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Tarpon Springs, FL Fishing: A Culturally Diverse Fishing Destination

Tarpon Springs, FL Fishing: A Culturally Diverse Fishing Destination
Published: Tuesday, October 26th, 2021
Updated on: Monday, November 1st, 2021

Named for the fish found in abundance in its waters, Tarpon Springs is a city in Florida within Pinellas County. The city is situated between the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Tarpon and is tucked under Tampa Bay’s metro region. Around 1876, the region was first settled by white and black farmers and fishermen. The city was named after a settler from South Carolina named Mary Ormond Boyer spotted tarpon, which was actually mullet, jumping out of the waters. It is also known as the ‘Venice of the South’ and ‘Sponge Capital of the World’ as the industry and its world-famous sponge docks have been thriving since the 1880s.

Tarpon Springs is rich in Greek culture and heritage as it has the highest percentage of Greek Americans of any city in the United States. In addition to that, the city blends the spirit of Victorian-era Florida and small-town America. Honoring the historical link to other Greek-speaking islands, the City of Tarpon Springs established Sister City relations with Halki, Symi, Kalymnos, Hydra, Larnaca, and Cyprus. Also rich in marine life and atmosphere, Tarpon Springs boasts itself in being a fantastic tourist destination as well as its downtown has been a focal point and is constantly undergoing beautification. It possesses multiple beaches and waterfront parks, perfect for anglers and for those who want to go boating, kayaking, shell hunting and more. History and art lovers will also find Tarpon Springs engrossing as there are public art installations and places listed on the National Register of Historic Places riddled throughout the city, including a historic district and the famous Greektown district.

Tarpon Springs, FL Fishing

Anglers looking for either inshore or offshore fishing opportunities will find Tarpon Springs a great spot especially when one is looking for a place that’s warm all-year round. Its climate borders on humid subtropical and tropical savanna, so anglers looking to hook species that thrive in those conditions will find the city abundant in those types of fish. 

Due to its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico and multiple bodies of water as well as bayous, anglers can easily find and book a fishing charter within the city, many offering deep sea fishing excursions. There are also boat and kayak rentals available. After its namesake, the city’s waters are abundant in tarpon, one can easily find the fish in any of the city’s fishing spots. Anglers can catch tarpon from inshore or nearshore spots like beaches. A popular place for anglers is Fred Howard Park as it has access to the Gulf of Mexico and contains a white sandy beach. Species that can be found there are spotted sea trout, red drum, common snook, mangrove snapper, mangrove red snapper, sheepshead seabream, pinfish and crevalle jack. Its causeway is also a good place to sunbathe, swim and exercise. Anglers can employ their spinning, baitcasting and surf casting skills at the park’s waters and they can also opt to go fishing by boat. Dolphins and manatees can also be spotted on occasion from the area.

Sunset Beach is another great angling spot where one can fish from the pier, surf cast, or go by boat charter or kayak and fish its brackish waters. Fish such as drum, gar, redfish, shark, snook, tarpon and trout can be found in the area’s waters. The place offers a peaceful and scenic atmosphere for those settling there for the day and it provides free parking, fishing, swimming and concerts. 

Those who are also interested in not only angling but activities such as off road biking, hiking and wildlife observation can visit North Anclote River Nature Park which is bordered by the Anclote River to its south. The 77-acre park also ties to the Pinellas Trail, a historic abandoned railroad corridor. Anglers can fish from the pier or launch a canoe or kayak to hook species such as common snook, red drum, spotted sea trout, crevalle jack, mangrove snapper, black drum, sheepshead seabream and bonnethead shark. Mullet and crab can be found in shallow channels. 

Also nearby the Pinellas Trail is Wall Springs Park that connects its natural spring to the salt waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It has many fishing piers and is home to the bay called Boggy Bayou where anglers can catch snook, sheepshead, mullet, needlefish, redfish, stingrays, greenbacks, pinfish, and grunts.

For those looking to fish for some freshwater species, Lake Tarpon is a popular spot as it’s abundant in largemouth bass. Species such as bluegill, redear sunfish and black crappie can also be caught in the lake. The best areas to fish for bass in the lake are among weeds or vegetation or near the shoreline. Public boat ramps as well as fishing piers can also be found by the lake.

Tarpon Springs is a fantastic place if one only wants to fish from the shore as its numerous bayous and beach areas provide easy access to the water where anglers can catch tarpon, flounder, redfish, snook and speckled trout. The shoreline of Anclote Key also offers productive fishing for eager anglers. The city’s coastal fishing areas where there are reefs and wrecks are also great spots to find fish such as groupers and snappers. Trolling those areas can also have anglers catch species like barracuda, king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia. Farther away from the shore, fish like blackfin tuna, mahi mahi and wahoo can be encountered. Along the nearby mangroves, anglers can also do some spearfishing with redfish being a popular species to target.

In 1990, the Peter T. Assimack Memorial Fishing Tournament, formerly called the Tarpon Springs Chamber of Commerce Annual Fishing Tournament, was founded. The name of the tournament changed upon the passing of Assimack in 1996. He was recognized for introducing people and children to the sport of inshore fishing. The Tarpon Springs Yacht Club hosts the tournament every April and it’s a catch and release photo finish event. Anglers are judged after they submit photos of their catches. 

 

Top 10 Fish Species in Tarpon Springs, FL

The top 10 species found in Tarpon Springs, Florida are: tarpon, sea trout, redfish, snook, mangrove snapper, sheepshead, crevalle jack, mullet, flounder and largemouth bass.

Tarpon Springs, FL Fishing: A Culturally Diverse Fishing Destination Fish species
Sheepshead 
Sheepshead  fish

Habitat: Onshore, Nearshore, Offshore, Reef, Wreck

Weight: 1 - 8 Pounds

Length: 14" - 20"

Crevalle Jack 
Crevalle Jack  fish

Habitat: River, Onshore, Nearshore, Offshore, Reef, Flats Backcountry, Wreck

Weight: 15 - 60 Pounds

Length: 15" - 49"

Snook 
Snook  fish

Habitat: Inshore, Flats, Backcountry

Weight: 12 - 29 Pounds

Length: 16" - 50"

Grey Snapper 

Habitat: River, Lake, Onshore, Near shore, Reef, Backcountry

Weight: 1 - 8 Pounds

Length: 30" - 35"

Tarpon 
Tarpon  fish

Habitat: Inshore, Flats, Backcountry

Weight: 25 - 63 Pounds

Length: 48" - 96"