I spent a lot of time in the Tampa and St. Petersburg areas as I was going to the University of South Florida in Tampa. I must have lived in 15 different places over more than ten years there.
Sometimes I stayed in Clearwater, St. Pete, Tampa, Temple Terrace, and even Safety Harbor and I fished all over the place.
I fished a LOT in Tampa and St. Pete. I had a kayak and sometimes a girlfriend. No kids. I worked and went to school but I always found time for fishing. Or, I should say it like, I usually found time to do my schoolwork and see my girlfriend. Fishing came first!
5 Great Spots to Fish in St. Petersburg and Tampa
#1 – Fourth Street North Mangroves
Going north on 4th St. North (Highway 687 on some maps) from anywhere in St. Pete will bring you up to the bridges across Tampa Bay to reach Tampa. This fishing spot is just north of the Gandy Bridge and south of the Highway 275 bridge.
GPS Coordinates: 27.888272 N, -82.637145 W
I lived in some apartments (Lincoln Shores) very close to here so to go fishing was a 2-minute drive (OK, I should have walked, I know) up to park on the side of the road and walk through the trees to fish in idyllic surroundings.
The water was shallow here as you walk out ten or twenty yards. I would wade fish here for hours and hours. There were plenty of junk fish like ladyfish but from the time you arrive until you leave, you’ll be catching something. That is 100%. I was never skunked here, there are just too many kinds of fish to catch.
I always brought my cast net to throw for some baitfish in the shallows. They were everywhere. This area was protected from most of the waves and harshness of the open water and the small fry were there by the hundreds of thousands.
So, it was close. There were plenty of baitfish to be easily caught. And, most importantly, there were so many different kinds of fish to catch and I could catch dinner most times I fished in this spot.
GPS Coordinates: 27.8886532064604 N, -82.63724871020248 W. This is the exact spot I’d start fishing from, but I walked south and into the slightly deeper water from here as well.
What Fish Can You Catch at the 4th Street North Mangroves?
- Speckled Trout in the seagrass areas
- Crevalle Jacks
- Hammerheads – I have had hammerheads take my fish right in front of me as I reeled them in. That’s quite a thrill when standing in chest-deep water! Did you see my story about how I almost lost my girlfriend to a shark? Worth the read!
Sometimes I’d go a little further up by the bridge and catch sheepshead and cobia near the concrete walls.
#2 – Fort De Soto State Park, St. Petersburg
Address: 3500 Pinellas Bayway S, Tierra Verde, Florida 33715
GPS Coordinates: 27.63644414294677 N, -82.71699111264857 W. (entrance to park)
Open Hours: 7 am. to 7 pm.
The prettiest beach area in St. Petersburg in my opinion. This is like the ultimate fishing, camping, picnic, or beach spot you’ve ever seen in your life. When I had visitors from up north, I’d always bring them here so they could see the best of what Florida had to offer.
This is a stunning park that seems like a deserted island during much of the week.
There were times I’d go and see like 10 other cars in the entire park! On rainy days, or with the threat of rain, people just don’t go out. This is the best time to go yourself and enjoy the place!
There are days where we have no lightning and it lightly drizzles or rains a bit and stops for an hour and does it again. These are great fishing days and I used to wait for them.
To give you an idea of what the place is like, you drive in and it’s as if you’re entering a deserted island. You drive around and find a place to park and fish. There are miles of roads and so many different nooks and crannies you can go explore to fish in. It’s literally paradise here!
There are 2 fishing piers. I wrote an in-depth guide on the Gulf Fishing Pier here. That will help you get up to speed with everything you need to know about fishing from that pier.
I usually went fishing around the Arrowhead Picnic and Fishing Area. Enter the park. Drive straight toward the beach. Make a right. Follow the road to the Historic Fort De Soto Museum. Go past it as the road curves north. Go just less than 2 miles and you’ll see a sign on your right for it. See the map.
You park your car and walk up toward the water. There is a very shallow area that I think must have been a boat launch in the past but now it’s filled with algae and gunk. You can launch a kayak so many different places in the park, but Arrowhead is a good place for it if you can drag/carry it for 40 yards.
Walk up past that on the left side and hit the open water. Right here is where I almost killed my girlfriend with a stringer around her neck when a shark grabbed it. We all live and learn, don’t we? Ha!
Wade fish in there and you’ll find heaps of speckled trout. They love DOA shrimp, real shrimp, and small baitfish if you’ve caught some.
GPS Coordinates: 27.888272 N, -82.637145 W. This is the exact spot where you can catch speckled trout in seagrass.
There is a campground with bungalows and a place for Recreational Vehicles (RVs) to park and camp. Good and clean facilities. Highly recommended!
Fish You Can Catch at Fort De Soto Park
- Speckled Trout – in all seagrass areas
- Pompano at the beaches and piers
- Snook! When it gets cool like November, or December, the snook will pack it in close to shore in the mangroves here. It’s great fishing at this park year-round.
- Snapper at the piers
- Puffer fish
#3 – Hillsborough River State Park
Address: 15402 U.S. 301 North, Thonotosassa Florida 33592.
GPS Coordinates: 28.140475549105272 N, -82.22733480400075 W. (entrance)
Open Hours: 8 am. until sundown daily.
Camping is available here for $24 per night. Pavilions can be rented ($60-80), and a big indoor area.
This one is up past the University of South Florida’s Tampa campus if you follow Fletcher Avenue east and then jump on Highway 301 going northeast, you’ll see signs for it.
