Located in Southwest Florida on the Gulf Coast, Fort Myers is renowned for its exceptional fishing opportunities. Whether you're an advanced angler or a novice, the teeming waters off of Fort Myers offer diverse ecosystems and an abundance of gamefish species. Estuaries, backcountry waters, flats, and offshore fishing are all popular options around Fort Myers.
The Sanibel Causeway and Lighthouse Beach area offer excellent fishing opportunities from both shore and boat. Some popular target species include snook, redfish, tarpon and speckled trout. The causeway has structures that create favorable conditions for fish to gather.
Pine Island Sound is an expansive estuary known for its shallow waters, seagrass beds and mangrove shorelines. Pine Island Sound is a world famous tarpon fishing spot, typically from April to July. During other times of the year though, anglers can catch redfish, snook, sea trout and sheepshead in this fishing spot.
Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, Florida, is a quick drive from downtown Fort Myers and Fort Myers Beach. The park is focused on wildlife conservation and offers great fishing for inshore species like snook, redfish, tarpon, and sea trout. Anglers can fish Ding Darling on foot or from non-motorized watercraft. The refuge also provides a sanctuary for various bird species and other wildlife like alligators, bobcats, and gopher tortoises.
Matlacha is a quaint fishing town at the north end of Pine Island, and a renowned fishing destination — known for its abundance of redfish, snook, and sea trout. Matlacha Pass sits adjacent to Pine Island Sound to the Gulf of Mexico, creating a fish-rich environment that hosts many different species of fish. The target species are often found while exploring in the mangrove shorelines, oyster bars, and grass flats.
The Caloosahatchee River is a mix of freshwater and saltwater fishing opportunities. Anglers' target species often include snook, tarpon, bass, and catfish while in different parts of the river. The varying depth and structure make it an exciting location for anglers looking for a diverse fishing experience.
Fort Myers is renowned for its abundant inshore and offshore fishing opportunities. The area's surrounding waters are teeming with life and offer thrilling fishing for any of its renowned game fish species.
Snook are a wildly popular target species in Florida, known for their aggressive strikes and acrobatic fights. They are often found in near-shore areas in Fort Myers, such as mangrove shorelines, bridges, and grass flats. It is smart to target Fort Myer snook in the spring and fall as they are a migratory species, with peak movement occurring during the spring and fall in Fort Myers. If you are a fly angler, check out this recipe for an effective tapered leader for snook fishing, or get a crash course on fly fishing for snook here.
Redfish are a hard-fighting inshore species known for their aggressive fights. They are often found in shallow waters like flats, oyster bars and mangrove shorelines. Especially during low tide periods redfish can be targeted by sight fishing. For more on how to target redfish near Fort Myers, check out our Ultimate Guide to Florida Redfish.
Tarpon are Florida's most iconic saltwater fish, renowned for their size, strength, and acrobatics. Tarpon, also known as the "Silver King," migrate along Florida's coast each season, and are seasonally abundant in Fort Myers waters. Tarpon fishing near Fort Myers is typically best from late May until late July. Check out our recent article for more on effective techniques and tips for tarpon fishing in South Florida.
Sea trout, commonly known as spotted or speckled sea trout, are popular targets for inshore anglers. They are commonly found in grass flats, channels and deeper holes in the estuaries and bays around Fort Myers. Sea trout provide consistent action throughout the year and are known to be opportunistic predators, feeding on a variety of different baits and lures.
Grouper species are highly prized targets for offshore anglers. The bottom-dwelling grouper are known for their strength and great taste. They are often found around offshore reefs, ledges and wrecks.
Snapper species, such as red snapper, mangrove snapper, and yellowtail snapper, are abundant in the waters of Fort Myers. They also inhabit reefs, ledges and structures, and are highly regarded as food fish.
King mackerel, commonly known as kingfish, are fast and aggressive pelagic fish that are a popular target for folks fishing near Fort Myers. They are commonly found offshore near reefs and wrecks, but range throughout open water. Kingfish are quite powerful, so use strong tackle and prepare for long runs and acrobatic jumps.
Use medium to heavy rods with fast action when inshore fishing in Fort Myers. Fly anglers should opt for an 8wt to 10wt fly rod with fast action. Use reels with strong, smooth drag systems to maximize your chances of success.
Live bait options like shrimp, pilchards, pinfish, and finger mullet are highly effective for inshore fishing near Fort Myers. Try to use something akin to the natural prey of the fish during the time of year when you are fishing. Experiment with freelined baits, knocker rigs, and popping corks to find the optimal presentation. Soft plastic lures and jerk baits do a great job of mimicking injured or fleeing prey items. Paddle tail lures, spoons, and topwater lures also perform well when fishing around Fort Myers.
Casting near mangrove shorelines, oyster bars, and other shallow water structure can yield success while targeting snook and redfish. For sea trout, try drifting over turtle grass flats, focusing on potholes and channels around the edges of the flats.
Fort Myers offers exciting offshore fishing excursions out into the Gulf of Mexico. Anglers can explore reefs, wrecks, and offshore structures for an exhilarating fishing experience.
While offshore fishing Fort Myers, use a medium-heavy spinning or conventional rod and reel combo with high line capacity and strong drag system to handle larger fish.
Pinfish, thread fin herring, goggle eyes, and cigar minnows are effective for offshore species like grouper, snapper, tripletail, and kingfish. When using non-live bait or cut bait, it is recommended to use squid or mullet to entice bites.
Set up on reefs or wrecks and drop baits and jigs around structure. Some folks chum the water with live or dead bait to bring fish to the surface while offshore fishing. Trolling with live bait or artificial lures can be effective as well. While targeting grouper and snapper, make sure to use enough weight to get down to the bottom where the fish are.
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