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camping shell key@ fort desoto, saint petersburg, tampa bay

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  • camping shell key@ fort desoto, saint petersburg, tampa bay

    just wanted to write about my latest camping excursion with my beloved boat and wife( in that order)the wife and i took our 16.5 foot 1985 bonito center console and 1990 merc 90hp outboard to shell key preserve last saturday night to camp, swim, boat and just plain relax.we parked and launched at the ft.desoto park boat ramp for a measly 5 buck$, and once all the gear and us were loaded on to the boat, its only a 10 minute ride ( at idle speed) to the island known as shell key. once there we set up the tent on a very nice spot of white sand beach , about 50 feet from shore. camp fire( bring your own wood) teakie torches, lawn chairs, bug spray, coolers , tent, air bed w/pump, spare clothes, etc.we didnt get to the boat ramp till about 10 pm and finally got all set up for camp around 11. went for midnight boat ride, then came back to enjoy the fire for an hour or two before turning in.woke up about 5 am and went for a nother ride out into the gulf to watch the sun come up over the island and shine through the palm and pine trees. beautifull.very beautifull.back to camp about 7 am. swam , took a walk, saw some dolphins, saw some birds, very nice.about 11 am, went for another boat ride, this time around the back and into the interior of the shell key preserve, witch is very shallow, i had to get out and push the boat a few times with motor all the way lifted, a push pole woulda been nice. oh well.lots of people out with kites on the beach this day. lots of familys picknicking and fishing and swimming.if you live ANYWHERE near tampa bay florida, and i mean within a few hours drive, you owe it to yourself to check it out. i honestly felt like i was in the keys. i never knew it was so tropical and beautifull here in my own back yard. this was not my first time here, as i live about 30 mins to the north, but it seems to get prettier and prettier every time i go.if you have kayaks, or a good flats boat with push pole, you can explore even more of the preserve, as 90 % of the interior of the park is less than two feet deep. lots of sand bars and lots of wildlife. the water there is absoltely crystal clear with a slight greenish blue haze.do a google search for shell key preserve or just click the link in my signature just below this post.if you go , i do suggest bringi8ng two anchors, so that you can keep the boat where you want it , as the tide here often goes out 15-20 feet from shore, or more, each major change. i learned this the hard way last november when my boat was found the next morning on the beach , about 20 feet from the water, with the motor burried in the sand. we could hear the fisherman laughiong at us as they drove out through the channel on the way to the gulf.i just wanted to share my experience and try to entice some of you semi local guys to come on down, its beatifull here.the water is only inches deep for long periods of time and sandbars you can watch birds walking around on miles out into the gulf. very very niceoh yeah, there is a 7-11 gas station accsesable by the water about 3 miles away, although you need to carry your portable tank to the pumps, as they are not right at the dock, probably about 50 yards from the dock, at the road.have funa and take caremike

  • #2
    Re: camping shell key@ fort desoto, saint petersburg, tampa bay

    We took several boats there a couple of weeks ago. Launched mine plus a buddies pontoon boat. Went to Eggmont Key and various artifical reefs throughout the day. Worst fishing I have ever had in saltwater. Ever. Don't know if its the area or just the time of year. Weather was great. Just no fish. I mean NO fish. Very disappointing. I talked to other boats and listened to the VHF all day. Seem to be the same for everybody. Unless things have changed, don't bother taking any fishing equipment.

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    • #3
      Re: camping shell key@ fort desoto, saint petersburg, tampa bay

      myoutboardsAfter getting over an envy attack, looked at Florida De Lorme Atlas. Only Shell Key found off Upper Matecumbe Key???? Batavier

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      • #4
        Re: camping shell key@ fort desoto, saint petersburg, tampa bay

        Shell Key is just north of Ft DeSoto, which is located on the southwest tip of Pinellas County. It's probably one of the most gorgeous county parks in the entire state! I go kayaking out there quite often and the fishing is usually great.

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        • #5
          Re: camping shell key@ fort desoto, saint petersburg, tampa bay

          Scuttle but that day was that there were only two tides the day in question. They were wondering if that had anything to do with the poor fishing. Who knows. I will tell you this... its beautiful anyway even without the fish. Now that the waters warming up things will probably be better in that department.

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          • #6
            Re: camping shell key@ fort desoto, saint petersburg, tampa bay

            smthsalnThanks-I will try it next winter. Batavier

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            • #7
              Re: camping shell key@ fort desoto, saint petersburg, tampa bay

              gil... the fishing there is world class. many a fishing show has been filmed at the egmont channel and flats. you just gotta wait for the kingfish run.right now its the mackeral and after that, the KINGS!if you want to see lots of fishing boats, so packed that it almost isnt fun, go there for one of the many kingfish tourneys that they have each year.and as for looking up shell key.... http://www.pinellascounty.org/environment/pagesHTML/pdfs/Shell%20Key.pdf#search='shell%20key%20pinellas' as you can see, the boat ramp is maybe 1 mile away from the camping area! come down, ill show you just what makes this place great!

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              • #8
                Re: camping shell key@ fort desoto, saint petersburg, tampa bay

                Anybody got anysuggestions as to the best place to anchor / camp on the island??

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                • #9
                  Re: camping shell key@ fort desoto, saint petersburg, tampa bay

                  either at the south most end or at the north most end, look at the link i posted just above here

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                  • #10
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                    Re: camping shell key@ fort desoto, saint petersburg, tampa bay

                    I go out there every weekend, i usually beach on the southside of the island, between the sandbars and just party.

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