Fishing the 'Flats' in Tampa Bay

A Short Salty History

by Captain Mark Lyons

I grew up in Ohio, when fishing was necessary for food, where everything you caught looked the same and was no larger than nine inches. It was not glamorous. Although for some odd reason you could not keep me out any ditch, creek, reservoir or pond, I loved fishing. I blame my grandfather for sowing that seed. Every chance he had from when I was very young until I left for college, He would take me fishing on our 23' John Allmand on Lake Michigan. There wasn't a day that was not good for fishing.

Twelve years ago, I left my career of engineering to go back to fishing. I spent a couple years bouncing around the Caribbean working as a charter captain and for Club Med. I soon wanted to start my own fishing charter business. This brought me here, exploring Tampa Bay from shoreline to offshore.

If you remember back to a time when Salt water fishing was gaining popularity, it was still only offshore fishing stealing all the hype. Coastal fishing was labeled working fishermen’s area and fly fishing was a retiree’s hobby. Today Inshore fishing is one of Florida's largest tourism industries. I'm excited that others are finally exploring the backcountry charm that the mangroves create.

Our 20' Aquasport offers the best qualities when looking for a flats vessel. Light weight and shallow, this boat serves up everything you could hope for when fishing in the backcountry.
Shallow water wrecks, like this one, hold a variety of fish. Test your skills to see if you can keep the keepers without losing them and the sinker.
Captain Mark with a lunker Redfish caught near Mullet Key in Tampa Bay

Although popular flats fishing today includes beautiful white skiffs with shiny aluminum towers, I can't help but be more fascinated with the history surrounding it. My grandfather in-law a second generation Floridian with a family history of fishing Tampa Bay always entertains me with stories of mullet fishing in the sixties when his step-father owned a fish house in Ruskin. There is always an element of pioneering with a no-man's land feel to all his stories. He shows me a grainy black and white photo of the wooden boats they used to carry nets and mullet. Modern times would have you believe that Columbia PFG is somehow apart of southern history. I can only image how the water was in those days. No 'up to the hour' forecasting for weather, no sunken obstruction warnings and no GPS. Virtually barren coastline only navigated by the working fisherman, the true salty dogs.

While I love the southern culture and history still abundant in bay fishing here, I really enjoy chart plotters. I also enjoy that I get to be apart of a novices first experience fishing or even first time on the water. Being a very small piece of Florida's growing network of recreational fishing has been perfect for me and my love of fishing.

You can find us fishing everyday of the week here: website
Call us to see what adventure is next

Join My wife and I on your next fishing trip, we can't wait to meet you!