One of the hottest places to fish in the entire state of Florida is Tampa – namely Tampa Bay. I do not live there, but have been part of many tournament series there as well as have family in St. Pete – so you can say I’ve fished here a time or two. Just behind Everglades National Park/Flamingo, this is my second favorite place to fish in the state. What makes it so cool here? I think it has to do with exactly how the ecology of Tampa Bay works. You have extensive inshore flats that hold a combo of grass and sand beds, back country mangrove estuaries, and a bay that is fed by many rivers as well as tidal flows from the deeper side of the Gulf of Mexico. Tampa Bay has both deep channels as well as some of the shallowest flats in the state, if you want to fish it, Tampa has it. You have a healthy bait fish population as well here. Let’s not forget Tampa weather that keeps the water temps in near perfect zones year around.
Then there are the Tarpon. Tampa is home to resident Tarpon as well as part of the annual Tarpon migration that occurs in May through July, as well as a return trip in the fall. In contrast to the other coast in Central Florida’s fishery where the fall mullet run is their big trigger for killer fishing for epic species of all kinds.
Tampa also brings awesome food, cool places to hang out, and is not a bad drive from within most places in Florida. I have a 5hr run myself, and I find that trip worth it every time.