Treasure Island, Florida, United States

You’ll find some of the best fishing opportunities in the world, right here in Tampa Bay Florida. It has a wide variety of waters with many different species of fish. You can hit backwater estuary systems, or venture into offshore blue water. This West Central Florida spot has enough fishing options to keep you busy for weeks.

Inshore Fishing 

Fishing inside Tampa Bay and hitting the smaller bays, rivers, backcountry and beaches is what many anglers prefer. Some anglers tend to use light spinning gear. Others opt to go with fly tackle —using artificial lures, flies and live bait.

Offshore fishing

Places off The Gulf of Mexico, west of the demarcation line are considered offshore fishing. Lots of the offshore fishing at Treasure Island is done trolling or bottom fishing over limestone edges and wrecks. Light and heavy tackle can be used for offshore fishing.

Main Fish Species on Treasure Island

Tampa Bay has an array of fish species you can catch onshore and offshore. Certain fish migrate here seasonally —during spring and fall. Other fish species reside here year-round. There are so many target species here it could take all day to list them all. With an abundance of diverse fishing areas like backcountry haunts and deeper structures offshore, you will have your choice of species to catch.

Best Places to Fish in Tampa Bay 

You can reference numerous books, online information, and maps that will show you the best inshore and offshore fishing areas Tampa Bay has to offer. But if you want to discover the best spot, the only way is to get your feet wet and sit the various locations until you find a honey hole or two.

Experiment, and fish through the various tidal phases while on vacation. Get a feel for the habitat and discover the best fishing patterns. One easy piece of advice is to look for birds hovering the water. It usually means there are lot of baitfish, which indicates the presence of fish as well.

If you’re inshore fishing, you’ll likely be in the hallow grass flats, and/or the mangrove shorelines. It’s easy to locate and access these backwater areas. While fishing these areas you’ll catch redfish, snook, and trout. If you’re fishing for tarpon, you can find them along most any stretch of the beach. If you venture out to the underwater structures and reefs, you’ll likely catch flounder and Spanish mackerel.

As far as offshore fishing concerned, it’s mostly done over limestone structures like caves and ledges. Because they’re submerged, these structures are a bit harder to locate. You’ll have to rely on a bottom sonar map and GPS coordinates. It’s well worth it, seeing as how there’s lots of snapper, grunts, hogfish, and grouper below. You’ll also find barracuda, kingfish, goliath grouper and bonito around these artificial wrecks and reefs.

Best Fishing Tackle and Gear for Treasure Island

First things first. Bring plenty of sunscreen. You’ll need protection from the potent UV rays. Wearing lightweight long sleeve shirts is ideal as well. You will also need some sunglasses —ideally polarized shades —to protect your eyes and help see into the water.

You’ll want to put together a complete ravel bag, but it’s easier said than done due to the diversity of the area. Your best bet is to have something for everything. You’ll need various rods, reels, and fishing lures to target the various species of fish.

When it comes to fly fishing in Tampa Bay, make sure you bring 8 – 10 weight fly fishing rods. They will cover a wide variety of target fish. However, if you’re fishing for tarpon make sure you bring a 12 weight fly rod. Sink tip lines and spools of floating line are also important fishing tools for this area. It’s good to have abrasion resistant tapered leaders as well. Some lures that work like a charm are flies with streamer patterns, and white and chartreuse colored clousers.

For inshore fishing, you’ll likely want to go with a 7 foot rod with a spinning reel. We suggest using 8 – 15 pound line. Use leaders ranging from 20 – 30 pounds for the best results. Keep in mind that hard body plugs work quite well for these waters. Soft plastic jigs are effective too. Go with natural colors for the lures. Locals say that hot pink works like a charm.

If you’re going offshore fishing, 20 – 30 pound class tackle is ideal. Come prepared with conventional rods and spinning gear. Make sure your leader material is 30 – 80 pound test, and make sure to bring trolling lures and gear. Locals say planers, spoons, heavy jigs, and diving plugs work best. Be sure to bring a wide variety of colors —including some bright ones. And if you’re going to be fishing with live bait, bring a cast net plus some sabiki rigs and live shrimp.



Horseshoe Beach, Florida, United States

Horseshoe Beach is a fishermen’s dream. It holds seven formidable spring fed rivers. They spit out directly into the Gulf of Mexico. The estuary they create draws in anglers from all over Florida. You ‘ll also find hidden coves, amazing islands, and unspoiled flats.

The water clarity in the island areas is optimal. They offer excellent fishing for locals and vacationers of Florida. In fact, fishermen come far and wide to catch trophy redfish, grouper, speckled trout, trip tails, tarpon, black drum, flounder, pompano and permit. You’ll find lots of redfish in the shallows, and speckled trout in the flats. You can also sight cast for lunker tarpon, cobia and drum.

