Us On...

Tampa Bay As I Knew It - Part II

Comments: Leave | View
On: Mon, Aug 26, 2013 at 9:02AM | By: Captain Sergio Atanes

Bee-Line Ferry-

Growing up in Tampa Bay in the 50s and 60s had so much to offer when it came to fishing. When we were not going to Boca Grande for the weekends, we spent a lot of time exploring for new spots and there were plenty of places to find.  In the 50s and 60s the mindset was to fish offshore and very little attention was given to the inshore areas. Last month I covered the upper part of the bay, and this month I have some stories how it was in lower Tampa Bay in the 50s.

Bayside Power Station (Port Sutton Road)
We called it Black Docks and the winter fishing was terrific. The colder it got the hotter the bite. In those days we were allowed to fish from the bank or run our boat right up to the hot water runoff. The bank would have elbow-to-elbow fishermen catching Pompano, Redfish, Snook, Trout, Sharks, Sheepheads, and, yes, sometime a school of Catfish would move in and mess up the bite. I can't remember the year but I do remember the story of an angler falling into the water from the bank and drowning. After that, all fishing from shore was stopped and no trespassing signs went up.

Bullfrog Creek Railroad Crossing
There's a railroad crossing on Bullfrog Creek that I remember well. Before there was a catch or size limit on Redfish we would sit next to the crossing and load up on 12-inch Redfish all morning long, using fiddler crabs or shrimp. The last time I stopped by was 10 years ago and an old lady with her cane pole was fishing the same spot we used to and had several undersize Redfish on a stringer. I walked the area and saw several large Redfish and Sheepshead hanging around the pilling, so I guess the fishing was still pretty good at the old crossing.

Little Manatee River
We didn't fish the area much since it was a long run for us from the old boat ramp on 22nd Street causeway next to the Seabreeze restaurant, but when we did one of our favorite spots was the broken-down bridge area and the mouth of the river. Winter was our most productive time, as the summer months we were too busy fishing Boca Grande or Courtney Campbell Causeway.

Piney Point
In the 40s through the mid-50s there was the Bee-Line ferry that went from Piney Point to Pinellas Point, the original site of O'Neal's bait shop. It was a 69-mile drive on US Highway 41 and the ferry took about 55 minutes to get across, so it eliminated a long drive from Pinellas to Manatee County. The Skyway Bridge did not open until 1950s and that was the downfall of the Bee-Line ferry.

Fishing around the ferry's docks was fantastic all year round with some of the biggest snook and redfish for residents. Still, in the spring, its one of the best places for large Snook, if you can get them out of what remains of the old pylons left from the loading dock of the Bee-Line ferry landing.

Bishop Harbor
There used to be a small boat ramp off old Highway 41 that took you to the Skyway Bridge, and from that ramp we could access the fertile grounds of Bishop Harbor in our little boat. Mariposa Key, at the entrance to the harbor, was a home base for mullet fishermen in the 30s, and to this day there still exists some of the remains of their cabin and part of the dock.

I look forward to hearing from my readers for any fishing stories they have from the 50s and 60s fishing in Tampa Bay. Thanks to my uncle who took the time to teach me how to fish and make me the angler I am today.


Be the first to leave a comment.

Leave A Commment

Allowed HTML tags: <a href=""> <abbr title=""> <b> <em> <i>
Please no link dropping, no keywords or domains as names; do not spam, and do not advertise! rel="nofollow" is in use