Planning Your Tampa Bay Fishing Charter

prestoncobiasmThere is no shortage of variety with your options in Tampa Bay area fishing charters. By asking yourself a few simple questions you’ll be better able to select the best captain for your individual needs and get the most out of your charter fishing experience.

Action, Adventure & Availability
What exactly are you looking for? Ideally your trip would include all of the above but you’ll likely have to make choices based on when you’re fishing, the species you’re targeting and how far you’d like to go to get them. Be practical and talk with your captain about options for fishing and realistic expectations for your trip. Also ask your captain what his “plan b” is if the original target species isn’t available or if weather or tides make fishing for a particular species difficult.

Lately, you’ve had to go pretty far offshore to get keeper grouper but if you were looking to catch fish that you could bring home… the spanish mackerel provided non-stop action within 15 minutes of shore. Catch and release snook provided a lot of fun and photo ops along the flats and inlets this summer, and are outstanding table fare, but they were out of season so no-one brought any home.

Huge tarpon were caught around the bridges and off the beach but it would be foolish to think that just because they’re there, and the conditions are right… that you’re necessarily going to hook up… and that’s if they’re there.

A Few Suggestions & A Couple Questions
Try to prioritize the following items: Having fish for dinner, getting a load to the dock, the trophy type fish, some great pictures, a good fight, steady action and deep water. Afterwards, browse our species information section and compare your top priorities with the characteristics of the species and the times they are available.

Give some serious thought to the length of your trip. If you’re fishing inshore, a half day trip can provide all of the action and a full fish box very easily. If you’re headed off shore we suggest at least a 3/4 day trip. Having to leave a productive fishing grounds to get back to the dock after having taken time to get there can be very frustrating.

Essential Supplies – Less Is MORE

Tampa Bay charter captains outfit their boats with the client in mind and being that you’ll be sharing, on an average of, 176 sq. ft for a few hours with a couple of fisherman… space is at a premium. Our suggestions below should always be confirmed with the specific captains but provide reasonable guidelines when getting ready for your trip.

Bring One Small Weather Resistant Bag Containing:

  • Polarized Sun Glasses: From watching the dolphin to identifying what’s on the end of your line, it’ll make a big difference.
  • Required Medications: If you have a known medical concern, please bring your required medications after notifying the captain.
  • Apparel: Bring an extra shirt and always include head covering and an extra outer garment that can be easily removed/stored if the forecast dictates.
  • Grease Up Before You Go: Take the time to add your sunblock before hitting the water and bring it with you, particularly if you’re fair skinned.
  • Bottled Water: It can never hurt to bring a couple.
  • An Inexpensive Digital Camera (In a zip locked plastic bag): Probably one of the most common casualties on the water, but a must have anyway.

Omit The Following Without Your Captains Approval:

  • Fishing Rods: There are a limited number of rod holders on the boat and your captain will have the appropriate rods for your targeted species.
  • Tackle Box: Your captain is an expert on the tackle required for our area so the extra box is just one more thing to walk around or store.
  • A Cooler: Your captain will have a cooler with plenty of ice, please feel free to bring a beverage or two but leave the cooler behind.
  • Alcoholic Beverages: Never attempt to bring alcoholic beverages on board without the prior approval of your captain.


Tarpon Spanish Mackerel Red Grouper Red Snapper Speckled Trout Black Drum Cobia
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