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Top Fishing Charters in Pine Island

Fishing in Pine Island

The maze of mangroves that Pine Island fishing charters regularly explore has enough stock of fine inshore species to keep you busy for days. Add to that the network of sounds, passes, natural preserves, harbours, and bay waters, and you’ll understand why so many anglers come here year after year. Pine Island doesn’t have the ‘beach glamor’ of Sanibel or Captiva, but lacks nothing in fishing opportunities.

Commercial fishing has been a major part of Pine Island’s history. Many residents are full time commercial fishermen and fishing charters are springing up around the island too. That’s great news as you will need the ‘know-how’ if you want to get these fish to bite.

Pine Island fishing spots

Pine Island is home to what you could call perfect launchpads for inshore charters - Bokeelia, Pineland, and St. James City, but, wait, that’s not all. There’s more good stuff - you can explore the fisheries out of Captiva, Sanibel, Matlacha, and Boca Grande on a full day trip without hassle. And if you’re more of an offshore angler, worry not. There’s plenty of fish in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Pine Island Sound

First things first. Fishing Pine Island Sound can easily leave you breathless. Not just because the view is stunning - and it surely is - but because the Redfish, Snook, and Trout that forage these waters are some of the strongest fighters pound-for-pound. These flats hold numerous honey holes where you can find fish lazily cruising around and some downright heavy fighters.

Work the fisheries around the bars along boating channels and you can find excellent fishing for Speckled Trout, Redfish, Snook, and Tarpon when in season. Local anglers swear that this is the finest fishing habitat for inshore fishing, with grassy flats, oyster beds, creeks, and rivers forming a mashup of chances to land an impressive catch.

Matlacha Pass

Matlacha Pass is another body of water you’ll surely want to explore. Spotted with islands, these waterways offer bays, bayous, coves, creeks, and mangrove shorelines  fish like to hide around. Speckled Trout make for spectacular fishing and you can also try sight fishing for Red Drum. Mornings are quite productive and once you throw lines out you can expect a bite from Flounder, Ladyfish, Catfish, and more.

One stop to try out here is the Matlacha Bridge, known as ‘the fishingest bridge in the world’. Although nothing remains of the original wooden bridge, the new bridge has great fishing and lives up to its nickname. You can get Redfish, Cobia, Mangrove Snapper, Trout, Sheepshead, Snook, and some Sharks. It’s a great place for a warm-up session before you head out further around the pass or into the Gulf. It’s packed with anglers who look underneath and around the bridge, mostly with a lot of success.

Cayo Costa

Once you make it past in the Pine Island Sound and reach Cayo Costa and the northern tip of Captiva Island, you’ll get some more bread-and-butter inshore fishing as schools of Red Drum, Ladyfish, Snook, Trout, and Tarpon cruise by. What’s really good about Cayo Costa is that the change of tides creates an entirely different terrain -  lagoons appear, filled with Ladyfish and other inshore critters. If you’re staying on Pine Island for a couple of days you should explore Cayo Costa. Anglers with a boat will make the most out of the area as they can quickly move around but bring your wading boots just in case. You might need to get off to get the biggest fish.

Gasparilla Sound and Charlotte Harbor

Gasparilla Sound has become synonymous with excellent Seatrout fishing. The sound is a mix of grass flats and mangrove shorelines and works well for a variety of species. Plus, these fisheries don’t suffer heavy fishing pressure as anglers often seek their target around more ‘mainstream’ fishing spots. But the sound is by no means of lower quality.

North of Pine Island, the Gasparilla Sound meets the waters of Charlotte Harbor and creates an incredible Snook fishery. You will also find schools of Redfish, Trout, and Tarpon swimming around in search of small bait fish. And while you’re here, you will enjoy the sight of herons, egrets, manatees, and dolphins who call this habitat home. Make sure to have a camera ready to roll.

Gulf of Mexico

If you can resist the temptation to stay inshore and move into the Gulf waters, you won’t be disappointed. A full day trip can get you nice Snapper, Grouper, Permit, Cobia, Kingfish, Spanish Mackerel, and Sharks. A bit further out, offshore wrecks will reward you with Amberjack. No matter how skilled you are, the sound of Permit pulling the line as they escape to the wrecks leaves no one indifferent. The action doesn’t stop here. If you make the effort to travel 60+ miles offshore you can have a go at Mahi, Wahoo, and Tuna.

