Skyway bridge or skyway pier is one of the most sophisticated and easily accessible saltwater fishing piers in the USA. Skyway bridge attracts anglers and tourist’s day and night around the year.
If you can manage, visit the bridge. You’ll enjoy it. If you do want to visit, here’s all the things you’ll need to know about Skyway bridge fishing.
Skyway Bridge is one of the top attractions for saltwater anglers. If you are planning to visit it, make your schedule right before the sunrise or the sunset. Either of the time tends to get the best bite rate.
You can visit any time around the year, leaving winter. Most of the species tend to migrate to the warmer water. Bring a strong jig setup and a few extra bucks. Tickets are 4$ for an adult and 2$ for children. Babies are free, though.
A Brief History
Sunshine Skyway bridge, as the name implies, is a bridge. At least it used to be until the freighter named Summit Venture ran into one of its support columns in May 1980. The incident resulted in the collapse of the bridge from the center.
A new bridge by the same name replaced the old one in 1987, and the collapsed Skyway bridge turned into Skyway fishing pier. The bridge was used to connect St. Petersburg to Terra Ceia.
After the accident, either end of the bridge has been modified and reconditioned for fishing. Thus, you can fish from either side. There’s not much difference, though.
The broken parts and rubbles of the bridge have been placed strategically to create an artificial habitat for fish, which is one of the main reasons for the success of the bridge as a fishing pier.
What To Expect At The Pier?
At the pier, you will get a wide range of saltwater fish. The main attraction is the Grouper. Other than that, you will find black sea bass, snook, cobia, mackerel, snapper, tarpon, pompano, and sheepshead.
If you are lucky, you will return with a trophy fish and a story to tell. Even if you are not the luckiest, you will still have plenty to tell, about the environment, especially if you visit there just before sunrise or sunset. The bridge is also great for sightseeing.
You can catch your bait from the pier, from the very chair you are sitting at, and there is plenty. That’s the live-est bait you will get. If you feel lazy, there are bait shops open 24/7 on both sides.
Things To Keep In Mind When Fishing At The Skyway Bridge
If you are unaware of the tips and tricks of fishing at the skyway bridge then you will end up complaining – why can’t I catch fish and your fish basket will remain empty. So, if you are determined to visit the Skyway bridge be sure to –
Visit Just Before Sunrise Or Sunset
One of the main attractions of the Skyway bridge is its magnificent view of the sunrise and sunset. From the bridge or pier, whatever you want to call it, you will have an excellent view of both, which makes it perfect for visiting with family, especially children.
Besides the view, this is the prime feeding time for fish as well. So naturally, you are more likely to get bites. You are also more likely to get the biggest fish around this time since most of the fishes are active around this hour, and the bigger ones tend to dominate.
Keep in mind; it is not the only time to get the biggest fish. You can land a hit at any time of the day, but you are more likely to, around this time.
Catch Your Own Bait
It is always recommended to catch your bait from the spot before fishing. That way, you will be sure to get the fresh and live bait. It doesn’t get any better than that. Although there are convenient bait shops available, it is not recommended.
Most of the time, the baits there are not alive, and even if they are, they are not always healthy and energetic. Getting a healthy and active fish is essential for the success of fishing.
It is crucial when you are going after fish like the Grouper and pompano. Groupers hide in the cracks and secrecy of rocks the majority of the time, and to lure out the biggest ones, your bait will need to reach to the bottom and around the grouper hideout.
Besides, Tampa bay is bountiful in terms of baitfish. You don’t even need to leave your chair, just switch the rod, and you will have plenty in minutes.
Practice Free Lining With Live Bait
Freeline fishing is one of the successful fishing methods for Skyway. Since a big part of the fishes are campers, including the main attraction, Grouper, freelining with live bait will let you reach them with ease.
Be sure to pierce the bait near the tail fin instead of near the mouth or back. When you hook the bait near the front end, they have a hard time sinking downwards. Hooking near the back end naturally puts the weight and drag towards the back and faces the fish downward.
Use A Sturdy Fishing Rod And Strong Line
Having a sturdy setup is necessary when fishing near the bottom. More so, when you are going after the Grouper, and the bottom is covered with rock piles. It is exactly the case at the skyway bridge. Any line weaker than 50-60lb is just asking to be scratched against the rock and be broken.
In terms of the rod, you want a sturdy and un-bendy one. Groupers tend to just bite the bait and make a run for their hideout immediately. And not just casually, they will run for shelter with all of their strength. If your rod bends and gives the fish space, it will inevitably enter the creeks, and the line will break in seconds.
It is one of the reasons you will see people back off from the railing of the bridge as they hook a fish to prevent the fish from getting any space to work with. You want the fight to take place in open water.
When fishing at the Skyway bridge, you need to stay vigilant and pay attention all the time as long as the bait is in the water. As I mentioned, the Grouper likes to bite the bait and run for shelter violently.
The fact that you are offering the bait near the rocky bottom in the first place doesn’t help either. If you are not attentive, you will lose a handful of hooks.
Besides that, Dolphins and Porpoises are getting smarter every day. They are stealing bait from the hook without getting hooked themselves almost artistically. It is best not to cast in the first place when there are dolphins nearby.
Skyway bridge is a place to visit for reasons. It is open to visitors all day long and throughout the whole year. You can plan for fishing overnight if you want. You will have sufficient access, security, and other facilities all night long. The bridge is lit up all night for night fishing.
There are convenient restaurants, restrooms, shops, and other facilities available in the near vicinity. Besides all the other facilities, the Skyway bridge is also great for a walk and enjoying the beauty of Tampa Bay.