not out to get these pelagic fish. Sure, you will troll for this “bycatch” on your way, but the real prize is the variety of giant, juicy bottom fish.
While deep sea fishing the Gulf of Mexico, you are likely to fish the wrecks and reefs for especially large Snapper and Grouper, along with other bottom fish such as Porgy and Grunts. While it is possible to target these species relatively close to shore (20-30 miles), they are bound to be much smaller. Going the extra miles will guarantee a larger catch.
How much time does it take to go deep sea fishing?
Half day offshore charters typically last four to five hours. These brief excursions might take you as far as 20 miles out, though sometimes less if the weather is not fair.
Offshore charters typically cost more than inshore and nearshore trips due to cost of extra fuel needed to reach the fishing grounds. Depending on the charter operator, you could pay between $445 and $650 for a half day offshore trip. Trips on the more expensive side tend to run slightly longer (up to six hours), and they might take you as far as 30 miles from shore. By adding a couple of extra hours to a half day trip, captains make sure that travel time does not detract from your full four hours of fishing.
A full day trip lasts at least eight hours and could take you as far as 40 miles out, if not more. These trips include bottom fishing for Snappers, large Groupers, and Hogfish, in addition to trolling for King Mackerel, Tuna, Mahi Mahi, Sailfish, and Cobia. Full day trips vary widely in price, from $900 to well over $1,000. If you would like to fish offshore for a full day without heading so far from land, you can find eight hour trips between $650 and $800. However, these trips will keep you closer to shore, where the fish are smaller. You will not find as many pelagic species while fishing less than 30 miles out.
Additional Offshore Charter Options
Some captains in St. Pete Beach offer extended day charters so you can get the ultimate deep sea fishing experience. These trips are for serious anglers only! An extended day trip lasts 10 hours or more, with the potential to take you farther than 70 miles out into the Gulf. These trips usually cost around $1,000 minimum. The extra time and money are well worth it for those who are committed to landing a really massive catch, including a variety of pelagic species.
Another option to consider when fishing offshore is party boat fishing (also known as “split trips” or “shared trips”). Joining a shared charter is ideal for casual anglers who are looking to cast a few lines while having a good time on the water, typically within 20-30 miles of shore. These trips are priced per person and they might be postponed or cancelled if the minimum quota of passengers is not met.
You can reserve individual spots on a party boat for $50 to $100 for a half day trip. For a full day trip of eight or nine hours, you can expect to pay around $200 per person. While cheaper than private charters, party boat fishing does not provide as personal of an experience and individual customers are less likely to catch a lot of fish.
Rules & Regulations
Florida State law requires all anglers over the age of 16 to obtain a recreational fishing license. Conveniently, all licensed St. Pete Beach fishing charters include a Florida saltwater fishing license so that customers do not need to buy one.
If necessary, you can purchase fishing licenses online or with the assistance of local bait and tackle shops. Visitors can purchase a 3 day license for $17 or a week-long license for $30 (prices subject to change). If you plan to keep a Snook, a special stamp is also required ($10). This applies to all anglers, whether you are fishing alone or with a charter operator.
Depending on how far from shore you plan to fish, it is important to consider Florida State fishing regulations as well as federal fishing regulations. Species such as Red Snapper and Gag Grouper are closed to harvest during certain periods, which can change yearly. You are also prohibited from keeping Snook during certain times. Booking reliable St. Pete Beach fishing charters is the best way to ensure that you will fish according to local regulations.
As usual, things to bring on your fishing trip include sunscreen, sunglasses, removable layers (such as a sweatshirt and jacket), and any medication you need to prevent seasickness. Some captains ask customers to wear shoes with non-marking soles. If applicable, a standard tip for the First Mate (20% of the charter price) is much appreciated.
Types of Fishing
You will find many inshore species biting year round, though some of them certainly come and go with the seasons. Even those who stick around might have a change in preference depending on the weather, and the most perceptive local anglers adapt their fishing techniques as time passes.
Inshore fishing in St. Pete Beach calls for light tackle, with live or artificial bait depending on the species and technique. Live bait commonly includes shrimp, crab, pinfish, and whitebait. Lures may be spinning spoons, top water plugs, twitch baits, jerk baits, or a variety of other possibilities. You can also target some species by fly fishing, including the coveted Tarpon.
Nearshore Reef Fishing
You will also find many nearshore species biting year round, with fluctuations throughout the seasons. While fishing nearshore wrecks and reefs, you can catch Red Snapper, Mango Snapper, Mutton Snapper, Red Grouper, Gag Grouper, Porgy, Grunts, Hogfish, Amberjack, Permit, Spanish Mackerel, King Mackerel, Cobia, and much more. Depending on the species, you will likely rely on jigging and bottom fishing, potentially trolling for pelagic species on your way to the fishing grounds and back.
