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Gulf Fishing Pier at Fort De Soto Park (Huge Guide!)

Aerial view of Gulf Fishing Pier in Fort De Soto State Park, Florida.

This is one of the most beautiful and productive fisheries in and around St. Petersburg, Tampa, Clearwater area is the expansive Fort De Soto Park which covers 5 islands and 1136 acres of space off the southern tip of St. Petersburg, Florida.

This is my favorite spot to go for wade-fishing, standing in the water to fish, for speckled trout and snook from shore. There are even lots of sheepshead you can catch from shore.

The water is crystal clear some days and the fishing for trout is always productive because there are many areas with sea grass where they like to hang out to ambush shrimp and smaller fish.

What Time Does the Gulf Fishing Pier Open and Close?

7 am. they open every day of the week and at 8 pm. they close. This is earlier than the Sunshine Skyway Fishing Pier which is open all night long and where you can stay for days at a time. Still, the Gulf Fishing Pier is well worth your time to come and visit and see what it’s all about.

It will give you a chance to drive around Fort De Soto Park and see all the different areas you can fish from shore, standing in the water, in a boat, and from this pier.

Skyway Fishing Pier at the south end of St. Petersburg on the way to Bradenton and Sarasota.

How Big is the Pier Fishing Area?

The pier is 313m (342 yd) long from beginning to end and 6.5m (7 yd) wide. The pier is over the water for 270m (295 yd). There are 2 sides so 540m (591 yd) of fishing area for the length of the pier. Out at the end is an irregularly shaped area that adds another 100m (109 yd) of fishing area.

So a total of 640m (700 yd) of space to fish.

This pier is not usually very crowded, and I’m not sure why that is. I’ve caught many fish here. I think the other pier options in the area are just easier to get to and honestly I think most people come to the park to launch their kayaks and other boats and they fish from there.

It’s a long way to carry a 5 gallon bucket of live baitfish or an ice cooler so you should invest in a fishing cart, wagon, or your own contraption to get your gear out on the pier.

What Fish Can You Catch at the Gulf Fishing Pier?

My usual target fish at this pier is sheepshead, but you can catch a wide variety of fish species. The taste of sheepshead is as good tasting as fish gets.

There are sheepshead all over the concrete pylons holding up the pier and if you have some crabs you’ll limit out pretty fast on this pier.

Assuming you know how to catch them! Spanish mackerel are also common here. I’ll put a list below of what is usually caught.

Speckled trout caught at Gulf Fishing Pier, Fort De Soto Park, St. Petersburg, Florida.
Great tasting and plentiful at Gulf Fishing Pier is the speckled trout.

Common Fish Caught at the Gulf Fishing Pier

  • sheepshead
  • snook
  • shark (hammerheads and bonnet head usually)
  • redfish (red drum)
  • speckled trout, weakfish
  • Spanish mackerel
  • flounder
  • cobia (rare)
  • black sea bass
  • mangrove snapper
  • pinfish (catch for live bait)
  • ladyfish
  • catfish
  • whiting
  • Jack Crevalle

Does the Pier Have a Bait Shop?

Yes there is a bait shop for purchasing frozen shrimp or squid. Bring cash, they don’t have any other option. The bait shop starts operating at 8 am. at the same time the park opens. They have all the usual fishing gear you’d need from a pier.

Prices are higher, you’re better off to bring your own gear from Walmart or Amazon. They have hooks, line, sinkers, floats, nets, and lots of other stuff.

Places to Eat? Restroom? Shade?

The Pier Building is open 24-hours and has some snacks to eat like sandwiches, hamburgers, fries, candy, chips, and drinks, but you’re not going to find a nice restaurant here. If you’re looking for that, the St. Pete Pier has a nice restaurant up off the water on the top floor of their pier in downtown St. Petersburg.

Yes, there’s a restroom at the Pier Building at the beginning of the pier. There is no restroom on the pier.

Pier Building at Gulf Fishing Pier in Fort De Soto Park, St. Petersburg, Florida. Snacks, rod/reel rental, refreshments.
Pier Building for rentals, snacks, sandwiches, drinks, and restroom.

There is a fish cleaning station where you can de-scale and clean your fish.

There are six large covered roofs over parts of the pier which provide shade for really hot days. Benches line the fishing area too.

