Fishing in Fort Myers: A Complete Angler’s Guide
Apr 23, 2021 | 8 minute read Comments
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Reading Time: 8 minutes

Sitting on the mighty Caloosahatchee River, you’ll find a beautiful historic place with rich nature and tradition. Fishing in Fort Myers is an experience that you don’t come across too often. Here you’ll sink your line surrounded by amazing natural views, as well as rich historic neighborhoods. Such a blend is rare, so consider making the most out of this opportunity!

The “City of Palms” has something to offer to everyone. Nestled on the border between a tropical savanna climate and a subtropical climate, the weather is great all year round. It’s no surprise then that notable people like Thomas Edison called it their favorite place to spend the winter.

Colorful houses in Fort Myers, Florida

Edison and his wife loved Fort Myers so much that they decided to build a lodge here in 1886. For the rest of their lives, they enjoyed the town’s incredible weather and scenery. What might interest you is that Edison enjoyed local recreational fishing here, and Fort Myers gained a national reputation for it!

What to Catch

Fort Myers is a fishing hotspot, and for good reason! The town is located in one of the most fish-rich places in the US. Southwest Florida is known worldwide for its variety of fish species, and its recreational fishing industry. Let’s dive into the world of Florida’s top fishing targets!

An infographic showing the top fish species to target in Fort Myers including Redfish, Snook, Tarpon, Sheepshead, Spotted Seatrout, and Bass

Snook

We’re in Florida after all! What makes Snook such a beloved fish in this part of the world? Well, it’s delicious, so that’s a big factor in why Floridians enjoy it so much. On the other hand, it’s not easy to catch. Inshore anglers love a challenge, and Snook certainly puts up a good fight. You’ll find it in the flats and backcountry waters in every part of the state.

A man and a smiling kid holding a big Snook on a boat in Florida

In the Fort Myers area, you’d do well to hit up the Caloosahatchee River, as they tend to roam these waters freely. You can cast your line in this force of nature, and have a nice Snook at the end of it in minutes. Get ready to work those muscles though, ‘cause it’s not going anywhere without a fight!

Tarpon

This one’s a no-brainer. Tarpon are known throughout Florida as the “Silver King” for their stunning silver scales. They’re also one of the top game fish in the world when it comes to saltwater fishing. Part of the reason why is that they leap out of the water to get off the hook, making for some stunning views.

A woman holding a Tarpon on a boat in Florida

You’ll be watching in awe as these mighty creatures swim back and forth giving you a run for your money. However, once you do manage to reel one in, your sore arms will thank you, and you’ll get to have an entirely new experience. Boca Grande, the “Tarpon Capital of the World,” is a boat ride away from Fort Myers, so if you’ve got your sights set on the Silver King, it’s the place to be!

Redfish

This is another Florida staple, an inshore gem for both newbies and experienced anglers. The waters outside of Fort Myers hold great numbers of Redfish. Just head out to the mangroves and grass flats, and you’ll be greeted with a great fight. Visit in the fall, and you’re bound to come across schools of this beautiful species, making them easy to spot and hook.

A man holding a Redfish on a boat in Florida

You’ll find them up the Caloosahatchee River, as well as the numerous little keys and islands in the area. Some of the bigger ones can be a real challenge to get out of the water, but don’t give up! You’ll get a hefty reward in the form of a delicious meal, as these are some of the tastiest fish found in all of Florida.

Spotted Seatrout

Are you looking for a nice day out, relaxing in nature, and catching some fish? Trout is the one for you! This is a real light tackle game fish, and it’s perfect for spending a sunny day out with your friends, bonding over some fishing. Fort Myers offers some great spots to find trophy Trout, all while enjoying a cold drink.

A man holding a Spotted Seatrout on a boat in Florida

No matter your level of experience, this is a great target to test your fishing skills against. Large “Gator” Trout can be found roaming the city’s numerous canals, as well as the broad Caloosahatchee River. You can also target them in the estuaries and salt marshes. Wherever you go in the area, you can expect to run into this Florida staple.

