Picture a beautiful island in the northern part of the Everglades that’s surrounded by miles of water full of large fish. Everything here comes with a pinch of local flavor, including the amazing angling opportunities. This is the easiest way to picture fishing in Chokoloskee – a real Floridian gem on the southern side of the Ten Thousand Islands and the western edge of the Everglades.
Chokoloskee is a 137-acre island with blue-green waters and tidal rivers running in and out of the backcountry, millions of mangrove islands, channels, bays, mud flats, oyster bars, and who knows what else. It’s easy to get lost in all the fishing opportunities this island has to offer.
In this guide, we’ve covered everything you need to know about enjoying the Chokoloskee fishing legacy. You’ll learn about the most interesting fish to catch, as well as when and how you can target them. So, without further ado…
What to Catch
Fishing in Chokoloskee allows you to explore a variety of species any angler would dream of, from Snapper, Kingfish, and Cobia to Trout, Redfish, Snook, Tarpon, and many, many more. With so many different habitats, you can catch a lot of species on a single trip.
Redfish and Speckled Trout
This list wouldn’t be complete without Redfish and Speckled Trout. Reds are challenging opponents on the flats, mazes of mangrove islands, and grass beds for both complete beginners and seasoned veterans. Speckled Trout, which are known as Sea Trout or just Specks, are also great fighters. And, of course, both Reds and Specks are delicious!
You can pack your light spin tackle and search for Reds anytime throughout the year, especially during the warmer months. Redfish are usually found around structures and grassy covers in shallow water. No angler should ever miss the opportunity to witness the show both Redfish and Speckled Trout give you once you hook them on your spinning rod!
Snook and Tarpon
Snook and Tarpon are easily recognizable by inshore anglers not only in Chokoloskee, but throughout Florida. Locals and visitors enjoy catching Snook for their rich, tasty meat and incredible game qualities. Tarpon are also fierce fighters, although they won’t make for good table fare. Most local charters practice “catch and release” with Snook and Tarpon, although you’re allowed to keep one Snook from September until November.
Snook hang out in the deeper backcountry bays and creeks during the winter months and move out of the backcountry to the outside island bays for the period from March through November. Spring Tarpon are also found in the outside bays before moving to the beaches or the summer period.
Sheepshead and Spanish Mackerel
“Bait Stealer” Sheepshead are available in strong numbers near the front end of Chokoloskee Bay. They’re especially active during the cooler winter months in the inshore shallows, although you can catch them throughout the year. These toothy creatures are especially hungry in March and April when they enter their spawning season. In summer, you could find them in the flats and grass.
Fishing for Spanish Mackerel in Chokoloskee is great during the winter months. These fish are among the frequently caught species for the local anglers and Chokoloskee visitors for a few reasons. First of all, you can find them in great numbers throughout the year. And secondly, they’re so fun to catch!
Permit and Cobia
Of course, the fishing opportunities don’t end with the inshore fish species. If you head a bit further offshore, you’ll have a chance to reel in Permit and Cobia, among others. These two are great fighters and will surely keep you busy during your fishing adventure.
What’s more fun than catching Permit and Cobia in the Gulf during the summer months? These pretty creatures are also among the most popular catches out of Chokoloskee, and they’re suitable for all types of anglers. Plus, they’re delicious and healthy to eat!
Snapper and Grouper
Finally, there’s Snapper and Grouper. No offshore fishing in Chokoloskee is complete without filling the cooler with these reef creatures. What’s on the menu? Deeper offshore waters house Red Grouper, Mangrove Snapper, and even monster Goliath Grouper.
When it comes to season, Snappers and Groupers bite throughout the year, peaking in the summer and winter months. All you need to do is to book a charter with a local Chokoloskee guide and let them take you to some deeper points in the Gulf of Mexico.
How to Fish
Fishing in Chokoloskee isn’t so much about the space, but rather about the local character. There’s a variety of fishing styles and techniques you can choose from, depending on what you’d like to catch. The best way to experience everything that this area has to offer is with a local guide, be it on a boat, kayak, or from the shore.
Booking a trip with a local charter is a great way to save a lot of time. It allows you to just hop on a boat and not think about anything at all, except having fun and catching fish. The help a local professional can give you is invaluable!
Finding a charter isn’t hard. You’ll be in the bay within minutes if you head out of the Fishing Hole boat ramp at the northern tip of Chokoloskee. A typical half day charter can take you to the Chokoloskee Bay and the Ten Thousand Islands. A full-day trip allows you to explore the nearby wrecks and deeper waters beyond the bay if you head out of the marinas on the Island’s southwestern shore.
Depending on what you’re hoping to catch, you may not need a boat at all. There are various spots for shore anglers, either marked or unmarked. Your options here might be limited (no Groupers or Sharks, unfortunately) but you’ll still be able to cast a few lines and have some fun.
Everglades City is a good spot for shore fishing. You can fish on any of the seawalls around the city, too. Before you head out to the water, though, you will want to check the local rules and regulations. You’ll also need a Florida fishing license – more on that below.
Miles and miles of beautiful saltwater teeming with fish can be easily reached by kayak or small skiff. Kayak fishing is an interesting way to fish in Chokoloskee: you get to enjoy the views and the waters up close and personal. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to fish for your favorite species, too!
Here, you can truly enjoy the mix of solitude, amazing wildlife, and stunning nature. It doesn’t matter where you choose to go on your kayak, be it the outside barrier islands, inshore waters or the mouths of the rivers in the south or north.
Rules and Regulations
As you’ve probably already noticed, fishing in Chokoloskee is great throughout the year. However, there are various regulations for species and their seasonality. It’s always best to check the open seasons on the targeted species on the FWC website ahead of time.
If you’re planning to hire a Chokoloskee charter boat, your captain will usually cover your fishing license. However, if you’re fishing without a guide, you’ll need to buy a Florida saltwater fishing license. Feel free to learn more about it here.
Fishing in Chokoloskee – A Getaway to Paradise
Chokoloskee is the perfect blend of history and character on a remote edge of the Everglades. In order to fully enjoy it, you’ll need someone who knows the local waters. A local guide knows what’ll be biting and where, and how to get there before anyone else. Of course, you can pack your fishing rods and head to the island yourself if you’re up for it. After all, fishing in Chokoloskee is an adventure unlike any other that anyone should experience at least once in their lifetime.
Have you ever tried fishing in Chokoloskee? Did you enjoy the area and all its wilderness? Tell us all about it in the comments below, or ask anything you want to know!