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Best Fishing Charters in Bonita Springs

Top Fishing Charters in Bonita Springs

Fishing in Bonita Springs

Much like the rest of Southwest Florida, Bonita Springs is blessed with a diverse fishery where you can do all sorts of inshore and nearshore trips during the entire year. Add to that the fact you have Estero Bay right next door, and it’s no wonder that local fishermen and guides will tout it as their favorite place to fish.

Known for

Bonita Springs fishing charters really have everything going for them - Estero Bay is fed by 2 rivers and 8 tributaries and could be an inshore attraction all on its own. You might not know that it’s the first ever aquatic preserve in the state of Florida, having been founded back in 1966.

Going a bit further into state waters, places like Causeway and Edison Reef host plenty of nearshore species like Snappers and Kingfish, sometimes even Cobia. Not to mention that any of these places are just perfect for a leisurely sunset cruise.

Bonita Springs fishing spots


The salt marshes and mangrove forests of Estero Bay serve as an affectionate nursery for an assortment of just about every popular inshore bruiser, making the inshore waterways highly fishable all year round. The Bay is often lauded as a prolific Snook and Redfish habitat, although the brackish waters are very much indiscriminate when it comes to game fish variety. This is also the place to find Tarpon during summer, when people from all over come down to hook a Silver King.

Everything from Seatrout, Black Drum, Sheepshead, Flounder, Whiting and many others can be found rummaging the area’s grass flats and oyster beds, depending on the time of year. The mangroves also provide an optimal hatchery for various species of shark, including Lemon, Black Tip, Bull, Bonnethead and even Hammerhead shark.

What to expect on an inshore trip

As far as inshore trips are concerned, it’s a given that you’ll be spending most, if not all of your time in Estero Bay. The nearby barrier islands like Lovers Key, Black Island, Long Key, Little Hickory Island, and Big Hickory Island are what keep it separate from the Gulf of Mexico.

The reason why you have so many Snook here is that they love the warm waters, and you can find Snook in droves as soon as the water temperature goes over 70 degrees or so. Keep in mind that Snook season is closed during two times of the year - December through February, and May through August.

A standard inshore trip is priced at $100 per hour, with a minimum length of three or four hours. More expensive rates are few and far between, while cheaper rates are pretty much non-existent. Most guides will offer some sort of discount for longer trips of 8+ hours, even if it’s a symbolical one.


For those looking for a bit more of a challenge, the nearshore wrecks and reefs are inhabited by the likes of Cobia, Gag and Red Grouper, large offshore Snook, Mangrove Snapper, Amberjack, Barracuda and much more.

Don’t be confused by the terminology, as nearshore in these parts includes waters up to nine miles offshore, that being the state waters boundary. Going further than that requires a special license which very few captains and guides have.

What to expect on a nearshore trip

If you think you won’t be able to catch bigger fish in the nearshore waters, you are sorely mistaken. The closest two reefs you can target are the May and Causeway Reefs, which are host do different species depending on the time of year. Some of the regulars include Goliath Grouper, Barracuda, Red Snapper, and Sheepshead.

When it comes to pricing for a nearshore trip, there is more variety than for the inshore trips, so feel free to shop around. While a large chunk of charters will stick to the $100 per hour standard rate, some of them might have more expensive rates for shorter trips to make up for fuel costs.

Rules and Regulations

Fishing with a licensed captain or charter operator, you won’t need to worry about having a fishing license because it’s up to the crew to provide all the necessary documentation.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of going on a fishing trip before, make sure that you bring along a pair of polarized sunglasses, a hat, some sunscreen, and preferably layered clothing. You might want to take some snacks and soft drinks because most captains will only have water aboard.

Types of fishing

You can find a worthy challenge in both inshore and nearshore waters, so it’s mostly the matter of what sort of fish you’re after. Real thrill-seekers should come during Tarpon season and hope they don’t break more than a line or two when starting out.


When fishing the flats of Estero Bay, your main concern will be to not spook the fish, as the water is very shallow (around five or six feet deep) and proper drifting is key. Most guides will be using live bait such as shrimp or pinfish, but cut bait will work as well.

On the other hand, the outside islands like Lovers Key and Big Hickory provide the best places for backwater fishing. This is where you’ll anchor the boat and cast live baits or artificial lures up the current so they’ll go past the fish and hopefully get some interested.


Depending on what you’re after, you might be needing a wide variety of gear when going some miles out. Light and heavy tackle, spinning and conventional reels, live, dead, or artificial bait or lures, all of these can come in handy on a lengthy trip.

There are a number of reefs and wrecks that every local captain knows about, and they all have something that makes them unique. If you’re after big sharks, check out the Causeway Reef, but if you’re more interested in Kingfish or Cobia, you might want to visit the May Reef (also known as May’s Reef). This can vary from season to season, but your captain is sure to have the most up-to-date info.

Bonita Springs
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Bonita Springs Fishing Seasons

The start of the year is a great time to be going after Kingfish. Drifting near the Causeway Reef with silvery live bait should do the job.

It’s still too cold for Snook to show up, but you can get plenty of Sheepshead this time of year, especially near Big Hickory Island.

This is when the waters will finally start to warm up, and will usually be in the high sixties. Plenty of big Seatrout, Redfish, and Spanish Mackerel are yours to find.

April is when Snook arrive in large numbers, and it will stay that way right up until October. Guides will start doing Snook night trips around this time.

Depending on the individual season, Tarpon might start showing up in local waters in bigger numbers. If so, get ready for the fight of a lifetime.

Summer is probably the best single time to be fishing in Bonita Springs. Kingfish might taper off, but the waters are filled with everything from Tarpon to Snapper.

If you’re interested in surf fishing, this is a great time to cast out for some Ladyfish and Amberjack and look awesome while you’re at it.

If you’re lucky, there still might be some stubborn Tarpon that stayed in the area, but even if that’s not the case, great fishing can still be had both inshore and offshore.

Now that the waters continue to cool, you can expect Redfish to show in much larger numbers, and Sharks to be making their way closer to inshore waters.

This is when fish start to migrate south for the winter, but it’s still a great time to target Redfish, Kingfish, Trout, and more besides.

Early winter is when Tripletail and Cobia start popping up, so get ready to do some trolling for absolutely delicious fish.

Redfish and trout are huge in the backwater, while you can find a good number of Grouper, Snapper, and Sheepshead over at the reefs.

Bonita Springs Fishing Calendar

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What People Are Saying About Bonita Springs

"Fishing fun with Captain Dan!"

Kathy B. fished with Get Hooked Custom Charters on November 25, 2019

Book a fishing charter with Captain Dan!

"Half day with Capt Fred"

Jack A. fished with Fred Gowdy Charters on June 6, 2019

A half day was a good experience, we were on fish about every stop, Capt Fred did a great job. June is rainy, and can be hot. The 1/2 day was good.

"Peacock bass fishing trip"

David A. fished with Fred Gowdy Charters on June 5, 2019

The hotter and sunnier it is, the better you can see the peacock bass in the freshwater canals. I was told they spawn in the heat of the summer

"March fishing trip"

Karen S. fished with Fred Gowdy Charters on March 29, 2019

Do not know enough to recommend to anglers.

What would you recommend to anglers fishing in Bonita Springs, Florida for the first time?

Top Targeted Species in Bonita Springs





Snapper (Mangrove)

Snapper (Mangrove)



Jack Crevalle

Jack Crevalle

Spotted Seatrout

Spotted Seatrout

Barracuda (Great)

Barracuda (Great)

Grouper (Goliath)

Grouper (Goliath)

Nearby Fishing Destinations