--SALTWATER  Fishing in Tampa Bay  — Easy Access and Parking  —  

Whether you want to fish the flats, mangrove shorelines, or even find a prime freshwater destination, there are plenty of Tampa Bay fishing hot spots to choose from. Use this list to plan your mid-summer Tampa Bay fishing adventures. These locations are excellent for visitors and non-boaters because their facilities offer access to the moving gulf waters and tides.

Few Rules But Strictly Enforced —  
Fish Identification: Often, sport fish look very similar and are hard to identify. This can be a problem when the regulations are different for each species. To help with the identification of similar species, the identification sheets below were developed and contain simple, easily seen identification keys that will help fishermen identify similar species. These sheets can be printed using a desktop printer and taken out on the next fishing trip.

Know Your Florida Fish: Greater Amberjack and Banded Rudderfish 
Know Your Florida Fish: Black Grouper, Gag, and Red Grouper
Know Your Florida Fish: King Mackerel and Spanish Mackerel
Know Your Florida Fish: Florida Pompano and Permit

SHORELINE FISHING LICENSE  —  Florida residents fishing for saltwater species from the shore or from a structure fixed to shore are required to have a shoreline fishing license. The annual resident shoreline fishing license is now free. 

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Those who obtain the license over the phone or off the internet will have to pay a convenience fee of less than $5. Resident anglers may consider purchasing a $17.00 one-year saltwater license which covers both shoreline and watercraft recreational fishing.

For more information about the shoreline exemption and fishing licenses, please visit FWC, Division of Recreational Licenses and Permits

MONOFILAMENT RECYCLING  —  The Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Program (MRPP) is a statewide effort to educate the public on the problems caused by monofilament line left in the environment, to encourage recycling through a network of line recycling bins and drop-off locations, and to conduct volunteer monofilament line cleanup events.Place used or old fishing line in outdoor recycling bins mounted at many piers, boat ramps, and marinas throughout the state. Indoor recycling bins are also available at many tackle shops.  To find the nearest recycling location, please visit the MRPP Web site.

"Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, 
are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.”

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day,
listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time. 

—  John Lubbock — 

Sunshine Skyway Fishing Pier State Park

If you are looking for good fishing spots in Tampa Bay, head to the Sunshine Skyway Fishing Pier. There are two miles of fishing pier (the St. Petersburg side is a half-mile long, and the Palmetto side is 1½ miles long) that offer opportunities to catch species such as snook, tarpon, grouper, Spanish mackerel, cobia, sheepshead, and pompano. What's one of the best things about this Tampa Bay fishing spot? That would be the fact that the Sunshine Skyway Fishing Pier is open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. There are daily admission fees that apply, so be sure to check the Florida State Park website in advance of your visit.


Skyway Fishing Pier has 2 Piers,  a North Pier and a South Pier.
North Pier: 11101 34th Street South, St. Petersburg, FL 33711  —  Phone # North Pier Bait Shop 727-865-0668
South Pier: 7901 US HWY. 19 South, Palmetto, FL 34221 —  South Pier Bait Shop 941-729-0117
Hours: Both Fishing Piers are open 24 hours a day 7 days a week.


  • $4.00 per vehicle to get on the pier and drive to your favorite spot  — 
  • $12.00 for over sized vehicle ( campers and such ) to get on pier —  
  • Fee for fishing on the pier that is not included in the $4.00 vehicle fee.  --
  • Children 5 years old and under are free  —  
  • Children 6 - 11 years old are $2.00 each  —  
  • Adults 12 years old and older are $4.00 each  —  
  • Once you have paid your admission to be on the piers your pass is good for 24 hours on either pier.
  • You are free to come and go as you please  —  
  • When going to either pier you will have to pay a $1.00 toll or have a Sun Pass  —  
  • Both piers are within the toll booths, so if you would like to leave one and go to the other you will not have to pay an additional toll.

Equipment Rentals: Yes, rental fishing equipment is available at both piers in the Bait Shops. It cost $8.00 a day for rental equipment per person.

Fishing License Required:   No, a fishing license will be included with your paid admission to fish on the pier. Your pass and fishing license will be good for 24 hours on either pier.  Your fishing license will only be good if fishing from one of these piers, if fishing outside of the pay station at the entrance to either pier your license will not be valid.

