St. Pete Beach Fishing: The Ultimate Guide for 2023

St. Pete Beach Fishing: The Ultimate Guide for 2023

Table of Contents

St. Pete Beach fishing has a reputation for being one of the best locations in Florida, with people visiting from near and far. With wrecks, rocks, piers and the vast Gulf of Mexico at its doorstep, the variety of fish on offer is the envy of many states.

If you want to go fishing in St. Pete Beach, you’ll need to know how to do it legally and what type of fish you want to catch. In this guide, we’ll help you decide:

How to Go Fishing in St. Pete Beach

Fishing with a Charter

Going fishing in St. Pete Beach on a boat is widely considered the best fishing experience. Fishing out on the open water is a unique experience where you get to breathe fresh ocean air and escape from everyday life.

In Florida, you can only go out on a licensed fishing boat, which means using a private fishing charter.

Charters are a fantastic option as you’ll be heading out with a skilled captain – which is great for learning, catching bigger fish and safety. You also don’t have to buy or rent your own gear or worry about bait, as the captains provide that.

Our YachtFish captains are masters of the waters surrounding St. Pete Beach and Tampa Bay and can take you to all the best hot spots.

Charters can provide for different skill levels and ages, from short trips for kids to full-day deep sea experience for serious anglers.

Pier Fishing (Pier Must Be Licensed)

Piers are an easily accessible option for those who want to rock up and get fishing immediately. Piers are usually far out enough that you can avoid swimmers and boat traffic.

St. Pete Beach has the famous Merry Pier, which is a hot spot for serious anglers and amateurs. You can get some decent small catches here, but for anything bigger, you’ll need to head out on a fishing charter.

There is also Skyway Fishing Pier State Park, which at 4 miles is the longest pier in the world!

Wade Fishing (License Needed)

Wade fishing, or ‘surf fishing’, is another option where you cast out while walking in the surf. It can be a fun, immersive way of fishing for casual fishing with a simple jig setup.

Obviously, in St. Pete Beach we’ve got great beaches, so it’s a popular idea.

Kayak Fishing (License Needed)

If you like Kayaking, then Kayak fishing provides a unique option for St. Pete Beach fishing. Weedon Island Preserve provides a good location.

Where to Fish in St. Pete Beach

St. Pete Beach, St. Petersburg, Tampa Bay, Madeira Beach and Treasure Island are considered some of the best fishing spots in the world, so you won’t struggle to get a good catch. Popular locations include:

  • Gulf Pier: At over 1,000 feet in length, The Gulf Pier is a great pier fishing spot located in Fort De Soto Park.
  • Pass-A-Grille Beach: The beautiful white sands here are popular for wade fishing and also provide a great choice of food, shops and entertainment.
  • Devil’s Elbow: Our St. Pete Beach fishing charters depart from here, providing the perfect location for inshore fishing or a direct route to deep sea fishing heaven. The location is also surrounded by restaurants, beaches and shops.

Do I Need a License to Fish in St. Pete Beach?

Florida law requires that you obtain a saltwater fishing license unless you are on a fishing charter or any of the following:

  • You are on a for-hire boat where the operator has a fishing license.
  • If you fish from a fishing charter boat where the captain has a fishing license.
  • You’re under 16 years of age.
  • You’re a Florida resident over 65 years of age.
  • You’re a Florida resident, a member of the armed forces (while not stationed in Florida) and are home for 30 days or less.
  • It’s ‘Free Fishing Day’.
  • You’re on a pier that has a fishing license upon admission.

Types of St. Pete Beach Fishing

Inshore Fishing Trips

Inshore fishing is, as the name suggests, fishing that occurs closer to the shore than deep-sea fishing.

Taking the boat around at shallower depths of around 30 meters or less, you can find fish that are usually calmer than offshore fishing. That also allows you to have a shorter, less tiring trip – which can be better suited to kids and beginners.

Inshore waters also call for smaller tackle. You often will catch more fish but they’ll be smaller than the beasts you can get out while deep-sea fishing.

These trips can be utterly exhilarating and action-packed!

Deep Sea Fishing Trips

Deep-sea fishing is a type of fishing where you take the boat out to the depths of the Gulf of Mexico, on the hunt for big beasts! Filling up buckets with bait, the aim is often to get a catch that you get a photo with or bring up for an epic dinner.

These trips can last several hours or full days, providing you with a true bucket list experience. Many people use them as bonding experiences or escapes from life on land. You’ll spend time traveling out to the hotspots, taking in the wildlife en route.

St. Pete Beach makes for a great, convenient location to go deep-sea fishing thanks to the close location to restaurants, major cities and the Gulf itself. Fishing at depths of over 100 feet, you can hook some incredible fish species such as Barracuda, Grouper, Sailfish and Sharks!

If you want to go deep-sea fishing, contact a St. Pete Beach fishing charter.

What Fish Can You Catch in St. Pete Beach?

St. Pete Beach and its surrounding waters offer a great variety of fish species to catch, from small bait fish to monster trophy fish. There are too many to list in one blog, so here are the most popular and most wanted fish:

Most Popular Inshore Fish to Catch in St. Pete Beach


Popular throughout Florida, the ‘Silver Kings‘ are some of the most sought-after fish around!

Making incredible leaps and hard runs, you’ll hear their gills rattling before they burst through the water and show off their jaw-dropping silver bodies.

Size: Up to 8 feet and over 240 pounds!


Snook are great for all skill levels, with their shimmering bodies and fighting spirit providing for great fun on an inshore fishing trip. Snook are some of the best-tasting fish found in the Gulf too.

