Once home to the famous pirate Black Caesar, Sanibel Island has since moved on from its days of piracy to become one of the best inshore fisheries in Florida. From long, sandy beaches to inshore bays and bayous, fishing in Sanibel has everything you need for an unforgettable day on the water.
In fact, checking out the historical landmarks and fishing sometimes go hand in hand in Sanibel. Right next to Sanibel Pier you’ll find the famous Sanibel Island Light, one of the very first lighthouses in this part of the country. As an added bonus, you have parks and wildlife resorts where you can both fish and enjoy the scenery.
What to Catch in Sanibel
Sanibel is one of those places with terrific fishing year-round, where your main worry is to pick one out of so many tempting options. There’s something here for both the seasoned angler as well as the recent arrival to the sport. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of Sanibel’s most popular fish.
Starting off with the humble Redfish is never the wrong choice when you’re fishing inshore in the Gulf states. Sanibel is no exception. The local mangrove estuaries hold a sizeable number of Redfish at any time, perfect for beginners to hone their skills. Heading out into the shallows will pay off big time if you worked on your sight casting technique.
You’ll find Redfish all over the island, with some notable hotspots being Tarpon Bay and Redfish Pass to the north. It’s honestly as simple as putting fresh shrimp on your line. The bite will come until you call it quits – ask any local angler and they’ll back us up on this.
Known as the “Silver Kings,” these primordial-looking fish are a proud staple of Florida’s inshore fisheries – Sanibel Island included. Tarpon are some of the fiercest fighters around, so get ready to put in the effort for that prize catch! Try not to get distracted by their flashy acrobatics and leaps, since they’ll be trying their hardest to break your line. Keep your eyes on the prize and you’ll have something to brag about for years to come.
The peak season for Tarpon in Sanibel is late spring to summer, making it a good addition to your vacation plans. You’ll find that most anglers target them using live and dead bait like mullet or shad. Fly fishing is also an option, with plenty of fly patterns to choose from, like the tarpon toad or black death.
If you feel that challenging fishing makes for rewarding fishing, Snook is another good option to consider. While not as flashy as Tarpon, you can count on them to give you a good run for your money. You can go after them pretty much all year long, but you’ll need to switch up your tactics depending on the season. Summer is the best time to fish for Snook, who’ll be a stone’s throw away from the many island beaches.
During spring and fall, though, your best bet is to hit the backcountry creeks and mangroves where you’ll find most of the action. Using live bait is the most common way to go after Snook, but if you want to mix things up we heartily recommend a nighttime fly fishing trip for a classic Sanibel fishing experience.