Around Tampa Bay
<P>Tampa Bay, Florida’s largest open-water estuary, stretches 398 square miles at high tide. Popular for sport and recreation, the bay also supports one of the world’s most productive natural systems. Estuaries like Tampa Bay where salt water from the sea and fresh water from rivers and upland mix, are nurseries for young fish, shrimp, and crabs. More than 70 percent of all fish, shellfish, and crustaceans spend some critical stage of their development in these nearshore waters, protected from larger predators that swim the open sea. Wildlife abounds along the shores of Tampa Bay. As many as 50,000 pairs of birds- from brown pelican to the colorful roseate spoonbill-nest in Tampa Bay every year. Others, including sandpipers and white pelicans, are seasonal visitors.
We divide Tampa Bay in 4 regions gulf, upper, lower, middle. Starting with the lower or the mouth of the bay we have Fort De Soto park on one side and Terra Ceia Bay on the other.These two areas are aquatic preserves and no motor zones. This some of the best wading flats in Florida with large schools redfish, trout, jacks, and with the net ban it’s not uncommon to see tailing permit. All fish coming into Tampa Bay must come by these two flats. Tailing redfish in this area rate supreme .Using a 7,8,or 9wt. Rod with a 9 or 10ft leader makes the most popular combo. Flies are the key, with clouser, and poppers being the most popular.
The middle part with Pinellas Point and Weedon Island on one side and Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve on the other. The middle part of the bay has two of Tampa’s largest power plants, one on each side, and this makes for some of the greatest winter fishing going for the fly fisherman. Large schools of jacks, tarpon, cobia, ladyfish congregate in the warm water out flow. It’s like fishing in a fish bowl. During the warner months all the fish from the power plant move out onto the flats where they can sight fished.
The upper part of the bay is probably the least fished of all. Water clearity is the big thing in the summer months, but clears in the winter, harder to wade is the other. Plenty of fish, lots of blind casting. This is one of the best places to catch a big snook in Tampa Bay.
The gulf coast is the fly fisherman dream, with large school of king and spanish mackeral,tarpon permit, tuna, bonita, redfish.All to be taken by boat. Shore line wading for snook is a early mourning fly fisherman’s chance to stalk this fish during the summer spawn.
Restaurants and motel with all prices for all pocket books, from Clearwater down the coast to St. Pete Beach. And back up the bay to Tampa.
The State of Florida also puts out a great map of Tampa Bay boat ramps, and all the sea grass areas as well as the no motor zones and aquatic preserves.
About The Author: Captain Dan Malzone
Company: Saltwater Outfitters Inc.
Area Reporting: Tampa,St. Petersberg, Clearwater, Bayport, Homosassa
Bio: DAN MALZONE : Started fly fishing in early 60’s in fresh water and moved to saltwater late 60’s. One of the front runners of fly fishing at Homossassa in 1975, where he learned the area from well known guide Capt. Gary Maconi and Norman Duncan ( Duncan Loop ). Three time winner of the MET fishing tournament fly division for mackerel, trout , mutton snapper. Two time IGFA world record holder for tarpon on fly(8 LB.and 12 LB.), also guided Dr. Clyde Balch to new IGFA world record for tarpon on fly (12 LB.) Guided wife to winning Hillsborough Tarpon Tournament for largest tarpon ladies division , overall tournament champion , most releases and combined weight champion and IGFA world record speckled trout on 6 LB. Tippet. Flies have been featured in the Orvis catalog , Tying Comtemporary Saltwater Flies by David Klausmeyer and Saltwater Fly Fishing from Maine to Texas by Don Phillips.Member of the IGFA, Florida Outdoor Writers Association, Florida Keys Guides Association, Miami Rod & Reel Club, CCA. Sponsored by Mercury Mariner Marine, Maverick Boats and is an Orvis endorsed guide for the west coast of Florida.