There is so much focus on Southwest Florida’s saltwater fishing that it is easy to forget that Southwest Florida also offers some fine freshwater fishing. Any pond, lake, canal or golf course water hazard probably holds bass. Although freshwater fishing in this area will probably never receive the rave reviews that backwater or offshore fisheries do, you can certainly have a great time landing one from the comfort of a canal rather than riding 6-foot seas 20 miles offshore.
Redfish are one of SW Florida’s primary game fish. More correctly called the Red Drum, the Redfish or “Red” is one of our most popular game fish for fly fishing. You find them in greatest number in September and October (although they are available all year in smaller numbers) and can be found mostly in the shallow grass flats, oyster bars and along the mangrove shorelines, passes and the everglades backcountry including Naples, Marco Island, Rookery Bay, Ten Thousand Islands and The Everglades National Park.
Residents and visitors alike enjoy sport fishing, deep-sea excursions and backwater fishing trips along the Everglades, where endless shoreline holds oyster bars and seagrass beds that attract an abundance of saltwater fish. Backwater anglers will find an extensive network of bays, mangrove islands and tidal creeks that permeate the region. Whether you go offshore or back into the bays and creeks, a local guide will put you where the fish are, help you select the right natural or artificial bait and coach you on techniques. You may bring your favorite rods and reels, but almost all guides have high-quality rigged tackle available for your use at no extra charge. There are plenty of opportunities for fishing on your own, but hiring one of the experienced local guides will give you the best shot for a memorable fishing experience and Naples has many experienced guides to help you catch that trophy. Many specialize in certain species, fishing areas and angling techniques.
Snook are a great catch all year round and are one of the most sought-after game fish in Florida. The snook is a great fish to go after with a fly rod because they almost never strike softly and they are guaranteed to put up a good fight before landing. The mangrove shorelines are the perfect habitat for snook. The Spotted Seatrout’s 1- to 4-pound weight range is perfect for light tackle saltwater fly fishing. The Jack Crevalle or “jack” is one of the strongest fighting fish in saltwater. They don’t jump around like snook, but a 10-pound jack will test your endurance for 15 to 20 minutes or more before landing. The typical size caught runs from 3 to about 15 pounds, although they can get much larger after they move offshore.
Catch and Release. The growth of sport bass fishing and professional tournaments has led to the practice of “catch and release” in an effort to conserve bass resources. A successful catch-and-release fisherman uses tackle heavy enough to quickly land the fish, thus reducing its level of exhaustion. A weakened fish is an easy target for predators. When handling a catch-and-release fish, never touch the fish with a towel. Use your wet hands to prevent the removal of protective slime coatings on the fish. Do not remove fish from the water by its jaw – support the fish’s body weight in a horizontal manner with both hands. Do not touch its gills. To remove the hook, put your thumb from your non-dominant hand in the mouth and grasp the lower jaw. With pliers, remove the hook by twisting. Then return the fish to the water, use horizontal support again and release the fish headfirst so that it can back to fight another day.
What angler wouldn’t want to live here – or at least visit as often as possible! So, come to Naples to apply your skills and catch some thrills. Naples, Florida is a wonderful place to live, work, play, retire and fish. Come join the year-round fun.
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