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Sunshine Skyway Fishing Pier (Huge Guide!)

One of Tampa - St. Petersburg's best fishing spots is the Sunshine Skyway Fishing Pier.

Before I got my kayak and could just drop it off the dock at my condo in Oldsmar, I would visit the Sunshine Skyway Fishing Pier at least once a month and usually more often than that.

If you want a place to fish where you can relax and even meet decent like-minded people, plan a trip to the pier and stay overnight at least one night.

Some of my fondest memories of fishing have been here because I tend to bring visitors to Florida here so we can have some quality time and bag some fish at the same time!

What Is the Sunshine Skyway Fishing Pier (State Park)?

This is the longest fishing pier in the world (4.7 miles total area to fish) and it is open 24 hours each day 7 days per week all day every day. It’s open 365 days per year and they are not closed on holidays. There are bait shops and restrooms.

The bait shop has snacks and drinks in addition to live shrimp, live pinfish and frozen squid and shrimp for bait. They have an assortment of lures and pre-tied fishing rigs you can purchase at reasonable prices.

They have bait buckets for sale, coolers, hats, nets, hooks, line, sinkers, floats, and really everything you could need for couple days camping out on the pier.

Check out all of our Florida Pier Fishing Guides.

History

The fishing piers are the north and south ends of what used to be a simple bridge across the bay. As the result of a very strong squall on May 9, 1980, the big freight-carrying boat Summit Venture smashed into one of the bridges support columns.

This caused the destruction of 1,200 feet of bridge and resulted in the deaths of 35 people on the bridge.

In 1987 the new Sunshine Skyway Bridge was opened and the old bridge was renovated and brought up to safety specs and opened as the world’s largest fishing pier.

When Is the Pier Open?

The Sunshine Skyway Fishing Piers are open 365 days a year. You just roll up in your vehicle, on your bike, or on foot and pay a nominal fee for your vehicle and people and you’ll be minutes away from one of the greatest fishing experiences you can have in Florida.

Go fishing at night and park your car overnight on the pier. Night fishing is great fun!

Admission Fees

Entrance Fee for a 24-hour pass is just $4 per vehicle ($10 for campers) and $4 per adult whether in a vehicle, on a bike, or walking. Kids 6-12 are $2. Kids under 5 are free. Seniors are same $4. Only $3 for adults from sunrise to sunset.

Do You Need a Fishing License?

No fishing license is necessary to purchase separately, your 24-hour license is included in the price of admission ($4 for adults).

Prohibited

  • Alcohol
  • Pets
  • Feeding birds
  • Fireworks
  • Vehicles over 12-tons

How Long Is the Sunshine Skyway Fishing Pier?

The North Fishing Pier has 1.4 miles (2.3 km) of fishing along the road before the pier begins and including the pier. The pier is about .7 miles long (1.1 km) in this spot.

South Sunshine Skyway Fishing Pier near Bradenton (Manatee County)
South Skyway Fishing Pier near Bradenton (Google Earth image)

The South Fishing Pier has a total of 3.3 miles (5.3 km) of fishing area and is far bigger. The main section of pier over the water is about 1.6 miles (2.6 km) long.

Of course most people who know both piers head down to the southern section because there is more room between people and it’s easy to move if you somehow find yourself next to a group playing loud music or not your kind of music. lol.

How Crowded Do the Piers Get?

Not very crowded at all unless you arrive on a national holiday. The fishing piers are open 365 days a year, so you will find that holidays like 3-day weekends tend to bring more anglers to the piers.

I just counted the cars on the google maps satellite snapshot and I see 54 vehicles on the South Fishing Pier and 21 vehicles on the Northern Fishing Pier.

If there are an average of 2 persons per vehicle then that’s only a total of 150 people fishing. That is what I’d consider a normal day. At night the population goes way down and you might have 10-15 vehicles on the South Pier and 5 on the North Pier.

