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McKay Bay

Hillsborough County, Florida.

McKay Bay ends in Tampa, Florida.

2380069.63 miles (3830351.96 sq kilometers)

About The McKay Bay

About McKay Bay, FL

McKay Bay is the name used to label the northeastern corner of Tampa Bay, a large natural harbor and shallow estuary,  found at Hillsborough County in Tampa, Florida. It is a man-made lake that is undredged and shallow, surrounded by mangrove, mudflats and salt marsh wetlands. Its Greenway runs through the bay’s east side area and links to the Tampa Bypass Canal. It also houses the McKay Bay Nature Park and McKay Bay Resource Recovery Plant, a refuse-fuelled power plant. 

The lake was named after cattleman, ship captain, and the sixth mayor of Tampa, James McKay Sr. The lake used to be a cooling area for a city incinerator. The area is also a popular birding destination because the exposed area when the tides are low acts as a prime feeding ground for migratory waterfowl, shorebirds and wading birds. The nature park is also a site along the Great Florida Birding Trail. Picnic tables and interpretive signage are available around the area.

McKay Bay Fishing Description

All About Fishing in McKay Bay, FL

The most popular fish species that can be found in McKay Bay are channel catfish, red drum, and the common snook. There are also records of anglers catching gafftopsail sea catfish, ladyfish, hardhead sea catfish, blue catfish, and crevalle jack. Tarpon, flounder, shark, sheepshead and snapper can also be caught in the lake. Additionally, there are seasons allotted for lobster, scallop and oyster harvesting. 

Whether an angler opts for chumming, trolling or fly fishing, chances of getting good fishing action at McKay Bay are favourable. Anglers can use either a small boat, canoe or kayak to fish offshore with boat ramps located at EG Simmons Park, Ruskin and County Park. There are also dock and bank areas for great inshore fishing opportunities where baitcasting and spinning can be practiced. The site is family friendly and offers a calm fishing experience due to the surrounding peace and quiet. The nature park also offers hiking and nature walking opportunities as well as possessing an observation tower that doubles as an education pavilion. For those who are also interested in bird watching, the area is home to avian species such as the American avocet, black-necked stilt, green wing teal, black skimmer, white pelican, Northern shoveler, ruddy duck, canvasback, and glossy ibis.

McKay Bay Seasonal & Other Description

Fishing Seasonality

Before planning a fishing trip to McKay Bay, it is recommended to look up catch and release species and seasons as the lake is part of Tampa Bay which has specific regulations for fishing. Anglers can catch channel catfish all-year round but the best time to fish for them is during the summer. These fish are most active during the night but can still be caught all throughout the day. Red drum, which is one of the top recreational saltwater gamefish in Florida, spawn from August to November and the best month to fish for them is during September. Fishing for snook is open in March and April and from September through November. Tarpon are best caught during March through July while snapper can be fished for in June and July. Species like ladyfish and crevalle jack can be caught all year. Sheepshead are best caught during the winter until April.

Temperature and Optimal Seasons

Fishing Seasonality

Before planning a fishing trip to McKay Bay, it is recommended to look up catch and release species and seasons as the lake is part of Tampa Bay which has specific regulations for fishing. Anglers can catch channel catfish all-year round but the best time to fish for them is during the summer. These fish are most active during the night but can still be caught all throughout the day. Red drum, which is one of the top recreational saltwater gamefish in Florida, spawn from August to November and the best month to fish for them is during September. Fishing for snook is open in March and April and from September through November. Tarpon are best caught during March through July while snapper can be fished for in June and July. Species like ladyfish and crevalle jack can be caught all year. Sheepshead are best caught during the winter until April.

McKay Bay Fish Species

All About Fishing in McKay Bay, FL

The most popular fish species that can be found in McKay Bay are channel catfish, red drum, and the common snook. There are also records of anglers catching gafftopsail sea catfish, ladyfish, hardhead sea catfish, blue catfish, and crevalle jack. Tarpon, flounder, shark, sheepshead and snapper can also be caught in the lake. Additionally, there are seasons allotted for lobster, scallop and oyster harvesting. 

Whether an angler opts for chumming, trolling or fly fishing, chances of getting good fishing action at McKay Bay are favourable. Anglers can use either a small boat, canoe or kayak to fish offshore with boat ramps located at EG Simmons Park, Ruskin and County Park. There are also dock and bank areas for great inshore fishing opportunities where baitcasting and spinning can be practiced. The site is family friendly and offers a calm fishing experience due to the surrounding peace and quiet. The nature park also offers hiking and nature walking opportunities as well as possessing an observation tower that doubles as an education pavilion. For those who are also interested in bird watching, the area is home to avian species such as the American avocet, black-necked stilt, green wing teal, black skimmer, white pelican, Northern shoveler, ruddy duck, canvasback, and glossy ibis.

Snook

Habitat: Inshore, Flats, Backcountry

Weight: 12 - 29 Pounds

Length: 16" - 50"

Redfish

Habitat: Onshore, Flats, Backcountry, Nearshore

Weight: 10 - 45 Pounds

Length: 30" - 61"

Ladyfish

Habitat: Onshore, Bay

Weight: 1 - 3 Pounds

Length: 12" - 39"

Channel Catfish

Habitat: Rivers, Tidal Mouths, Bends, Wrecks

Weight: 2 - 4 Pounds

Length: 15" - 25"