John's Pass

11 Fishing Charters

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Fishing in John's Pass

The southern end of Madeira Beach is where you’ll find the heartland of Pinellas County’s angling community - John’s Pass. John’s Pass fishing charters have a well-deserved reputation for being able to cater to the needs of almost any angler under the sun. Whether you’ll be staying in Boca Ciega Bay to fish shallow water, or you plan on going far out into the Gulf of Mexico, you’ll have more than your share of world-class angling.

John’s Pass Fishing Spots

A lot of professional fishing charters in John’s Pass run their trips with a “no fish, no pay” guarantee, which just goes to show how confident they are both in their abilities and the fishery in general. If you want to experience everything John’s Pass fishing has to offer, make sure to clear your schedule for a couple of days. You’ll need it.

Boca Ciega Bay

While people absolutely adore Boca Ciega’s bigger cousin, Tampa Bay, there’s a reason why plenty of anglers pick Boca Ciega instead. The both have very similar inshore fishing opportunities, while Boca Ciega is in a better position for anglers who want to go into federal waters later.

There’s no real need to stray out of the bay if you’re looking to get some good table fare. There’s a huge number of resident Redfish, Flounder, Speckled Trout, and Sheepshead for you to go after. Other species like Bonefish, Snook, and Tarpon will keep the sporting anglers busy all day long as well.

Madeira and Treasure Island Reefs

If you’ve only got time for a shorter trip, that doesn’t mean you’ll need to stick inshore. Treasure Island Reef is less than five miles out, and is a great fishing spot for most of the year. Along the Madeira Beach Reef, which is some six miles out, you’ll find droves of Snappers, Hogfish, Groupers, and other delicious bottom feeders. You shouldn’t have too much trouble filling your coolers even on a half day trip.

Those spoiling for a fight can look forward to Kingfish and Barracuda coming down to the reefs in spring and fall to hunt. If you’re skilled enough, the hunter will become your prey.

Federal Waters

As any experienced angler knows, the deeper you go, the bigger fish you’re bound to find. This is why you’ll have people going up to 100 miles out to catch some really huge bottom fish. From Red, Mutton, and Lane Snapper, to Red, Black, and Gag Grouper, you’ll have a real field day if you go out far enough. Of course, if you’re interested in a trolling trip, there’ll be a fair share of Mahi Mahi, Blackfin Tuna, and Sailfish for you to hook up.

Deep sea fishing trips targeting big gamefish can be much longer than your average inshore trip, so bear in mind you’re looking at some 10-12 hours on the water when going deep into federal waters.

Fishing Techniques

Just like in any other shallow water fisheries, light spinning rods will be your weapon of choice when fishing the bay for Reds, Snook, and others. The choice between live bait such as Shrimp or Crab, and artificial lures like topwater plugs and jerk baits depends on you preferences as well as what you hope to catch. For example, Redfish are very susceptible to Shrimp, while jerk and topwater plugs work best when going after bigger Snook.

More or less the same rules apply out on the reefs as well. When going from reef to reef during a longer trip, you are free to troll for Kingfish, Mahi Mahi, or Sailfish if you’ve gone far enough. Once you’re at a reef, chumming is a foolproof method of getting the fish to come to you.

When it comes to Tarpon, however, not much compares to trying to hook a Silver King on the fly. Try patterns that utilize crustacean colors for the best results, because Tarpon really like Crabs. If you plan on fishing in the late-afternoon, or any other time with low-light conditions, darker patterns such as purple/black can be used to great effect.

Need to Know

Most inshore charters have a standard trip time of 4-6 hours, with $100 per hour being the norm (though the most experienced captains may charge a little more). The same applies for nearshore reef trips, with longer trip options if you’re looking to tackle reefs a bit further away. If you plan on going on your own, you’ll need to be aware of the current state and federal regulations when it comes to size and bag limits for your catch.

John's Pass
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John's Pass Fishing Seasons

Have you ever tried Scamp Grouper? No? Now’s your chance to head out to the reefs, and get some delicious bottom feeders for the dinner table.

The Spotted Seatrout will be the inshore star this time of year, followed by Redfish. Shrimp remains the bait of choice, but Sardines are useful too.

Offshore waters are on fire if you’re in the market for Amberjack and Snapper. Kingfish, Tuna, and Cobia are also found on long-range trips.

April means Tarpon season is about to start. Anglers from all over the country will be coming in to try their luck against the Silver King.

When the average temperature goes up in the high-eighties, you know summer’s coming. And with it comes great fishing for Snook and Tarpon.

The start of summer is probably the best time to come if you can choose. Both inshore and further off in the Gulf, the fishing is simply amazing.

Summertime fishing means you’ll need plenty of room in the freezer. Red, Lane, Mutton, and Yellowtail Snapper are all over the reefs, and they’re not alone.

It’s a good time for that deep sea trip you’ve been thinking about, as this time of year is peak season for the Mahi Mahi bite.

If you’re lucky enough, the good weather will continue on through September too. A whole number of great fish can be found offshore, with Tarpon and Snook closer in.

It’s not uncommon for Tarpon fishing to still be a thing this time of year. If so, grab your fly gear and off to the flats while you still can.

As offshore fishing starts to wind down, anglers will turn their attention inshore. Now that the tourists have mostly left, you can fish in peace.

The bridge over John’s pass is a great place to visit for some Sheepshead, Gag Grouper, and Jack Crevalle fishing.

John's Pass Fishing Calendar

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Top Fishing Techniques in John's Pass

  1. Deep Sea Fishing

Top Targeted Species in John's Pass



Snapper (Red)

Snapper (Red)

King Mackerel (Kingfish)

King Mackerel (Kingfish)

Grouper (Red)

Grouper (Red)

Barracuda (Great)

Barracuda (Great)

Grouper (Gag)

Grouper (Gag)