Florida is a hotspot for fishing, and no wonder! Along with saltwater fishing in the warm Gulf waters, it also offers canals, rivers, lakes and excellent backwater fishing. For the uninitiated, backwater fishing refers to fishing in the network of tidal creeks, bays and mangroves that this coast is riddled with.
West Coast fishing calls for smaller, lighter rods than other areas of Florida. Experts recommend a rod length of 6.5 to 7.5 feet and lures from 1/8 to ½ an ounce for successful fishing in the area. Fish tend to hang out wherever there are structures, rocks and oyster bars. The area has many such places along with artificial reefs guaranteeing some nice catches.
Fishing in the Sarasota Area
Although most people come to Sarasota for the beautiful beaches, the excellent fishing is a bonus for keen anglers and sportsmen. The Sarasota Bay watershed along with freshwater rivers including the Peace and Myakka Rivers, streams and tributaries make up some of Florida’s most productive estuaries. These waters are prime breeding grounds for bait fish and provide easy access for seasonal fish to find their way in. As the minnows move in, they draw larger fish behind, making it a prime place for catching pompano, large trout and ladyfish.
Popular fishing spots include the waters on either side of the swing bridge leading to Casey Key at Osprey or heading along the Intracoastal Waterway near Albee Road bridge. Turtle Beach on Siesta Key and South Lido Beach Park are good areas for fishing all year round. In the warmer months the Intracoastal Waterway in front of Spanish Point near Siesta Key is perfect for first-time and experienced anglers. While you’re waiting for a bite, you can drink in the beautiful scenery and wallow in golden sunshine at almost any time of year.
For shore fishing, it’s hard to beat the 15-acre pet-friendly Blackburn Point Park located on the left just before, and the right just after the swing bridge leading to Casey Key off Blackburn Point Road in Osprey. Open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., you’ll find fellow fishermen and friendly boaters sharing this unspoiled natural location. It has several well-constructed fishing piers, boat ramps, restrooms, shelters and everything you need for a great day’s fishing on terra firma.
There are a number of local licensed captains running excellent fishing charters. Trips may last from four to 12 hours with superb deep sea fishing for tarpon and other gamefish in the stunning blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico. All types of grouper and big game sport fish are hauled aboard on a daily basis by anglers eager to test their mental and physical strength against these wily catches.
The area offers a wide variety of charter options including bottom fishing, deep sea charters, offshore trolling and drift fishing. The Gulf of Mexico is home to prize catches of tarpon, mahi mahi, cobia, bonito, kingfish, jack crevalle, snapper, spanish mackerel and even the occasional sailfish. If you prefer backwater fishing, there are many experienced local companies offering charter fishing trips in search of snook, redfish, spotted sea trout and more.
Southwest Florida’s coastline has hundreds of islands and thousands of miles of shoreline providing rich seagrass beds that attract all manner of saltwater fish. Thousands of acres of wetlands are under the protection of state or federal law, particularly around Charlotte Harbor, which is one of Florida’s largest estuaries. Clean unpolluted waters support stands of mangroves whose roots provide a natural nursery for young fish stock. Other coastal areas are designated aquatic preserves with strict regulations controlling these pristine waters and ecosystems to support marine life.
The area offers ample fishing opportunities from fishing piers, bridges, canal banks and even right off the beach. Freshwater fishing is plentiful in the many retention lakes and rock pits which are stocked with bass, panfish and catfish. Better still, join a local fishing charter and enjoy a memorable day’s fishing with a knowledgeable expert. Tackle, bait and refreshments are usually included in the price along with some tall fishing tales and an unrivalled sense of camaraderie.
Catching Gamefish in Southwest Florida
The big attraction for fishing enthusiasts is the diversity of gamefish that call these warm Gulf waters home. Some of the most sought-after gamefish are tarpon, spotted sea trout, snook and redfish. Such is the profusion of certain species, the waters around Boca Grande have earned it the nickname “Tarpon Capital of the World”.
Many avid resident anglers and visitors aim for the “Grand Slam — hooking one of each of the “Big Four” game fish listed above in the same day.
Whether you are a first time visitor or are lucky enough to reside in beautiful Southwest Florida, you will find some rewarding fishing in the area. Offshore, inshore, freshwater, saltwater and lake fishing are all found here in abundance. In an area already known for its beaches and golf, fishing adds another dimension to this area’s fun outdoor amenities.