At any of these places, depending on the season, you can target red snapper, flounder, snook, and countless other fish species.
The Best Fishing Spots in Tampa At a Glance
Here’s a quick overview of some of the top fishing spots in Tampa:
- Best for freshwater fishing: Rowlett Park
- Best for sunshine bass: Edvard Medard Conservation Park
- Best for redfish: Fort De Soto Park
- Best for seatrout: Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge
Top 10 Fishing Spots in Tampa in Detail
Read on for more information about the best fishing locations in Tampa.
Davis Islands is the perfect destination for anglers who don’t have the time to explore more remote fishing spots in the Tampa Bay region. Getting to the Davis Islands won’t take much time, as you just have to cross the bridge connecting the islands to the mainland.
Some of the best fishing locations on Davis Islands include the beach and the pier, but you can also rent a kayak if you want to explore the canal while angling for panfish.
Type of fishing: Beach and pier fishing
Expect to find: Snook, redfish, black drum, spotted seatrout
Rules and Safety Guidelines: Wandering off too far from the shore isn’t recommended due to strong currents.
Ballast Point Park
Located just 6.5 miles or a short 15-minute ride from downtown Tampa, Ballast Point Park is a scenic fishing spot available to anglers around the clock. The best place to cast your bait is the 600-foot-long fishing pier, but you can also try your luck at the boat ramp.
The pier has benches, tables, and running water, and you can rent fishing gear on the spot, so there’s no need to carry a fishing rod with you.
Type of fishing: Pier fishing
Expect to find: Mackerel, snook, and red drum.
Rules and Safety Guidelines: Sun protection is necessary. Expect big waves during the high tide.
Edward Medard Conservation Park
Besides fishing, the Edward Medard Conservation Park is perfect for camping, canoeing, playing golf, or swimming. The park is twenty miles from Tampa in Hillsborough County, and you’ll need around thirty minutes to reach it by car.
The entrance fee is $2 per vehicle. During spring and summer, the park closes at 7 p.m., so arrive early to make the most of the fishing experience.
Type of fishing: Freshwater fishing, boat fishing
Expect to find: Bluegill, sunshine bass, channel catfish
Rules and Safety Guidelines: Respect the wildlife and don’t litter.
Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge
Don’t miss out on the Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge while visiting Tampa. You must sail through almost the entire Tampa Bay to reach the island because it is situated at the bay’s mouth.
The trip from Tampa to Egmont Key lasts around an hour, so you’ll have plenty of time for angling. It’s important to bring food, water, and other supplies because you won’t find a store on the island.
Type of fishing: Inshore and offshore fishing
Expect to find: Shark, tarpon, king mackerel, grouper, snook
Rules and Safety Guidelines: Angling for tarpon is against the law.
Fort De Soto Park
The park’s breathtaking beauty is reason enough to make the trip from Tampa to Fort De Soto. The park is only 33.5 miles south of Tampa, and you can reach it via I-275S or ferry.
Aside from its historical value, Fort De Soto is also famous for its flats, which attract thousands of anglers every year. The park entrance fee is $5 per vehicle, and you don’t have to take supplies with you because you can find food stands and all other amenities you might need at the park.
Type of fishing: Pier fishing, surf fishing
Expect to find: Tarpon, ladyfish, mackerel, and redfish
Rules and Safety Guidelines: Fishing without a license is prohibited; sun protection is necessary.
Lake Rogers Park
Lake Rogers Park is one of Tampa’s premier freshwater destinations, situated less than twenty miles northwest of the city. The park has two lakes, including Lake Rogers, Hillsborough County’s largest lake.
The park is open to visitors from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., and the entrance fee is $2 per car for up to eight people. Finding a fishing spot on the lake’s shore is relatively difficult, so most anglers rent canoes or kayaks.
Type of fishing: Freshwater fishing, kayak fishing
Expect to find: Brim, bass, carp, and bowfins.
Rules and Safety Guidelines: Anglers must follow the state’s fishing regulations; fishing is only allowed in designated areas.
Located in the north-central part of Tampa, Rowlett Park is on the banks of the Hillsborough River. It’s a popular spot for recreational activities because it offers a wide range of amenities, including tennis courts and picnic tables.
The best spot to fish in Rowlett Park is the pier, but there are also plenty of lovely locations along the river bank. The park has a parking lot where you can leave your car for the day while you’re angling.
Type of fishing: Freshwater fishing, pier fishing
Expect to find: Catfish, bass, and bowfin
Rules and Safety Guidelines: Anglers should follow the general park guidelines.
Picnic Island Beach
Picnic Island Beach is among the best surf fishing spots in the South Tampa area. The beach is part of a larger complex that includes a pier and a boat ramp. Kayak fishing is a popular option for anglers who’d like to target redfish or snook.
Reaching the park and its beaches is easy, but finding a free parking spot during the summer can be difficult. The park is open 24 hours a day, which makes it a perfect place for fishing in the early morning or late evening.
