‘Secrets of the Bay’ is a mini-series which runs intermittently throughout the regular Average Angler seasons. Each episode highlights historical elements of specific places, towns and landmarks around Tampa Bay.

Capt. Matt has not only put me on fish every time I have booked a charter – He got me my biggest tarpon ever 150+!!! He is the best Captain I have ever fished with and I recommend him highly. Always a great time and always finds the fish! -John Lashbrook

Tampa offers inshore, backwater, and flats fisherman shots at redfish, snook, sea trout, black drum, flounder, snapper, and many other local favorites throughout the year. Seasonally, we also get the Tarpon migration and better shots at pelagic species such as mackerel and cobia. Even big game fisherman who love to fight on light tackle will find shots at grouper and sharks to be abundant.

The irony is that back when I was growing up in Florida, if someone said, “fishing the flats,” that simply meant you had accidently run your boat up on a sandbar and you went fishing with the lightest tackle you had on the boat while you waited for the tide to come in…

So if you are traveling and want a simplified tackle box that is almost guaranteed to get you some strikes almost anywhere you can go saltwater fishing in the world (without having to haul along your entire garage full of tackle), here are the 7 fishing lures that you need to bring along.

During the winter in Tampa Bay an angler will see increased activity for big (Gator) Seatrout, Redfish tailing the flats, and Snook will still be hitting baits early on in the season. Don’t let the cool temps fool you, this can be one of the best times to fish here.

Tidal movement affects just about every type of saltwater fishing venue except the blue waters offshore. In order to optimize your angling success, it is vital to use the changing of the tides to your advantage. As a rule of thumb, it is a good idea to arrive at your chosen fishing destination at least an hour before the high tide is scheduled to peak, and plan to continue fishing for at least another half hour thereafter.

Built for the anglers fishing from New England south through Long Island and the Jersey Coast, Teramar ‘Northeast’ rods have features, lengths and actions perfectly suited for the rugged North Eastern seaboard. The series includes seven spinning rods, offered in 6’6″, 7′ and 7’6″ lengths, with line ratings from 8 to 30 pound PowerPro braid.

Over 20 federal lawmakers joined several thousand fishermen from around the country next to the US Capitol on February 24 in a three-hour rally supporting national fisheries reform. Journalists on the scene tabbed attendance at between 3,000 and 5,000 with fishermen standing elbow-to-elbow in Washington DC. Click here to read more!!!

Make sure to enroll in the annual no-fee Recreational Marine Fishing Registry before going fishing in the marine and coastal district waters or when fishing in the Hudson River and its tributaries for “migratory fish of the sea” (e.g. striped bass).

eBay determines trending price through a machine learned model of the product’s sale prices within the last 90 days. “New” refers to a brand-new, unused, unopened, undamaged item, and “Used” refers to an item that has been used previously.

Like reefs, bridges offer abundant opportunity with lots of room for personal style. However, unlike their submerged counterparts, bridges are easy to locate and you rarely have to worry about finding dive flags on your spot.

Gold Sportsman’s License (includes Saltwater Fishing, Hunting Freshwater Fishing licenses; and Snook, Lobster, Wildlife Management Area, Archery, Muzzleloading Gun, Crossbow, Deer, Turkey, and Florida Waterfowl permits)

Capt. Steve has lived in Tampa since 1969. He relocated to Tampa at the young age of 9 years old along with his mother, father and 5 brothers and sisters. Steve’s passion for fishing started at a young age fishing the local ponds, lakes and rivers. I the early 80’s Steve was introduced to the world of Snook fishing. Snook fishing was like no other he had done and he quickly became addicted to the salt.

IMPORTANT NOTES: Our top three picks do not require that you have a Florida saltwater fishing license to drop your line, but you’ll need one almost everywhere else. (Learn more at http://myfwc.com/license/recreational/saltwater-fishing/) Some exemptions apply for children, senior citizens, disabled residents and people who have qualified for federal financial aid. A no-cost license is required for fishing from docks or piers unless the pier itself has purchased a license. Learn more at http://myfwc.com/license/recreational/do-i-need-a-license/

Tampa fishing is getting into its stride. The big Tarpon are on their way! Almost everything is biting right now. The baitfish start to fill up the flats and both game fish and anglers follow in pursuit. Redfish and Snook fishing is hot.

Night fishing is great for targeting Tarpon around bridges or chasing after Snook underneath the dock lights. Either way, a demand for this fishing niche has been welcomed by light tackle and fly fishermen alike.

Position yourself according to the water’s direction. You may want to sling a bait under the bridge and let it drift back out; other times, the current will help you position a bait at just the right point.

The Hillsborough River is a time-tested producer along with surrounding ship basins. The mud flats at St. Pete Clearwater Airport are also fairly good. Fishing the deep flats at MacDill Air Force Base, Mermaid Point and Apollo Beach are all good choices, too.

