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Pinellas County Has More Beaches Than Hillsborough, Manatee and Sarasota Counties
Aug 9, 2007, 16:28

The “Good Ole Summer Time” is still with us. If you go to the beach you can shoreline fish.

I have a list of beaches for those vacationing here or for newcomers.

There is a beach at Simmons Park on 19th Avenue N.W. in Ruskin. This sandy beach slopes into Tampa Bay and because of the danger of riptides, swimming in the park is in a restricted area. Fishing is great there and redfish catches in the canals are well known. During snook season many are caught in the canals also.

If going into Tampa, there is Davis Island Beach at 900 Martinique Ave. Swimming isn’t too good there as I found grass growing up in the sand.  The harbor is full of boats.

On the Causeway west of Tampa there a small strip hugging Tampa Bay. Ben T. Davis Beach is located at 7740 Courtney Campbell Parkway. This beach is often very crowded as people stop there instead of going across the bay. Cast netting and shoreline fishing also takes place there.

As far south as Sarasota there is Lido Beach.  It is peaceful and quiet and is located just below LongBoat Key.

I really have not seen a public beach at Long Boat and we have been going there for more than 20 years.

Pinellas County out-ranks all other counties in beaches. It is just across the bay from Tampa or across the Sunshine Skyway Bridge south of Ruskin. I have counted 14 beaches: Some of the best known are: Pass-a-Grille, St. Pete, Sand Key, Indian Rocks, John’s Pass, Clearwater, Honeymoon Island, Madeira  and Redington.

Manatee County has numerous beaches: Bradenton Beach, Coquina, Holmes, Anna Maria and Bayfront.

So if you want a bigger choice of beaches, Pinellas County beats Hillsborough, Sarasota and Manatee counties.

This leads me to wonder why there is only one public beach in this area and as large as Tampa is, there is only three.

Boaters say they have no place to launch their vessels.

New boat ramps are on the drawing board for Simmons Park and this should help the over-crowded Williams Park in Gibsonton.

Many of the State Parks have rivers, lake waterfronts and camping. Some parks have horseback riding but they lack white sandy beaches that Florida is known for world-wide. Before I left the Pacific Northwest, I knew Florida as palm trees, “Moon over Miami,” sunshine and sandy white beaches.

There is a vast body of water surrounding us in the south Hillsborough County area along with the best fishing spot in the world.

If you don’t have a boat, you can still fish. Drive to Simmons Park on 19th Avenue, Heritage Park, south of Ruskin or Williams Park to the north. If you ride a bike you can go to all these locations or ride HARTline bus.

Many of the anglers’ “favorite fishing holes,” are now private property. For years a  group of people from Plant City traveled to Apollo Beach to spend the night camping and fishing, then along came the construction boom and their spot was gone... Shell Point was also a very popular place but  it is no longer available to the public. Bahia Beach, now Little Harbor and is also private.  Today the sandy white beaches of Ruskin and Gibsonton are just a memory for the pioneers that I interviewed for my “Piece of History” books.

If you don’t know the area and want to catch a fish in the bay waters, I suggest you take a charter boat. The captains are very knowledgeable. They will take anglers where they can catch a fish. The captains supply the gear, give pointers on “how-to-catch” a fish, and also inform everyone about  the regulations. Stop at any local bait shop and they will connect you with a charter captain. The people at bait shops also know the waterways, the legal size of fish and what is being caught.

In the warm weather there seems to be plenty of bait fish skimming across the bay and following those schools are plenty of jacks.

Spanish mackerel are the catch of the week.

As usual redfish are being caught in the canals at Simmons Park.

The usual sheepshead are around  the piers and bridges.

A few shark catches are being make by daring anglers.

Aleta Jonie Maschek is a member of the Florida Outdoor Sports Writers’ Press.

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