This area is also known for its breathtaking scenery. You can see whitetail deer, bald eagles. and pelicans in the sky. It’s not uncommon to see a bald eagle fly directly overhead. Manatees eating on patches of turtle grass can be seen if you look beneath the boat. Two well known wildlife honey holes are Homosassa and Crystal River. They’re renowned for having great fishing hot spots for families on vacation.

Top Fish Species at Horseshoe Beach

Seven spring fed rivers, several lakes, vast shoreline, and backcountry waters make up The Nature Coast. Within these bodies of water you can catch redfish, largemouth bass, snook and tarpon. Some of the best places to catch a variety of fish species is Homosassa River, Crystal River and Withlacoochee River.

Best Places to Fish in Horseshoe Beach Florida

Fresh Water Lakes

Lake Rousseau is a monstrous man made lake spanning three counties. Part of the lake —the south side section— is actually in Crystal River. You’ll see that a four lane boat launch was just built there.

Lake Rousseau is mainly a bass fishing lake. This is due to its large amount of natural cover and vegetation. Lunker largemouth love its many stumps and structures. You can also find catfish, stump knockers and specs in this grassy, stumpy lake. Fishing is good 365 days per year at Horseshoe.

Another great fishing spot at Horseshoe is Lake Tsala Apopka. This vast lake covers nearly 20,000 acres and has densely vegetated marshes and open water pools. You can catch lots of crappie here. The lily pads give them perfect cover. Plus, you can catch big largemouth bass here —10 pounds and heavier.

Henderson Lake is located about 6 miles from Hernando. This lake is a hot spot for water skiers and jet skiers. However, anglers flock from all around to hit this spot. It holds plenty of big bass. Plus, you can catch bream, bluegill, and catfish.

Inshore flats and backcountry

Crystal River and Homosassa are filled with deep channels that help anglers easily navigate its shallow waters. if you’re looking for backcountry fishing spot, hit Ozello or Chassahowitzka. These areas offer amazing fishing opportunities.


If you’re looking to do some offshore fishing on The Nature Coast, then you’ll have lots of opportunities. You can catch amberjack, kingfish, mahi mahi, barracuda, and an array of groupers and snappers.

Best Tackle and Gear for Horseshoe Beach

Spinning Tackle

Make sure to bring medium to fast action rods. They should range from 8 -20 pounds. Also, it’s important that they have good drag that will hold monofilament and braided line of up to 150 yards. If you’re targeting small to medium size species like redfish, baby tarpon, snappers snooks, sea trout, and ladyfish the opt with a 10 pound outfit. For larger fish —like big tarpon and sharks —go with a 20 pound outfit. For lakes, you can downsize to an 8 pound spinning outfit.

Fly Tackle

if you’re going the fly rod route, then use fast action rods with weight ranging from 6 – 10. Make sure it can hold at least 150 yards of backing. For small to medium size fish species such as redfish, sea trout, false albacore and small sharks go with a standard 8 weight. Generally, 6 – 10 point weights are ideal for these target species. You’ll need a floating line and/or a short to intermediate tip. Use fly patterns and types that are best for tropical weather.


Locals recommend a number of effective types of lures. They say soft plastics work well. This means jerk baits, plastic shrimp. imitation fish, and gulp shrimp. Plugs work great as well —between 3 and 6 inches in length. Use diving and top water lures like spoons and ducktail jigs.


You can find live bait at local bait shops in the Crystal River and Homosassa area. The most effective live baits seem to be live shrimp and pinfish. You can find shiners, worms, and crickets if you’re looking to do some freshwater fishing.


If you’re looking to catch Redfish and trout using a fly rod then go with what works. Flies with patterns such as kwans, Borski shrimp, clousers, gotchas and Merkin grans work well. If you’re targeting tarpons then use toads, Lemay’s Snake, EP Baitfish, and Black Deaths.

For largemouth bass and bluegill go with closer minnow flies. Bait fish imitations ranging from 2 – 5 inches are recommended. Try Gurgles and Seducers as well —they really work.


Be sure to wear fast drying fabrics. Wear long sleeve and pants to protect your skin from the UV rays. Also, bring hats, buffs, and sunglasses. And don’t forget to bring a mosquito head net and mosquito spray.



New Smyrna Beach, Florida, United States

Located on the east coast of Florida, New Smyrna Beach is a gorgeous place to vacation and catch fish. Many come to fish the Mosquito Lagoon, a 22 mile stretch of water that’s part of the Indian River Lagoon System. It has a reputation for having excellent year-round flats fishing —especially in the shallow draft flats.

Skiff fishing is common in the lagoon areas. Anglers usually propel the skiff over the shallow flats using a pole, rather than paddling with an oar. Light spinning tackle and fly rods are typically used while flat fishing from a skiff. Some fishermen using trolling motors. Whichever you use, it’s important to keep the noise to a minimum to avoid spooking the fish.

You can also see a lot of wildlife at New Smyrna Beach. This makes it ideal family vacationing and fishing. There’s manatees, dolphins, heron, pelicans and more. Plus the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is a mere 20 minutes south of the beach. It’s one of the most pristine pieces of coastline in Florida.

