Tampa is the heart of the Gulf Coast, and with more than 200 species of fish, it’s a well sought after fishing destination for anglers all over the country. The city and its many waterways have a lot to offer, and in this Tampa Bay fishing guide, we’re going to explore this beautiful piece of the Sunshine State. 

How to Fish Tampa Bay

There are a few different strategies you can take when fishing in Tampa Bay. If it’s your first time in this area, you’ll want to read through this section and consider hiring a Tampa Bay fishing guide or Charter to help you navigate the waters. This will help you get started! 

Fish The Shore 

If you’re here and looking for something to do, fishing from the shore is a great way to pass some time. You never know what you’ll catch, and Tampa Bay has plenty of piers, bridges, and beaches loaded with great fishing opportunities. 

The top spot for shore fishing in Tampa Bay would have to be the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. This amazing bridge offers awesome views, and it separates the Gulf from the bay. Here you can catch anything from King Mackerel to Snook. 

If surf fishing is your game, you’ll want to check out Clearwater Beach. There’s plenty of room to spread out and fish the surf, and you can catch almost anything, including Pompano, Redfish, and Trout. 

Fish Tampa Bay with a Charter 

Having a knowledgeable Tampa Bay fishing guide with you is invaluable. This is the most effective, enjoyable, and convenient way to fish in Tampa. If you’re looking to make the most out of your time on the water, enjoy yourself, and create an enjoyable experience for people who might not be as into fishing as you are, this is the way to go. 

There are a variety of different fishing trips you can take with a charter, so you’ll want to shop around and get the right one based on what type of experience you want. There are half-day trips, full-day trips, night fishing, and even bow fishing adventures. Keep in mind that you can also choose charters based on fishing locations. 

Tampa Bay is loaded with inshore, offshore, and freshwater fishing opportunities, so if you have a specific fish or type of experience in mind, hiring a fishing charter to take you on the water will help you get exactly what you’re looking for. 

Best of all, you get to learn from experienced captains who have been doing this for a long time. They’ll help you hone your fishing capabilities, so you can catch something you probably haven’t seen before. It’s the ultimate way to create a unique experience that you won’t forget. 

How to Fish Tampa Bay

Take a Kayak 

Kayak fishing in Tampa Bay is probably one of the most popular ways to go about it, and for a good reason. There’s plenty of grassy flats, backwater canals, and miles of shoreline to access the water from, so there’s a lot to love about Tampa as a kayaker. 

This strategy is what will help you find some seriously huge fish because you can squeeze into places where a lot of people can’t get. That said, you’ll want to make sure you know where you’re going and what you’re in for. It’s suggested that you have a fish finder with you or at least a depth indicator. 

By kayak, you’ll find a lot of popular inshore fish such as Snook, Redfish, and Speckled Trout. The best part about this is that you can pretty much drop your kayak from anywhere and start working your way towards the catch. 

What Can You Catch? 

We talked about it a little, and if you’ve ever fished in Tampa Bay, you know there are plenty of great species, but what can you expect to catch here? Tampa provides a large variety of fish, but most people venture here for Tarpon, Snook, and Redfish. 


While Boca Grande is known as the Tarpon capital, Tampa Bay is starting to prove itself worthy of the title. The season runs from April to August but can come early and run late on a good year. Most people come during the summer months because this is when the Tarpon population is most active.

Their peak migration is from May to July, and you can expect to find Tarpon as big as 140 pounds during this time. We don’t suggest going out on the water attempting to catch these behemoths without the right gear and team by your side. The typical fight with a Tarpon can last as long as 40 minutes, so you’ll want to book a Tarpon charter just to be safe! 


Snook are available in Tampa Bay throughout the entire year, but your best bet is to try and find them at night. These nocturnal fish hang out around docks and mangrove shorelines, so kayak fishing for them is a real possibility. 

If you have your sights set on backwater canal fishing, these are the fish you’ll want to target. Topwater plugs, shrimp, and sardines are the best ways to attract attention from these guys. 


Florida Redfish are unlike any other, and in this Tampa Bay fishing guide, they’re the king of the flats. They’ll chase down your plugs in the shallow flats during the warmer months of the year. Most of them will hibernate during the winter, and they’ll migrate to deeper waters during this time. 

Fish Tampa Bay with a Charter

Top Fishing Spots in Tampa Bay 

We’ve said that the fishing destinations are nearly endless here, and we weren’t kidding. Tampa Bay offers some of the most diverse fishing opportunities in the country. There’s a reason why it’s at the top of many anglers’ bucket lists. Here are some of the best places to fish in Tampa: 

  • St. Petersburg
  • Hillsborough Bay 
  • Clearwater
  • Fort De Soto Park 

These locations offer so much more than fishing as well. If you’re traveling with your family, you might be looking for shops, restaurants, nightlife, and more. Tampa and the surrounding towns offer a vibrant nightlife, fresh food, great bars, and a wonderful Gulf culture. 

Get To It! 

Tampa is the heart of the Gulf Coast, and visiting Tampa offers so much more than great fishing opportunities. Come for the fishing and stay for the travel destination. There’s a lot to do here, and we recommend enlisting the help of a Tampa Bay travel guide to help you. If you’re considering a world-class fishing trip to Tampa Bay, we can help you get started!