Deep Sea Fishing in Tampa Bay, FL
For a massive catch and some serious bragging rights, give Tampa Bay deep sea fishing a try. This experience will take you 60-100 miles into the Gulf of Mexico, where you can fish the deep blue waters for Sailfish, Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, Blackfin Tuna, and a variety of large bottom fish.
The Deep Sea Charter Experience
Most Tampa Bay deep sea fishing charters leave from Clearwater and St. Petersburg. It can take close to two hours to reach true deep water, which is why most trips last somewhere between 8-12 hours to make sure you get enough fishing time. For the biggest fish, look for a charter that will take you 60+ miles from shore.
The Gulf of Mexico is home to a multitude of bottom fish. Swimming near the wrecks and reefs are Porgy, Grunts, Seabass, Triggerfish, Snapper, and Grouper. Summer is the peak season for many of these species, except for Amberjack, Scamp Grouper, and Gag Grouper, which are most abundant in winter.
Deep sea bottom fishing usually calls for heavy tackle and dead bait such as mullets, sardines, and pinfish. Fishing with live bait is more effective when targeting your catch in heavily fished areas.
Some Snapper and Grouper species are highly regulated in both state and federal waters, so be sure to ask your captain about what’s open to harvest ahead of time. You can also stay up to date on local regulations online.
While heading offshore and back you are likely to troll for various pelagic species including Wahoo, Sailfish, Mahi Mahi, Tuna, Cobia, Barracuda, and King Mackerel. Most of these fish reach their peak in summer months, though you can count on seeing larger numbers of King Mackerel in spring and fall.
Fishing between March and November gives you the chance to catch any of the above, with Tuna, Cobia, and King Mackerel swimming as close as 25-40 miles from shore.
Alternative Charter Options
If you’re looking for an introductory experience, there are plenty of Tampa Bay deep sea fishing charters which keep you closer to shore. Though you can’t target all the major players while fishing within the 10-30 mile range, this is a great opportunity to bring home something delicious without burning through all your stamina.
These trips last 4-8 hours and you will usually reach the fishing grounds within an hour. Seabass, Grunts, Hogfish, Snapper, and Grouper are all common catches. In spring and fall you might also troll for King Mackerel and Barracuda.
Deep Sea Charter Prices
Tampa Bay deep sea fishing charters come in many different forms and price ranges. In general, you can expect to pay $1,000 or more for an extended day trip (10-12 hours) that will take you around 70 miles offshore. A trip of this kind allows you to book the entire boat to yourself and you can expect to target the biggest fish in the Gulf, from Snapper to Sailfish.
Fishing closer to shore opens up more possibilities, including full day trips, half day trips, and party boat fishing charters. These trips might take you as far as 30 miles from shore, fishing for smaller bottom fish as well as King Mackerel and Barracuda when the season allows.
Private charters range from $650-800 for a full day trip. You can book a half day trip for $450-650. On the other hand, party boat fishing allows you to reserve a spot on board for as little as $200 per person for a full day trip. Half day party boat trips are $50-100 per person.
Top Targeted Deep Sea Fishing Species in Tampa Bay
- Size 5 to 20lbs
- Food Value Excellent
- Game Qualities Good
- Habitats Nearshore, Offshore, Reef, Wreck