Native Fish Species

New Smyrna Beach boasts plenty of great game fish. Sea trout, redfish, and black drum can be caught 365 days per years. Redfish and sea trout are by far the two most prevalent fish species in this region. During summer, you should target tarpon and snook. They’re active in the Mosquito Lagoon’s inshore waters.

Towards the inlet there are more fish species. Docks and creeks harbor flounder, sheephead, snapper, ladyfish, grouper, and sharks. If you fish nearshore off the Atlantic Coast you can catch jacks, kingfish, cobia, barracuda, false albacore and more. If you choose to go surf fishing, you can snag pompano, bluefish, redfish, whiting, drum, and mackerel.

Where to fish

For site fishing from a skiff, the central and southern parts of Mosquito Lagoon is the best choice. You can also fish the northern Mosquito Lagoon, and the Ponce inlet areas. Just be prepared to devote more time these areas because they cover a lot of space. And don’t forget to hit key fishing spots along the beach, such as reefs and nearshore wrecks.


If you’re hitting the flats, use a 7 or 7 1/2 foot medium action rod. We suggest using 10 pound braided line with a 20 pound leader. Use a reel size of 2500 for the most success. Keep in mind, if you’re going after tarpon you should use a 30-50 pound leader.

For dock fishing, we recommend using a stiffer rod. Use 15-20 pound braid, so you can safely pull fish from pilings once they’re on the line. If you opt to go nearshore fishing, then switch to a 4000-8000 size reel, and up the braid to 20-30 pounds. And if surf fishing is your game, then go with an 8-10 foot surf rod with a large reel.

If you’re fly fishing, try a 7 weight rod and floating line. If you’re targeting larger fish, then go with a 9 weight rod —for example big redfish and trout. But keep in mind that average size fish can be caught on a 5 – 7 weight rod.



Akumal, Yucutan, Mexico

From Akumal south, to Ascension Bay on the Riviera Maya there’s an abundance of fishing spots and entertainment. If you’re looking to take a family vacation and sneak in some fishing on the side, it’s the perfect spot.

You can catch lots of bonefish and tarpon while getting in plenty of quality time with the family. Akumal is a great central location, with lots of fishing hot spots and family activities within close proximity.

The small, serene town of Talum is just south of Akumal. It has many interesting places to take your family. You’ll find some of Mexico’s most well known Mayan ruins there.

South of Tulum is the Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve. Covering about 20% of the state of Quintana Roo, it’s one of Mexico’s largest parks. And don’t forget about the Mayan fishing Village of Punta Allen. It’s only 5 blocks of sandy streets, yet has a number of fishing hot spots and fresh seafood markets.

Native Fish Species

Most local anglers love to target Bonefish in the waters of Akumal. Bonefish typically weigh under three pounds but can get bigger —especially near the ocean side flats. The tarpon are much bigger. They can weigh 30 plus pounds when you catch them in the lagoons. The large ones can get up to about 80 pounds. During the summer, you can target adult tarpon migrating along the reef.

There is an abundance of permit on the flats and beaches. Lures with crab and shrimp patterns work best. Snook are usually on the ocean side during winter months, and are found in the lakes year-round. Snooks can reach up to 30 pounds and fun to catch.

Also, Jack crevalle and barracuda lurk on the shores and the flats, mainly in areas holding sardines. If you see gulls and other ocean birds feeding, that typically means sardines are around. So look for them as an indicator
of where you should fish.

Best Places to Fish

The beaches and lagoon flats of Boca Paila offer some of the best fly fishing spots on the planet. There are plenty of lodges and guides on the way to Punta Allen. Guides and locals can show you the best way to fish individual areas in Akumal.

The most effective way to fish Ascension Bay is to rely on local advice from lodges like Pesca Maya or Casa Blanca. If you’re fishing Cancun, venture 40 miles northwest to the Isla Holbox to fish for tarpon. Ask for Mr. “Sandflea” Bega Cruz, the owner of the Holbox Tarpon Club. He will recommend the best tarpon fishing spots in Mexico.

Recommended Gear and Supplies

Your go-to gear for most every fishing spot is an 8 weight rod and floating line. For surf fishing, use an intermediate sink tip line. You can also use sink tip line while fishing deep cenotes in the lagoons. Cenotes are natural water filled sinkholes, formed by the collapse of limestone bedrock.

On the beaches, use bigger and heavier flies than you would on the flats. Try lead-headed spawning shrimp and mantis variations ranging —sizes 4 – 6. For the best results catching lake tarpon use dark flies such as Black Death or black and Purple combo colors. Use a fly with a strong silhouette as well —especially when the water is discolored by rain.

For great results in the lakes, use top water action with gurgler patterns. For flats use flies tied in tan, white and pink. They’ll bring the best results. We recommend Bonefish Candy, Pink Puff, Greg’s Flats Fly, and Clouser Minnows —size 6. You can also fish with spinning equipment and have lots of success.