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.
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.
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.