The 60-mile Manatee River starts its flow toward the Gulf of Mexico in the northeast section of Manatee County, ending at Tampa Bay near Bradenton. The mouth of the river is about 20 miles from St. Petersburg. Anglers can launch their boats at various public and private sites along the river. These include Fort Hammer Manatee County Boat Launch, located outside the city limits of Bradenton. The river, with areas of submerged timber, coves, swamps and grassy areas, gives bass plenty of areas to gather. Anglers have luck fishing the grassy areas with soft jerk baits, worms and Carolina rigs. Spinner baits and crankbaits work well in the deeper areas, as will live wild shiners. The river also holds bluegill, black crappie, bream and snook where it enters the Gulf of Mexico.
The 2,502-acre Lake Manatee is accessible at the Little Manatee River State Park in Wimauma, about 25 miles from St. Petersburg. Anglers can use boat motors of 20 horsepower or less, as well as canoes and kayaks, which the park rents. The area, made up of submerged timer, grassy banks, with river channels up to 15 feet deep, has record catches of largemouth bass up to 10 pounds. Anglers fishing in shallow, grassy areas have luck using worms, crawfish and soft jerkbaits. In deeper portions of the lake, deep-diving crankbaits, spinner baits, and Carolina rigs, work well, as do live wild shiners. The lake ranges anywhere from 5 to 5 feet deep and connects with the Manatee River. In addition to bass, the lake has bluegill, bream and black crappie.
Approximately 20 miles from St. Petersburg is Jiggs Landing, created by the damming of the Braden River. Anglers and boaters can use the boat ramp at the Jiggs Landing Fish Camp, which sells live bait and boat rentals. A reservoir, Jiggs Landing has channels leading into the Braden River. It also has coves offering areas to catch largemouth bass. The water has sunken timber and areas with lily pads and grass, giving bass favorite places to hang out. Anglers can also fish in the five-mile Braden River, which is accessible at the reservoir. Live wild shiners and minnows work well for live bait, with top water baits working well in early spring. Carolina rigs, soft jerk baits and worms do well in the shallow and grassy areas. Deep-diving crankbaits, spinner baits and Carolina rigged worms, are effective in deeper areas.