Anglers across the country revere the Gulf of Mexico as a saltwater fishing paradise, and that couldn’t be truer on The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel. Hundreds of miles of coastline interspersed with hidden alcoves, fertile estuaries and spacious, open flats make it easy to find your own private spot where you can cast the day away. This itinerary will help you spend your time on the water wisely and, hopefully, reel in a trophy catch you’ll be bragging about for years to come.
Begin your day at dawn on the Caloosahatchee River. This pristine waterway has roots in Florida’s early history of tarpon fishing. Some claim the first person to ever catch a tarpon in the state fished it from the mouth of this river in 1885.
Today, the Caloosahatchee boasts the most consistent tarpon fishing in all of Fort Myers, all thanks to an unlikely culprit. Florida Power & Light operates a power plant on the banks of the river, which keeps the water here 10 to 12 degrees warmer than the tarpon’s surrounding habitats.
Another benefit comes in the form of continuous, quarter-mile manatee buffer zones along the banks of the Caloosahatchee. These zones prevent boats from speeding, which deters boating traffic from scaring away the tarpon.
No fishing trip on The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel would be complete without a visit to Pine Island. Considered one of the state’s best-kept secrets, it’s the largest island on the west coast of Florida and a hotbed of underwater activity. Mangroves barricade the island from crowded beach communities, providing a quiet sanctuary for undisturbed angling.
The Pine Island Sound is a supreme location for reeling in an array of shallow-water species. Some fishermen hail the sound as one of the best areas in the world for finding redfish. Large spotted sea trout also thrive in the island’s surrounding water. Depending on the season, you may even spot snook or tarpon cruising around the flats.
Once you’re satisfied with your weekend haul, reap the rewards of your hard work at one of the numerous Catch n Cook restaurants on The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel. For the uninitiated, Catch n Cook restaurants allow you to bring in fresh, self-caught seafood, and they’ll prepare it for you. You can enjoy your catch with restaurant-quality side dishes without the hassle of cooking and cleaning.
Fish Monger on Fort Myers Beach will take your iced, filleted and deboned fish and prepare it however you like, whether that’s fried, blackened, broiled, grilled, or even cooked in Jamaican jerk seasoning. With prices ranging from $13 to $15, you receive your fish alongside your choice of salad, a vegetable and either a potato or rice as well as a loaf of fresh-baked bread.
You can also try the Parrot Key Caribbean Grill on Fort Myers Beach. The restaurant’s “Anglers Reward” option lets you choose between having your fish grilled or blackened and comes with a tray of sides for $15.95 per person.
Just offshore from The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel, a vibrant and teeming aquatic ecosystem waits. So it’s easy to see why the area is such an idyllic destination for fishing enthusiasts. Start planning your perfect fishing weekend today.
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