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Hook the Big One on a Fort Myers Fishing Charter



One of Southwest Florida’s favorite past times is fishing. With the Gulf of Mexico as the area’s backyard, the waters here are teeming with hundreds of thousands of fish. There are also thousands of spots to explore in the bays, inlets and sounds that surround the barrier islands.

From April through June the majestic tarpons migrate through the area in huge numbers from the Florida Keys, drawing anglers from across the globe. Fishing is a year-round sport in Southwest Florida with redfish, snook, snapper, shark, trout, grouper, mackerel and more on the menu. 

If offshore fishing is on your radar, hop on board the ultra-fast Miss Hayden with Sanibel Offshore where you can also reel in mahi-mahi and blackfin tuna. 

Because of the numerous mangrove islands, that can all look alike to the novice, along with the area's shallow waters, fishing with an experienced guide is the key to success. Operators such as Adventures in Paradise and Good Time Charters know how to give you a good time, especially if you are a family that also wants to do some site seeing in-between your casting.

If you’re looking to cast a line, this 10Best list will ‘hook’ you up with charters providing endless adventure from the back bays and mangrove forests to the deep sea.


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Native Fins Charters
Photo courtesy of Matt Johnson Native Fins Charter


Owner, Captain Matt is a Fort Myers native, born to a family of fishing enthusiasts dating back four generations. With more than a decade of charter fishing experience, he has a number of customized packages for the experienced fisherman and novice alike. From light tackle and fly fishing to heart-pounding tarpon fishing, you can find whatever you like. Captain Matt uses a Silver King flats boat that is perfect for accommodating families, as well as a 22' Pathfinder Bay boat for more serious sports enthusiasts. If you land a big catch, he can even aid with the mounting of your fish through taxidermy.

Recommended for Fishing Charters because: Operated by a fourth generation Florida fisherman, Native Fins not only offers great fishing but also tours that include shelling and photography.

Gina's expert tip: Native Fins also offers professional photography if you want a family portrait on the water or a location only accessible by boat

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Paradise Charters sets sail from the heart of Fort Myers Beach at Snook Bright Marina, where you will conveniently find a Publix Supermarket to fill your cooler with all kinds of goodies before you board. The boat, a 24-inch Tidewater perfectly outfitted for fishing and can seat up to six. Captain Shawn is patient and flexible once out on the water. His knowledge about the area's wildlife and history makes for an enjoyable ride to where the fish are biting, and he has a great knack for getting them on the line. After he cleans your catch, he'll give you tips on cooking or at least steer you in the direction of a restaurant that will do it for you.

Recommended for Fishing Charters because: Specializing in back bay fishing, patrons enjoy this captains demeanor and his knowledge of the local wildlife and waters.

Gina's expert tip: If you're hungry, once you dock, the marina is also home to the award-winning Bayfront Bistro with gourmet food and a waterfront view from almost every seat

Read more about Paradise Charters, LLC Charter Fishing Trips →


Catch Me If U Can Fishing Charters


This charter service has two 24-foot Morgan Boats, perfect for exploring the inland waters and back bays. Docked at a marina found just before you cross the Sanibel Causeway, you'll get fast access to areas teaming with fish. Arrangements can also be made for pick up on the area's barrier islands (Sanibel and Captiva) and select resorts. These boats are capable of getting into shallow water and are also good for sightseeing. The popular Fish and Chips excursion offers four hours of fishing and lunch at a waterfront restaurant. With a good amount of shade, you'll be able to fit a party of six maximum. Repeat customers rave about the service and the success they have on the waters, catching all kinds of fish that are keepers.

Recommended for Fishing Charters because: Offering great hospitality on boats with up to date technology, the excursion options are numerous and professional.

Gina's expert tip: Stop by the neighboring Lighthouse Restaurant before or after your trip. Resort casual, there is an open patio and friendly bar.

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Good Time Charters
Photo courtesy of Good Time Charter


Good Time Charters is a family friendly company that is not only known for its dolphin and sunset cruises but also it's fishing charters. The flat deck boat is perfect for the calm waters of the back bays. While they can go out into the Gulf of Mexico, it's only by a couple of miles, no deep sea adventures but you can still haul in creatures from the deep--like sharks. The boat is wheelchair accessible, there is some shade and all of your equipment is provided for you. Most adventures are four hours and can accommodate two to six people. Perfect for families, girls trips or experienced anglers, Good Time truly is a good time.

Recommended for Fishing Charters because: Offering a wide variety of boat cruises, the fishing charters specialize in back bay fishing and family fun.

Gina's expert tip: Check out the sunset cruises offered here as well.

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FishSkinner Fishing Charters
Photo courtesy of Capt. Wes Skinner


Whether you're an avid angler or new to fishing, FishSkinner Fishing Charters offers great, guided trips, from a Fort Myers native; including half-day and full-day charters. While specializing in fishing the flats and in the back bays, the company also has more targeted trips for anglers specifically seeking snook, tarpon and shark. You can book a trip on the 23-foot Aquasport that has lots of room and shade; perfect for a combo shelling and fishing trip with the family. Then there is the 18-foot Hewes, great for shallow water and light tackle fishing, with a casting platform to scout your prey. Shimano rods are provided along with all necessary equipment, including a camera to capture your catch. Trips last from 4-8 hours and boats can carry 2-6 people.

