The city of Tampa is situated in Central Florida, right along the Western shore. The city is actually 30 miles inland from the Gulf Coast, but situated right along the large and plentiful Tampa Bay. It is the third largest city in Florida next to only Jacksonville and Miami. The Tampa Bay offers a wide range of flat, reef, and bridge fishing charters throughout the massive bay. Although the waters off the coast of Tampa are a bit shallower than the Gulf of Mexico, its tropical climate is abundant with all kinds of sea life, especially game fish! These waters are known for their year-round abundance of cobia, snapper, grouper, and their predatory sharks. Perhaps if you’re lucky enough you can get your hook into one of the 100+ pound tarpon these waters are known for.
The shallow waters surrounding some mangrove areas of the Tampa Bay allow for an intimate fishing experience. Charter captains usually hug the shoreline or mangrove islands in search of snook, redfish, and trout which are consistent all year long. In these areas, anglers have been known to put on the waders, slip off the side of the boat, and catch a giant tarpon or redfish up close and personal! Because of the size of Tampa Bay, it is a massive tidal zone. Charter captains have been known to set up in the high tidal areas where water and baitfish are flowing in from the ocean. During low tide in the bay, your best bet is to set up along the inlet or Rt. 93 Bridge and catch fish on the way out to sea. Hot spots include the beach along neighboring St. Petersburg to the west, the more secluded and urban setting of McKay Bay along the 22nd St. Bridge. Tarpon especially are abundant close to wrecks and bridge structures, notably the Rt. 92 Bridge and the I-275 Overpass Bridge. The tropical climate and slightly warmer waters in the bay provide a year round abundance of game fish; the variety you are looking for really depends more on your location in the bay than on the season. Furthermore, The Tampa Bay is situated just a 15 or 20 mile ride from the dock to the open deep sea of the Gulf. Although not an ideal location for deep sea charters, you could certain find a captain willing to make the ride and take you and your party out to the Gulf waters along the Western Shore of Florida.
The Tampa Bay is a delicate ecosystem that has stringent fishing and cleaning guidelines that all anglers and charters must follow. Regulations vary depending on the fish and size caught, but for a full list visit the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Due to the size and maritime lifestyle of Tampa, there is no shortage of charter options available. Half-day, full-day, and private charters are available and running year round. As a major city, the opportunities for fun onshore are endless. The city offers a wide range of resorts, restaurants, hotels, and entertainment attractions. Tampa offers vibrant nightlife along the bay in addition to major sports attractions and The Florida Aquarium. Although Tampa does not border the Gulf directly, do not be fooled! The Tampa Bay is a cultural hotbed of Florida, and a dream come true for anglers and vacationers alike.