“I fished with Captain Jason and can’t say enough good things about him. Jason was timely, professional, friendly, and extremely knowledgeable. We caught a nice amount of fish and Jason took us to different areas to target the fish we wanted to catch.”

The first edition was structured to be a basic reference, and was used widely by Captain Mel Berman as his seminar workbook because of its broad collection of topics.  This title is out of print due to changing publishers, but the revised edition, which I’ve drastically added to its content in detail, will be published in the near future.   

• Watch Your Clearance: During a sudden summer downpour, my friend rushed under a section of the old Sunshine Bridge (now a pier) but forgot to pull down the rods from his T-top holders. The sound of hopelessly scarred fiberglass and graphite scraping against concrete was far worse than fingernails on a chalkboard. Lesson: Check your clearance and don’t take chances with rods or antennas.

10/9/09 Everyone needs to go here and read this. http://www.sportfishingmag.com/blog.jsp?blogID=300 For those who choose not to believe that the enviro groups have an agenda to stop fishing, pay close attention. For those who don’t believe that EDF, OC, and other enviro groups are working hard in other areas to stop fishing and then will bring that effort home, pay close attention.

Hi, my name is Capt. Greg Peterson, and I am a full time fly fishing and light tackle guide working in the Tampa Bay area. Fishing is and always has been my passion ever since I can remember. To be a guide is a dream come true and also a huge commitment. I work my hardest to make sure my clients are given the best chance for success. I will provide hands on expert instruction for the novice angler and challenge the experienced angler to the best of their ability. Tampa Bay and the surrounding gulf waters offer world class fishing year round that many people do not know about and the travel and accessibility are second to none. Come see what Tampa Bay has to offer.

7 At St. Petersburg, “Sheepshead are still all over the place. All the canal docks, rock piles, bridges, and jetties are holding them. Fiddler crabs and shrimp fished with light tackle is the key for these fish,” reports Larry Mastry of Mastry’s Tackle (727-896-8889). The trout bite has picked up off Pinellas Point. Offshore, there’s a good hogfish bite north of the shipping channel in 50 feet of water, Mastry says.

• At Fort Pierce, “Snook season opened on the Atlantic coast Thursday and we’ve had one nice, slot 31-inch fish from the inlet already,” reports Clint Walker at the Fishing Center of St. Lucie (772-465-7637). Flounder are starting to bite from the south jetty on live shrimp and jigs tipped with shrimp. There’s lots of sheepshead and black drum being caught in the inlet. On the flats inside, trout are biting in two to four feet of water over grass and redfish are biting around deeper water in the mangroves. “I’ve heard nothing about offshore, it’s been too windy,” Walker says.

Captain Brian Mathey is the owner and operator of Clearwater Fishing Charters, LLC, a Palm Harbor fishing charter service launching from all over North Pinellas County. Mr. Mathey pilots a 22-foot vessel with plenty of dry storage and three “live wells,” stocked with plentiful live bait. He is a lifelong resident of the Tampa Bay area who received his Captain’s license in 2005 and has been taking clients fishing ever since.

“In addition to being a huge conservation tool that limits the chances of hooking a fish deeply, inline circle hooks actually catch more fish. When set properly, it’s difficult for a fish to shake it — and that provides great peace of mind when that tarpon, big snook or sailfish takes to the air.”

Further defining the proximity variables, a recent trip with Capt. Chuck Rogers of Tampa found us hovering under the Gandy and pulling a few mangrove snapper from the pilings. When the action slowed, we moved outside and did the anchor-and-chum routine. Rogers noted the wisdom of fanning a bridge section to locate the sweet spot. Once we dialed in the spot, several keeper mangos hit the ice.

What a great fishing trip, I was only in town for a couple days to move my son into his dorm , I called last minute , Chet was able to get me on the water and on the fish! My daughter was able to tag along. Caught numerous species of fish and in good numbers. Also saw plenty if extra… Had a manatee right under the boat, sharks and rays as well. Definitely will return for more!!!!

2 Shea Charters, founded in Clearwater in 2005, is a fishing charter that leads passengers on fishing journeys in Tampa Bay. Since its inception, the company has grown to operate three boats. In addition to its 42-foot Dorado luxury sports boat, 2 Shea Charters has a 24-foot Southport and a 31-foot Island Hopper. Captain TJ, the business’s founder, has been fishing and diving in the Gulf of Mexico since he was five years old. He leads a team of highly experienced and qualified captains who can guide fishers of any age and experience level.

This package is for 1 or 2 people with just a little time on the hands (2 hour trip). Departure time is flexible based on your request and the captain’s schedule. You will target Trout and whatever bites on the flats, perhaps even Redfish or a Shark! A fishing license and gear are provided.

Sheepshead, another winter bruiser, are best targeted January through March. They can be found underneath the bridges, docks or even on the nearshore reefs. Ranging anywhere from 1-5 pounds, what they lack in size they more than make up for in being positively delicious.

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