Conventional and spinning rods are both effective while fishing nearshore, either with live bait set-ups or rigged with artificial lures. Live bait might be shrimp, crab, pinfish, or whitebait. Typical lures are spoons, jigs, plugs, and the like. Hogfish can be targeted by spearfishing, as well.
Deep sea fishing St. Pete Beach involves bottom fishing and trolling. You can bottom fish for Triggerfish, Seabass, and a variety of large Snapper and Grouper. You are likely to troll along the way for large pelagic species such as Mahi Mahi, Tuna, and Sailfish. Many of these species are biting throughout the year, but weather conditions might prevent you from fishing far from shore. You are likely to use heavy tackle while deep sea fishing, with live bait or artificial lures depending on the species and your preference.
Also referred to as wade fishing, beach fishing, and shore fishing, this is a great way to test the waters without committing more time than you want to. You can try surf fishing in Frew Howard Park, Honeymoon Island State Park, Fort De Soto Park, Weedon Island Preserve, and a number of beaches between Clearwater Beach and Pass-a-Grille Beach. All you need is spinning gear with light tackle and jigs or live shrimp. You can cast lines for species like Snook, Redfish, Trout, and Flounder without setting foot off the shore.
St. Pete Beach Fishing Seasons
In winter, bottom fishing is excellent. You can head to nearshore wrecks and reefs for tasty treats like Seabass, Porgy, Groupers, and Snappers. Or try fishing inshore for Speckled Trout and more.
Fishing the wrecks and reefs will still be fruitful, weather permitting. Inshore you will find Flounder, Sheepshead, Speckled Trout, and other species. It's still to soon to target pelagic fish offshore.
As spring approaches, larger species begin to make their appearance. You might see a Cobia, Kingfish, or even a Tuna here and there. Inshore and nearshore fishing are still excellent.
Seabass, Porgy, and Grunts are all peaking among the wrecks and reefs. You are more likely to catch Kingfish and Tuna while trolling offshore. Inshore you will see more Redfish and possibly Snook.
May marks the beginning of deep sea fishing’s prime season. You will start seeing more Tuna, Wahoo, Cobia, Mahi Mahi, and even Sailfish. The bottom fish are still biting, and the inshore action is heating up too!
Tarpon fishing inshore is in full swing. Snook fishing might be catch and release only, but still provides great fun. Deep sea fishing is at its height. The seasons for Gag Grouper and Red Snapper may be open.
While fishing offshore you are more likely than ever to catch big game fish like Tuna, Mahi Mahi, and Sailfish. Inshore fishing continues to deliver, with Tarpon and many other species biting.
No matter where you choose to fish in St. Pete Beach at this of year, you are in for some drag screaming action. Tarpon season may be over, but you can target Sharks and other species for a good fight inshore.
Deep sea fishing is winding down, but you are still likely to catch Tuna and Mahi Mahi, with the possibility of a Wahoo or Sailfish, too. Nearshore fishing for bottom dwellers is promising, as always.
Big game fish like Sailfish and Tuna are becoming scarce, but you will find plenty of Kingfish and Spanish Mackerel offshore. Tasty fish like Flounder and Gag Grouper are swimming inshore.
As deep sea fishing continues to slow down, this is a great time to discover what nearshore and inshore fishing have to offer. You can catch Seabass, Snappers, Groupers, Redfish, Sheepshead, and more.
The weather might keep you from heading far offshore, but you can still target great eating fish among the wrecks and reefs. Or check out Tampa Bay for Flounder, Speckled Trout, and a variety of inshore species.
St. Pete Beach Fishing Calendar
What People Are Saying About St. Pete Beach
"Fishing with Joe"
Anglers Dream great for beginners women and young children
"Angler's Dream 1/2 Day Trip"
Check out the Angler's Dream! You won't be disappointed.
"1/2 day trip "
Bring your own bait. They provide squid and octopus pieces. You catch fish but it's the same kind and usually small.
"Half Day Trip With Captain Mike"
Go on the fishing charter with Captain Mike, you will have a great fishing experience.
Top Types of Fishing in St. Pete Beach
Top Fishing Techniques in St. Pete Beach
Top Targeted Species in St. Pete Beach
- Size 10 to 20lbs
- Food Value Average
- Game Qualities Average
- Habitats Inshore, Nearshore, Offshore, Reef, Wreck
- Size 5 to 20lbs
- Food Value Excellent
- Game Qualities Good
- Habitats Inshore, Nearshore, Offshore, Reef
- Size 25 to 80lbs
- Food Value None
- Game Qualities Excellent
- Habitats Inshore, Flats, Backcountry
- Size 3 to 10lbs
- Food Value Good
- Game Qualities Average
- Habitats Inshore, Nearshore, Offshore, Reef, Wreck