I always stopped here to rent a canoe. Someone said you can kayak in there, but they must be out of their minds, there are alligators all over that place. I barely feel safe enough in a canoe with high sides. A kayak? Please don’t!
I usually brought about 3 dozen night crawlers here from this guy, a bass pro, who may have passed on by now but I’ll try to find his bait shop. OK, it’s here and now he calls it Red Worms. He always has a variety of worms for bait. You may have to beep or yell at the trailer to get him to see you when you pull up.
GPS Coordinates: 28.068421909106736, -82.35616019415937 for the Red Worms bait shop near Lettuce Lake Park.
It’s $6 per vehicle to get into the park. A little steep when you’re renting a canoe too. The water is usually really crystal clear. You can often see gar, bowfin, bass, tilapia, and other fish in the water even if they’re 7-10 feet deep. Most of the water is shallow here.
Bowfin can be found in the back areas where the water doesn’t seem to be moving at all. They love that low O2 habitat. They’ll smash night-crawlers or really anything you fish with. They’ll hit just about any lure as well. Going in the morning is the best time to fish here, of course.
You may see alligators eating a bass or other fish because occasionally they’ll grab one. There are water moccasins and other dangerous snakes with venom to be aware of when walking around.
There is a fishing pavilion, but it is usually reserved for a picnic by some group or other. It’s hard to get reservations here even a year in advance.
Fish You Can Catch at the Hillsborough River State Park
Address: 1 Causeway Blvd, Clearwater Beach, Florida 33767
GPS Coordinates: 27.977404797546946 N, -82.83010177472153 W. (beginning of pier)
Open Hours: 7 am. to 9 pm.
This pier is great for fishing, but it’s probably even better for people watching or if you have a family and they want to play at the beach, shop, eat, or whatever else while you’re fishing on the pier.
Don’t miss Frenchy’s Seafood restaurant a couple of hundred yards north of the pier on the beach. You could walk there if you weren’t carrying all your gear. They have excellent grouper sandwiches and she-crab soup to die for. Corona beer. The usual, but a really fun place to eat day or night.
This is a rather short pier with a good bait shop. You can fish here without a fishing license, the fee to get on the pier covers your fishing pass for the day.
Fish You Can Catch at the Clearwater Fishing Pier
We have a complete guide on this pier you can see here.
#5 – Sunshine Skyway Fishing Pier in St. Petersburg
GPS Coordinates: 27.643204859284538 N, -82.6720778273788 W. (North Pier entrance), and 27.592050498921246 N, -82.62980696746627 W. (South Pier entrance)
Open Hours: 24 hours a day every day!
OK, I saved it for last. This is the BEST PLACE TO FISH IN Tampa and St. Petersburg if you want to go to a fishing pier. I think it beats most non-pier spots like inshore spots as well. It’s just the best damn fishing experience you’ll probably have because it’s so ideal.
The pier is HUGE. Most fishing piers in Florida are walk-on. You drag your stuff hundreds of yards up to are you going to fish. At the sunshine skyway fishing pier, you will drive your vehicle right up onto the pier, park wherever you want, and leave your gear in your car while you fish from the side of the pier.
it just doesn’t get any better than that!
This was always my favorite place to fish in the area because it was so simple. You can easily catch small pinfish for bait or buy bait at the bait shop on the pier. They almost always have pinfish, live shrimp, cut bait, frozen squid, and frozen shrimp.
This pier is so amazing to fish from because your vehicle is right there and you have all of the necessities that you could want within easy reach. Not only that, but you can bring a pillow and sleep in your car or truck anytime you get sleepy.
You are not supposed to have alcohol on the pier but nearly everybody brings some anyway. Just make sure you hide it well in your vehicle because sometimes the rangers will ask you to open your cooler.
The rates are very reasonable and you can fish 24 hours a day for days on end. Some people do just that!
I wrote a massive guide on fishing this pier. Bookmark that page and refer to it later because you should definitely visit this fishing pier if you are in Tampa or St. Petersburg.
Oh, and the pier fee covers your fishing license – so no worries there!
Before I forget. There are 2 massive piers here. North Pier and South Pier! No kidding, this is the best fishing pier experience you’ll ever have in Florida and probably ANYWHERE!
Fish You Can Catch at the Sunshine Skyway Fishing Piers
- Grouper – use a big pinfish to get big grouper at the end of the pier and near the rock piles.
- Spanish mackerel
It’s summer, so the fish are biting all over the coasts and deep-sea saltwater areas of St. Petersburg.
During summer you can find largemouth bass, crappie, gar, and bowfin biting at all of the bigger freshwater lakes. Fish with big live worms or 7.5″ plastic worms for the best action.
These are 5 of the best places to fish in St. Petersburg and Tampa areas. However, there are hundreds of places to fish from that are very good.
I didn’t even mention the St. Pete Pier, Tarpon Springs, Safety Harbor, Pass-a-Grille, Treasure Island, Tampa Pier, Hillsborough River at Temple Terrace, the dozens of great bass lakes, and so many more great fishing spots.
It isn’t just the Tampa and St. Pete area that is this amazing for fishing. Fishing is mind-blowing all over the state of Florida. There is no better fishing state in the nation, for sure. Oh, wait. Hawaii. Hmm.
OK, well, Florida is one of the top 2 states for fishing and I’ll take Florida OVER Hawaii because Hawaii’s inshore fishing is weak and Florida has great inshore and offshore fishing!