5 Best Fort Myers Fishing Charter Destinations

The Florida keys may always rein supreme as a more versatile fishing destination, but people come to Florida’s gulf coast for a more relaxed, often more affordable and possibly a more successful fishing trip. While Fort Meyers offers far fewer of the party boats that trowel the waters off the keys, it’s still, always, a lively, fun and even thrilling experience.

While winter charters will go mostly for snappers, amberjacks and groupers, the rest of the year you’ll see great catches of the well-regarded tarpon, king and Spanish mackeral, dolphin fish and tuna, even barracuda and of course a ton of reef fish. Gamefish are also fished on all of the mangrove shorelines, and around multiple piers and bridges, piers. Wading along the many fantastic beaches and inlets you’ll find some of the best fishing in Florida. And that’s just inshore. 
Get out there, over the deep waters, and you’ll see nearly all of the great deeper ocean fish associated with the keys and in relatively more placid waters. Sharks, mahi, cobia, barracuda, and some things even more exotic are regularly reeled in. Knowing where to go, though, is another matter entirely.  
These are the five most attractive spots for actually chartering boat, crew and captain – outside of Fort Myers. Truth be told, right in the city, there are plenty of good options, too

1. North Captiva Island
This one might seem a bit obvious, but the truth is you can actually “island fish” for just about all the near-shore species mentioned above from North Captiva island. You save the trouble of chartering a boat and crew and captain and still can hope to haul in some very admirable fish. But then again, should you want to head out on the open waters, you’ll find 
Groupers, Mangrove Snapper, Tarpon, Permit, Shark, Cobia, Tuna, King Fish, Snook, Redfish, Trout, and Barracuda among many others. 

2. Pine Island
Pine Island is a little more obvious for a lot of sportsman. In part, that’s because there are simply more boats going out than from nearly anywhere else. All that competition will drive costs down a little so you can go for a little longer or maybe even out a little further. The Pine Island Chamber lists some of the most reputable charter fishing lines on the island as well as a guide to just about everything you could need on the land side. Pine Island is also the route most visitors to North Captiva Island use when they’re crossing the channel, so it’s a well known and relatively heavily trafficked route already. 

3. St. James City
While Pine Island proper can get plenty frenetic at the height of the tourist season, St. James City is always the sleepier, “Old Pine Island” alternative. Not nearly so many visitors will drop in, and that’s presumably, just cause it’s a bit further south. But take an extra few minutes to head there, and enjoy the more fully developed infrastructure that a truly world class boating and coastal community can offer.  

4. Matlacha
Matlacha is one of those insider’s spots mostly visited by sportsman from downstate and other parts of Florida. It’s a not so secret, insider’s secret, with arguably the densest concentration of Charter Services in the area (outside of Fort Myers itself). In part that’s because it’s so popular with boaters, and the folks running the charter services not only seem to love it, but many of them call it home too. Matlacha is already famous for the walking tours and even more famous for the colorful paint jobs so it’s a terrific place to find yourself after a day out at sea. Again, the island fishing is among the best anywhere. And many of the best boats in south Florida are berthed here year round. In and of itself, Matlacha is always worth a visit whether you’re planning to charter a boat or not.  

5. Sanibel Island
Most visitors to North Captiva Island come via Pine Island and thus get a nice view of Sanibel Island on the way. But Sanibel Island is well worth a visit. Sanibel, lacking that aforementioned infrastructure, and protected from development by some wise planning and some true commitment from the inhabitants and visitors alike, is a nature lover’s paradise. With lots of wide open spaces, and lots of un-trammeled nature, it’s one of the most attractive places in Florida. That’s true not just for people, but for birds and fish and alligators and manatees too. Sanibel is also home to some of the most attractive beaches in the area too, so if you’re leaving someone behind while you head out to sea, there’s hardly a finer place to do it. There’s a lot to see and do and booking your charter fishing trip is just the beginning. 

Welcoming fisherman from around the country and around the world is just part of what we do. If you’d like more specifics for your own charter fishing vacation anywhere around Fort Myers, or North Captiva, we’ll be happy to hear what you’ve got planned. 

This article was written by james t., a travel and real estate writer in Mexico City.


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