Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Old Skyway fishing pier to get new life as artificial reef

Alana Salgado, 10, left, of Tampa and her sister, Madison, 12, fish Wednesday on the pier that will stay open on the Skyway’s north side. The pier across from them is unsafe and will be demolished.

KATHLEEN FLYNN | Times

Alana Salgado, 10, left, of Tampa and her sister, Madison, 12, fish Wednesday on the pier that will stay open on the Skyway’s north side. The pier across from them is unsafe and will be demolished.

ST. PETERSBURG — Construction crews begin this month tearing down the oldest spans of the Sunshine Skyway Fishing Pier, which until three years ago was a popular spot for anglers out for a day of sun and fun.

The original 1954 spans were deemed structurally unsound, so the public has not been allowed to use them since 2008.

But just because that part of the fishing pier is being demolished doesn't mean anglers won't ever get to use them again. Instead, those spans — 27 on the north end, 48 on the south — will become a place to find a lot of fish.

Underwater, that is.

None of the concrete debris will be dumped into Tampa Bay. Instead, it will be loaded onto barges and taken out into the Gulf of Mexico, said Aubrey Clarke, a spokeswoman for the Skyway project.

"It will be taken out to become part of various reef locations," she explained.

Clarke said she could not say at this point which reefs would get the concrete from the old Skyway. However, Pinellas County operates 10 artificial reef sites, from 3 to 21 miles offshore in the gulf.

The reefs are made of Army tanks, old barges, World War II landing craft, even a tugboat. One, off St. Pete Beach, contains parts of the old Corey Causeway.

To Capt. Tony Allen of Electric Blue Fishing Charters, adding the old Skyway concrete to those reefs is "a very good idea. Juvenile fish are going to congregate around it, and then larger predators are going to come looking for the smaller fish."

The old Skyway bridge's operator boasts that it's the longest fishing pier in the world, a place where "you can pack your picnic, umbrella, chairs and fishing equipment and drive up to your fishing spot. It's like tailgating and fishing at the same time."

Anglers catch tarpon, Spanish mackerel, cobia, grouper and kingfish from the old spans, and because it's open 24 hours, they can be out there day or night.

While the demolition work goes on, anglers can continue fishing off the Skyway spans that were built in 1970, which run parallel to the old ones. However, state officials are warning boaters to keep clear of the old piers by 100 feet.

The two bait shops on the north and south piers also will remain open. The project is expected to cost about $2.2 million.

Times staff writer Danny Valentine contributed to this report. Craig Pittman can be reached at pittman@sptimes.com.

Old Skyway fishing pier to get new life as artificial reef 07/06/11 [Last modified: Thursday, July 7, 2011 6:38am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Editorial: A proud moment for civic involvement in Hillsborough County

    Editorials

    It took private citizens less than 24 hours to do what their elected leaders in Hillsborough County could not for the past three months: Find the moral fortitude and the money to move a century-old Confederate war memorial from outside the county courthouse. Thursday's achievement was a lesson in leadership to county …

    The Hillsborough County Commission dithered for three months over moving the Memoria in Aeterna monument from the old county courthouse.
  2. Fort Myers woman arrested for doing cocaine off iPhone in parent pick-up line

    Bizarre News

    A Fort Myers woman was arrested Tuesday after police saw her snorting cocaine off her iPhone while in the parent pick-up line at a Lee County middle school.

    Christina Hester, 39, faces two different drug-related charges, according to police records. [Lee County Sheriff's Office]
  3. Tropical Storm Harvey forms in Atlantic

    Hurricanes

    UPDATE: At 5 p.m. the National Hurricane Center said a hurricane hunter plane had determined that Tropical Storm Harvey had formed with sustained winds of 40 mph.

    Three tropical waves are expected to strengthen as they move across the Atlantic Ocean. [Courtesy of the National Hurricane Center]
  4. Editorial: Pinellas should join lawsuit challenging new state law

    Editorials

    The Florida Legislature has been on a cynical, constitutionally dubious quest to render local school boards powerless. The most direct assault is a new state law that strips school boards of much of their authority when it comes to the creation and funding of charter schools. It's time for the Pinellas County School …

  5. Editorial: Fix funding unfairness in Florida foster care system

    Editorials

    Many of the children in Florida's foster care system already have been failed by their parents. The last thing these kids need is to be failed by bureaucracy, too, and yet that's exactly what appears to be happening because of a needlessly rigid funding formula set up by the Florida Legislature. Child welfare agencies …

    The Legislature may have had good intentions when it came up with the funding plan, but it’s obvious that there is some unfairness built into it. The funding may be complicated, but the goal is simple: Making sure every child in need gets the help he or she needs.