There is almost always at least 30 yards or more between anglers, and you’re always free to move if you think other people are too close. There is always space available to move except during the holidays.

What Fish Can You Catch At the Piers?

There are so many different fish you can catch at the piers, so it depends what you are targeting with your rod/reel and line/bait.

You can choose to target big fish or smaller ones. There are Goliath Grouper at the Sunshine Skyway that some say are as big as a Volkswagon Bug!

That’s what they say. I’ve seen a couple huge ones that were 6 feet long and 3 feet thick. There are some MASSIVE fish here.

I usually catch sheepshead, snapper, black drum, and Spanish Mackerel when I go fishing here. Sometimes I target grouper because there are many down on the bottom and they love pinfish!

I have caught all kinds of fish at the pier, but the most memorable have been the sharks that I hooked accidentally. And, do you know… What is the funnest fish to catch in Florida? This one!

List of Common Fish Species Caught at the Sunshine Skyway Fishing Piers

  • Grouper
  • Tarpon
  • Shark
  • Pompano
  • Pinfish (for bait)
  • Snook
  • Cobia
  • Snapper (a few kinds)
  • Spanish Mackerel & King Mackerel
  • Black Seabass
  • Sheepshead
  • Redfish
  • Black Drum
  • Flounder
  • Catfish
  • Ladyfish
  • Seahorses (I caught one!)

What Is the Best Bait to Use On the Pier?

Using pinfish for bait is the best bait if you have a strong fishing rod and reel and 50 lb. plus line and leader. You can target grouper, king mackerel, snook, or other big fish.

Live shrimp are best if you have a lightweight fishing outfit because you can target sheepshead, snapper, and Spanish Mackerel.

When Is the Best Time to Fish from the Pier?

The best time is when the tides are moving. Here is a tide chart for the Skyway Fishing Pier that shows when high and low tides are. Fish when the water is moving between highs and lows or lows and highs for best result.

Can I Fish at Night On the Piers?

Yes, you can. There are lights all along the pier to help you see what you’re doing.

Is Camping Allowed?

Yes, sure. You can bring a tent or sleep in the back of your truck or SUV, no problem. Up to you. Some guys bring hammocks and tie them from the concrete railing and to the bumper of their truck. You can setup a grill and barbecue chicken or whatever you like. It’s quite unrestrictive except for the alcohol restriction.

Where Is the Sunshine Skyway State Park Fishing Pier?

That’s a heck of a name for it, isn’t it? But it IS the world’s largest fishing pier. The pier is an old bridge that connected St. Petersburg and Bradenton that is no longer used and the middle section has been destroyed (sunk) to create an amazing fishing reef stretching across the bottom of Tampa Bay.

The entire area is great to fish at, as you’ll soon come to understand as you read on.

Phone: 727-865-0668 Address: 4905 34th St. South #5000, St. Petersburg FL 33711

How To Get There by Vehicle?

If you travel down Interstate Highway 275 and go south from Tampa or St. Petersburg and north on Interstate Highway 75 from Sarasota and connecting to 275 in Bradenton you can’t miss it. As you get near the southernmost tip of St. Pete, you’ll see the Sunshine Skyway bridge, it’s a massive structure with yellow-cables.

There will be signs to turn off for the NORTH FISHING PIER before you cross the bridge. If you go over the bridge, there will be signs for the SOUTH FISHING PIER on the Manatee County side (Bradenton). Both piers are exceptional places to fish and hang out. Check out both over time to see which one appeals to you more.

The Southern Skyway Fishing Pier is probably better because there is more space… that means more distance between anglers.

North Pier Bait Shop GPS: 27.632660101132757, -82.66593427660783

South Pier Bait Shop GPS: 27.605568831451404, -82.65061348679994


Watch Thonny Catch Fish at this Famous Pier (Video)

Skyway Pier Grouper Fishing with Pinfish!

Fishing Piers Close to the Sunshine Skyway Pier