Thursday, July 28, 2011

Florida Fishing: Anna Maria Island

Florida fishing is awesome – especially saltwater fishing. We had a nice family vacation this summer on Anna Maria Island, and the entire family got in on the angling action. Everyone caught fish, from the little kids to the more experienced adults. This wasn’t our first time fishing Anna Maria Island, however, so I'll share a few fishing tips with you.

Anna Maria Island is in the Gulf of Mexico, just south of Tampa. It’s connected to the mainland by two bridges, and it’s connected to Long Boat Key via another bridge. Anna Maria has three fishing piers, canals, bay frontage, inlets, and beautiful beaches. Fish can be caught at all these places.

Anna Maria City Pier and Rod and Reel Pier

Both these piers are located near the northern tip of the island, and both have bait shops and restaurants. There’s no shade on either pier, and if you’re fishing with little kids, you might want to avoid these fishing venues. Neither has any guard rails. Otherwise, they’re great places to fish for sheepshead, snapper, grouper, jacks, flounder, snook, blackdrum, Spanish mackerel, trout, and very large sharks.

Bridge Street Pier

This pier provides for some comfortable saltwater fishing. Sections of it are shaded, and there are benches for sitting. The pier has sturdy railings, so it’s a good place to take kids. At the land end, there’s a small bait shop and a restaurant. Around the pilings and rocks, you can often see scores of trout and sheepshead, along with a large snook or two. Getting these fish to bite is another story, however.

Long Boat Key Bridge – Longboat Pass

You can fish from the bank or the beach on the Anna Maria side of the bridge, but be careful of the current if you’re wade fishing. Some big fish are frequently landed here, including sharks, tarpon, cobia, snook, permit, and redfish.

Bimini Bay

Bimini Bay is located on the east side of the island, in the Holmes Beach area. When the tide goes out, you can spot sandbars in the bay. If you have a small boat or kayak, fish around the sandbars for speckled trout, silver trout, flounder, reds, snook, and sharks.

Sarasota Bay

Sarasota Bay has several places where fish are likely to be lurking: oyster beds, mangroves, sandbars, artificial reefs, and grass flats. You’ll have the chance to catch snook, reds, trout, snapper, pompano, flounder, tripletail, ladyfish, Spanish mackerel, sharks, jacks, blues, cobia, and small grouper.

Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay is wide open when it comes to saltwater fishing! It has just about every type of fishing environment there is, including beaches, flats, deep grass beds, channels, river mouths, and bottom structure like rocks and rubble. Many anglers have great success around the pilings of the Skyway Bridge and on the Sunshine Skyway piers. In Tampa Bay, you’ll have a world of chances for snook, tarpon, mangrove snapper, red snapper, hog snapper, permit, amberjack, gag grouper, red grouper, scamp, huge goliath grouper, sea bass, king macks, Spanish mackerel, cobia, false albacore, pompano, sheepshead, blackdrum, and a variety of sharks – some of them pretty monstrous in size.


Most of the canals on the island are lined with oyster beds, which attract fish. In the canals, we’ve caught trout, mangrove snapper, croaker, whiting, sheepshead, and some very large redfish. If you want to load up on live bait, pinfish are everywhere in the canals!


Along the beaches, you can expect to catch just about anything, depending on the season. This might include tarpon, cobia, ladyfish, flounder, sheepshead, trout, snook, whiting, jacks, blues, pompano, and more.


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  2. Anna Maria is an incredible place for fishing. That grilled fish in the photo looks very delicious! I'd love to go there someday.

    Simone Gambler

  3. Cool! That fish you caught was pretty big. How many dishes were you able to cook with it? It seems fat too. I'm sure you and your taste buds enjoyed every bit of the fish! Great job!

    Melanie Daryl