And That’s Not All!

If you’re craving some freshwater action, we’re here to tell you it can be done in Fort Myers too! Largemouth Bass, the beloved freshwater trophy, can be found up the Caloosahatchee River, alongside colorful Peacock Bass. There’s also a good chance of reeling in one of these beautiful creatures in the freshwater canals.

A man holding a Bass on a boat in Florida

We’ve covered the top species in Fort Myers. But we would be doing you a disservice by not telling you about some of the opportunities lying just a short boat ride away. If you visit the deeper waters around Pine Island and Sanibel, you can reel in nice Snapper and Grouper. The Gulf is also within reach, where you can target monsters like Mahi Mahi, Tuna, Sailfish, and Marlin.

How to Fish

Seeing how diverse Fort Myers is in the habitats it boasts, it’s no surprise that there are many ways of exploring its waters. One thing they have in common? They’re all breathtaking! Read on to figure out your preferred way of enjoying a day of fishing in Fort Myers.

An aerial view of the city of Fort Myers, Florida

Charter Fishing

Hands down the best way to get the most out of your fishing trip in Fort Myers is hopping aboard a charter boat. Although it’s more costly than just sinking a line from the shore, it has its advantages. You cover a lot more ground, you’re able to get to some sweet honey holes, and you get the help of a professional captain. What more could you ask for?

Charter boats docked in Fort Myers, Florida

A fishing trip on a charter boat will get you to some of the best marshes and backcountry waters in a matter of minutes. You can rent one and head down to Sanibel and Pine Island for a chance to battle some big fish. The Gulf is also within reach if you’re chartering a boat, so it’s the only way to get to those offshore monsters.

Shore Fishing

Looking to unwind and have a relaxing day by the water? This is your jam! There are numerous spots you can head out to in Fort Myers to just sit down and have a cold drink while you chase the bite of the area’s prized species. Hit the docks on the Caloosahatchee River and get ready for a fishing frenzy.

The coastline of Fort Myers with palm trees and buildings

When you’re in Fort Myers, it’s very easy to find a spot to sink your line. There are canals running through the city, and you can find small lakes and ponds everywhere. Take your family for a fun day in one of the parks, and spend some quality time fishing with your kids while enjoying stunning views and observing wildlife. 

Kayak Fishing

If you know anything about SW Florida anglers, you know they love a kayak! If you’re feeling adventurous and want to really have an immersive experience, this is the way to go. You can bring your own, or you can rent a kayak at a number of spots down the Caloosahatchee River. This is a more demanding way of fishing, but it’s also extremely rewarding.

A lure on a fishing rod above the water, taken from a kayak while fishing

Just imagine paddling out into the waters of the broad Caloosahatchee River, casting your bait to entice the bite of those elusive underwater creatures. Picture the natural views and all the memories you’re going to make. Yes, you might give your arms a workout, but the experience more than makes up for the pain.

Where to Go

Fort Myers isn’t a very big city, so you can get around pretty easily. This, however, is made harder by the sheer amount of water in and outside of its borders! It’s not easy figuring out where to drop your bait, so we did the work for you. Keep on reading for the best fishing spots in the area.

