Tampa Bay Fishing

Tampa Bay Fishing

Popular sport fishing species of the Tampn Bay fishing region, including the entire West Central Florida fishing coast. As you can see when it comes to Tampa Bay inshore fishing there are many great gamefish species including big tarpon. When you make the trip to Tampa Bay or Clearwater for your fishing vacation you certainly have a chance at catching one or most of these pictured species. So check out the fish, book your charter vacation, and get ready to hook up with one of these magnificent sea creatures on your next Tampa Bay fishing trip.

Tampa Bay Redfish
Red Drum - Redfish
Other Names: Sciaenops Ocellatus
Physical Description:

Usually bronze or reddish with white underside, but sometimes quite pale all over. Prominent ringed spot or several spots at base of tail fin; occasionally, without the spot. Silhouette is similar to black drum and colors can sometimes be confusing in very large fish, but the redfish has no chin barbels and the black drum never has the tail spot.

Range:

All Florida Coasts. Other than Florida they have been caught as far north as Maryland and Virginia and as far west as Texas. Red drum are found in the western Atlantic from the Gulf of Maine to northern Mexico, though they are rarely seen north of the Maryland coast and are most abundant in the Gulf of Mexico.

Feeding Habits:

Red drum have several different feeding patterns. They often hide behind structure and ambush prey. They will also feed in schools at or near the surf, around shallow reefs and in bays. Another technique is to use their down-turned mouth to vacuum food from off the bottom. While doing this, the red drum’s tail is bent upwards and often sticks slightly out of the water. Red drum eat a variety of fish, including Atlantic croaker, pinfish, mullet, menhaden and flounder. They also consume crabs and shrimp.

Sporting Qualities:

One of the most popular and widespread game fish along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, red drum (commonly referred to as redfish) are known for their excellent fighting ability, as well as the many ways they can be caught. Because the red drum occurs in a wide variety of locales, fishing methods vary dramatically, but most involve shallow water techniques. Sight fishing, where anglers visually spot the fish before casting, is an especially popular technique.

Habitat:

Occurring most often over sand and sandy mud bottoms in coastal waters and estuaries, red drum are both an inshore and offshore species. They commonly inhabit estuaries and tidal passes, large flats, canals and the surf near shore; offshore, they are often found near wrecks and rigs. They may spend their entire life in the river or estuary of their youth or migrate annually to offshore areas, a migration common for adult red drum during the winter.






Tampa Bay Snook Fishing
Common Snook
Other Names: Centropomus undecimalis
Physical Description:

The common snook has a slender, streamlined body with large fins. Its yellowish-gray back is separated from its silvery sides and abdomen by a distinct black lateral line that runs from the top of its gills to the end of its tail, which gives this fish the nickname “linesider.” It has a large mouth with brushlike teeth and a protruding lower jaw. Its elongated head and snout taper to a point and it has a sloped forehead that leads up to tall, divided dorsal fins. Most of the fins are yellowish, and are especially bright during the spawn. Overall color varies according to habitat; specimens living in rivers have a much darker cast.

Range:

Common snook are found in the western Atlantic from southern Florida south to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico, most of the Caribbean islands and the Caribbean coast of Central and South America. They are mostly absent in the Bahamas. When the waters are warm enough, they are found as far north as North Carolina.

Feeding Habits:

Common snook are aggressive carnivores that eat fish, crabs, shrimps and other crustaceans that live in both fresh water and salt water. They have two daily feeding peaks: the first is two hours before sunrise, and the second is two to three hours after sunset. They also feed during strong tidal flows, which carry food into their vicinity. They sometimes feed in open water but are known to hide around available cover and ambush prey as it passes by.

Sporting Qualities:

Common snook are one of the most sought-after inshore game fish. Its spectacular fighting ability has given it a cult following, and a number of clubs dedicated to the species have formed. For all-around fighting ability, common snook are hard to top. They strike like lightning and leap repeatedly throughout a battle. They dive deep, run frequently and pull with incredible strength.

Habitat:

Common snook are inshore fish that are frequently found in shallow, brackish estuaries and lagoons. They can also be found in some freshwater rivers and canals near shore. They use structures such as mangroves, reefs and rock formations for ambush cover, and usually stay near the substratum at depths of less than 65 feet and not over 72 feet. They can tolerate both freshwater and saltwater, and prefer water temperatures of 68 to 78 F.






Tampa Bay Tarpon Fishing
Tarpon
Other Names: Silver King, Sabalo
Physical Description:

Green or steel above, silver on sides and belly. Deep, thick body; forked tail. Long trailer at end of dorsal fin.

Range:

All Florida coasts plus the Greater Antilles and some other Caribbean islands, including the Virgin and Cayman Islands. Scattered in the Bahamas, where it is most plentiful around Andros but also present elsewhere, including Bimini, the Berry Islands, and the Exumas.

Feeding Habits:

Tarpon generally travel in schools and are opportunistic carnivores by nature. They will feed both day and night, and although they will move lazily in foraging areas, they can strike quickly when their prey has been identified. Tarpon feed on crabs and a variety of fish, including sardines, anchovies, mullets and pinfish.

Sporting Qualities:

Because of its strength, stamina and fighting (often for hours) and jumping abilities, the tarpon is one of the most sought after fish in salt water. The tarpon’s bursts of speed, as well as spectacular leaps that can reach 10 feet, can test the skill of the most experienced angler. Anglers are often satisfied just to see a few leaps before a powerful tarpon can shake free of a hook. Making the tarpon an even more challenging catch, they will mix surface sprints with deep-water runs.

Habitat:

The tarpon is an inshore species that primarily inhabits coastal waters and estuaries. Tarpon can also be found in bays, passes, canals, offshore marine waters, brackish river, mangrove-lined lagoons and sometimes around coral reefs. They may be found as deep as 100 feet, but generally are shallow-dwelling game fish. They seek warm waters and water temperatures in the 66 to 86 F range and can survive in waters with varying degrees of salinity. They are susceptible to stress in waters below 55 F.






Speckled Trout Fishing Tampa Bay
Speckled Trout
Other Names: Cynoscion nebulosus
Physical Description:

The spotted seatrout has a long, streamlined body similar to a freshwater trout, though it is actually a member of the drum family. Its coloration is darker over the dorsal area, usually a gray or greenish color shading to a silvery to white tone on the sides and underneath. The seatrout is also covered in black spots over most of its upper half as well as its dorsal and tail fins.

Range:

Spotted seatrout are found along the western Atlantic coast from New York to southern Florida and throughout the Gulf of Mexico.

Feeding Habits:

Spotted seatrout are opportunistic carnivores whose choice of prey depends on the size of the fish. Smaller seatrout feed mainly on crustaceans such as shrimp. Medium-sized spotted seatrout add small fish to their diet, and larger seatrout primarily feed on other fish such as anchovies, mullet and pinfish.

Sporting Qualities:

The spotted seatrout is one of the most popular game fish among inshore anglers. It is considered a hard striker on a variety of baits, and, although it is not known to be overly strong or a long runner, the seatrout is a thrasher at the surface that often jumps.

Habitat:

Although they can occasionally be found in deep offshore waters, spotted seatrout usually inhabit inshore waters such as bayous, bays, canals, channels and estuaries. They are very common in shallow waters with grassy or sandy bottoms and will also be found consistently in salt marshes, tidal pools, flats and even several miles inland in coastal rivers.

   
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