What Is Saltwater Inshore Flats Fishing?
Ask your northern friends what saltwater fishing means. You will probably get an answer like, fishing from big charter and party boats. Also they will tell you Tampa Bay saltwater fishing is for offshore grouper, snapper, sailfish and other deep sea species.
On the other hand, here in Florida and many other coastal states, there is inshore flats fishing. This is generally saltwater fishing from smaller boats, 15 to 24 feet in length, and usually 1 to 4 fisherman. Most all of the fishing is done in protected waters along the shore, in passes, inshore flats, shallow water and back bays.
Clearwater inshore fishing areas like others around the state, affords anglers the opportunity to catch big fish in shallow water. Many of the world record and state record catches come from Florida's most famous flats fishing location; The Florida Keys.
Most all of the Tampa Bay and Clearwater fishing equipment, rods and reels, are considered light tackle. This includes six 1/2 to seven 1/2 foot rods, spinning reels with 10 to 20 lb test line and leaders from 20 to 30 lb test. When targeting bigger species like tarpon and sharks, heavier equipment is necessary. Fly rods can be used in catching many types of fish in less than three feet of water.
The most popular of the inshore flats fish caught are redfish, snook, tarpon and trout. Others will include ladyfish, mackerel, cobia, shark, pompano and jacks. All of these fish can be stalked in shallow water and most of them you can see first and cast a bait to them. This is called sight fishing.
If the big offshore fishing boats, with long rides out and back and lots of fishermen on board is not your thing, then take a look at Clearwater inshore flats fishing in shallow protected waters. It may be just what you are looking for the next time you want to go saltwater fishing.
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Capt. Gary Burch