Fishing techniques

Look at Pine Island fishing as a fusion of quite different fishing techniques. From light tackle for Speckled Trout and Flounder, bottom fishing around offshore wrecks for Amberjack, fly fishing for Tarpon, or sight fishing for Redfish, Pine Island will have you spoilt for choice.

Redfish and Trout will put your light tackle skills to the test. If you want to make sure that these fish don’t sniff at your bait with contempt, bring plenty of shrimps. Anglers who want to use artificial lures should equip themselves with soft plastics.

Snook are easily scared off so you need to present feather jigs with care, otherwise you’ll ruin your chances of getting any of these amazing fish.

The network of secluded fisheries around the Pine Island Sound and Matlacha Pass is a perfect podium to practice fly fishing, and the waters near Cayo Costa are a good place to do some wade and kayak fishing.

Seizing Grouper and Snapper always means excellent bottom fishing. Place shrimp and crabs deep enough near your target and then use all your stamina to pull them out of the water.

While you’re in the Gulf, trolling can get you Kingfish, Spanish Mackerel, and far off you can even hook on some Mahi, Wahoo, and Tuna. Use sardines for the Mackerels, while Mahi and Wahoo will go for flying fish, pinfish, and smaller Mackerel too.

Need to know

If you’re booking a trip with a licensed charter or guide, you won’t need a saltwater fishing license. But you do need to pack adequate clothes, shades, sunscreen, a hat, and Dramamine, as well as food and drinks. These are the basics, although you will find that some captains provide snacks and beverages. The captains will usually provide all the fishing gear you need, and will even bring life vests for your kids. Of course, it’s best to always check with the captain before the trip.

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Pine Island Fishing Seasons

Finding a tactic that works can be a bit of a trouble, but you can hope for a nice stock of Trout, tailing Redfish, and Tripletail. Sheepshead, Pompano, and Permit are also a possibility.

Although fishing can be hit and miss, February sees excellent Sheepshead action. Check the areas around passes and nearshore structures. You can also target Redfish and Trout.

Warmer temperatures bring baitfish from the south and that means predators will follow. Trout get bigger and more numerous and you can expect the same from Spanish Mackerel. There are early signs of Tarpon.

Tarpon start to hit the waters right off Pine Island. Be ready for acrobatic feats and superb fly fishing action. Stay around sounds and creeks for excellent Trout and Snook fishing. Offshore you can get Lane and Vermillion Snapper.

Tarpon are hungry and will take flies, lures, and bait. Head to Cayo Costa to grapple with the Silver King. You can also snatch some Snook around sheltered waters.

As you seek Tarpon, which are abundant at this time, you can also land some Nurse Sharks in the Pine Island Sound. Head to the Gulf for Snapper season and come back with a juicy meal.

The summer bite is in full swing and you can sample good fish both offshore and closer to the dock. Snapper and Grouper are popular choices, but don’t forget Mahi and Kingfish.

If you avoid the storms, you can get a pretty impressive bag of fish, with Mahi, Snapper, and Grouper being the most prominent players in the water.

Redfish are showing up in large numbers. If the weather’s on your side you will reach your limits without much hassle. Few miles into the Gulf and you can troll for Kingfish.

There is a great Snook bite all over the inshore flats and creeks. Nearshore trips can get you King Mackerel and you might be able to bottom fish for Grouper.

The cool front can produce incredible Grouper action with Goliath Grouper posing for a postcard-worthy photo of your trip. There are plenty of Cobia in the sea, and you can get decent Snapper and Mackerel even on a bad day.

Calm seas will let you fish far out and have a go at Snapper, Gag, Red, and Goliath Grouper, as well as Cobia and Amberjack. You can also get Black Drum inshore as well as Redfish and Trout.

Pine Island Fishing Calendar

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What People Are Saying About Pine Island

"Half day"

Harry Fuller fished with Inshore Excursions LLC - Matlacha on November 7, 2018

Just go and have fun..come back with your fish stories. HA!

"Great day on the water "

Steve Williams fished with Chum Crazy Charters on October 13, 2018

It's better week days than weekends. Less traffic on the water

"October fishing trip"

Anthony Perkins fished with Capt Charlies Fishing Charters on October 13, 2018

Try out this trip, it was a fantastic experience.

"Even bigger"

Charley Valera fished with Jimbo’s Charters on August 8, 2018

This was our first time. Hire a pro fisherman that knows the waters. Captain Jimbo knows the lay of the water and where the fish hide. We moved often for many different types of fishing and caught many types in every spot he took us.

Top Targeted Species in Pine Island

Snook

Redfish

Tarpon

Spotted Seatrout

Top Pine Island Destinations