A Boating and Angling Guide to Tampa Bay A Boating and Angling Guide to Tampa Bay Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Logo Tampa Bay Estuary Program Logo Florida Department of Environmental Protection Logo Sport Fish Restoration Logo Southwest Florida Water Management District Logo
About This Guide
Catch and Release Information
Popular Sport Fish
Fishing Regulations
Fishing Piers
Artificial Reefs
Natural Resources
Managed Areas
Resource Directory
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Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission

Fish and Wildlife
Research Institute
100 Eighth Avenue SE
St. Petersburg, Florida 33701

Tampa Bay Estuary Program
100 Eighth Avenue SE
St. Petersburg, Florida 33701

Tampa Bay Estuary Program License Plate
Funding for this project was obtained through Tampa Bay Estuary Program specialty license plate funds.

Sport Fish Restoration Logo
Additional funding for this project was obtained through the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Fund.
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Fish images © Diane Rome Peebles. Illustration provided for viewing purposes only.

Below is a small list of the popular sport fish caught in the Tampa Bay estuary.

Fish Identification: Often, sport fish look very similar and are hard to identify. This can be a problem when the regulations are different for each species. To help with the identification of similar species, the identification sheets below were developed and contain simple, easily seen identification keys that will help fishermen identify similar species. These sheets can be printed using a desktop printer and taken out on the next fishing trip.
Know Your Florida Fish: Greater Amberjack and Banded Rudderfish (PDF, 1.5 MB)
Know Your Florida Fish: Black Grouper, Gag, and Red Grouper (PDF, 1.6 MB)
Know Your Florida Fish: King Mackerel and Spanish Mackerel (PDF, .97 MB)
Know Your Florida Fish: Florida Pompano and Permit (PDF, 1.35 MB)

Gulf Flounder Flounder: Inshore within bays near or within grass flats during spring and summer; in the Gulf beginning in the fall with the onset of colder weather.
Red Drum Red Drum (Redfish): Inshore near grass beds, oyster bars, and docks pilings; deeper channels during the warmest and coolest months
Snook Snook:  Canals, tidal creeks, and other deep warm waters in cool months; near tidal passes and mangrove fringe at high tide.
Spotted Seatrout Spotted Seatrout (Speckled seatrout): Inshore over grass beds, sand, and sandy/mud bottoms; deeper water during warmest and coolest months.
Tarpon Tarpon: Found mostly inshore near bridges, pilings, rock walls, harbors, around structures, and on flats.
Spanish Mackerel Spanish Mackerel: Inshore, nearshore, and offshore over grass beds and reefs
King Mackerel King Mackerel (Kingfish): Nearshore and offshore; occasionally taken from piers running into deep water.
Red Grouper Red Grouper: Bottom dwelling fish associated with hardbottom; juveniles offshore along with adults greater than six years old; nearshore reefs
Black Grouper Black Grouper: Offshore species; adults associated with rocky bottoms, reef, and drop-off walls in water over 60 feet deep; young may occur inshore in shallow water
Gag Grouper Gag (Gag Grouper): Adults offshore over rocks and reefs; juveniles occur in seagrass beds inshore
Cobia Cobia: Both inshore and nearshore inhabiting inlets, bays and among mangroves; frequently seen around buoys, pilings, and wrecks.
Crevalle Jack Crevalle Jack (Jack Crevalle): Common to both inshore waters and the open sea.
Florida Pompano Florida Pompano: Inshore and nearshore waters, especially along sandy beaches, along oyster bars, and over grassbeds, often in turbid water; may be found in water as deep as 130 feet.
Mangrove Snapper Gray (Mangrove) Snapper: Juveniles inshore in tidal creeks, mangroves, and grass beds; adults generally nearshore or offshore on coral or rocky reefs.
Sheepshead Sheepshead: Inshore around oyster bars, seawalls, and in tidal creeks; moves nearshore in late winter and early spring for spawning, gathering over rocks, artificial reefs, and around navigation markers.

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