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Fishing Trips Near Port Richey, Florida, with Flats Fishing Photos

Updated on March 2, 2012

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.

Jonathan was our bait-catcher while we were flats fishing.
Jonathan was our bait-catcher while we were flats fishing.
Our private saltwater fishing dock on our fishing vacation.
Our private saltwater fishing dock on our fishing vacation.
A totem to the saltwater fishing gods near our dock. Notice the huge heads from fish caught from the Cotee River.
A totem to the saltwater fishing gods near our dock. Notice the huge heads from fish caught from the Cotee River.

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.

 

The kids enjoyed catching small redfish.
The kids enjoyed catching small redfish.

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.

The results of cobia fishing on the flats.
The results of cobia fishing on the flats.

Cobia Fishing

 

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.

 

Cory and Jade land a small shark while flats fishing.
Cory and Jade land a small shark while flats fishing.

Trout Fishing

 

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.

Another fish caught while flats fishing near a stilt house.
Another fish caught while flats fishing near a stilt house.
Another shark.
Another shark.
Tarpon fishing - the one that got away.
Tarpon fishing - the one that got away.

Tarpon Fishing

 

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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    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      That's great, Moataz!

    • moataz profile image

      moataz 

      7 years ago

      it looks so nice there

      we have very nice olaces for saltwater fishing in Egypt too

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Cool, Judy! I love flounder and trout!

    • judydianne profile image

      judydianne 

      7 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

      Last weekend he caught flounder and trout. He also catches red snapper.

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Hi, Judy! What does he usually catch?

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Nancy, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Awww...thanks, Eth!!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Garnet, you need to go fishing, girl!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Yes, Sheila, I think it's in our genes! lol

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Bekah, we loved your neck of the woods! We had a wonderful family vacation and plan on returning soon!

    • judydianne profile image

      judydianne 

      7 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

      You were right up the road from me. My son, Rob, goes fly fishing on the Gulf in a kayak almost every weekend. He likes to fish at Sand Key.

      Great pictures and good catches!

    • nancy_30 profile image

      nancy_30 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      It sounds like you had a really good fishing trip. I enjoyed reading about it and looking at the pictures.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 

      7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Nice to see those beautiful kids again. This fishing trip would be heaven for Hubby

    • GarnetBird profile image

      Gloria Siess 

      7 years ago from Wrightwood, California

      I haven't fished since I left Ohio--it's always such an adventure-lovely Hub and photos.

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 

      7 years ago

      The photos were so much fun to look at. What I appreciate most about your love of fishing is that it's multi-generational.

    • rebekahELLE profile image

      rebekahELLE 

      7 years ago from Tampa Bay

      oh what fun you had! look at those fish! I have been on those waters, but not fishing. my dad took me deep sea fishing when I was a little girl and I remember the smell!! my sons fish every once in a while. it is relaxing. aren't the waters beautiful here?

      I know I'm so spoiled to be so close to the Gulf, but every time I get to the water, it reminds me to slow down and appreciate the beauty and simple pleasures of life. so wonderful that your family enjoyed such a special time together! thumbs up!

      habee, are these hubs on the Florida hubtrail capstone?

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Prasetio. Always good to see you!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Katie, saltwater fishing is both relaxing and exciting for me!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Quildon, if you love fish, you should try catching your own. Nothing better than super fresh!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Buckie, come on over and we'll go fishing together!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Dink, I'm glad you enjoyed reading about saltwater fishing!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Yep, drbj, cobia is tasty!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Lyria, we really like the Port Richey and Tarpon Springs area. There was plenty to do!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Peg, the 'Glades has some awesome fishing! Thanks for visiting!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Gpage, I like fresh water fishing, but I LOVE saltwater fishing!!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      GL, we love the gulf, too. I would be heartbroken if it was ruined by the oil!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Pam. We had a great time!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      You're welcome, HH!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Mtsi, I do have more fish recipes that I'll post soon. Thanks for reading!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Sligo, the oil hasn't reached this area. Hopefully, it never will!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks for visiting, msorensson!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      RD, I guess you can retire now! lol

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 

      7 years ago from malang-indonesia

      I can found complete information about fishing. It give me new knowledge here. Thanks, Habee. I learn much from this hub. Vote this up.

      Prasetio

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 

      7 years ago from I'm outta here

      What a great time had by all, so glad you enjoyed a great time fishing near port Richey Florida, My youngest daughter loves to fish. :)

    • quildon profile image

      Angela Joseph 

      7 years ago from Florida

      I don't know about the fishing, although I love fish, but the water looks so peaceful. Wish I was there. Great hub!

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 

      7 years ago from Washington

      Looks dreamy - sun and surf - 2 of my favorite things...the fishing well....another day, another hub. I'm not the greatest latest American fisherwoman like you!

    • dinkan53 profile image

      dinkan53 

      7 years ago from India

      wonderful pictures. your hub filled me with lot of sweet memories from Youshniy Buk River, 3 days of fishing with my friends, Ukraine. thanks and excellent job Habee.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      7 years ago from south Florida

      Thank you for those great photos, habee. Is cobia a good "eating" fish?

    • Lyria profile image

      Lyria 

      7 years ago

      Great photos! I just took a trip out to New Port Richey and Port Richey myself around the beginning of July. You guys look like you had some great fun. It's a nice place to visit.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      7 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Habee - Your wonderful pictures make me long for the old days when we fished near the Everglades in South Florida. We caught Reds, Yellow-tail, Grouper, Grunt, Barracuda and even salt water catfish (which we threw back naturally). It looks like you and your family had a wonderful time in Florida. Thanks for the memories.

    • GPAGE profile image

      GPAGE 

      7 years ago from California

      habee. Looks like a lot of fun! The only fishing we have done is in a lake near where we live. Maybe we will venture out one day. We do have a great lake near our home called Lake Casitas. The kids love it! Great informative hub as always! Thank you for sharing! Love the pics too! G

    • G L Strout profile image

      G L Strout 

      7 years ago from Ohio, USA

      I so love the Florida Gulf coast. Let's hope the oil does not ruin it for generations to come. I don't see why we can't ban drilling in the gulf altogether. Thanks for a great article.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      7 years ago

      Habee, Love the pictures! It looks like your family hit the jackpot.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      7 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for showing and sharing you lovely time there.

    • profile image

      mtsi1098 

      7 years ago

      Any new fish recipes on their way? Thanks...pictures look like a great vacation...

    • sligobay profile image

      sligobay 

      7 years ago from east of the equator

      It's great to see that the Florida Gulf has escaped the 'slick' thusfar and that the fish are plentiful. I fished a lot as a kid and intend to get back to it now.

      This was a great article in many respects which was thoroghly enjoyable.

    • msorensson profile image

      msorensson 

      7 years ago

      Lovely, thank you for sharing#

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 

      7 years ago from Southern Georgia

      It's a good thing you have Jonathan to catch your bait for you now, I got tired of it! LOL! That boy really loves to fish! Almost as much as his granny! Nuh Nuh Nuh!

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