Fishing in the pristine waters of Sanibel Island will encompass 50 species of sport fish, challenging but rewarding angling and some delicious table food.
All year round guests join me on my fishing charter boat - a 24 ft Morgan which accommodates up to 6 guests - for the experience of catching some of the Gulf of Mexico’s most prized fish such as Redfish, Snook, Shark, Tarpon and Trout.
Our fishing trips focus on light tackle fishing. When the fish weighs several times the weight of the line, the battle can be long, hard but oh so fulfilling. Light tackle also tends to lead to more bites.
We’ll be fishing inshore around Sanibel Island as well as Captiva Island and Cayo Costa to the north, and Pine Island to the east. These waters provide amazing fishing opportunities. The combination of bays, coastal shorelines, river mouths, mangrove islands, creeks and grass flats make for dozens and dozens of fishing hotspots. Having fished here for 3 decades, I know all the best spots! Since we focus inshore, we’ll be fishing in a matter of minutes from departure. If the fish aren’t biting, we’ll move a few minutes to the next haunt.
Everyone is welcome on board - whether you are a tournament pro, never cast or reeled before or anywhere in between. I’ll provide as much or as little help and guidance as you need.
The big four fish of South Florida (and Sanibel) - Redfish, Snook, Tarpon and Trout - will be our main focus. Redfish, named for the color of the scales, swim these waters all year round. The Sanibel/Captiva area has one of the largest Redfish populations in Florida. The best time is probably in late summer when Redfish start swimming in larger schools up until November. Once hooked, they provide an exciting battle but a very winnable one!
Snook are smart and versatile fish and strong fighters once hooked on the line. If you can land one, they also taste great! They like warm waters and are more abundant during the summer months. They tend not to stray far from the Sanibel shoreline so we’ll most likely find them in the river creeks, flats and mangrove islands.
The Spotted (sometimes called Speckled) Sea Trout is the perfect fish for beginners but still respected by the professionals. The Trout population around Sanibel has been carefully managed so that they are now thriving and getting bigger. If you didn’t know already, Trout also make excellent table fare.
Above anything else, Sanibel is known for its Tarpon. This whole region of Florida is sometimes referred to as the “Tarpon capital of the world”. Tarpon are big, they average over 100 pounds and larger ones can weigh in at 200+ pounds. Once they bite, they’ll battle you on the line for up to an hour. You’ll witness their unforgettable runs and jumps.
Tarpon season, when they begin migrating along the coast, runs from May to July although it’s possible and sometimes even better to catch them early, as early as February and March if spring is warm.
There is other wildlife to enjoy out on the waters. It’s not uncommon for dolphins, manatee, stingray and sea turtle to get up close and personal with the boat while fishing.
As great as the fishing in Sanibel is, the island itself has much more to offer. Hopefully you can experience some of the island’s other highlights when not out on the charter boat.
If you are looking for the sought-after island paradise, with stunning beaches, a range of accommodations and a nice mix of restaurants then Sanibel ticks all the boxes. For this reason, the island is a popular destination for vacations, honeymoons and anniversaries.
More unique features are its famous shelling beaches, boating, golf, tennis, biking, snorkeling, canoeing and boating. If you love the outdoors then you’ll love Sanibel.
The island has won many awards for its shelling and bird watching, as well as being voted one of the best beach vacation and family holiday spots in the county.
In tribute to the shelling tradition, why not stop by the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum - the biggest of its kind in the whole country . where you can learn more about the island’s ties to shelling.
On the east side of Sanibel is the historical Old Town. Much of the village, built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, has been preserved thanks to the efforts of the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village. Visitors can look inside the buildings which are all furnished with the style of the times.
Also on the east side is the Sanibel Lighthouse. The lighthouse itself is no longer open to the public, but it should still be near the top of things-to-see on the island.
If fishing isn’t enough nature for you then you’ll be happy to learn that over half of the island’s area is devoted to wildlife refuges. The largest is J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge which includes over 200 species of birds and dozens of reptiles and mammals. You can walk, cycle or drive through the park which is a magnet for bird watching enthusiasts. If you are visiting Sanibel during October then you should join the “Ding” Darling Days - a week-long event where all kinds of activities take place at the park.
Sanibel is connected by bridge at Turner Beach, at the northern tip of the island, to Captiva Island (link to http://covertoperationsfishing.com/captiva-island.html). Captiva has its own history, entertainment, interesting sites and fishing spots to enjoy.
Darrin is a local that has grown up on these waters and was able to find fish even when they didn't want to be found. We traveled from Pine Island to Sanibel over to Cabbage Key and Captiva Island by South Seas Plantation.Can't wait to get back out to the beautiful southwest Florida waters!
Darrin was a first class fishing guide. He really went out of his way to put us on fish. He had the patience to deal with the inexperienced and handled himself in a very professional manner. I will be using him again and will not hesitate to give his cards to any who ask. I will be posting a link for you on my page as well. Thanks again Darrin, my family had an amazing time!!