Florida is home to an abundance of world-class fishing locations with so much to offer that there’s something for everyone. Whether you want to spend part of your day casting from the shore, casting from a boat or kayak, or hopping aboard a charter, you will definitely be able to find something that suits your needs. Tampa Bay is a particularly nice spot to cast a line, especially if you’re planning on doing some other activities around town as well.
If you’re looking for the best fishing spots in the Tampa Bay area, it can help to do a little bit of research ahead of time to assist in narrowing your options, especially if you plan on having lots of other things to do while you’re there as well. Therefore, in this article, we would like to highlight three of our favorite fishing spots in the Tampa Bay area.
Edward Medard Reservoir
Edward Medard Reservoir, formerly known as Pleasant Grove Reservoir, is a 770-acre reclaimed phosphate mine that is now home to a massive reservoir that is regularly stocked with some beautiful largemouth bass, striped bass, white bass, sunshine bass (hybrid of striped and white bass), panfish, and catfish. The reservoir itself is located about 6 miles east of Brandon, one mile South of State Route 60 on Turkey Creek Road. If you’re in the Tampa Bay area, this could be a convenient option for a day trip, as it’s only about a 30-45 minute drive from Tampa Bay’s core.
This reservoir has been stocked with nearly 6000 bass since 2012, many of which have grown to be about 10 pounds. You can find lots of updated fishing reports for the Edward Medard Reservoir by doing a quick search online, and if you haven’t been in a while, it may be worth checking the updated regulations surrounding bag limits and park rules. For instance, recreational anglers are limited to taking five bass daily and only one of those can exceed 16 inches. Furthermore, as the reservoir is technically part of a park, there is a $2 entrance fee and hours of operation are 7am-7pm in the Spring and Summer.
If you’re well experienced with fishing for bass, then you will surely have some fun casting on the reservoir and trying out some different techniques. If you’re new to fishing for bass, or to fishing in general, you can find lots of resources online, including some tips for bass fishing at Edward Medard Reservoir. Local anglers have reported lots of success using plastic worms, which are arguably the most reliable form of artificial bait for bass. Crankbaits and spinnerbaits will also work well here, and they too are extremely versatile lures, so it’s helpful to always have some in the tackle box.
Overall, the Edward Medard Reservoir is a well-stocked fishing location that is conveniently close to Tampa Bay. If bass are what you’re after, this is definitely up there as one of the best fishing spots near Tampa Bay.
Fort DeSoto is a really cool spot to check out in general, but if you’re looking to cast a line, then you will definitely want to try your luck here. Fort Desoto is operated by Pinellas County and consists of five islands: Mullet Key (main island), Madelaine Key, St. Jean Key, St. Christopher Key, and Bonne Fortune Key. In terms of fishing, the two main piers are the Gulf Pier (more than 1,000 feet) and the Bay Pier (about 500 feet). Located at the mouth of Tampa Bay just west of the I-275, this fishing spot is close to Tampa Bay’s core and is reachable by car, but you may have to fight some traffic on your way down, so plan on it taking a little longer than you may think.
The Gulf Pier and Bay Pier are definitely the most popular spots to fish in Fort DeSoto. There are tackle shops nearby that sell artificial and live bait, where anglers typically prefer live bait. It’s hard to predict what type of fish you will catch, as there is a large variety in the area, but more common species include mackerel, ladyfish, pompano, permit, sheepshead, tarpon, sea bass, and many more. The Bay Pier is smaller, but given its proximity to calmer waters, it represents a better option for those who want to use lighter tackle for more common inshore species.
Overall, Fort DeSoto is a really interesting area with lots to see. While most people simply fish from the piers, you can also find lots of anglers fishing from kayaks as well. The range of species is huge, so you can come back multiple times with a new experience each time. Check out the following resource for more specific information about location, hours, equipment rentals, etc.
Bishop’s Harbor is arguably one of the most underrated fishing spots near Tampa Bay. It’s a great place to fish for snook, mullet, or some nice reds, especially in the Spring and Summer. Located in the Terra Ceia Preserve State Park, just north of the I-275 and west of the Route 41 near Bishops Harbor Road, it’s quite convenient and easy to access for anyone in Tampa Bay and the surrounding area.
This is quite a dynamic harbor, and the tides can affect what you will be catching and when. There are fish nearly everywhere, but if you play the tides to your advantage, then you can maximize your chances of success. Local angler tips include working the mangrove edges behind the island during high tide, and working the inside and outside flats during low tide. There are lots of tackle shops nearby as well, so you can pack fairly light and just buy what you need once you’re in the area (if that’s what you prefer). Kayak fishermen have also begun frequenting the area, as there is a sandy boat ramp and some other areas along the shoreline that you can put in.
Overall, Bishop’s Harbor is an interesting spot that any angler will likely enjoy. With the amount of fishing teeming in the area, you’re bound to catch something, but it’s also really fun to try and strategize your technique with the tidal system and other nooks and crannies in the area.
Caption: John Schips, Primary Contributor for www.flannelfishermen.com