Size: Up to 48 inches and 38 pounds!


Trout are a popular inshore fish due to their impressive colored bodies and impressive size. They can push you hard, without being overwhelming. Trout are also very popular due to their taste!

Size: Up to 25 inches and 3 pounds.


Any angler in Florida will enjoy catching a Redfish! The bruisers of the flats have a feisty spirit, rapid swim speed and, best of all, delicious meat. Guaranteed fun!

Size: Up to 61 inches and 50 pounds.


Snapper can be found everywhere while fishing in St. Pete Beach. They’re also delicious, with a moist and slightly sweet taste. Red Snapper are particularly popular, with their stunning bodies never failing to impress.

Size: Up to 11 inches

Most Popular Deep Sea Fish to Catch Near St. Pete Beach


Want to catch the true beasts of the Gulf of Mexico? Look no further than Grouper and its variations. These whoppers can only be found on deep-sea fishing trips. As bottom feeders, you’ll need to head out far to catch these rod-bending monsters.

Species include Black Grouper, Scamp Grouper, Snowy Grouper and the incredible Gag Grouper.

Gag Grouper Size: Up to 8 feet and 1,000 pounds.


Tuna also comes in different varieties, with their famous taste the reward for your hard fighting. With stunning speed and power, they’re not easy to catch – but extremely fun!

Size: Around 20-30 pounds.


Relatively easy to catch and find, Cobia look a little like small sharks (but they’re not). Found around structures such as rocks and wrecks, they also taste great!

Size: Up to 6 feet and 100 pounds.


Sharks are, of course, one of the ultimate deep-sea catches in Florida! Everyone’s dream or nightmare that catches a shark will get your heart pounding and your eyes wide. Our deep-sea fishing charters from St. Pete Beach often catch Black Nose Shark, Fine Tooth Shark, Hammerhead Shark, Shortfin Mako Shark, and Thresher Shark.


Mahi is a wonderful, colorful fish with a green, yellow, blue and purple body. Found year-round, Mahi are caught for their looks and also their tasty meat. They’re also very aggressive and will jump out the water.

Size: Up to 63 inches and 30 pounds.

When Is The Best Time to Go Fishing in St. Pete Beach?

The summer is generally considered the peak for fishing in Florida, with the bite hot! But the cooler months offer calmer waters, with less fishing traffic and tourists.

  • January: Excellent for bottom fishing
  • February: Great for fishing near wrecks. Usually too early for pelagic fish offshore.
  • March: Larger species begin to arrive. Inshore and nearshore fishing is excellent.
  • April: Kingfish are hot! A great time for inshore and offshore fishing.
  • May: Deep sea fishing season really begins! Tarpon is hot and inshore fishing is heating up too.
  • June: Red Snapper and Gag Grouper season begins, with Deep Sea fishing at its peak.
  • July: Big game fish are found, like Shark, Tuna, Mahi and Sailfish.
  • August: Good fight inshore. You’re in for a feast in any location!
  • September: Deep sea season winds down, but bottom fishing is still rewarding.
  • October: Big game fish become scarce, but many great catches can be found inshore.
  • November: Inshore season saves the day with plenty of Seabass, Snapper, Grouper, Redfish and more.
  • December: There’s great eating around wrecks and reefs. A fun time for inshore fishing away from the crowds.

Eating Your Catch after St. Pete Beach Fishing

If you want to bag your catch while fishing in St. Pete Beach, you can then take it back to the shore and have it for dinner.

Many restaurants around St. Pete beach will be willing to prepare your fish for you, giving you a truly fresh taste of the Gulf!

The local chefs can broil, grill or fry your fish, so you, your friends or your family can all dine like kings.

Fishing Tournaments in St. Pete Beach

There are some bi-annual tournaments that occur in St. Pete Beach allowing you to show off your angling skills, including:

  • King of the Beach: Occurring twice a year, in the spring and fall, it’s a 3-day tournament with a $225,000 prize!
  • Spring Inshore Slam Fishing: In March
  • Johnny Kellar Inshore Fishing Tournament: In January
  • St. Peter Open Spearfishing Tournament: In August

What to Pack for a St. Pete Beach Fishing Charter?

When packing and preparing for a fishing trip, think about comfort and protection! Here’s our essential checklist:

  • Layered clothing so you can adapt to changing temperatures and weather conditions.
  • Non-skid rubber sole shoes.
  • Swimsuit if you want to take a dive!
  • Seasickness medication if you’re prone to it.
  • Waterproof bag for your personal items.
  • Sun screening products and protective clothing, shades and hats.
  • Your captain will provide water, ice and a cooler, but consider bringing food and snacks too!

Book a St. Pete Beach Fishing Charter Today

If you want to book an inshore fishing charter or deep sea fishing charter from St. Pete Beach, FL, then call YachtFish today!

Our Captains have decades of experience and welcome people of all ages and skills to go on the adventure of a lifetime. Let’s go fishing! We guarantee a catch!

CALL or TEXT: (727) 433-4200

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About the Author...
Matt Douglas

Matt Douglas

Captain Matt Douglas is the founder of YACHTFISH and is a licensed United States Coast Guard 100 ton Master Captain. Captain Matt grew up on the waters of Tampa Bay and lived and worked in Costa Rica for over 11 years. He has extensive experience in Central America, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas and Florida. Captain Matt is a tournament-winning captain who has an intense passion for boating, fishing and creating life time memories for his Clients. These passions, combined with his experience, were the catalysts for YACHTFISH. Captain Matt is laser-focused on what he enjoys the most, and knows the best, in Tampa Bay and Costa Rica.
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