Pier and Beach Fishing
in Pinellas County, Florida
I'm a little out of my element when it comes to talking about pier fishing, since I don't fish from piers but I've had so many people e-mail me over the years questioning where our fishing piers are, when they should fish, and what they can catch from piers that I felt I had to at least put down a short list of our local fishing piers and what you might expect in general.
I will start out at the north end of Pinellas County and if you see that I missed a pier or favorite shore fishing spot, please let me know and I'll be glad to add it. Now I can't give exact directions in this article, so if you want to fish in one of these areas you'll have to do a little homework on your own.
Tarpon Springs has a nice area called Howard Park. It's a beautiful spit of land sticking out into the Gulf coastal waters, surrounded by deep grass flats. It used to be a great place to put in and go scalloping when we had scallops and it was legal there, and I'm sure that the wade fishing there is phenomenal. Be careful, the waters do get deep and since it's open to the Gulf you don't want any dead or dying fish on a stringer tied to your belt to attract toothy critters. Just down the road from Tarpon Springs is state road 580 or Curlew Road (some people call this the Honeymoon Island Causeway) that runs from Dunedin to the Honeymoon Island State Park. There is a mile or so of bank and wade fishing in this area. You really need to go scope it out and make a decision on where you might want to fish before the day you decide to go. It's also a popular causeway with the jet ski crowd since beach launching is easy here.
The next spot south is actually a fishing pier. Big Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach is known for producing some surprising catches occasionally. You can't miss it if you go to Clearwater Beach. Drive east fro Big Pier 60 along highway 60 or Gulf to Bay Blvd. and you come to the Courtney Campbell Causeway to Tampa. Folks, there are miles of rocks piled up on both sides of the causeway that you can fish from. There is an access road separating it from the highway so you are not in the flow of fast moving traffic and anglers catch everything from mangrove snapper to tarpon off this causeway.
Back to the Gulf side and south again is Redington Long Pier on Redington Shores. It has a bait and tackle shop and at one time or another nearly everything that swims in the Gulf could be right off the end of this pier. Drive East from there to the other side of the county and you will finds the Gandy Bridge. The old bridge across the bay has been closed to motorized traffic and there is a beautiful fishing catwalk on both side of the bridge. You may have a long walk here, but you pier fishermen are a tough lot, right? To the south of the Gandy Bridge in downtown St. Petersburg you will find The Pier. It's been around in one form or another since the early part of the last century (wow, that sounds old doesn't it). there's lots of fishing space but you have to be very neat. This is a yuppie pier now.
Drive back to the Gulf side of the county from The Pier and you will run into Treasure Island. Turn right and you get to John's Pass Bridge and Water way (connecting Treasure Island and Madiera Beach). Usual catch includes big sheephead, big snook, sea bass, pompano, and the occasional blue fish and cobia. Bottom fishers will find themselves in a mess of sting rays and catfish. Of course, if you are just looking to catch anything, you'll have your arm tired with the rays and cats. Also...this goes for any bridge or pier and even the beach (if you can get past the wind). Try tying a balloon on to the line to keep the bait off the bottom -- this will ensure a variety of catches and keep you out of the garbage(Cats and rays). Turn left at Treasure Island and you will get to Blind Pass. There is a seawall lined with boulders there that is open to the Gulf. Another great place to fish with plenty of food and liquid refreshment close at hand. Drive south to the end of St. Petersburg Beach and you are in Pass-A-Grille. On the Gulf side at lands end there is a small jetty that sticks out into the Gulf and on the Bay side there is a mile or so of sea wall to fish from. Don't forget the miles of beaches on the Gulf between Tarpon Springs and Pass-A-Grille that you can fish from. You never know what might bite a shrimp or sand flea or crab. You might get pompano, snook, whiting, flounder; there's just no telling what you can catch from the beach.
The last two areas to fish in Pinellas County are the jewels of the entire southeastern United States as far as I'm concerned. Ft. DeSoto County Park and the Skyway Fishing Pier. On your drive from St. Petersburg Beach to Ft. DeSoto Park, you will find nearly 3 miles of shoreline where you can park and fish from the beach or wade fish. There are two bridges on this causeway to fish from and when you get to Ft. DeSoto there are two fishing piers in the park to fish from with bait shops and amenities, one on the Gulf and one on the Bay. Ft. DeSoto itself is an "L" shaped island 1-1/2 miles long on each leg of the "L". You can fish from the beach anywhere along this 3 mile stretch of sand.
Last, but certainly not least, is the Skyway Fishing Pier. This pier is 4 lanes of concrete highway, 3/4 of a mile long on the north end and 1-1/2 mile long on the south side of the Bay. It used to be the old Skyway Bridge that crossed the mouth of Tampa Bay. It is now the longest fishing pier that I know of anywhere. You can drive right up to the spot that you choose to fish from and there are rest rooms and bait houses with snacks and tackle on both ends. Of course there is a charge to fish here, but it's well worth it.
I hope this helps you land-locked anglers a little. I'm sure if you want to try all the places I mentioned here it will keep you busy for many years to come.