Bait Shop: Both fishing piers have a Bait Shop on them that have rental equipment, live bait, frozen bait, tackle and snacks. And both Bait Shops are open 24/7.  Phone numbers for both Bait Shops are above.

Other Facilities:  Restrooms

Fish to Catch:  Pompano, King Mackerel, Spanish Mackerel, Grouper, Sharks, Tarpon, Cobia, Mangrove Snapper, Sheepshead and Sea Bass.

Pier Information: 

  • The Skyway Fishing Pier is located at the mouth of Tampa Bay making it a great place to catch a variety of fish throughout the year.
  • The Skyway Piers are known for the keeper size Grouper that are caught from them.
  •  A few pier regulars that are very serious about Grouper fishing from the piers and have figured out where many of the rock piles are located.  Rock piles were placed around the fishing piers when the old bridge was demolished creating underwater structure for many species of fish.
  • The South pier is also the longest fishing pier in the world.
  • During the late spring and early summer Tarpon are around the piers creating the thrill of a lifetime for some anglers that have one of these huge fish take off with their bait.
  • While landing a Tarpon from a pier is kind of a long shot it can be very exciting for how ever long it last.
  • Most anglers use live or frozen bait over artificials. A medium to heavy rod and reel works best because the skyway fishing pier is pretty high off the water, so you need your rod to be heavy enough to bring a fish up from the water.

2. Fort Desoto County Park  —  Fort DeSoto County Park has long been one of the top Tampa Bay fishing hot spots due in large part to the two easily accessible fishing piers on the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay. The Gulf Pier offers open-water access, which means fishing in stronger current with heavier tackle for species such as Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, and sharks. The Bay Pier, on the other hand, is a more sheltered spot where families can try light tackle fishing for species such as redfish, snook, and trout.

  • Whether you are fishing from the beach, the piers, or kayaking near the still water's edge at Fort De Soto, you find yourself absorbed in the abundance of natural beauty for as far as the eye can see. Emerging from the wealth of bird life, sea life, wild life and plant life is the majestic tapestry called Fort De Soto.
  • The largest park within the Pinellas County Park System, Fort De Soto park consists of 1,136 acres made up of five interconnected islands (keys). 
  • Another amazing example of the importance of the park's natural ecosystems is the more than 328 species of birds that have been documented over 60 years by ornithologists. New species are being added every year. The beach also provides refuge to the loggerhead sea turtle, which nests between April and September.
    Fort De Soto was named America’s Top Beach for 2009 by Trip Advisor — 

  • There is a ferry to Egmont Key and Shell Key
  • Rentals-kayaks & bikes 
  • Fishing Pier Hours:  7 a.m. - sunset and a saltwater or combo Fishing license is required throughout the park, including fishing piers.
  •  Beach Parking Permit:  Pay booth collects the daily parking fees of $5. 
  • Annual parking passes available. If you have a valid Disabled Parking Permit/Tag, you are not required to pay the 
    daily or annual fee. A fee is not collected from persons entering the park on foot or by bicycle.
  • Over 7 miles of waterfront, includes almost three miles of beautiful white sandy beach.
  • 800-foot-long boat launching facility with eleven floating docks. 
  • Camping - 238-site family camping area with facilities
  • Primitive youth camping area for organized youth groups
  • 15 picnic shelters  —  
  • Rest rooms - diagram with locations  —  
  • Playgrounds  —  
  • Multipurpose trail - seven miles of paved trail connecting North Beach, East Beach, the boat ramp and the camping area. No motorized vehicles allowed  —  
  • Two large swim centers including a food concession area located at the North Beach Swim Center.
  • Two fishing piers - each pier has a food and bait concession - Gulf & Bay Pier Hours: 7 a.m. - sunset.


3. Bishop’s Harbor  —  ( BOATERS AND PADDLE CRAFT)  Located along the mouth of Tampa Bay, you'll find some of the best fishing in Tampa for redfish, snook, and trout. Bishop's Harbor contains mangrove shorelines and shallow flats that serve as prime habitat for these popular saltwater inshore species. Access to incredible fishing.

Don't forget to check a local tide chart for Bishop's Harbor when planning your trip. You may find this spot to be the most productive when fishing the last few hours of an incoming tide.   Access to Bishop's Harbor is provided by a sand boat ramp located off of Bishop Harbor Road in the city of Palmetto.

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