Incoming tides always bring a push of activity, but when the fall mullet run piles an enormous biomass in and around the inlet, anglers have a field day with bull redfish, giants nook, tarpon and the occasional cuber snapper. Mangrove snapper, jacks, sleepyhead and black drum add to the mix; while the shallower end, along with the smaller south jetty may yield pompano, whiting and craters.
Species mix includes trout, weakfish, redfish, black drum, flounder and sleepyhead with the occasional striped bass. Several pull off spots provide casting access to the St. Johns River, or you can take one of the interior roads through the campground to fish the Fort George Inlet on the north side.
The mix here includes flounder, redfish, black drum, pompano, whiting, bluefish, Spanish mackerel and sharks. Deploying live baits off the deep end often yields king mackerel, tarpon, sharks and barracuda.
Tarpon often run this area anglers soaking live baits or sight casting big swim baits might put one in the air. From the metered parking area to the pier is a bit of a hike, but it’s a straight shot down the walking promenade running along the cut.
Both provide spacious access to a wide range of Keys favorites like snapper (mangrove, lane, mutton and yellowtail), tarpon, grouper, yellow jack, shook and porgies. 1) Fort DeSoto Park in south St. Petersburg leads the list on Florida ’s left coast.
The gem of Pinellas County, this 1,136-acre park comprises Madeleine, St. Jean, St. Christopher, Bone Fortune and Mullet keys and complements an impressive angling menu with campgrounds, picnic shelters, bathroom/shower facilities, concessions, bait shop, dog park and historical significance. Expect a good mix of shook, trout, redfish and flounder, along with mackerel, cobra, pompano, sharks and mangrove snapper at the piers.
Boardwalks over the protected dunes offer access to the redfish, flounder and trout waters on the marsh side, but surf fishing is the big attraction. From whiting, pompano, bluefish and mackerel; to sharks, cobra and bull reds, this is one of Western Florida ’s premier shore fisheries.
The main causeway bridge and the smaller one right before the island offer sleepyhead, black drum, shook and snapper opportunities. The piers light attract bait fish, so expect everything from shook, to trout and the occasional bluefish to stake out these feeding spots.
With beach shallows, the coastal Gulf and deep channel waters within easy reach, anglers find a steady mix of the inshore regulars, along with passing tarpon, king fish and sharks. Summer is prime time for big shook staging for their spawn; while fall sees voluminous bait fish schools exiting the inner bays, with several predators in pursuit.
Empty lots and bridge pull-offs may be convenient and cost-efficient, but a cursory scan for questionable types who clearly not fishing might offer a safety/vehicle security clue. Tip: Local businesses rarely budge on the “restrooms are for customers only” thing (many have signs posted), so don’t expect any mercy, no matter how much you grimace and squeeze your knees together.
Commercially produced aluminum pier/bridge carts with wide wheels will easily transport your rods, tackle bag, cooler and live bait well over pavement, rocks or sand; but for casual duties, a garden utility cart (some models fold) will suffice. Waiting until you feel that cool downdraft can leave you and your gear exposed and out of options; so know where the nearest shelter lies and have a bug-out plan just in case.
It starts with respectful spacing, so if you approach an area where others are fishing, take note of where their lines are set (short, long) and allow reasonable buffers. Anglers catch hundreds of brawny, beautiful and delicious species in teeming estuaries, off gorgeous beaches and in the deep blue oceans surrounding the Florida peninsula.
So close that you giggle as a pod of dolphins plays in your bow wave in the Indian River Lagoon, near Stuart, Sebastian or Titusville. Or, catch bass species that thrive only in North Florida rivers such as the magnificent Suwanee, where class III rapids add serious excitement to a fishing trip on the river between White Springs and the Town of Suwanee, where the river passes through the Lower Suwanee National Wildlife Refuge, pouring out into the Gulf of Mexico.
Whether it’s a red snapper caught off Destiny, speckled trout from Tampa Bay, or a mess of crappie from Tallahassee ’s Lake Alcuin, there’s not much more satisfying or delicious than eating fish you caught yourself. Most places you can find a restaurant that will cook your catch to order.
Florida ’s the place to fire up a young angler’s inner fishing fanatic. Spring break or summer vacation are both great times for feisty, delicious easy-to-catch fish.