Surrounded by aquatic preserves that expand over 150,000 acres, Pine Island is one of Florida’s best kept secrets. It’s secluded and quiet setting leaves nothing to be desired. Enveloped by sea grass, mangroves, palms, fruit groves and tropical plants, nature has created the perfect storm for fishing by providing habitat and plentiful food sources for marine life and birds. Its clear waters, mesmerizing bridges and breath-taking views will have you wishing you could stay forever.
Pine Island Sound
Summer fishing (June-September) will see waters that are slightly darker, making it easy to sneak up on your favorite gamefish. You will want to take advantage of the cooler water temperatures of the early morning and use mild-weather days to check out reefs and structure for Permit fish; don’t forget the live crabs!
Fall fishing (October-first cold front of December) is a favorite for many anglers given the beautiful weather and the plentiful and diverse collection of fish. You can find tons of fish both inshore and in deeper waters, so take your pick!
Each season also yields or expels its share of fish species, dependent upon water temperatures, spawning habits and food sources. The Sound promises some of the best Tarpon fishing around, especially between March and May when the water is at its clearest and Tarpon are coming inshore. You can try your hand at fly fishing, sight fishing, trolling or jigging for the plethora of fish species in this area.
Throughout the year, you can also find Cobia, Redfish, Sea Trout, Snook, Bluefish, Bonita, Spanish Mackerel, Amberjack, Gag and Red Grouper, Kingfish and even some Red Drum, Tripletail and Sheepshead in the late fall and winter. Look for several of these species chasing bait fish and hanging out in the shallows and seagrasses.
Matlacha Pass Bridge
The Matlacha (Mat-la-shay) Pass Bridge, also referred to as the “Fishingest bridge in the world”, has connected Pine Island to Cape Coral for almost 100 years, although there have been several versions of the bridge over the years. The bridge in use today was built in 2012 and is a very popular fishing spot for locals. This could have a lot to do with the nearby Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve that is lined with oyster bars, seagrass flats and mangroves.
You can fish from or under the Matlacha Bridge for various species of fish, including Mangrove Snapper, Sheepshead, Flounder, Trout, Redfish and Snook.
Captiva Island is one of the most beautiful places off the coast of Florida, situated near Fort Myers. The island is four miles long, only half a mile wide, and it is home to around 50 fish species. Captiva has everything you could need for any fishing endeavor. You can venture out into open water or stay close to shore; set up on the Sanibel or Captiva Causeway or perhaps the Turner Beach or Blind Pass Bridge; explore renowned Tarpon Bay, the first place where a Tarpon was caught with a rod and reel. The opportunities are endless, just like the beautiful sky that will surround you.
Fishing on Captiva Island is year-round. The fish species you can catch regardless of the season include Snook, Snapper, Grouper, and Redfish and Tarpon. You may also see King and Spanish Mackerel, Amberjack, Cobia, Ladyfish, Sheepshead, Black Drum and some species of shark.
One of the most well-known places for fishing, Sanibel Island has a ton of unique and versatile fishing spots for any angler. For starters, if you love fishing and lighthouses, you will definitely want to check out the boardwalk al the Sanibel Lighthouse. You can also head on over to Blind Pass, situation between Captiva and Sanibel Islands. This pass is where the Bay and the Gulf meet, creating an ideal setting for catching several species. Last, but certainly not least, you cannot leave Sanibel without visiting the JN “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.
Sanibel Island and all its glorious fishing locales provide you with some great catches, regardless of the season; however, the season will influence the type of species present, but there are always plenty to choose from! For example, you are more likely to find Sheepshead from winter to spring because they like the water temperatures in the area at that time. From spring to the summer, you will see a ton of fish, including but not limited to, Cobia, Black Drum, Tarpon, Pompano, Permit and Blue Crab. Once fall creeps in, you will start to see Flounder, King Mackerel and Tripletail (King Mackerel and Tripletail will also be present in the spring).
Luckily, the number of species you will see year-round is impressive on this beautiful island. Look out for Snapper, Redfish, Snook, Sea Trout, Grouper and Spanish Mackerel at any time.
Bokeelia Fishing Pier
The Bokeelia (Bo-keel-ya) Fishing Pier is a place that is advertised as one where, for over 100 years, people have enjoyed fishing. The reason? No matter what time of year you venture out, there is always something fun to catch.
The Pier can be found at the northern tip of Pine Island, stretching all the way into the waters of Charlotte Harbor. Home to many popular fish species, the Bokeelia Fishing Pier doesn’t require any fishing licenses. There is also a convenient boat ramp that opens out into Jug Creek, which leads you straight to Charlotte Harbor, Pine Island Sound or Boca Grande Pass.
Similar to Sanibel Island, the species of fish you find may be dependent upon the seasons. Warmer temperatures tend to bring in Snapper, Redfish, Snook, Mackerel, Pompano and Black Drum, while the cooler months see an influx of Sheepshead and Grouper. At any given time during the year, you may encounter Cobia, Puffer Fish, Jack Cravelle, Squirrel Fish, Tarpon, Sea Trout, Whiting, Ladyfish, Lizard Fish, Grunts, Sand Perch and even sharks.
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Which Fishing Destination Will You Choose?
Exploring the largest island off Florida’s gulf coast should be on your bucket list, as this area offers the versatility to engage in all sorts of fishing endeavours, from offshore, inshore or land-based locales. No matter which destination you choose in or around Pine Island, you will not be disappointed. You may even find your new favorite fishing spot. Test out that new technique you’ve been dying to try and bring your family along for a spectacular experience, both on and off the boat.
As always, make sure you have the proper fishing license(s) if necessary and brush up on bag limits and restrictions for your excursions.