Which inshore species should you target on your next Tampa Bay fishing charter?
One of the best things about any inshore fishing trip in Tampa Bay is that you’re not limited to what fish species you target. Tampa Bay inshore fishing is abundant with various fish species that are both great sports fish and great to eat.
In the following article, we’ll take a closer look at the most popular coastal fish species you’re likely to encounter on a Tampa Bay charter and whether or not they’re worth taking home for the family or just taking a photo and releasing to live and fight another day.
Common Inshore Fish You’ll Catch In Tampa Bay
- Redfish – The red back color and black tail spots or eyespots on the Redfish make it easily identifiable to anglers. Many anglers prize the Redfish because of its delicious light flavor and white flesh. The average size for a mature Redfish is about 28 inches for males and 33 inches for females, but they can grow as big as 45 inches, weighing about 50 lbs.
- Snook – Snook top the scales for their fighting prowess, and on light gear or a flyrod, you will have a blast targeting these fighting fish. They can grow as big as 4.5 feet, but species in the 1-2 foot range are the most common. The flesh of Snook is white, medium firmness, but not as delicate as Trout. It freezes well, but with most fish, fresh is best!
- Trout – Another popular sports fish for rod or fly is the Trout. Also commonly referred to as a Sea Trout, Speckled Trout, or Spotted Sea Trout. They’re easily identifiable by their torpedo shape and black spots along the back of the body and table. Trout is a delicate fish, so take care when handling and releasing them, but many anglers consider them an excellent table fish and ideal for the smoker!
- Gag and Red Grouper – Both Gag Grouper and Red Grouper are commonly caught inshore around the Tampa Bay Area, as well as bigger specimens offshore. Of the two fish species, Red Grouper are considered the best table fish but can carry worms, so it should never be eaten raw. If you’re planning on targeting either species, you’ll need some heavy tackle and strong arm and leg muscles, as they can put up a tremendous fight!
- Triple Tails – Many locals consider triple Tails in the Tampa Bay area to be one of the finest table fish going, and their firm white flesh is highly prized. Although they may not be the most significant sports fish, fly fishermen will be in for a great fight with a big Triple Tail.
- Shark – There are various Shark species found in the Tampa Bay Area, but the most common species encountered are the Black Tip. While a decent-sized shark will put up a great fight on light gear, most anglers in the Tampa Bay area do their best to avoid them.
- Cobia – Cobia are easily one of the most excellent sports fish you’ll encounter on an inshore Tampa Bay charter trip. Cobia can quickly grow to 6 feet and weigh up to 100 lbs. The firm texture and flavor of Cobia make them great table fish when treated well from the water to the table.
- Snapper – You’ll encounter four main types of snapper in Tampa Bay, including the Lane Snapper, Mangrove Snapper, Mutton Snapper, and Red Snapper. Regardless of which Snapper you catch, you’re in for a good feed of delicious fish and a great day on the water.
- Sheepshead – If you’re targeting a table fish, then the sweet, flaky flesh of the Sheepshead should be at the top of your list. Although not the most outstanding sports fish, Sheepshead will still ensure a great day of fun fishing.
- Tarpon – Tarpon is easily one of the best sports fish to catch in Tampa Bay. Although not considered a table fish, seeing a 6-foot Tarpon taking line and heading for the horizon is a sight every angler should experience.
- Black Drum – Black Drum is considered a great ‘all round‘ fish by many local anglers in Tampa Bay. They aren’t the best sports fish but are still fun to catch, and they aren’t bad to eat either when you take the time to look after them and prepare them correctly.
Best-Tasting Inshore Fish to Catch and Eat On Your Fishing Charter – Conclusion
When it comes to catching and cooking your fish, there’s arguably no better place to do it than Tampa Bay. With an abundance of excellent table fish on offer, the chances of going home are pretty small. However, remember the old classic, it’s called fishing, not catching! Half the fun is just being out on the water and creating memories with friends and family.
If you want to learn more about inshore charters in Tampa Bay, please don’t hesitate to throw us a line! Our professional and friendly team is always happy to try and answer any inshore Tampa Bay fishing inquiries.