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Top Fishing Charters in Sanibel

Fishing in Sanibel

The waters around Sanibel are hands-down one of the best places for inshore fishing in the whole country. Sanibel fishing charters specialize in fishing the endless mangroves, grassy flats, oyster bars, and murky bayous which cover the island. You can find year-round populations of Snook, Redfish Spotted Seatrout, and even Tarpon, making Sanibel a nirvana for fly fishers and baitcasters alike. 
 
The area’s protected reserves are also home to many exotic birds such as egrets, ospreys, herons, spoonbills, and pelicans – no wonder, with so many awesome fish to eat! As if that’s not enough, Bowman’s Beach on the south of Sanibel Island has been ranked as one of the top 10 beaches in the world according to US Travel News. Truly, the island has it all. But Sanibel fishing is the thing which really makes it shine
Sanibel is a playground for inshore anglers. Jump aboard one of Sanibel’s many great flats boats and you could be pulling in Snook, Tarpon, Redfish, Trout, Ladyfish, Permit, Pompano, and Sheepshead, within minutes of setting off. Honestly, the hardest thing about fishing here is choosing which spot to spend your time in. You really can’t go wrong no matter where you fish, but here are a few of the top spots to whet your appetite.

Sanibel Island Fishing Spots

The whole area is incredible for fishing, and you will have a great time wetting lines anywhere here. We have put together some of the must-visit spots to give you an idea, though.

Ding Darling National Wildlife Reserve

This 5,200-acre mess of sandy banks, grass flats, and shallow bayous is the largest and most diverse of all the places to fish around Sanibel Island. The tidal waters sprawl for miles just a few inches above the water. This mean tailing fish by the hundred if you time your fishing trip right. Many anglers fish this area for its amazing Snook fishing, trying to beat that ambitious 44-pound State record which was caught right here on the island. Their main obstacle is the sheer number of Trout which swarm these waters, gobbling up bait, lures, and flies with equal voracity. But hey, if your main problem is catching too many fish, you know you’ve come to the right place!
 

Bowman's Beach

If you are looking to fish from shore, there are few places which balance beauty and big fish as well as Bowman’s Beach. Stumps and trunks of windswept trees litter the shallows and make the perfect habitat for huge Snook. The best fishing is found on the seaward side of the stumps, so serious anglers will do better fishing from a boat than from land. But if you’re just after some great fishing while the family enjoys the day at the beach you can’t do better than this!
 

Blind Pass

The deeper waters of Blind Pass hold some of the biggest Sheepshead in the area, while the shallows are home to the same great mix of species the island is known for. This makes it a wonderfully varied place to fish and will send you packing with a great mixed bags of tasty table fish.
 

Tarpon Bay

Sanibel Tarpon Fishing has built up a well-deserved reputation over recent years. Small Tarpon can be found year-round in Sanibel and these kings-in-waiting are dwarfed by their fully-grown friends which stop by for a long visit in the spring and summer months. There many places to target Tarpon in Sanibel but Tarpon Bay is well worth a mention and not just for the name.
 

Pine Island Sound

The sound’s thick turtle grass and thriving oyster bars are fed by a hundred creeks and streams, from the tiniest of trickles to the wide waters of the Caloosahatchee River. This makes the water incredibly rich and the perfect breeding ground for big Redfish, who stalk through the shallows safe in the knowledge that they can escape to the deeper channels nearby – at least that’s what they think!

How long should I go for?

All these areas and many more are easily accessible on a half day trip and will make for one of the most productive mornings of your fishing career. But with such great conditions all year round, you may well want to stay out longer. In the winter, the long low tides and clearer waters can give you a solid six hours of shallow-water sight casting bliss. In the summer, a broad range of species come barreling into town, and if you fancy landing trophy Trout, Tarpon, Redfish, and Snook all in one day, a full day trip will be well worth the money.

How much will it cost?

The standard price for a small center console of flats boat is around $100 an hour, and discounts for longer trips are rare. This is charter fishing at its best , though. The fierce competition around Sanibel breeds skilled, dedicated captains and guides whose families have often been working these waters for generations.

Fishing Techniques

When it comes to catching trophy monsters, Sanibel is all about sight-fishing. Whether you are casting or fly fishing, there is no greater joy than poling through six inches of water surrounded by flashing tails. Sanibel fly fishing can be effective with a wide range of gear. Crab and shrimp-patterned flies are the local favorite, with Clousers, Schminnows, and Deceivers also drawing their fair share of the action. 
 
