What to Catch in Tampa Bay, FL

Anglers come from all over the world to fish Florida’s waters thanks to the stunning surroundings and variety of fish species available. At Captain John O’Hanlon Fishing Expeditions, we are proud to provide the best possible chartered fishing experience in the Tampa Bay area. When you choose one of our fishing expeditions, you’ll receive the guidance needed to catch fish of many varieties.

Fishing Season Dates

In Florida, most saltwater fish can be caught year round by individuals who have a fishing license. However, some fish do have specific harvest and fishing season restrictions. Specific dates are noted below for those species that cannot be caught year round. Remember that your fishing license is included with the cost of your expedition, so you don’t need to worry about picking it up yourself.

Florida Saltwater Fish

Florida’s location between the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean has encouraged the development of a unique marine ecosphere that can support dozens of species of stunning fish, shellfish and sea creatures. For anglers, this ecological diversity means better fishing and catching opportunities. Review the information below to learn more about six of Florida’s most popular saltwater fish.


Tarpon (Megalops atlanticus) is one of Florida’s most popular saltwater game fish. These fish have a distinctive dorsal fin that tapers into a filament and a large, upwards-facing mouth. Tarpon are found primarily in inshore waters. In order to catch tarpon in Florida, you must have a special permit. We will take care of securing the permit on your behalf.


Spotted sea trout (Cynoscion nebulosus) are found primarily in inshore waters and flats, though they may occasionally make their way into deeper waters. Trout prefer shores with mangrove trees or areas with significant seagrass meadows. They can be caught year round in Florida with a regular fishing license, which will be provided for your expedition.


A variety of shark live in Florida’s waters. Among the most popular are blacktip sharks, bull sharks and nurse sharks. Sharks are found throughout Florida’s waters and can be caught at any time of year with some exceptions. Protected species may not be caught and kept at any time.


Snook (Centropomus undecimalis) are a common and popular sport fish that can be recognized by their large, protruding lower jaws and divided dorsal fins. In order to catch snook, you must have a special permit. Snook season runs from the beginning of September to the end of November.


Redfish (Sciaenops ocellatus), also known as red drum, are the most proliferate fish in Florida’s estuaries. This species can be recognized by its divided dorsal fin and markings on its tail. Redfish can be caught year-round in Florida.


Four different types of mackerel are common in Florida: The Cero Mackerel, King Mackerel, Spanish Mackerel and Wahoo. These fish inhabit both inshore and offshore waters. Mackerel tend to migrate north during hot summers, making late winter and early spring ideal times to fish for them.