Type of fishing: Surf fishing, pier fishing, inshore fishing, offshore fishing
Expect to find: Snook, redfish.
Rules and Safety Guidelines: Swimming at Picnic Island Beach isn’t recommended.
If you’re planning a fishing trip to Tampa, visiting Lake Tarpon should be at the top of your priority list. The lake is located in Pinellas County, close to Clearwater and a 45-minute ride from Tampa.
It’s considered one of the best fishing spots for bass, but you can also angle for king mackerel and tarpon. The best way to make the most of your fishing experience at Lake Tarpon is to charter a boat and explore its beauty while angling for trophy-sized freshwater fish.
Type of fishing: Pier fishing, freshwater fishing
Expect to find: Tarpon, bass, mackerel, bluegill, and black crappie
Rules and Safety Guidelines: Hook and line only; the catch and release rule applies to tarpon fishing.
The abundance of fishing opportunities Clearwater Beach offers makes it one of the best places for anglers in Florida. The city of Clearwater and its gorgeous beaches are less than an hour away from Tampa, and they’re worth visiting if you like surf or inshore fishing.
You can charter a boat if you’d like to visit the Hurricane Pass or the Middle Grounds, where you can catch barracuda, tuna, or grouper.
Type of fishing: Offshore fishing, kayak fishing, surf fishing
Expect to find: Trout, redfish, grouper, shark, etc.
Rules and Safety Guidelines: Seasonal catch and release rules for seatrout and redfish
Key Things to Consider When Choosing Where to Fish in Tampa
Let’s go through some of the critical factors you must consider when deciding where to fish in Tampa:
- Fish species: There are plenty of spots in Tampa where you can catch freshwater or saltwater fish.
- Location’s distance from the city of Tampa: Some of the best fishing destinations in Tampa Bay are less than an hour away from the city of Tampa.
- The time of year you’re planning to visit Tampa: You must follow different rules and regulations during the spring, summer, and autumn fishing seasons.
- You cannot fish more than 9 miles away from the shore without a special license: Ask the captain if they have the necessary license to fish more than 9 miles away from the shore while chartering a boat.
Rules for Fishing in Florida
The state of Florida updates the freshwater and saltwater fishing rules regularly, so it’s hard to keep up with the latest regulations.
Most importantly, you must assume that you’ll need a Florida fishing license regardless of the fishing spot you choose. This applies to freshwater and saltwater locations.
However, you won’t have to deal with obtaining a fishing permit if you charter a boat, since, in most cases, the cost of the license is included in the price.
The offshore fishing season closes in November, so if you want to fish offshore, you must visit Tampa between March and November.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation’s website provides detailed information about saltwater fishing and freshwater fishing regulations. Visit their website to find out how much fish you can catch in a day or which species are catch-and-release only.
Fishing Licenses in Florida
A license is mandatory if you want to fish in the Tampa Bay area. You can purchase the permit online, in person from a local license agent, or at a tax collector’s office. Saltwater and freshwater fishing licenses are sold separately, even though their prices are the same.
Here’s a quick overview of how much getting a freshwater or saltwater fishing license in Florida might cost you:
Saltwater and Freshwater licenses
- Annual Gold Sportsman: $50.75 plus fees
- 5-year Gold Sportsman: $247.75 plus fees
- Lifetime Sportsman:
- Age 0–4: $201.50 plus fees
- Age 5–12: $351.50 plus fees
- Age 13–64: $501.50 plus fees
Non-residents must purchase one of the following saltwater licenses:
- Three-day License: $17
- One-week License: $30
- Annual License: $47
The prices of freshwater fishing licenses for non-residents are the same as those of saltwater fishing licenses for non-residents.
How Salted Angler Chose the Best Fishing Spots in Tampa
Selecting the top fishing spots in Tampa isn’t a simple task, even though members of our editorial team have visited Tampa Bay on numerous occasions.
During the selection process, we aimed to include destinations that freshwater and saltwater anglers will love, which is why some of the locations we’ve listed in this article are a short drive away from the coast.
The location’s proximity to the city of Tampa was also a factor because we only considered spots within a 40-mile radius.
We also paid attention to what other anglers were saying about the fishing spots we featured in this article, and we excluded all locations with negative online reviews from consideration.
Take a look at our editorial policy to find out more about how we approach the articles we publish on our site.
How Much is Fine for Fishing Without a License in Florida?
You must pay a $50 fine and the cost of the license for fishing without a license in Florida. The fine for the second and third offenses is $250.
What is the Best Season for Fishing in Tampa?
Most anglers prefer fishing in Tampa during the spring season due to the milder temperatures compared to the summer season.
Are the Best Fishing Spots in Tampa Crowded?
Tampa’s top fishing locations attract huge crowds throughout the year, so finding a good spot at any of the popular destinations can be a challenge.