Marco Island got its name from the Spanish explorers who arrived here in the mid-1500s. They decided to christen it La Isla de San Marcos, after the Gospel writer St. Mark. We’re not surprised that they went for something biblical. The island’s stunning sandy beaches, blue skies, and seemingly-endless waters mean that it really feels like heaven on earth.
Add to that the fishing opportunities on offer, and it makes for a true angler’s paradise. With the prolific Ten Thousand Islands just a stone’s throw away, as well as plenty of shallow water bays and passes, you could spend a lifetime backwater fishing here and still find new places to explore. Then there’s the Gulf of Mexico. If the main aim of your angling game is hooking some big fish, then you’ve come to the right place!
Before you embark on your trip, take a look at our top tips and tricks when it comes to fishing this real-life slice of paradise…
What can I catch around Marco Island?
There’s a plethora of famous inshore fish that inhabit Marco Island’s inshore waters, whether you’re exploring the Ten Thousand Islands, Rookery Bay, or the shallow waters along the coast. One species that stands head and shoulders above the rest, however, has to be the Redfish.
Beloved around the world for its hard-fighting properties, Redfish is a firm favorite of Marco Island anglers. Why? Pay these waters a visit, and you’ll soon find out – they’re just bustling with Redfish. Not only can you cast a line for them in the Ten Thousand Islands, but nearby Rookery Bay is a prime Redfish-chasing spot, too.
Then there’s the flexibility that a Redfish adventure offers. Thanks to the fight they put up on the end of a line, you might think that this species is only reserved for the most hardened of anglers. Not so around Marco Island! As you’ll be exploring calm waters, anglers of all ages and skill levels can test their skills at sighting and hooking these fish. There’s nothing quite like spotting the golden-red scales of your target before it bites!
Local anglers implement a variety of fishing techniques when it comes to hooking Reds, too. Newbies and families with little ones can test out their casting skills. More experienced anglers can go for seriously light tackle, or even fish on the fly. The secret to luring big Reds is fresh, live bait – they especially love Mullet and Shrimp.
Would a visit to the Sunshine State be complete without a Tarpon battle? We think not! Marco Island is the perfect place to test your fighting skills against the “Silver King.” This species is most prominent in – yep, you guessed it – the Ten Thousand Islands. It also lives in the shallow waters that surround Marco Island itself.
The best time to target this monster fish is between March and June when it passes through Marco Island’s waters on its way to spawn. Species reach up to a whopping 300 pounds, with the Florida state record weighing in at 243 pounds. Because of this, local anglers recommend bringing along some heavier braided tackle. You don’t want your Tarpon to break the line once it’s hooked!
Similarly to Redfish, you can lure Tarpon to the end of your line with fresh live bait. Mullets are a tried-and-true favorite for this fish, too. Although technically any angler can come face-to-gills with the Silver King, having some experience under your belt before battling this fish will definitely aid you when it comes to reeling ’em in. Locals often compare fighting a Tarpon to roping a bucking bronco, after all!
Something that’s important to remember is that the Tarpon is a strictly catch-and-release species in the Marco Island area. Bring along a camera to snap an epic shot of your catch. Then, make sure you release it safely into the waters. That way, generation after generation of angler will be able to experience what it’s like to bow to the Silver King!