Captain Dave is a grizzled veteran Tampa charter fisherman, and while he may be gruff at times, he knows his stuff. For $600, four of us fished for nearly eight hours, catching just a few edible fishing including flounder.
We began our day at O'Neil's Marina in St. Pete next to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge at sunrise. Our trip started by passing under the huge bridge, and fishing for about 30 minutes in the sheltered areas of Tampa Bay. When we didn't catch much here, we cruised out to Fort DeSoto and fished several secluded spots. Around 1200 we swung into Pass-a-Grille for lunch at a dockside restaurant. After lunch we fished a bit in the Intracoastal waterway. We didn't catch a lot of fish, but we took home a few fish,including a flounder. Capt Dave professionally fileted the fish and packed them in ice for our trip home.
Capt. Dave Markett
USCG licensed Master
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Sportfishing Guide Services, Inc.
19096 Gunn Hwy.
Odessa, FL 33556
On a recent weekday we went fishing with Capt Harry Conner who runs a company called Hook 'em Harry. Capt Harry is a fourth generation Florida fisherman who obviously loves what he does... who wouldn't want to spend their days on the water? He'll fish in the bay, gulf, or Intracoastal Waterway for just about anything you want to catch like tarpon, tuna, grouper, mackerel, redfish, trout, and sharks.
We did a 3/4-day in-the-Bay fishing trip with Capt Harry out of O'Neill's Marina in St. Pete. We met at around 7am, loaded up his 26-foot Calcutta boat with our food and drinks (he provided everything else), and were on the water to see the sun rise. Our first stop was near the pier at Fort DeSoto where Capt Harry threw the net to get small bait fish. Then we spent about 30 minutes over by the Egmont Key light hoping to snag a tarpon that pass through the area. Finally we spent the next 3 or 4 hours fishing closer to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and up the intracoastal as far as Pass a Grille. We caught about 10 fish of legal size and numerous others that were a bit too small to keep. When we got back to the docks, Capt Harry filleted the fish, packed them in ice, and we were on our way.
Florida is sometimes called the fishing capital of the world, due to the year-round seasonal weather and its great fishing habitat in 7,700 lakes, 10,550 miles of rivers and 2,276 miles of shoreline. Florida is said to have twice as many fishermen as golfers in a state known for its golfing. In fact, Florida ranks first among the 50 states in the total number of fishermen with 2.77 million people engaged in the sport.
Tampa Bay is one of the finest places to fish in Florida. Here you have freshwater fishing in local rivers, shoreline fishing from numerous bridges and piers, and saltwater fishing in the bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
Until August 1st 2009, Florida residents could legally fish for free from docks and the shore in saltwater. So, on one of our last days of eligibility, we went out on the dock after a rainstorm near dusk and fished for hours. In some three hours, we caught about 50 small fish, mostly inedible spiny catfish and a few small black drums. We caught one keeper, a fourteen inch black drum that we fried up for dinner.... yum.
Saltwater and freshwater fishing licenses are $17 each, or both for $32.50. Perhaps the best deal in the state is the Gold Sportsman's License which includes Hunting, Saltwater Fishing and Freshwater Fishing licenses; and Wildlife Management Area, Archery, Muzzleloading Gun, Crossbow, Turkey and Florida Waterfowl, Snook and Lobster permits.
You do not need a license to fish from a licensed charter boat.
Water is everywhere in the Tampa Bay area. The bay, the gulf, dozens of lakes and several rivers make it a veritable watery playground.
If you like saltwater fishing, you can do so from bridges, docks and piers up and down Tampa Bay. Two of the more popular land-based hotspots in Tampa are the Gandy Bridge and Ballast Point Park. You'll catch more on the bridge than at Ballast Point, but the attached park makes BP a better choice for anglers with kids.
If you want deep-water fishing, there are hundreds (at least) of options on the gulf beaches -- everything from professional guided multi-day excursions on luxurious yatchs to little tubs you can rent on your own. Do a web search for "Tampa Bay Fishing" and you'll get just a tiny sample.
Keep in mind that Tampa is not actually on the Gulf of Mexico, so few fishing trips leave from Tampa proper.
Equipment: If you don't have your own gear, you can rent or buy from many tackle shops located near popular fishing spots.