A map infographic showing the top fishing spots in Fort Myers, including North Shore Park, Tarpon Street Pier, Midpoint Bridge, Lakes Park, Manatee Park, Riverside Park, and Billy Creek
  • Riverside Park: This is a beautiful community park right on the bank of the Caloosahatchee. You’ll find it’s fairly easy to access, and it’s a great place to paddle out in a kayak for some nice fishing. There’s also a floating dock for those of you who prefer fishing from solid ground. 
  • North Shore Park: Just across the Caloosahatchee Bridge lies a riverside park area you’ll love. You’ll find it fun for the whole family as it features picnic pavilions, as well as a pier for fishing enthusiasts. Bridge fishing is always fun, but this one’s especially prolific.
  • Tarpon Street Pier: If you’re looking for quick and easy access to the waters of the Caloosahatchee River, this is your best bet. It’s a pier stretching out of the city into the river that will have you reeling in Snook, Trout, and Tarpon of course.
  • Manatee Park: This one is fun for the whole family. This waterfront park features nature trails, up-close manatee views, and kayak rentals. If you’re looking to unplug and enjoy your day, it’s the best choice. It’s as close as you get to a natural retreat inside the city. 
  • Lakes Park: Up for some Bass? This 279-acre public park features a freshwater lake that’s a dream for fishing enthusiasts. It’s located just south of Fort Myers, and it’s the closest place to hit for some prolific Bass fishing. 
  • Billy Creek: This is a beautiful tributary of the Caloosahatchee River, and it’s a great option if you want to relax and fish with no pressure. The Billy Creek Preserve holds good numbers of Bass, so it’s a great place for some freshwater fun.
  • Midpoint Bridge: If you’re a bridge fishing lover, this one’s a must. This bridge connects Fort Myers to nearby Cape Coral, and it’s less crowded than the Cape Coral bridge. It’s a Tarpon hotspot, but you’ll be reeling in a variety of species like Trout and Snook. 
  • Offshore: We know this one might be cheating, but hear us out! If you’re in Fort Myers with access to a boat, you can head out to the nearby bays closer to the Gulf and enjoy prolific fishing for Snapper, Grouper, Amberjack, and the likes. It’s worth mentioning, isn’t it?

Seasons and Regulations

When it comes to seasonality, all we can say is – it’s Florida! It’s always a good time to go fishing in Fort Myers, and there’s never a low season really. This is a town that boasts great weather, calm waters, and prolific fisheries, making it a year-round fishing destination. 

A sign on a wooden wall advertising bait and tackle for sale, with a picture of a Sunfish in the middle

With that in mind, there are strict regulations to follow when it comes to fishing for certain species. Before you head out for your slice of fishing heaven, be sure to consult the FWC website for more information.

Why Fort Myers? It’s a Low-Key Fishing Haven

Fort Myers has a rich history that can be felt just by walking down the streets of this beautiful town. The City of Palms is also rich in activities such as hiking and kayaking, but fishing takes the number one spot! It’s a city, but it doesn’t require you to bump elbows with other people, making it the low-key king of recreational fishing. If you’re looking for a nice sunny vacation with some fishing involved, you shouldn’t sleep on Fort Myers!

A sunset over a wooden pier in Fort Myers, Florida

Have you been to Fort Myers before? Did you try fishing in the area? Tell us about your experience in the comments below, and ask anything you’d like to know – we love hearing from you!

Comments (3)
  • Robert Savino

    Apr 19, 2021

    Because of red tide, your article should inform anglers that fishing for snook and redfish has been catch and release only for the last 2 years
    Anyone thinking of having a tasty dinner after catching and keeping one of these fish may face a hefty fine if caught, and possible toxic health effects if eaten.

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      Vule

      Apr 19, 2021

      Hi Robert,

      Thanks for reaching out! Yes, as you said, these species have been catch and release only through May 31, 2021. As we try to keep the information we present evergreen, we encourage everyone who’s heading out to check out the FWC website ahead of time so that they’re up to date on local regulations.

      Thanks for bringing this up!

      Tight Lines,

      Vule

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      Matthew

      Dec 8, 2021

      While Snook is out of season it remains open for Hendry County. Snook are legal to keep at the time of my comment as long as they meet FWC’s regulations. Plenty of Snook are there.
      The Ten mile canal is a good place to fish as well pick up some shinners from The Bait Station in North Fort Myers, take to and fish at John Yarbrough Park from Metro Parkway all the way down to Alico Rd. There is a Canal by Three Oaks it’s a no outlet road at the traffic light before i-75 that you can fish for Tarpon and Snook and Large mouth bass. Tarpon are 40-100lb in that Canal it’s also full of cichlids and red ear sun fish and Blue Tilapia

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