Offering the best fresh and saltwater fishing, Fort Myers lies on the Caloosahatchee River, about 12 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico. Surrounded by Florida wetlands, rivers, and lakes, there are numerous fishing spots for those hunting panfish, Mahi-mahi, and everything in between.
For freshwater fishing, river fishing, or taking a boat into the Gulf of Mexico for one of the big ones, Fort Myers is an excellent jumping-off point for any angler. The weather here is moderate year-round, and winter is one of the best times for Florida fishing, as the days are balmy and warm.
The Caloosahatchee River flows eastward from Fort Myers and converges with the Okeechobee canal east of the lake. This route will take you to Lake Okeechobee via boat and onward to the Atlantic Ocean if you so desire.
One of Florida’s more interesting cities, Fort Myers, is unique. It is an anglers’ haven and is defined by the Caloosahatchee River headed inland and Sanibel Island offshore, making it a city fully involved with life on the water.
Continue reading to find the best places to fish in and around Fort Myers, the best time of year to fish, and what you will catch when you get here.
Best fishing locations in Fort Myers
The best fishing locations in Fort Myers range from the Gulf of Mexico to the beginning of the convergence of the Caloosahatchee canal with the Okeechobee canal. The river runs from salty to almost fresh the further eastward you travel. Due to that fact, you can catch many of the same fish here in Lake Okeechobee and Florida lakes.
The Fort Myers Fishing Pier
The Fort Myers Beach Pier juts into the Gulf waters. It is a popular location that doesn’t require a Florida fishing license. It provides an excellent platform for casting into the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and the views from the pier are of the open Gulf waters and Sanibel Island.
Anglers can catch black drum, bluefish, cobia, flounder, mangrove snapper, redfish, and sea trout from the Fort Myers fishing pier. Snook and shark caught on the pier are catch and release only. The absence of a license requirement is a big draw for the Fort Myers Fishing pier for locals and tourists alike.
One of Fort Myers‘s historical locations is also ideal for those on the hunt for snook, red snapper, and sea trout. Beneath the waters of Punta Rassa cove are grass-covered bottoms of sandy shoals, where fish are waiting for you to tease them out. However, you should have luck getting a fish on the hook at Punta Rassa, which is only reachable by boat.
The Sanibel Causeway
The causeway is a favorite location for tourists and local anglers to wet a hook, stretching between the mainland and Sanibel Island. The waters here are not deep; however, you can catch snook, pompano, and sea trout.
Light tackle will do the job when fishing from the causeway. However, suppose you move further toward the deeper waters of the Sanibel Lighthouse pier. In that case, you will need heavier tackle for the day’s catch. Your catch from the lighthouse location is likely to yield a redfish, mackerel, or cobia.
The Gulf of Mexico
When fishing the waters of the Gulf of Mexico near Fort Myers, you can expect to find large game fish, as well as the more common red snapper, snook, cobia, and grouper.
Suppose you want to go for the Mahi Mahi, sailfish, marlin, wahoo, or other large gamefish. In that case, the opportunity is waiting off Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel Island.
What is the best month to fish in Florida?
The best month for fishing is the fall, winter, and spring months. Florida summer heat can be brutal, and even the fish get lazy. The best month for Florida fishing also depends on what fish you want to catch.
Around Fort Myers, the best months for fishing are March and April. The water is just beginning to warm, and mangrove snapper, trout, and redfish make their appearance at this time.
Overall, except for the hot months of summer, fishing is good year-round in Florida. There are months when you can’t fish for certain species due to regulations. However, if you can’t catch one variety of fish, you can always catch another.
Types of fish you can catch in Fort Myers.
The freshwater fish you can catch around Fort Myers include bass, bluegill, crappie, catfish, Oscars, and shell crackers. Many of these varieties are in the Caloosahatchee River. The water becomes brackish and almost fresh if you go inland far enough.
Fish that can’t live at the river’s mouth have no trouble with the habitat inland. The salt in the water is thinned by the runoff from the rivers and Lake Okeechobee so that bass, crappie, sunfish, bluegill, and freshwater catfish can thrive.
Saltwater anglers will find snook, red snapper, mangrove snapper, grouper, Mahi Mahi, marlin, tarpon, and sailfish in the Caloosahatchee River and the deeper waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Stingrays and other odd sea dwellers are also plentiful in the Caloosahatchee River and the Gulf. So whether you are fishing from a dock or the deck of a boat rental in Fort Myers, you should yield a catch.
What fish can be caught in the Caloosahatchee River?
You can catch almost the same fish in the Caloosahatchee River as you can in the Gulf of Mexico. However, if you travel eastward up the river, you can hook into a largemouth and peacock bass.
The unique biodiversity of this waterway is like many in Florida, where the salt and fresh water blend and support both fresh and saltwater species of fish. Beware, however, because this is south Florida, and alligators and crocodiles make their homes here, also.
If you have a taste for gator tail, it is on the menu in Fort Myers, too. Whether you catch it or buy it is entirely up to you.
Do you need a license to fish in Florida?
You do, and you can get a license for freshwater or saltwater only, or you can get a license that covers both. You can even add a stamp that allows you to catch lobster, go with the snook, and seatrout you catch.
It’s time to go fishing in Fort Myers, Florida.
It takes a boat to move easily from location to location along the Caloosahatchee River and surrounding waters. However, many boat owners in Fort Myers will rent you their bass boat or captain their trawler to take you fishing if you don’t own one.
The private fleet of Boatsetter boat owners offers boats for rent by the hour, the day, or longer. They come bareboat or captained, small and large, and someone has a boat that is just right for your Fort Myers fishing adventure.