If you prefer more traditional tackle, spinning and casting are also very effective. Soft plastic shrimps, rattling crankbaits, gold spoons and minnow plugs will all get you on some solid hits. Not to say that bait isn’t an option. Live or frozen shrimp are still the go-to tactic for tempting in big Sheepshead, and live pinfish will be gladly gobbled up by the many hungry Redfish and Tarpon patrolling the water in search of an easy meal.

Need to Know

All registered Sanibel fishing charters will include licenses for everyone onboard. If you are striking out on your own, though, you will need a saltwater fishing license for anyone aged 17 or over. If you are heading into the backcountry, especially untouched spots like the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge, you will want to bring the standard precautions for mosquitos and midges. Repellents and long sleeves are a must for anyone not wanting their focus spoiled by biting bugs. 

Lastly, with such rich fly fishing you would have to be mad not to bring your gear along. Many charters do provide fly fishing equipment, though, and some specialize exclusively in this style of fishing, so you will be well catered for if you can’t bring your own.
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Sanibel Fishing Seasons

January may be "low season" for many inshore species, but that means little in an area with such great fishing as Sanibel! Snook, Redfish, Trout, and Ladyfish are all here year round, so go get 'em!

The low tides and rainfall make flats fishing great this time of year. There are plenty of great fish to target, and the water clarity makes for some unbeatable sight fishing.

The first schools of migratory Tarpon roll into town in March. The low rainfalls also make for perfect sight casting. This all rolls together to make some of the best Tarpon fishing you could ask for!

The Edison Big Snook Tournament kicks off at the beginning of April, with anglers arriving from all over to enjoy the great catches and fun fishing atmosphere the event promises. Why not give it a shot?

May is peak Tarpon season and is the time for the Ding Darling & Doc Ford Tarpon Tournament. Sign up for the chance to catch the biggest Silver Kings and being rewarded for your efforts.

June is an awesome time to head out past the shallow flats and hit the local reefs instead. You will be met by a ton of tasty Grouper and Snapper, and will have a great time catching them!

The Tarpon are still biting strong well into July, and the Redfish, Snook, and Trout are all going crazy, too. This makes it a great time for almost any style of angling if you don't mind a bit of rain.

Many of the migratory Tarpon start to move off in August, but can still kick around way after this. August is the hottest and wettest month of the year in Sanibel, so sight casting may be rained out on the flats.

The sheer variety of species you can target in September is staggering: Redfish, Trout, Snook, Tarpon, Permit, Pompano, Sheepshead, Ladyfish - it's surprising there's any space left in the shallows!

By October the very last of the migratory Tarpon move on, but it is still peak season for big Snook. Fancy something a little different? Try heading to slightly deeper waters to target Goliath Grouper!

Pompano hit the water in big numbers in November, so why not join them? You will also find plenty of Spanish Mackerel, as well as great catches of all the permanent species.

low rains, low tides, and lower temperatures make for dream conditions in December. The whole family will love relaxing on Bowman's Beach while you enjoy the great fishing right alongside them!

Sanibel Fishing Calendar

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What People Are Saying About Sanibel

"A GREAT HALF DAY FISHING TRIP WITH CAPT CJ"

George May fished with Catchin’ Jiants - Sanibel on June 28, 2018

A guide and/or charter fishing is well worth the money and the experience.

"Half day with Captain CJ"

Cindy Smathers fished with Catchin’ Jiants - Sanibel on June 18, 2018

Stay well hydrated, and make sure you apply sunscreen before getting there. Relax and enjoy yourself! The fish are strong, and it's exciting. Have a great time, and schedule with Captain CJ on the Catchin' Jiants!

"Afternoon trip with CJ. "

Zachary Karr fished with Catchin’ Jiants - Sanibel on February 16, 2018

Do some research on what’s available that time of year

"Half day trip with Capt CJ"

Diana Smith fished with Catchin’ Jiants - Sanibel on February 8, 2018

Bring that extra sweatshirt or jacket - it’s cool when you’re zipping across that open water!

Top Fishing Techniques in Sanibel

  1. Fly Fishing

Top Targeted Species in Sanibel

Tarpon

Snook

Redfish

Grouper (Gag)

Nearby Fishing Destinations