Sanibel & Captiva Islands, FL  - Vacation Travel Guide

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Sanibel & Captiva Fishing Article

Fishing Article

The fishing pier, situated on the east end of Sanibel near Point Ybel Lighthouse, faces toward the causeway on San Carlos Bay. Many varieties of fish are caught here, where the water is deep and the tide runs swift. Best bets at this location include snook, trout, redfish, Spanish mackerel and sheepshead.

Shore and wade fishing along the bay beach and causeway islands provide catches of trout, snook, shark, flounder, sheepshead and blue crabs. On the Gulf side of the islands when the weather is good, pompano, whiting, shark and trout are sought all year. With warmer spring temperatures, snook move into the near-shore areas from their winter lairs to spawn. These snook will hit artificial lures or live bait and are sure to give a thrill to any fisherman.

J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge offers good backwater fishing in the mangroves at Tarpon Bay. Fishing from the road that runs through this wildlife refuge can produce catches of mangrove snapper, trout, redfish, snook and blue crab. Many boaters fish the mangrove areas and bay; the bay bottom contains deep holes, channels and extensive grass flats. The channels and holes are home to tarpon, cobia, shark, large jack and tripletail. The grass flats average from two to six feet in depth and stretch from the causeway westward between Sanibel and Captiva and the mainland. As the tide floods the flats, most species forage there to fill their bellies. Trout, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, jack and cobia are likely booty from the flats, with snook and redfish near mangrove fringes.

The mangrove areas form a maze of creeks and bayous which make up the heart of the wildlife refuge. Sheepshead, trout, redfish, snook and mangrove snapper may be found throughout.

The mouth of the Caloosahatchee River is dotted with oyster bars; these combined with swift currents provide great fishing for large snook, tarpon, jack and redfish.

Boaters fishing inshore have several artificial reefs from which to choose. Expected catches from these areas include grouper, Spanish mackerel, snook, shark, tripletail, snapper, tarpon, barracuda, cobia and king mackerel. Farther offshore on the natural bottom or wrecks, look for grouper, red snapper, amberjack, shark, barracuda, cobia and permit.

With large tarpon and snook in abundance, fly-fishing is growing in popularity here. Several world-record fish have been taken from local waters. Lures accommodate many hours of easy fishing and catch loads of fish. They can be fished anywhere, anytime, with lots of action.

All non-residents 16 and older must have a saltwater fishing license. Florida residents ages 16 to 65 need a saltwater license when fishing from a boat. Be sure to get a copy of the current rules.

Fish Chart
The possession of saltwater fish, shellfish and crabs is regulated. Federal, state and local laws may apply for certain areas and seasons. New rules are pending. Tackle shops will provide current rules. The information on this chart is for Catch and Release.

Fish Where How Season Bait
Black Drum Bay, rivers Bottom Spring, Fall Crabs, cut bait
Blue Crab Canals, grass, flats, pier Traps, nets Spring, Summer, Fall Fish, chicken
Cobia Gulf, bay Bottom/top, trolling Spring, Summer Live/cut bait, lures
Flounder Gulf, bay, creeks Bottom Summer, Fall Shrimp, minnows, lures
Grouper Offshore (large); Inshore (small) Bottom, trolling All year Live/cut bait, jigs, chum
King Mackerel Offshore Trolling, drifting Spring, Fall Jigs, spoons, live bait, chum
Mackerel Gulf, bays Trolling, drifting All year Small jigs, spoons, live bait
Mangrove Snapper Bay, creeks Bottom All year Lures, shrimp, minnows
Permit Gulf Casting Summer Crabs, shrimp
Pompano Bay, inshore Bottom Spring, Summer Shrimp, sand fleas, small jigs
Redfish Inshore, bay, creeks, grass flats Trolling, casting All year Shrimp, lures, minnows, crabs
Sheepshead Gulf, bay, creeks Bottom Winter, Spring Shrimp, fiddler crabs, sand fleas
Snook Inshore, structure, creeks Bottom, trolling, casting All year Shrimp, minnows, lures, cut bait
Tarpon Gulf, bay, rivers Bottom, casting Spring, Summer Cut bait, lures, live bait, chum
Tripletail Gulf, bay, structure Surface, bottom/top Spring, Fall Live bait, jigs
Trout Creeks, grass flats Drifting, wading All year Jigs, live bait, lures
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