Fishing Trips Near Port Richey, Florida, with Flats Fishing Photos
fishing trips - flats fishing
Several members of my family love saltwater fishing, including me. As a result, we try to take several fishing vacations every year, using all the saltwater fishing tips we've learned. This summer, one of our Florida vacations was our salt water fishing trip that took us to Port Richey for some tidal river angling and some flats fishing. We fished from our private Cotee River dock every day, and we went out for several fishing trips on a boat for flats fishing.
Fishing from the dock was fun, especially for the kids. The adult anglers, however, loved the flats fishing! for some reason, I like the idea of being able to see the bottom in the crystal-clear water. You can easily see if you're fishing over grass beds or over a sandy bottom. It's also easy to spot sand bars and other places that are likely to hold fish while flats fishing.
Saltwater Fishing in the Cotee River
With our vacation rental house, we had the use of our own private floating dock in the Pithlachascotee River, referred to by the locals around Port Richey as the “Cotee River.” The water there is brackish, so it’s possible to do salt water fishing, along with the occasional freshwater species.
We caught a wide variety of species from the dock, including small redfish, black drum, sea robins, toadfish, sand trout, catfish, alligator gars, barracudas, and crabs. We also caught tons of pinfish, which we used for bait for flats fishing. We caught stingrays and a sea turtle, too. My son-in-law, Cory, caught a small cobia from the dock. Even my small granddaughters, who had never done any salt water fishing before, were able to catch fish. And my young grandsons, who are already avid fishermen at the ages of seven and four, loved catching redfish, along with the pinfish we used for bait.
We hung some really large fish from the dock that broke our lines. I’m sure one was a huge cobia, and the others were probably sharks or big reds. That’s one of the best things about salt water fishing – you never know what you might catch.
Flats Fishing Near Port Richey
On the second day of our fishing vacation, we took out a pontoon boat for some flats fishing. Our fishing trip started at Sunset Marina, which is adjacent to the vacation house we rented. The fishing trip took us only a few minutes to get to the flats fishing grounds.
The water there was incredibly clear and calm. It was easy to see the bottom, most of which was covered with sea grass, with sandy patches here and there. All different sizes of pinfish were everywhere. If we ran out of bait, we could easily catch some more pinfish to use. Just about everything out on the flats eats pinfish.
One advantage that Port Richey has over other areas for flats fishing is that there's visible structures. Several "stilt houses" were built decades ago, out in the gulf. Fish tend to congregate around the pilings of these wooden houses.
We had heard from some Port Richey locals that cobia, or “ling,” as they’re called in the gulf, were hanging around near the mouth of the Cotee, so we started out with some cobia fishing. I had done a little cobia fishing before, so it wasn’t completely foreign to me. Cory and Johnny used live pinfish as bait, fished near the bottom with a weight. I decided on freelining a mullet minnow. It wasn’t long before I hung a fish. I was using pretty light tackle, so I was in for a struggle.
The fish kept taking my drag, and I kept reeling in whenever I got some slack. The fish finally began to tire, and as it neared the boat, we could see that it was a cobia. It then got a new surge of energy and wrapped my line around the anchor rope. Cory pulled in the rope, along with the fish. We were disappointed to discover that it was only 30-inches long from the nose to the tail fork, and the legal size was 33 inches. If we could have measured the cobia’s full length, it would have been legal to keep. We released the fish, unharmed.
The others decided to freeline their baits while cobia fishing, too. We hooked some more fish, but we ended up with broken lines. Next time I go cobia fishing, I’ll be taking some heavy duty tackle.
The next day of flats fishing, we decided to focus on seatrout. Trout fishing had been pretty good, and we love to eat trout, so we were ready with jigs, shrimp, and small pinfish. We caught a few silvers while trout fishing, but decided we didn’t get out early enough. The local anglers told us that trout fishing was best early in the morning and late in the evening. We gave up our trout fishing and went back to cobia fishing.
Evidently, the cobia were somewhere else that day. We did catch some small sharks, however, so all was not lost.
On the fifth day of our fishing vacation, we took the boat out again. We offered the fish a variety of baits to see what was biting, and it seemed that tarpon fishing was in order. We used live pinfish for bait. After we began tarpon fishing, it wasn’t long before Cory had hooked up with a tarpon. It put on quite a show as it tail-walked, ran, and ended up leaping over the boat. It finally tossed the hook.
Johnny hung a big tarpon soon after, and it must have been huge. It took all the line from his large saltwater fishing rod, finally snapping it. The same thing happened several more times that day of tarpon fishing.
I didn’t see anyone fly fishing for tarpon, but I would imagine that flats fishing in the Port Richey area with a fly rod would be very productive. The water is very calm. In fact, at times it looked more like a giant lake that like a gulf. Fly fishing for tarpon and other species would be entirely possible. We might just have to make some fly fishing trips to the area on our future fishing vacations.
Fly fishing trips would most likely result in not only tarpon, but also in redfish, trout, and cobia.
Planning Fishing Trips to Port Richey
If you’re interested in flats fishing, trolling, deep sea fishing, fly fishing trips, or other types of saltwater fishing vacations, try the Port Richey area. You can choose among numerous fishing guides who are familiar with the area and know where the hot spots are. Or you could do like we did and rent your own boat for some flats fishing or fly fishing trips. There are several marinas near the mouth of the gulf, so it would take only a few minutes for you to reach the fishing grounds. We used Sunset Marina and were very pleased with them. They also have live bait, frozen bait, ice, tackle, drinks, and snacks, which makes the saltwater fishing trips very convenient.
We had a wonderful time on our fishing vacation. I hope you enjoyed the fishing photos!
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