Located in Southwest Florida just a short trip from the Fort Myers airport, Cape Coral boasts more than 400 miles of canals that are open to boating, fishing, paddling, and so much more. These waterways provide access to the Great Calusa Blueway, the Caloosahatchee River, and the Gulf of Mexico, making it an anglers paradise with lots of variety. Whether you are a seasoned angler or new to fishing, the waters accessible from Cape Coral offer shore, boat, or kayak anglers some great options. Cape Coral offers unforgettable angling experiences year-round with its wealth of experienced fishing guides and charters.
Known as ‘Silver Kings,’ tarpon are one of the most prized game fish in Florida and are known for their athletic leaps. Tarpon typically will grow from 4 to 8 feet and weigh anywhere between 60 to 290 pounds. You will find these fish typically near shallow coastal waters, near mangroves and estuaries, and feed on small fish, crabs, and shrimp. For more information, check out our article on tips for tarpon fishing in South Florida.
Snook are prized inshore gamefish in Florida and are revered for their challenging fight and cunning behavior. These fish typically range from 20 to 40 inches in length and weigh between 5 to 25 pounds, although trophy-sized snook can be over 40 inches long and weigh over 40 pounds. They mostly live near mangroves, bridges, and docks preying on small fish, shrimp, and other crustaceans. If you're looking for more information, check out our article on fly fishing for snook in South Florida.
Sometimes called red drum, these fish get their name from their coppery coloring that fades to a lighter underside with one or black spots near the base of their tail. The size of these fish, on average, will be one and a half feet to a little over two, weighing between 5 and 20 pounds. Redfish are found in shallow waters, such as estuaries, grassy areas, and marshes, where they prey on small fish and crustaceans. Check out our recent article on flood tide fishing for redfish, our Ultimate Guide to Florida Redfish to learn more about redfishing near Cape Coral.
Speckled sea trout are identifiable by their dark gray or green back, fading to a silvery-white belly. These fish typically range from 12 to 25 inches long and weigh between 5 and 10 pounds — with mature male fish sometimes exceeding 30 inches and weighing over 15 pounds. These trout live in grassy inshore flats, channels, and estuaries, feeding on small fish, shrimp, and other marine organisms.
Offshore from Cape Coral, you can find a few varieties of grouper, including gag, red, black, yellowfin, and goliath. Grouper are known to be powerful fighters, and vary in size depending on the species. They typically range from one to four feet long and weigh between 5 to 100 pounds. Grouper can be found in shallow and deep waters near reefs and rock formations around Cape Coral. They are carnivorous and feed on fish, crustaceans, and other aquatic invertebrates.
As the most popular freshwater sportfish in the United States, Largemouths are prized for their aggressive strikes and fighting ability. Largemouth bass prefer slow-moving or still waters, such as the canals in Cape Coral. They feed on a wide range of prey, including smaller fish, crayfish, and insects. Largemouth bass in southwest Florida can grow to 24 inches. The Florida state record largemouth bass is over 17 pounds.
There are a few varieties of Florida catfish, including the channel and blue catfish. They are bottom-dwelling fish with smooth, scaleless skin and long ‘whiskers’ around their mouths. Catfish are typically found in the freshwater canals in Cape Coral, feeding on small fish, insects, and other aquatic invertebrates. Channel catfish reach an average size of 12 to 24 inches, with larger catches growing up to 36 inches and may exceed 40 pounds; typically, those caught are less than five pounds.
Cape Coral’s canals were developed in the 70s to divert freshwater to mangrove forests that sit at the borders of Cape Coral. Some Interior canals cannot access the saltwater, while the outer canals connect out to the Great Calusa Blueway, the Caloosahatchee River, and the Gulf of Mexico. This makes the interior canals great locations to fish for freshwater species such as largemouth bass and catfish.
The Caloosahatchee River offers opportunities for both brackish water and freshwater fishing. The river's salinity fluctuates due to regional rainfall, and its tidal nature near Cape Coral. The river widens as it flows by Cape Coral before reaching San Carlos Bay near Sanibel Island.
Whether it's the Gulf of Mexico or inshore waters, Cape Coral provides fishing enthusiasts with great opportunities to fish for cobia, permit, sharks, tarpon, and sea trout.
The best time to fish in Cape Coral depends on the fish you are targeting. While most fish can be found throughout the year, they have peak seasons when they are most prevalent.
The early summer or late spring is typically the best season for offshore fishermen. This is when temperatures rise and more fish migrate to the area. Mid summer is the best time to inshore fish. Many fish move into shallower water during this season.
The prime months for fishing near Cape Coral are between May and September. Focus your time on cobia, permit, sharks, tarpon, sea trout, and largemouth bass during this season. The winter and early spring are the best time for catching redfish and grouper in the waters around Cape Coral.
|Grouper||November through March|
|Snapper||October through March|
|Cobia||April through October|
|Sharks||May through August|
|Tarpon||Available year-round, March through July is the best|
|Redfish||Available year-round, August through December is the best|
|Sea Trout||May through July|
|Largemouth Bass||Spring & Fall is the best time|
There are fishing charters in Cape Coral specifically for families. Your captain will ensure that everyone enjoys their time on the water, regardless of their experience. When planning your trip, consider the duration that best suits your group. Shorter trips, lasting 4 to 6 hours, are great for families and first-time anglers. If you hire a guide, talk to them about how to meet your family's specific needs and ensure a memorable and enjoyable experience for everyone.
Not only does Cape Coral offer great fishing, but it also has plenty of other family-friendly activities. For those interested in hiking, visit the Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve with trails and boardwalks to spot wildlife like eagles, ibis, and herons.
Below is a list of fishing locations within Cape Coral’s parks and the hours where people are permitted to fish (as of July, 2023):
|Bernice Braden Park||Shoreline & Under Bridge||24 hours|
|Four Freedoms Park||Seawall Area||24 hours|
|Four Mile Cove Eco Preserve||Two Piers||Daylight only|
|Glover Bight at Rotary Park||End of Boardwalk||Daylight only|
|Horton Park & Boat Ramp||River Shoreline||24 hours|
|Jaycee Park||Shoreline||Daylight only|
|Lake Kennedy Park||Two Small Piers||Daylight only|
|Rosen Park||Seawall Area||24 hours|
|Seahawk Park (Lake Argosy)||Around Lake||Daylight only|
|Sirenia Vista||Shoreline||Daylight only|
|Yacht Club Community Park||Fishing Pier||24 hours|
|Yacht Club Community Park||Canals along Floridian Ct.||Daylight only|
Remember that before you fish in Cape Coral, make sure you have the necessary fishing license and are in accordance with local regulations. Licenses for freshwater and saltwater fishing are available on www.MyFWC.com/license. Regulations regarding different fish species, including size limits, catch limits, and closed seasons can change year-to-year, so reference the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website for the most up-to-date information. Purchasing licenses and following the regulations helps to protect the region's diverse marine ecosystem for future generations of anglers.
The license-free freshwater days are the first consecutive Saturday and Sunday in April and the second consecutive Saturday and Sunday in June. The license-free saltwater days are the first consecutive Saturday and Sunday in June, the first Saturday in September, and the first Saturday following Thanksgiving.
Hiring an expert fishing guide puts you in expert hands while fishing the waters around Cape Coral . Guides are great resources to help you improve your angling skills. They offer a deep understanding of the waters and ecosystems that will maximize your chances of success on the water.
Be prepared with the proper attire for the weather, including clothing with UPF, polarized sunglasses, and rain gear. If you have questions about fishing around Cape Coral or the gear you should bring, contact local Cape Coral fly shops, or reach out to your guide.
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