Spanning 400-square miles, the Tampa Bay estuary and its watershed stretch from the spring-fed headwaters of the Hillsborough River to the salty waters off Anna Maria Island. Florida’s largest open-water estuary harbors a rich and diverse assemblage of plants and animals including prized sport fish like snook and tarpon. In spite of its size, the bay is an average of only 11 feet deep.
The bay and the sparkling beaches of the surrounding barrier islands attract nearly 5 million visitors a year. Sport fishing, boating, kayaking and wildlife watching are increasingly popular activities among both visitors and residents. Today, some 40,000 pairs of wading and shore birds of 25 species nest annually on protected islands in the bay; one-sixth of the Gulf Coast population of Florida manatees spend the winter near power plants bordering the bay; and more than 200 species of fish spend some part of their lives within the Tampa Bay estuary. The richness of this environment makes Tampa Bay a highly sought after destination spot for fly fishing, both inshore and offshore. *
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