As the sun rises over Tampa Bay, dozens of anglers line the railing of the old Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
It’s Monday morning and the mackerel are running along one of the most popular fishing piers in Florida. One by one, reels scream as the monstrous school tears through the fishermen’s bait.
The fight is fast and furious and fish fly over the rail on to the pavement. One man in overalls stops, stuffs five fish into a cooler and guzzles the last of his coffee.
“That’s all for me,” he says, packing up his fishing gear. “It’s time to get to work.”
This scene is played over and over at Florida’s great fishing piers. They’re convenient, usually free and often a rewarding way to catch fish. But with so many, it may be difficult to decide where to start.
What to Expect
Many of Florida’s fishing piers have shallow artificial reefs within casting reach. These man-made structures support diverse communities of marine organisms, so it is not unusual for anglers to land “game” fish such as tarpon, cobia and king mackerel. From time to time, these shore-bound anglers even hook fish far too big to land, including sharks and even the stray sailfish.
At the bait house, you will see photos of local anglers proudly displaying their prized catches. Every pier has a cast of regulars, most of whom are willing to share their secrets. If a fellow angler hooks a big one, don’t be shy about asking what they used as bait. Follow the leader and cast away.
Favorite Fishing Piers
The Skyway Fishing Pier State Park: Located at the mouth of Tampa Bay on a structure that was once a bridge, the twin Skyway Fishing Piers are probably the most productive land-ba
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