Tampa Bay

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Fishing in Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay is a great place to get a taste of Florida’s superb fishing! What’s more, there’s an incredible number of Tampa Bay fishing charters ready to put you on the hot bite. With no shortage of incredible, hard-fighting, and tasty fish, the question isn’t why you should try fishing in Tampa Bay – it’s why wouldn’t you?

The bay is actually a saltwater estuary, with 400 miles of rich shallow habitat to explore. Impressive-sized Tarpon, Redfish, Snook, and Spotted Seatrout are the most common inshore catches in the area. Want more variety? Add Sheepshead, Black Drum, Flounder, Pompano, and Sharks to the equation.

Fishing the nearshore waters of the bay is an adventure in itself. Mackerel, Snapper, Grouper, Cobia, and many other species are swimming around, ready to take your bait. Venture out into the Gulf of Mexico, and chase all the favorite game fish – Mahi Mahi, King Mackerel, Barracuda, Tuna, and even Sailfish are in the cards.

Inshore trips are perfect for anglers of all levels, as well as family outings. More seasoned fishermen love targeting monster Tarpon and going after the inshore Grand Slam. The offshore fishery is so diverse that both novices and pros are all but guaranteed to have a blast.

Because the choice of fish is fantastic, charters offer a wide array of trips. Some of the best destinations to find a professional guide are St. Petersburg, Tampa, Clearwater, and Bradenton. And once you find your captain and hit the bay’s prolific waters, you’ll always come back for more!

Rules & Regulations

Most Tampa Bay fishing charters provide a fishing license for their customers so you don’t have to worry about a thing. Some sought-after species, like Red Snapper and Tarpon, have strict seasonalities, so ask your captain about the details before your trip.

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Tampa Bay Fishing Seasons

Early in the year, you can expect excellent fishing if you know where to look! Average temperatures are in the sixties, cold enough to push Redfish and Speckled Trout into the deeper waters of the bay.

February is full of possibilities here in Tampa Bay. Fishing inshore could produce anything from Redfish, Speckled Trout, and Sheepshead to small Sharks.

As average temperatures climb toward 75°F, things are heating up on the flats. Charter boats in St. Petersburg and Clearwater are gearing up for the season offshore.
 
Tampa Bay is bustling with anglers in April as Tarpon make their first appearance. Bear in mind that Tarpon fishing is strictly catch and release. Snook are also biting, so light tackle and fly fishermen can have a blast on the flats. The offshore fishing season is up and running.

Temperatures are rising daily in the bay, so it’s hard to say what’s hotter, the weather or the fishing! Tarpon season is in full swing, with top-notch Snook fishing to boot. Redfish, Trout, Pompano, and many more are biting as well.

You’ll be spoiled for choice in June, with unparalleled fishing on the flats and in the Gulf. Why choose when you can spend one day wrestling Tarpon inshore and the next reeling in Mahi Mahi offshore?

You can expect some of the hottest weather of the year in July, and all the prized fish are loving it! Whatever you’d like to target in Tampa Bay, now is the time to do it. Cool off on the water and reel in some prestigious game fish while you’re at it!

The summer heat continues, along with stellar fishing left and right. You can expect multiple hook-ups while fishing for Tarpon and a wide variety of catches on the flats. These warm summer nights are perfect for bowfishing.
In some years, fantastic fishing continues all the way through September. Tarpon and Snook are still in the cards, along with a variety of big game fish offshore. Average temperatures are slipping below 90°F.
If you’re lucky, Tarpon fishing in Tampa Bay could still be strong at this time of year. The flats offer plenty of light tackle and fly action. Cast a few lines before a cold front pushes the fish into deeper water.
The offshore fishing season comes to a close in November, but this can be the perfect time to check out the busy waters inshore. With fewer tourists in the Bay, you can have this fishery all to yourself!
Even in December, you can expect balmy weather and excellent angling conditions. Fishing the deeper water in the bay will yield Redfish, Speckled Trout, and the odd Snook. You could also find Flounder and Sheepshead because they prefer “colder” weather.

Tampa Bay Fishing Calendar

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Top Fishing Techniques in Tampa Bay

  1. Deep Sea Fishing
  2. Fly Fishing
  3. Spearfishing

Top Targeted Species in Tampa Bay

Snook

Snook

Redfish

Redfish

Cobia

Cobia

Tarpon

Tarpon

Spotted Seatrout

Spotted Seatrout

King Mackerel (Kingfish)

King Mackerel (Kingfish)

Grouper (Gag)

Grouper (Gag)

Spanish Mackerel

Spanish Mackerel