Fishing the Islands

sanibel island fishing

Wanna Go Fishing? Sanibel is the Place!

Florida has a special spot in the heart of a fisherman. It’s the fishing capital of the world. The State of Florida issues over half a million fishing licenses a year. These paradise islands – Sanibel and Captiva – are part of that special spot and they offer you the chance to test yourself against these wary creatures of the deep. Whether you do it from onshore or offshore, in deep water or the flats, with a fly rig or heavy tackle you will have a thrilling experience to be remembered.

Where to Fish

– There are two ways to get those fish in your creel —

  • Onshore fishing is usually with light tackle and the catch will likely be snook, redfish, sea trout or grouper. The most popular places are the many beaches on the islands but the Lighthouse Pier, Blind Pass bridge and the rock jetty at Turner Beach are also places where the catch is usually good.
  • Offshore fishing is either from your own boat, a rental or a charter boat. It will usually be in State waters, within 9 miles of land. Waters beyond this are Federal waters. The catch will be similar to the onshore catch with some Pompano or shark also possible.

WHEN TO FISH

– There is pretty good fishing all year. There are some migratory species that will be found only during certain months but all the good eating fish can be caught throughout the year.

Licensing Information

There is a fishing license required in Florida for both residents and non-residents – and for both onshore and offshore fishing. The rules and regulations on size, limits and seasons sometimes change during the year so it’s a good idea to check. Most bait stores give free information published by the Florida Marine Fisheries Commission. You can purchase a fishing license at any marina or bait and tackle shops such as The Bait Box, Tarpon Bay Recreation, Jensen’s Marina, McCarthy’s Marina, Adventures in Paradise, Norm Seigler’s Fly Shop or Whitney’s Bait and Tackle. You can enter any of these names in your search window for more information about them and their services.

sanibel island fishing

Fishing Charters

There are many fishing guides and charter companies on the islands to help make your fishing adventure both fun and productive. The benefits of a charter include an experienced guide who knows the local fish and wildlife habits and how and where to find them. You can find a full listing of guides and charter companies who are members of the Chamber of Commerce. Three that are mentioned frequently by firms such as TripAdvisor include:

Tarpon Bay Explorers
Location: 900 Tarpon Bay Road, Sanibel
Website

Jensen’s Marina
Location: 15107 Captiva Road, Captiva
Website

McCarthy’s Marina
Location: 11401 Andy Rosse Lane, Captiva
Website

Getting Ready For Your Fishing Trip

Whether you’re fishing alone or on a charter it’s good to plan ahead – know what you might need beforehand rather than not have it when you need it. If you’re fishing onshore you should have the rods and reels of course, plus license, polarized sunglasses, sunscreen, pocket knife and pliers, tackle box with extra line and hooks, bait, a first aid kit, creel or bag for the fish, some water and snacks, your camera and a nice wide hat. Also some bugspray if you’re in the flats. If fishing offshore you will need the same plus a sweater or jacket. Out on the water it will be 10 degrees cooler then on land and there will be a breeze. If on a charter you will be provided much of what you need – license, tackle, bait and treating/cleaning/bagging the fish. They will want you to wear non-skid shoes on their boat. You will need cash for gratuities and maybe fuel and bait. You should check with your charter company beforehand.

Have a wonderful fishing adventure in the shimmering waters of these beautiful islands.