Is a Fishing License Included in the Fee?

There is a $5 admission charge to enter the park and for parking. If you’re fishing and have your own license, you’re set. I can’t find information on whether they offer a day pass or if it’s just included in the fee when you enter the park. There must be a day-pass at the Pier Building. Check there!

If you want to buy a fishing license before arriving you can get one at Walmart or online. Here’s information. If you’re going to fish more than a couple of times at piers it probably makes a lot of sense economically to buy a saltwater fishing license.

There is no fee for walking the pier, so feel free to sight see or exercise here.

Keep in mind, there are piers where you can do a lot more and spend similar money. The St. Pete Pier is free to fish on. The Sunshine Skyway Pier costs around the same but you can do so much more there.

Is Rental Gear (Rod and Reel) Available?

Yes you can rent rod and reel at the Pier Building. You should bring your own line, hooks, swivels, hooks, and know the rules of fishing and what you can and cannot keep.

Can You Play Music? Grill? Bring Chairs?

At Florida State Parks they are usually rather restrictive about the following list of things. This is to ensure that overall people don’t intrude on others’ rights to enjoy the place. That said, there’s nothing that restrictive and it’s always fun to spend a day or evening fishing at the Gulf Fishing Pier.

I cannot find a list of rules for the pier, but the following is probably in effect. You can bring your own chairs here but there are benches available.

Oh, and if you want to play music, grill, sleep in a tent or in your car ON the pier, just go to the Sunshine Skyway Pier south of here by 30 minutes.

Prohibited List

  • Tents
  • Fires, grill
  • Alcohol
  • Pets
  • Bicycles, rollerblades, skateboards
  • Music
  • Swimming around the Pier in the fishing section (there is a swimming section)
  • Smoking
  • Beach Umbrellas

Is a Live Web Cam on the Pier?

No, there isn’t one for this place. If you’re wondering about whether it’s crowded or not, I can help. On the weekend there may be a crowd, especially if it’s a three day weekend or holiday. Still, it never gets overcrowded because it’s a big pier and the fishing isn’t any better here than at other piers. It’s good – don’t get me wrong!

On the weekdays even in the evenings after work, you can always come here until 8 pm. and fish at your leisure and expect it to be quiet and uncrowded. This is a really beautiful spot for sunset and winding down if you had a stressful day at work.

Where is the Pier Located?

The Gulf Fishing Pier is at the southern end of Fort De Soto State Park on the west side. The map below shows you the pier in the yellow circled area. The address is: Anderson Blvd, Tierra Verde, Florida 33715. The GPS coordinates of the fishing area at the end of the pier are [27.61384465906802 N, -82.73993123325027 W].

Gulf Fishing Pier area and parking at Ft. De Soto State Park, St. Petersburg, Florida.
The Gulf Fishing Pier is located down on Mullet Key (island) by the dog park. Parking is also in that yellow circle area. (maps.google.com)

Where’s Parking?

There is space for hundreds of cars in the parking lot area and of course, handicapped spots right on the beach beside the pier. The parking lot is situated just next to the fishing pier to the right of the pier in the yellow circle above.

This lot is not covered, so bring something to block the sun from coming into your windows or your car will heat up to sizzling. The Florida sun is relentless.

Cautions

If you’re planning on doing any wade-fishing, be careful about stingrays under the sand. Shuffle your feet as you walk, and ideally you should have some protective shoes on. Stepping on a stingray and getting lashed by the tail is no fun.

They have venomous barbs that cause tremendous pain. I stepped on one in Clearwater near the pier and it was a real bad experience. Here’s the story >

Walk Around Video of the Gulf Fishing Pier

Fort Desoto Park Pier: The Best Fishing Pier In St Petersburg Florida?

Gulf Fishing Pier Website and Social Media

  • Call them at this phone number: +1 727-582-2267
  • Their Facebook page is here.
  • An Instagram search turns up hundreds of photos showing what people are catching, the birds around, the dolphins, the sunsets. This will give you a good idea what the place is like.

Where’s the Closest Fishing Pier to Me?

If you live in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, or Tampa you can choose from any of the nice piers close to you in the list below.

Fishing Piers Close to the Gulf Fishing Pier

[Image credits: Images not marked with credits taken from their official website, videos, and FB pages.]