Anglers who have not booked an offshore charter in advance can find action at local piers
A bit of advice to all the folks visiting the Suncoast during Spring Break and the height of our winter season. The weather here, much like the rest of the country, has been very fickle lately. After a summer-like spell for all of February, March has been very disappointing with repeated cold fronts bringing in below average temperatures and high winds.
Many of you may be looking to enjoy some of our world-class sport fishing but will find most offshore charters already booked or unable to get out due to rough conditions in the Gulf. Light tackle inshore guides are a good option, as they can often find sheltered areas with excellent fishing despite the weather. Once again, visitors that have not booked in advance may find it hard to find a reputable guide with any openings.
There are options available to anglers looking to wet a line even when the weather is abysmal (by our standards). The Suncoast has a number of public fishing piers which are producing some respectable catches with a wide variety of species. Manatee County is home to the longest fishing pier in the country at the Sunshine Skyway State Park Pier at the south end of the Skyway Bridge. Anglers can drive right out on the span and enjoy "tailgate" style fishing. The tackle shop is well equipped with rental equipment if needed, bait, tackle, food and drink.
Anna Maria Island has two currently open piers. Sarasota has the Saprito Pier adjacent to the Ringling Causeway. The jetties and the Venice Pier (Sharkey's) are good choices in South Sarasota County along with the Tom Adams Pier and the Placida Trestle Pier down Englewood way.
Any of the area's bait and tackle shops or outfitters are an excellent choice to inquire as to what is available to the shore-bound angler in both salt and freshwater locally. Visitors will find that most Suncoast locals, whether long-time or recent, are more than happy to share their knowledge of our fabulous fishing opportunities.
Make sure to ask what the fishing license situation is at any given venue. Many public piers have a blanket license which will cover you but some do not.