Just south of Sarasota Florida is the beachside city of Venice with a large fishing pier called “Venice Fishing Pier.” Though their fishing pier was destroyed in a storm that tossed huge waves over it and wrecked the pier, they rebuilt it better than ever.
This is a key tourist draw for the area as the pier is huge and has a couple of great places to eat, “Sharkey’s” and “Finn’s” at the beginning of the pier.
Oh, did I mention that there is no fee for fishing at the Venice Pier and no Florida Saltwater Fishing License is necessary?
What Time Does the Gulf Fishing Pier Open and Close?
This is one of those amazing piers that is open 24-hours a day and it’s free, so you have the best of both worlds there.
There are people who put up tents and tarps after hours to sleep under though technically you’re not supposed to. By the morning, they pack them up and nobody is the wiser.
For decades locals have been fishing from this pier and many generations of kids have learned to fish on the Venice Fishing Pier.
How Big is the Pier Fishing Area?
The pier is 700 feet long and supported by 64 massive concrete pylons that hold it 20 feet above the surface of the Gulf of Mexico.
This pier doesn’t really get crowded because it is so large, but on holidays and long weekends there may be more people fishing from it than you want to see. Weekdays are always perfect with never too many people fishing at the same time.
This is another long pier like Clearwater’s Pier 60 and Gulf Fishing Pier in Ft. De Soto Park in St. Pete. Bring a wagon, cart, or whatever you have with wheels that can help you get your bait buckets and ice-filled coolers out to your pier fishing spot. It’s too far to carry it.
What Fish Can You Catch at the Venice Fishing Pier?
I’ve not fished this pier before because I was blessed to be surrounded by amazing piers in the St. Petersburg area and I just didn’t see the need to go anywhere else.
Like most piers on Florida’s west coast you can catch a lot of different species.
The water is about 16 feet deep at the end of the pier. That’s deep enough for some interesting species.
The list below covers the usual species available at this fishing pier.
Common Fish Caught at the Venice Fishing Pier
- shark (hammerheads and bonnet head usually)
- redfish (red drum)
- speckled trout, weakfish
- Spanish mackerel
- cobia (rare)
- black sea bass
- mangrove snapper
- pinfish (for bait)
- Jack Crevalle
You can sometimes see dolphins, manta rays, stingrays, egrets, and other birds and wildlife here. When you get too hot, you can swim in the ocean near the pier in the swimming section.
Does the Pier Have a Bait Shop?
Yes it does! Papa’s Bait Shop is located about midway up the pier. They open at 8:30 am. to 8:30 pm. daily. I found many different hours listed so I think it varies by time of year.
You can buy frozen shrimp and squid, and they have some lures and of course the essentials like line, hooks, floats, sinkers, swivels, buckets, and other essentials. Bring cash, they don’t accept cards, crypto, bank transfers or anything else.
At most of the pier bait shops you won’t find live pinfish for sale because they need big spaces and a lot of water. It’s kind of a pain for bait shop owners to deal with. Pinfish are great bait for catching big speckled trout and many other fish species.
As is usual, prices are higher than Walmart and Amazon, so probably better to think ahead a bit and get your own gear even if you’re renting a rod and reel.
Places to Eat? Restroom? Shade?
Sharkey’s Restaurant and a number of small fast food and snack shops are open at the beginning of the pier. Sharkey’s has seared and blackened tuna, Jamaican jerk chicken, clam chowder and a large menu of mostly seafood items. Stop there and grab lunch if you’re around!
Finn’s Restaurant, a bit more upscale, is on the second floor above Sharkey’s and they offer valet parking.
There is a restroom and sinks at the shopping complex at the start of the pier. There are places to sit to relax out of the sun. The fishing pier has benches all along one side and plenty of places to sit down.
Surprisingly there are no covered areas on the pier to get out of the sun and rain. I didn’t see umbrellas banned on their list so you could probably get away with a big umbrella.
Note – There is no restroom on the pier itself, you have to take the walk.
Is a Fishing License Included in the Fee?
The fee is zero dollars to fish here – completely free. The city has the proper license and allows anyone to fish from the pier for free.
Keep in mind, you cannot step over to the beach beside the pier and fish for free because you’ll need a proper Florida Saltwater Fishing License for fishing from shore.
If you want to buy a fishing license before arriving you can get one at Walmart or online.
Here’s some 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 come to watch the sunset, see what anglers are catching, or exercise here.
Is Rental Gear (Rod and Reel) Available?
Yes you can rent rod and reel at Papa’s Bait House. 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.
Note – Only 1 fishing line in the water at a time per person. I have also seen rules stating 2 allowed. So, play it by ear. Bring another rod and ask at the bait house.
- No shark fishing gear
- Fires, grill
- Glass containers
- Tobacco products and smoking
- Bicycles, rollerblades, skateboards
- Swimming around the Pier in the fishing section (there is a swimming section)
- Beach Umbrellas
Is a Live Web Cam on the Pier?
No, not at this time. Sharkey’s restaurant had one for a while, but it isn’t working lately.
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 all over, so that spreads people out. Venice is also not as populated as say Tampa, so there will never be too many anglers at this pier except maybe on a holiday.
On the weekdays even in the evenings after work, you can always come here and stay as late as you want, fishing your heart out until it’s time to head home to bed. Some people bring a sleeping bag and make an overnight of it.
Where is the Pier Located?
The Venice Fishing Pier is along the beach in Venice just south of Sarasota, Florida and west of the Venice Municipal Airport. The map below shows you the pier in the yellow circled area. The address is: 1600 S. Harbor Drive Venice, FL 34285.
The GPS coordinates of the fishing area at the end of the pier are [27.072549315796863 N, -82.45281234601882 W].
There is space for around 300 vehicles 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 and shopping complex.
The parking lot is not covered, so bring your sun-shades to keep your vehicle cool. The Florida sun gets very hot!
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 and the wound can become infected. I stepped on one in Clearwater near the pier and it was a real bad experience. Here’s my story >
Big Black Drum Caught at the Venice Fishing Pier
The whole video is pretty good, but I wanted to cue it up for this big black drum catch. The rest of the video is worth watching too. This is a rather crowded area these guys are fishing in.
The pier is huge, you could find some more space.
Website and Social Media
- Their Facebook page is here.
- An Instagram search has many photos of the pier, the shopping area, the restaurants, the street shows that are there on the weekends, and some of the catches anglers are showing off. The sunset here is especially nice. Visit the pier today if you’re close by.
Where’s the Closest Fishing Pier to Me?
If you live on the west side of Florida, the following piers may be close to you. Or, choose “Fishing Pier Guides” below and see all guides for all areas.
Other Fishing Piers Close By
[Image credits: Images not marked with credits taken from their official website, videos, and FB pages without listed copyrght.]