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Fishing Tampa Bay

Tampa Ultimate Fishing Guide

About Tampa

Tampa is a city located along the West Gulf Coast of Florida, which apart from being a large financial hub, is known for its museums and cultural offerings. The city has a population of around 350,000 as per the last census, making it the second largest metropolitan statistical area in the state and the fifth in popularity as a permanent place to stay. 

Tampa, meaning “sticks of fire”, may have taken its root from the many lightning strikes that befell this area during the summer months. The real thunder, however, lies in the exciting Tampa Bay area, with its thrill a minute rides, exciting animal encounters and historic districts like Ybor City. Whether you’re looking to catch a Broadway Musical, go scuba diving, or try a gourmet hot dog, Tampa remains the most dynamic tourist destination of Florida.

Tampa is Florida’s busiest port with all major attractions like the Cuban district, aquarium  and local art galleries all within easy reach. The city itself offers a great mix of culture, arts, entertainment, sports and cuisines to satisfy people of all ages and every interest.  The Riverwalk area, especially, is an excellent place to spend relaxing and doing nothing. This is the place where all the action takes place and this also the area full of serene parks for resting and wandering about. With plenty of water related activities like boating and fishing, hundreds of restaurants and watering holes, you will never end up bored or thirsty, no matter what time of the day or night.

Types of Fish Found in Tampa

Tampa Bay offers visitors endless opportunities to indulge in some of the best fishing in the entire state of Florida. In fact, fishing here is so extensive that no matter what time of the year, this place always has some variety or other to target. During an inshore fishing charter, there will be plenty of chances to land snook, redfish and trout. Redfish can be caught at most times of the year in Tampa, while spring and fall is the ideal time for snook as they move up on the inshore flats. During winter, however, they tend to go into the rivers and canals. Tarpon season usually starts from May and ends in August. This is one fish which every angler must target at least once in his lifetime as they offer a great fight and are absolutely breathtaking to behold as they jump in the air. If the time is right, we can even look for cobia, sharks, Spanish mackerel and sheepshead.

The great barracuda is the only species of this large family found in these waters. Bluefish move into the Florida waters during the winter months and are a popular gamefish.

During the cool winter months, hundreds of Manatees gather at the TECO Manatee Viewing Center to bask in the warm waters. This is truly a sight to behold!

Ways to Fish in Tampa

The shallow grass flats, innumerable creeks, crystal clear rivers and oyster bars around the Tampa Bay area are home to the best shallow water fishing in the whole of Florida. The inshore Tampa fishing charters offer excellent and entertaining saltwater fishing opportunities, because of the huge diversity of fish found in this region. These charters are extremely popular with families, corporate team-building activity coordinators, and anglers looking to net some of the best and prized sport fish.

In case you have a penchant for the open outdoors but do not have the patience to wait for the fish to come to you, then you can try bowfishing. This can be done in the night as well to avoid the blistering heat, and is an extremely easy to target fish, even for children. The bows are set at low weights and can be easily operated by women and children above 10 years. Bowfishing gives you the chance to shoot at mullet, sheepshead, flounder, black drum and mangrove snapper. Another ultimate way of beating the heat is to book a night trip in search of feeding snook in the lights of the dock or bridge tarpon at night.

The Tampa Bay area is also said to be in the top 5 kayak fishing destinations in the world. With a flourishing eco system in place a kayak fishing trip is not only relaxing but gets you real close to Mother Nature. Paddleboard fishing also has its advantages. Their quiet propulsion is excellent for sneaking up on fish and the advantage of standing up gives a better visual for casting by site. You can even slip down from the side of the boat and try wade fishing for your favorite Tampa Bay species.

Tampa Fishing Spots

Tampa, Florida offers a wide variety of fishing in a pristine environment that keeps anglers returning for more and more. With an astounding 200 different varieties in the waters, the possibilities in this area are limitless. Accessing the best spots is another challenge, but with careful planning, one can find areas where fishing is not only prolific, but easy as well.

Shore fishing spots

The Upper Tampa Bay park provides access to several estuaries and creeks for shore fishing. Canoes and kayaks can be used to catch redfish, black drum, snook and spotted sea trout.

Fishing Piers

Piers are ideal for anglers who do not have a boat. The Ballast Point Park Pier, stretching 900 feet into the bay is great for snook, redfish and sheepshead. The Skyway Fishing Pier, which is one of the longest in the world, is good for snook, tarpon, grouper, sea bass and many others.

Tampa Bay bridges

The best fishing takes place around the dozens of bridges. The four major ones and the smaller ones both provide perfect fish habitat for cobia, tarpon, snapper and others. The Skyway Bridge, Gandy, and Courtney Campbell are all excellent fishing spots.

Artificial Reefs

There are eight artificial reefs throughout Tampa Bay area which provide habitat for just about every fish which lives in this area. 

Fishing in West Central Florida Gulf waters lends itself to many exciting fishing methods and species. If you are looking to target specific fish, we have captured some key information and helpful tips to help you hook what you are looking for.

If you want…Snook.

Fish for a Grand Slam.

When to go:
March-April and September-November are designated months for Snook; keeping in mind when you can keep it.


Summer can be great to catch large Snook off some of the barrier islands, such as 3 rooker.

Where to go:
Of course many of the secret spots are left to the captains discretion, however, some of the best areas are inshore in places such as Double Branch Bay off the Causeway.

