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Fly Fishing the Sports Coast - Pasco County

Updated: Mar 23

Endless Seagrass and gin clear water nearly year round is what you'll find when fishing Pasco County. From the Anclote River to Aripeka you'll find some awesome habitat that holds fish. Open to the gulf north of anclote key state park, the grass flats commonly hold fish and other animals that may not be common further south. For instance, sea turtles very commonly swim over areas of grass and can be seen mulling around potholes or poking their heads above the surface to see who's paying them a visit.

It's common to find cobia, gag grouper, tarpon, and speckled trout calling our deeper grass flats home. Fish will often break over the grass during their annual migrations (Cobia and Tarpon) to feed or rest in deep water passes. The sports coast serves as a buffer between Tampa bay and St. Joseph's sound and the Famous Florida Nature Coast. As you ride north you'll be greeted with more and more patches of hard, limestone bottom that show up as the giant rock the nature coast sits on becomes more visible. These rocks act as structure for both prey and predators. Learning to fish them and when fish will like to be around them can buy you a bite or two that you hardly see further south.

Low tides in this area give us a great opportunity to get away from crowds. Low water around the rocks keeps bigger boats from working these flats for more than half the fishing day. Redfish and sheepshead are the main users of these flats mixed with grass, sand, and rock bottom. You'll see them tailing over portions of the flat depending on the food source. Most fish will tip down and cruise along the flat looking for more prey. The mixed bottom does not concentrate bait as tightly as a turtle grass flat might. A tailing fish will not stay in the same place for a long time like their southern counterparts. It is also possible to see big speckled trout and snook staged up in potholes especially towards the edges of these flats.

When the tide begins to turn in, we can disappear into a maze of creeks chasing fish that only small skiffs can reach. The sports coast is home to the beginning of a flowing maze of saltwater feeder creeks that send water back into brackish lakes and ponds. These creeks create wonderful refuge for gamefish to move through with the seasons. Some of my favorite fishing is focused around the mouths and pockets that these creeks create. Snook, redfish, and speckled trout all use different portions of feeder creeks to their advantage. It's not uncommon to have an opportunity to catch all three species of an inshore slam within 50 feet of each other.

The Sports coast offers it all. While the northern half resembles a lot of what you'll see further north into the nature coast. The southern half contains more seagrass. Some flats seem to be never ending. You can literally cover miles and never escape the clean, luscious grass that corrals bait and will have redfish tailing away endlessly. Low tides can often have you in front of tailing redfish as far as the eye can see. It's important to understand how predators utilize the differences in habitat - even if they are a short boat ride away from each other. Fish on the southern ends of the sports coast use edges on the grass flats to ambush prey. Redfish will cruise the flats looking for congregations of crustaceans and pods of pinfish up shallow in the grass.

A short drive north of the hustle and bustle of Tampa Bay will have you dreaming of more peace and solitude the second your trip is over. Well worth the trip and well worth a look, consider booking your next trip chasing fish along the beautiful sports coast.

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