Recommended for Fishing Charters because: Specializing in nearshore and inshore fishing, the captain is a Fort Myers native who has two boats to explore local fishing sweet spots.

Gina's expert tip: Keep your eyes open for the turn to this marina or you will end up over the Sanibel Causeway

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Florida Native Fishing Charters
Photo courtesy of Florida Native Fishing Charters


Operated by a 5th generation Floridian, the captain of this fishing charter loves looking for tarpon and fishing for snook. The 23-foot Carolina skiff is perfect for fishing the back bays with a new boat recently added to the lineup. The redesigned Aqua Sport is customized for fishing tours, with a 10-foot tower, appropriately placed bait boxes, coolers and no dead space. All equipment is provided on the customized tours that typically last four hours and can accommodate two to six people. Leaving from the Marina at Pink Shell Resort, the owners also offer a summer camp for junior anglers through the resort.

Recommended for Fishing Charters because: This family-friendly charter, manned by a 5th generation Floridian, offers great success in catching shark, tarpon or whatever is in season.

Gina's expert tip: Docked at the northern end of Fort Myers Beach, stop in the neighboring Pink Shell Resort for a beach cocktail after your excursion.

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Reel FishNSea Charters
Photo courtesy of Reel FishNSea Charters


While this charter has a home base of Rick's Marina, if you are staying on Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel or Captiva, the captain can come to a marina closer to you for pickup. Like many local fishing charters, this one does a great job exploring the back bays, but the deep-sea adventures lead by Captain Kyle are something special. The twin diesel engine, 36-foot Luhrs Open, has plenty of power to get you out into deep waters with speed and ease. The young captain keeps a GPS database to keep track of his offshore sweet spots and well-populated wrecks. This boat also has a small air-conditioned cabin below, if you need a break from the heat. It's comfy and clean, with well-maintained equipment and great service, regardless of your skill level.

Recommended for Fishing Charters because: Whether a deep-sea adventure or fun on the back bays, this well-equipped boat will get you to the fish with speed and in comfort.

Gina's expert tip: This boat also offers scuba trips.

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Fish Miss Hayden/Sanibel Offshore
Photo courtesy of Fish Miss Hayden


Captain Frank is a Florida native and former Marine Sargent who also has commercial fishing experience in Hawaii. His custom-built boat is like no other you'll find in the area; aluminum, unsinkable, like the rescue boats of the US Coast Guard. The 27-foot twin engine craft has lots of power to get you offshore fast. Because the boat is so light, he can also maneuver the inland waters as shallow as 2 ½ feet. Because the boat is versatile, when the weather is rough and other charters cancel, Frank can usually still find a clear spot. He also has a federal license that allows for pelagic and reef fishing. You'll be able to fish for everything from Mahi and blackfin tuna to snook and redfish. There is a hardtop roof for shade and comfy couches underneath when you need a break.

Recommended for Fishing Charters because: Fish one of the fastest, lightest boats in Fort Myers, capable of getting you 50-miles offshore or into a mere 2 ½ feet of water.

Gina's expert tip: This charter boat does not leave from one location but will come to a dock close to you

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Endless Summer Charters
Photo courtesy of Endless Summer Charter


Endless Summer Charters is one of the premier choices for shallow, back bay fishing. Their 25-foot bay boat is one of the largest private charter boats in the area, and it's also available for tarpon fishing and shark fishing, among other exciting adventures. May-July, Captains Bill and Matt set their sites on tarpon. Both men know the waters, where to find the fish and they are patient with kids. Endless Summer also offers combo trips to some of the area's famous islands for shelling and lunch, with some fishing along the way, so everyone in your party is happy. Depart from Port Sanibel Marina for a half-day, full day or night trip.

Recommended for Fishing Charters because: Tarpon fishing is big for Endless Summer and so is their focus on family adventures that include a combo of fishing along with some sightseeing.

Gina's expert tip: The website has an informative calendar of what's biting so you'll know what is in season

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Adventures In Paradise
Photo courtesy of Adventures in Paradise


This Fort Myers charter company offers an array of tours including numerous fishing excursions to suit anglers of all experience levels. Daily backwater fishing trips take patrons out into the usually calm waters surrounding Sanibel, Captiva and Pine Islands, to fish for jack, mackerel, cobia, pompano and spotted sea trout. Experienced private guides are also available for fly-fishing, light tackle fishing, backcountry fishing and tarpon fishing. Adventures In Paradise provides all necessary equipment, bait (usually live shrimp), tackle and licenses. The 23-foot Parker accommodates four fishermen comfortably but can handle up to six. The Miss Paradise pontoon is perfect for families, affordable, with wide open space and plenty of shade.

Recommended for Fishing Charters because: This popular charter company offers backwater fishing cruises for fun and recreation along with private excursions for more experienced anglers.

Gina's expert tip: Children under three are free on the pontoon fishing cruises.

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Meet Gina Birch

Gina carries the rare title of "Native Floridian". Living in Southwest Florida for more than 20 years, she is a well known, award winning radio and TV personality. She also writes for a number...  More About Gina

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