What you need to know:
Live bait (Sardines) are the best for Snook year round. Snook permit and recreational fishing license are required. Hook and line only, spearing and snatch hooking prohibited. Length to keep must be not less than 28″ total length or more than 33.”

If you want…Red Drum/Redfish.

One of the most popular sports fish in Florida; fish for a Grand Slam and great for dinner.

When to go:
You can usually catch Redfish at any time. April and August tend to be some of the best months, since the summer months are best to go after tarpon.

Where to go:
Red Drum inhabit the nearshore and offshore waters throughout the Gulf. While Red Drum in Florida can reach lengths of 45 inches and weigh up to 51 pounds in offshore water, juvenile red drum are easier to catch and inhabit rivers, bays, canals, tidal creeks, and passes in estuaries and overgrown mangrove areas.

What you need to know:
Length to keep must be not less than 18″ no more than 27″ total length. 1 fish per person per day; 8 fish vessel limit. These are great to bring home for dinner!

If you want…Tarpon.

Fish 3/3 for a Grand Slam. Tarpon can reach sizes up to 8 feet and can weigh up to 280 pounds. Nicknamed the “Silver King,” Tarpon are some of the largest, most fun fish to catch!

When to go:
Summer time means tarpon time. Small tarpon begin to return at the beginning of summer. July and August can bring big poons to the area. There are no seasonal regulations for tarpon.

Where to go:
Tarpon are found throughout Florida’s coastal environment. From the flats to the Gulf to near the Skyway bridge, there are plenty of places to find Tarpon, this is where experience comes in, and why it’s usually best to have a captain if you are targeting Tarpon.

What you need to know:
Tarpon is a catch-and-release only fishery, so no size limit needed. One Tarpon tag per person per year may be purchased when in pursuit of an International Game Fish Association (IGFA) record. Vessel, transport and shipment limited to one fish. Tarpon over 40″ must remain in the water during release. Spearing and snatch hooking prohibited.

If you want…Speckled Sea Trout.

These are also great to cook up for dinner!

When to go:
Much like Red Drum, sea trout have no seasonal regulations.

Where to go:
Similar to Snook, stay inshore and nearshore in bay and inlets, in and around seagrass meadows, mangrove-fringed shorelines, deep holes and channels and above oyster bars.

What you need to know:
Trout is usually caught a lot on shrimp in the winter time and on live bait the rest of the year. To keep, the Trout must be more than 15 inches and less than 20 inches total length (may possess one over 20 inches included in bag limit).

If you want…Red Snapper.

When to go:
May 23- July 14

Where to go:
Red Snapper, unlike the other species in this post, are reef fish and are caught offshore.

What you need to know:
Length to keep must be must be 16″ in length. Limit is 2 per harvester per day; included in the 10 per harvester per day state Snapper aggregate bag limit. Red Snapper is sometimes described as the best tasting fish in the Gulf of Mexico.

Unless specified above, live bait tends to work best when targeting most of the species above. Try to net bait inshore near mangroves, bridges, pilings or look for bait schools on the waterways. Also good to keep in mind, Florida Fish and Wildlife requires circle hooks (must be non-stainless steel and not offset) when using natural baits and a dehooking device; no matter what you are fishing.

If you would rather leave all the regulation info to the captains, our guides are more than equipped to show you a good time no matter what you are hoping to catch!

Find Your Perfect Charter

Visit Florida Fish & Wildlife for more information on fishing seasons and tips.

Tampa Fishing Charters

Welcome to Tampa Bay, the best light tackle inshore fishing destination in the world. Tampa Bay’s extensive network of bays, mangroves and tidal creeks provide a strong challenge, as far as fishing is concerned, not only to the novice but to the avid angler as well. Guide Guru offers guided charters that target your most wanted species like tarpon, snook, redfish, grouper and many more. Inshore fishing, guided fly fishing and a lot of other special charters can be arranged by us without putting a dent on your pocket. 

Guide Guru offers many differet charter trips from Tampa all around the year. Fishing in this area is an unforgettable experience in itself and we at Guide Guru pledge to provide you with the best possible outdoor experience, guaranteed! Our company is the only reliable one that can assure you the ultimate fishing action in town. We have the best vetted guides in the business on our rolls. All of them have been vetted and handpicked for our team because of their firsthand knowledge of the fishing spots, and great people skills. The possibilities are endless and the education imparted by our crew invaluable. For example, special precautions need to be taken while handling snook as they have very sharp gill plates which can easily cut a hand. The friendly crew will happily teach you how to handle them safely.  From beginners to experts, children to veterans, our approach is always courteous and patient. When out on the open sea, we strive on improving the fishing skills of our guests all the time while making sure they’re having fun. Call us today with any questions!

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Fishing Tampa Bay

Chartered Fishing in Tampa Bay

Trade watching TV for fishing this Sunday!

Instead of staying inside and watching TV all day on Sunday, why not spend the day outdoors? Take a guided boat fishing trip with one of the top guides available on GuideGuru.com

Learning how to fish in Tampa Bay is easy with the help of skilled local guides who know the area. Let us show you the ropes. A guided boat fishing trip is also a great way to get kids on board with learning to fish. Are you afraid to go fishing with kids? Don’t be!

Guide Guru has the best charters available and provides a seamless booking experience! Get your spot reserved today, our guide’s schedules are filling up fast.