FISH CHART

FISH
HABITAT
HOW TO FIND
SEASON
BAIT
Black Drum
Bay, Rivers
Bottom
Spring, Fall
Crabs, Cut Bait
Cobia
Gulf, Bay
Bottom, Top, Trolling
Spring, Summer
Live/cut Bait, Lures
Flounder
Gulf, Bay, Creeks
Bottom
Summer, Fall
Shrimp, Minnows, Lures
Grouper
Offshore (larger) Inshore (smaller)
Bottom, Trolling
Year Round
Live/cut Bait, Jigs, Chum
King Mackerel
Offshore
Trolling, Drifting
Spring, Fall
Jigs, Spoons, Live Bait, Chum
Mackerel
Gulf, Bay
Trolling, Drifting
Year Round
Small Jigs, Spoons, Live Bait
Permit
Gulf
Casting
Summer
Crabs, Shrimp
Pompano
Bay, Inshore
Bottom
Spring, Summer
Shrimp, Sand Fleas, Small Jigs
Redfish
Inshore, Bay, Creek, Grass Flats
Trolling, Casting
Year Round
Shrimp, Lures, Minnows, Crabs
Sheepshead
Gulf, Bay, Creeks
Bottom
Winter, Spring
Shrimp, Fiddler Crab, Sand Fleas
Mangrove Snapper
Bay, Creeks
Bottom
Year Round
Lures, Minnows, Shrimp
Snook
Inshore, Structure, Creeks
Trolling, Casting, Bottom
Year Round
Shrimp, Minnows, Lures, Cut Bait
Tarpon
Rivers, Bay Gulf
Bottom, Casting
Summer, Spring
Cut Bait, Lures, Live Bait, Chum
Tripletail
Gulf, Bay, Structure
Surface, Bottom,Top
Spring, Fall
Live Bait, Jigs
Trout
Creeks, Grass Flats
Drifting, Wading
Year Round
Jigs, Live Bait, Lures
Blue Crab
Canals, Grass Flats, Pier
Traps, nets
Spring, Summer Fall
Fish, Chicken
FISH
Black Drum
HABITAT
Bay, Rivers
HOW TO FIND
Bottom
SEASON
Spring, Fall
BAIT
Crabs, Cut Bait
FISH
Cobia
HABITAT
Gulf, Bay
HOW TO FIND
Bottom, Top, Trolling
SEASON
Spring, Summer
BAIT
Live/cut Bait, Lures
FISH
Flounder
HABITAT
Gulf, Bay, Creeks
HOW TO FIND
Bottom
SEASON
Summer, Fall
BAIT
Shrimp, Minnows, Lures
FISH
Grouper
HABITAT
Offshore (larger) Inshore (smaller)
HOW TO FIND
Bottom, Trolling
SEASON
Year Round
BAIT
Live/cut Bait, Jigs, Chum
FISH
King Mackerel
HABITAT
Offshore
HOW TO FIND
Trolling, Drifting
SEASON
Spring, Fall
BAIT
Jigs, Spoons, Live Bait, Chum
FISH
Mackerel
HABITAT
Gulf, Bay
HOW TO FIND
Trolling, Drifting
SEASON
Year Round
BAIT
Small Jigs, Spoons, Live Bait
FISH
Permit
HABITAT
Gulf
HOW TO FIND
Casting
SEASON
Summer
BAIT
Crabs, Shrimp
FISH
Pompano
HABITAT
Bay, Inshore
HOW TO FIND
Bottom
SEASON
Spring, Summer
BAIT
Shrimp, Sand Fleas, Small Jigs
FISH
Redfish
HABITAT
Inshore, Bay, Creek, Grass Flats
HOW TO FIND
Trolling, Casting
SEASON
Year Round
BAIT
Shrimp, Lures, Minnows, Crabs
FISH
Sheepshead
HABITAT
Gulf, Bay, Creeks
HOW TO FIND
Bottom
SEASON
Winter, Spring
BAIT
Shrimp, Fiddler Crab, Sand Fleas
FISH
Mangrove Snapper
HABITAT
Bay, Creeks
HOW TO FIND
Bottom
SEASON
Year Round
BAIT
Lures, Minnows, Shrimp
FISH
Snook
HABITAT
Inshore, Structure, Creeks
HOW TO FIND
Trolling, Casting, Bottom
SEASON
Year Round
BAIT
Shrimp, Minnows, Lures, Cut Bait
FISH
Tarpon
HABITAT
Rivers, Bay Gulf
HOW TO FIND
Bottom, Casting
SEASON
Summer, Spring
BAIT
Cut Bait, Lures, Live Bait, Chum
FISH
Tripletail
HABITAT
Gulf, Bay, Structure
HOW TO FIND
Surface, Bottom,Top
SEASON
Spring, Fall
BAIT
Live Bait, Jigs
FISH
Trout
HABITAT
Creeks, Grass Flats
HOW TO FIND
Drifting, Wading
SEASON
Year Round
BAIT
Jigs, Live Bait, Lures
FISH
Blue Crab
HABITAT
Canals, Grass Flats, Pier
HOW TO FIND
Traps, nets
SEASON
Spring, Summer Fall
BAIT
Fish, Chicken