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.
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.
Naples Area Fishing
Top fishing around Naples and Marco Island can be found in the aquatic preserves of Rookery Bay and around the Ten Thousand Islands. While the lower part of the Ten Thousands Islands waters is within the Everglades National Park, the upper part is listed to become a National Wildlife Refuge. There are many fishing charter companies that know these waters well and will provide all the tackle, bait, fishing tales and tips you need for a great day out on the water.
Browse the local fleet of fishing charters moored alongside historic Tin City or in the sheltered waters at Crayton Cove Marina and Naples City Dock. Several companies offer all-inclusive charter/guide services for backwater and nearshore fishing. These waters avoid the unpredictability of wind and waves providing great catches of snook, redfish, shark, snapper, kingfish, barracuda and tarpon in calm seas, whether you are a novice to a seasoned angler.
Just 22 miles from Naples is the Ten Thousand Islands area which is often referred to as one of the best fishing spots in Florida for more ambitious fishing enthusiasts. This area of the Paradise Coast runs for 107 miles down to the Florida straits and the Florida Keys. Deeper water generally means bigger fish, so private charters offer trips from 20-100 miles offshore for rewarding deep sea fishing at affordable prices.
Closer to home, good bass fishing can be found on the Gordon River and the estuaries between Naples and Marco Island. You can launch a canoe or kayak into the Gordon River Greenway from the access point located behind the Naples Zoo. Other spots for beach fishing include Tigertail Beach County Park on Marco Island, Clam Pass Beach Park, and Vanderbilt Beach in Naples where generally the best fishing can be found on the incoming tide.
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.