Cockroach Bay

Depending on how long you've been fishing this area, there might be places you've heard of but haven't fished. Somehow considered privately-held and owned by the people that fish them almost exclusively (any area of the country and world have areas "owned" by locals), since they're water, they belong to nobody and everybody. There are so very many places like this in the area you can't fish them all unless you do it for a living or don't have to "do anything" but study fisheries like Cockroach.

On the lower-right side of the Bay, just below the mouth of the Little Manatee River, Cockroach has long been a very popular place to chase snook, redfish, and speckled trout. When you take a look at the map, you'll find that the outer edges also regularly produce flounder. When we add the trip map for the Little Manatee River, you'll see that tarpon can often be found rolling on the edges of the nearby ship channel. This map focuses on the inside -- but suffice it to say you should always look in all directions when you're fishing.

On the southeastern corner of Tampa Bay, Cockroach Bay has long been part of experienced fisher's trip plans. There's an ancient mound there that was once more than 60 foot tall, and villages nearby held thousands of residents. Fishers all :)

As is often the case around the Bay, there are names for every mound of mangroves with enough room to have gotten drunk, arrested, or in some kind of trouble. From Shell Key (scallop shells, anybody?) to Big Pass to Snake Key (Rattlesnake ain't far away, and is appropriately named, we might add). Whiskey Key, Goat Island, and another Snake lines the entrance to Little Manatee, which you can see on the top of this image.

The names of the keys come from days long gone, and aren't used by anybody accept maniacs like us with secret names for "secret" spots.

Fisheries belong to all of us; we've fished and caught fish at any Fishy Spot we give you. No promises, though. God, would THAT open us up to a can of worms. You probably will never, ever catch a single fish at any spot we ever recommend. In fact, you won't. We know you won't. And if you've ever heard of these spots, whoever you heard about them from shouldn't be relied on.

That having been said, if for some unknown reason you still want to try catching a redfish in the place we call Cockroach, you can either tow your car there. The ramp is reliable, but prone to nighttime (and anytime, really) robberies. Locking your car is a great idea, as is making darned sure you don't leave anything -- at all -- of value in your vehicle. Forums around the bay have plenty of "Somebody stole xxxx at Cockroach" posts. Don't be one of their original posters.

Depending on where you live and start from, it might be worth it to consider dropping the boat in at O'Neil's on the west side of the Skyway (a popular place; you can read more about it on the Park/Fish icon on the map) and running across the bay. The run is 10 miles in each direction, but driving with the trailer-in-tow might be more hassle than's worth it in gallons-per-trip. That's something to consider, but with two ways into the fishery (and many more) getting there is only half the fun :)

Trailering to Manatee might not be as easy as dropping the boat at O'Neil's (if you're in Pinellas County) and running the 10 miles across the bay to Cockroach. The Little Manatee and plenty more primary fishing grounds are on that side of the Bay.

Cockroach Bay Fishing Map