Where to Go Saltwater Fishing in Fort Myers and Sanibel

Saltwater fly-fishing in Southwest Florida is an unparalleled experience filled with jumping tarpon flying into the air. You can make the most of your next fishing trip in Fort Myers and Sanibel, where miles of white, sandy beaches welcome tropical and exotic wildlife. The area teems with canals, estuaries, and lakes within close proximity to the Gulf. 

Whether you want to snag a trophy-sized tarpon or enjoy some casual fly fishing, you’ll find what you’re looking for in Fort Myers and Sanibel. 

Before you set out for a day of saltwater fly fishing, you’ll need a few things to get started, including a Florida fishing license. However, anyone under 16 or over 65 years old is exempt. 

You’ll also find that fishing on the western edges of Florida is a unique experience and usually calls for a smaller and lighter rod of around 6.5 to 7.5 feet. 

Where to go saltwater fishing in Fort Myers & Sanibel. Top locations, outfitters, tours and guided charters. Must Do Visitor Guides

Fly Fishing Outfitters, Guided Fishing Tours, and Charters

Pick up everything you need from the knowledgeable staff at Sanibel’s Fly Outfitters from bait to tackle, and rods. Sanibel Fly Outfitters also offers Southwest Florida’s largest selection of @simmsfishing & @orvisflyfishing clothing for men and women. It’s also the largest selection of fly-fishing gear you’ll find in a 50-mile radius.

Fishing enthusiasts have their choice of over 300 fly patterns, rental rods, lessons to cast like a pro, and all the local knowledge needed. 

Their guided fishing trips are highly recommended and cover waters stretching from Boca Grande to Key West. 

Climb aboard Sanibel’s Fly Outfitters’ 18-foot Gordon Waterman boat in pursuit of sea trout, redfish, black drum, and sheepshead. 

Sanibel’s Fly Outfitters sister store Whitney’s Bait & Tackle also offers an array of custom guided fishing charters and tours.

Interior store of Sanibel's Fly Outfitters with display of fly fishing gear and artwork
Photo courtesy Sanibel’s Fly Outfitters
Interior of Sanibel's Fly Outfitters store with fishing apparel, gear, rods, and artwork.
Photo courtesy Sanibel’s Fly Outfitters

Best Saltwater Fly Fishing Locations in Fort Myers and Sanibel

If you’re ready to head out and explore what Fort Myers and Sanibel offer, here are some locations to try your hand at some of the best saltwater fly fishing in the area.

Tarpon Bay

Situated southeast of the J N Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Tarpon Bay is filled with mangrove estuaries and diverse ecosystems that draw fish to its abundant waters. It’s a popular place for back-bay saltwater fishing, kayaking, motorized canoeing, and hired charters. 

Captiva Island

The shallow waters around Captiva offer pristine conditions for a morning of saltwater fly fishing. Find a spot along the vibrant grass flats and shallow mangroves welcoming sea trout and snook. 

Captiva also attracts visitors wading into gulf tides that wash over hundreds of oversized and stunning shells.

Fort Myers Beach Fishing Pier

You can also get out of the grass flats and enjoy saltwater fishing from above. Shoreline anglers gather at the Fort Myers Pier, looking for a chance to catch larger fish than what you might find directly off the shoreline below. 

Local fish include Spanish mackerel, flounder, spotted sea trout, redfish, bluefish, sheepshead, and more.

Buck Key Preserve

The uninhabited Buck Key Preserve is among Captiva’s mysteries and hidden gems. Stretching two miles long, the preserve is dense with grasses and wildlife where guides are recommended for nature hikes and exploration. 

Kayakers equipped with fishing gear cross under shaded mangrove tunnels to access the far reaches of the preserve and Pine Island Sound. Look for spotted seatrout, common snook, and red drum.

Bunche Beach Preserve

The 718-acre Bunche Beach Preserve offers natural tidal wetlands along San Carlos Bay. The natural area is filled with exotic plants, sandy beaches, mangrove forests, and salt flats. You can also enjoy wildlife viewing and fishing directly from two piers, along with two paddle craft launchers. 

If you’re feeling adventurous, rent a kayak for stealth fishing opportunities. 

Sanibel Fishing Pier

Combine the history of Southwest Florida with the love of saltwater fishing at Sanibel Island Lighthouse Beach & Fishing Pier. The historic area features a fishing pier, boardwalk natural trail winding through native wetlands, and a lighthouse dating back to the late 1800s. 

You’ll find plenty of anglers gathered at the pier looking for sheepshead, black drum, and red fish among other species.

Pine Island Sound

Situated west of Fort Myers, Pine Island Sound includes the waters surrounding Pine Island, Cape Coral, Sanibel, Matlacha, Captiva, and Cayo Costa. You’ll find this barrier island sanctuary is usually less crowded than other Southwest Florida fly fishing destinations. Look for large, spotted seatrout, snook, and speckled trout. 

Beyond ample fishing opportunities, birding enthusiasts should bring along their binoculars to see migrating species.  

Enjoy a Grand Slam Catch

If your must-do list is filled with beach combing and golfing, make sure to add saltwater fly fishing in Fort Myers and Sanibel areas. You’ll find the cooler months are the high season for saltwater fishing around shore waterways and shallow areas. It’s also the perfect place to catch a “grand slam” of popular gamefish including snook, redfish, and tarpon. 

Whether you’re interested in offshore, inshore, saltwater, or even freshwater lake fishing, you can find an abundance of options around Fort Myers and Sanibel, Florida

Written by: Susan Finch | Author Website

Susan Finch is a travel writer and content marketer for the tourism industry who spends her time obsessing over the latest travel trends, wrangling her small kids, and planning her family's next big adventure.