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SWFL Fishing Spots

Check out the Fishing Spots page to see maps, tips, and video for various spots in SWFL

 

A guide to local Southwest Florida fishing spots, access points, and points of interest. 

Check out our guide to SWFL Fishing Gear Basics

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How To: Summer Inshore Mangrove Snapper Fishing

It's not the most glorious fishing and probably won't win me any awards, but when I'm faced with a stuffy summer day and I'm looking to reliably bend a rod or bring home dinner, mangrove (grey) snapper is often the first fish on my mind. They are relatively easy to find and easy to catch with the right approach and the right set up. They are strong fighters and can be fun to catch on light tackle as well, and don't require anything fancy to bring home a cooler full.

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Fishing Tackle Basics

There is no set-up out there that will have you ready to catch every fish that roam these waters, but some work a lot better than others. 

Basic Setup:

Penn Battle 4000 Rod and Reel combo
Main line - 15lb PowerPro Braid (I like green or yellow, no real reason why)
Leader - 2-3ft of 20-30lb Flourocarbon leader
Hooks - Size 1 or 1/0 circle hooks (live bait) or 1/4oz Jigheads (white or red)
Add ons - A cheap popping cork if you want to keep your bait up, some 1/4 oz split shot to keep it down.

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Big Hickory Bay

Big Hickory Bay is often assimilated into the Estero Bay due to it's small size and close proximity. Big Hickory Bay is actually quite small, but does offer some good fishing. 

Access: Boat, Canoe/Kayak
Species: snook, mangrove snapper, jack crevalle, sheepshead, trout,  mackerel, ladyfish, tarpon, 
Best Tide: incoming to high

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Big Hickory Pass

Big Hickory Pass is a less traveled beach and fishing destination than its larger cousins to the north, New Pass and Big Carlos Pass. Big Hickory Bay drains out of this pass. 

Access: Foot, Boat, Canoe/Kayak
Species: snook, mangrove snapper, jack crevalle, sheepshead, trout,  mackerel, ladyfish, tarpon, shark, black drum
Best Tide: incoming or outgoing

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Estero Bay

The Estero Bay is one of the most popular and consequently heaviest fished inshore areas anywhere in southwest Florida, and with good reason. Unlike its neighbors to the north, Pine Island Sound and beyond that the world famous Charlotte Harbor (the home of Boca Grande Pass), it’s small size and close proximity allows for easy access. This fact is not lost on the tens of thousands of locals and tourists alike from Naples, Bonita Springs, Estero, and Fort Myers that all at one point or another spend some time floating around in the Estero Bay. It’s convenience, amazing scenery and wildlife,  and reputation for world class fishing are just some of the reasons that people flock to this bay, particularly on weekends and during the tourist season.

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Imperial River

The Imperial River in Bonita Springs is not one of the more popular fishing destinations in a region studded with prime fishing spots. But should you find yourself on or near the river and wondering where to begin, this page should help. 

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New Pass

New Pass is the home of the second largest bridge in the chain of bridges connecting Bonita Springs to Ft. Myers Beach. Great fishing can be had from the bridge, from the banks, on the flats surrounding the channel, and in the pass itself. 

Access: Foot, Boat, Canoe/Kayak
Species: snook, mangrove snapper, jack crevalle, sheepshead, mackerel, ladyfish, tarpon, shark, grouper, spotted sea trout, black drum, flounder
Best Tide: outgoing

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Bonita Grande Weir


This small weir (dam, for you non-Floridians) is located east of I 75 in Bonita Springs. This is a seasonal spot, as the water only spills over creating good conditions for fishing during the rainy season from June through October. 

Access: Foot
Species: snook, gar, bass
Best Tide: only when the dam is flowing

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Big Carlos Pass

The largest bridge in the chain of bridges that connect Bonita Springs to Fort Myers Beach offers some great opportunities for anglers on foot. 

Access: Foot, Boat, Canoe/Kayak
Species: snook, mangrove snapper, jack crevalle, sheepshead, mackerel, ladyfish, tarpon, shark, 
Best Tide: incoming or outgoing

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Wiggins Pass

Access: Foot, Boat, Canoe/Kayak
Species: snook, trout, pompano, ladyfish, spanish mackerel, black drum, flounder
Best Tide: outgoing

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