Advice, tips, etc. for Fort Myers, FL area, 1st week of January?

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Gunnar's picture
Advice, tips, etc. for Fort Myers, FL area, 1st week of January?

I've never been to Florida, but it turns out that I will be there for a few days at the beginning of January. Of course I'm planning to fish, but with 2 kids and a wife, and only one car at our disposal, I don't know how much time I'll have. I don't know where in town the place we're staying is, but if all the Florida reports over the years are any indication, it doesn't really matter: every puddle is filled with crazy fish!

My number one wish-list fish for the trip would be a Florida gar, but I don't know for sure that they're around there. Haven't looked it up yet. I'd also love to hook up with a peacock bass if they're around, and all those crazy catfish would be fun as well. And of course the many species of sunfish, cichlids, etc., that we don't have up here. For some reason I've not even thought about the possibility of saltwater fishing until this very moment. For weeks I've just thought of it as a trip to catch a gar. If there's easy saltwater access without needing big gear, I'd like to know about it.

I'm not sure what to take in terms of gear (it can't be very much), so advice would be great. I expect to be able to bring no more than 2 rods/reels, and I'd like one of them to be a fly rod. Any lures in particular that would be useful? State regulations regarding hook types or other restrictions I should know about?

Same for locations, bait sources, great food, etc. Bonus for locations that allow me to fish and the kids to either join me or play nearby.



PS: If you want me to keep any locations or other info secret, just PM me and I promise I'll keep my mouth shut.

rc6750's picture


I don't know much about the Ft Myers area specifically - it is about 120 miles south, but it is very similar to here. I have heard that the fishing is good off of Sanibel if you get a chance to get out there.
There are specific rules for reef fishing, but it sounds like you are going to be be on land so you should be set.  Here are the freshwater regs for taking fish . Pretty much anything you need to know can be found here .
I mostly fish saltwater so I can tell you that you can fish from any beach, jetty, or shore with a light or even ultra light rod and catch something - depending on what you are looking for. I tend to go fishing during my lunch with an ultra light spinning rod and catch everything from pinfish and ladyfish to small snappers. That won't work for anything larger though - you would at least need a medium action.
I see gar pretty often - I haven't landed one yet so I can't say they are Florida gar. Around here they are in most of the lakes and streams I visit.
good luck!
roughfish29's picture
Big Carlos

You might wanna check out Big Carlos Pass. We did good there bottom rigging shrimp. We got Jacks, Sheepshead, and even a little Shark. If I were you I'd try chucking a fatnasty hunk of cutbait out there. Might have a shot at a Shark or big ray. We saw a dude haul in a Ray there that was easily 40 pounds or better.


And good luck!

Jknuth's picture
For beach fishing in the

For beach fishing in the tampa area I had great luck making a small 3 hook rig and baiting it with pieces of squid and shrimp.
When I say small I mean like size 18 hooks. 
I got lots of small bait fish this way. Then I rigged up a circle hook on a 8' floro leader and a small split shot and waded out to my waist then cast out a live bait fish. 

I got Lady fish and jacks on nearly every cast. You can then either keep fishing for them or rig up a chunk of ladyfish or jacks for bigger fish like sharks. 



Gunnar's picture
The hot new game that's

The hot new game that's sweeping the nation: Food Chain! You lose if you play so many rounds and the predators get so much larger that you become the prey.


Redhorse ID cheatsheets, gars, suckers:

2019: 16 days fishing 25 species 7 lifers. 2018: 39/40/5 2017: 49/52/14

Dr Flathead
Dr Flathead's picture
Dont forget to grab some

Dont forget to grab some crawlers.  Little fish like pinfish and pigfish will jump on a crawler all day in the ocean.  Both species are excellent cutbait.  And they sell sabiki rigs at walmart down there.  You can get them in all sorts of sizes.  Once you got good cutbait, wack and chuck.  Look for fishing piers in the area.  Give one a try.  They get you out to deeper water and usually into different species.  Pretty much anywhere in Florida, anywhere where there is water, there is fish.  Man, I love that state..

perkinsdonald's picture
good luck!!!

In the five times ive been down there ive never freshwater fished. My buddy gives me shit for not catching a gar down there. Next time ill try to be more attentive to the fresh water. Ya don't need to change much gear wise. Bring an airator buy some shrimp. Single gold hook with a normal size bobber at night under a light for sea trout. Or day time. Frozen squid works great, but wife will kill you from the smell. Keep that on ice in a Small cooler. Use ice fishing jigs to get your cut bait. go to any bridge and fish underneath it. Might have to do some nightly missions with the wife n all. Bring some 50lb braid if ya find a pier to fish of off. To make leaders for mackerel (gold hook bobber) if ya pay to get on ya don't need a license.



The gods do not subtract the alotted span in men's lives the hours spent in fishing.

Gunnar's picture
Line choices for general saltwater usage

That last post reminded me of a question I had: for general saltwater usage, what's a good line (or two) to have on one of my reels? I generally use braid around here, in the 30 lb range, but does it behave the same in salt, stand up to reefs, shells, coral, etc.? Should I go with something really heavy and just use lighter leaders for smaller fish situations? I'll probably take 2 reels and at least one spare spool for one of them.


Redhorse ID cheatsheets, gars, suckers:

2019: 16 days fishing 25 species 7 lifers. 2018: 39/40/5 2017: 49/52/14

Jknuth's picture
I would use mono or floro

I would use mono or floro leaders. make sure they are long I was using 6-12' leaders and having much better luck with the longer leaders. 
I was using a uni knot. 
My braid ranged from 15 lb up to 80 lb and leader was 15 lb up to 100 lb

I did use my ultralight for parrotfish and that was 6 lb leader and then braid but I was just screwing around.
My favorite ultralite broke in the everglades and I vowed to retire it with a cool saltwater fish. The winner was a rainbow Parrotfish.