Tampa Bay is an incredibly diverse ecosystem and you never stop learning new things. Although we usually fish for the big three which are tarpon, redfish, and snook there are many more species that are available throughout the year and are just as fun to catch. This page will give you an overview of other species and general time periods when they may be available.
Trout are available throughout the year and are always ready to bite. The average size is 12-15 inches but they can get much bigger in the colder months and into the 30 inch range. For a novice angler or someone new to the sport, trout can provide a day full of action. They are usually schooled and ready to bite. On good days you can expect 20-30 fish or more. Bigger gator trout can also be sight fished as they lay in sand holes or on edges of flats.
Cobia are a pelagic fish but they hang around our area for most of the year. You never know when one will swim by. They can be found cruising the beach behind rays and sharks or milling around power plants because of the warm water. If you happen to see one, a good cast usually results in a very aggressive bite no matter what fly you have on. Tarpon flies work great and you often see cobia swimming the same lanes as the tarpon. These fish are big and fight hard till the end.
Tunny usually show up off our beaches and in our passes in September and will hang around till the water gets too cold. These fish school in huge groups and can turn an acre of water white when feeding on glass minnows. This is a run and gun fishery. When a school starts blitzing, you chase them down full throttle and make a cast often while the boat is still moving. Strip fast and get ready to hook one of the fastest fish in the ocean. Often you are into your backing within a matter of seconds. After the initial run you are in for a long battle recovering the majority of your line.
Black drum hang out around our bridges in the summer and are easy prey for a well placed cast. These fish are giants with some nearing the 50 lb mark. It’s not something you would do all day but it sure is fun to catch a couple if they are showing up.
Permit are available in Tampa Bay at certain times of the year on the flats. Typically in the spring and fall. It is not something I would typically guide a full day for but when they show up it’s definitely an option to fish for them.
Jacks are quite simply fish on steroids. There are few fish that pull harder or fight longer. When targeted with light tackle they can be a blast. In the cooler months, larger jacks to 20 lbs can be found terrorizing a flat in schools and you are in for a workout if you hook one. Smaller jacks are plentiful on the flats and can be caught blind casting with baitfish patterns.