Where to Find the Best Fishing in Sanibel Island

Sanibel Island fishing is some of the very best in all of Florida. Avid fishers could spend weeks offshore on a boat. For families and novice fishers as well, fishing provides a great outdoor activity

Everything You Need to Know

man fishing in ocean

Fishing in Sanibel Island at any point in the year is sure to yield a great catch. Year-round species include snook, redfish, sea trout, Spanish mackerel, snappers, and grouper. Spring and summer are best for tarpon, pompano, cobia, and permit. Migratory season in spring and fall brings King mackerel, tripletail, and black drum to Sanibel Island’s waters. Sheepshead are most found during winter and spring.

Sanibel Island Fishing licenses are required for almost all residents and visitors fishing in salt or freshwater. Fortunately, they are easy to purchase at any marina and in many local shops including The Bait Box, Bailey’s Center, Tarpon Bay Recreation, Jensen’s Marina, Adventures in Paradise, Norm Zeigler’s Fly Shop, and Whitney’s Bait and Tackle.

Once you’ve got your license, gather your gear and get fishing! There are several within-a-few-miles of shore fishing spots in Sanibel Island where you will almost certainly have a great catch. 

Tarpon Bay, which is the Recreation Area of J.N. “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge is always promising. Also try the Sanibel Fishing Pier, located bayside of the Sanibel Lighthouse. For further guidance from local experts, you might consider a fishing charter, which will take you to all the best-kept local secrets.

Offshore Fishing in Sanibel Island

boy fishing off boat

The waters off Sanibel Island’s coast provide some of the best deep sea and offshore fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as incredible wildlife in the reefs. Waters up to 9 miles from the beach are considered state waters while anything beyond that is designated as federal waters, something to consider as you purchase fishing licenses. 

In state waters, which are always within sight of land, you’ll find the most fishing activity. Common species in these waters include the tarpon, snook, redfish, snapper, tripletail, Florida pompano, grunts, and smaller grouper. 

Farther offshore, in federal waters, deep waters provide the best Grouper fishing in all of Florida. You’ll find the Gag Grouper, Red Grouper, Black Grouper, and Scamp Group. Other deep-sea species that would make a handsome catch include Yellowtail Snapper, Red Snapper, Lane Snapper, Mangrove Snapper, Hogfish, Permit, African Pompano, Porgy’s and Cobia. 

By venturing into deeper waters, you’re also likely to encounter larger pelagic species like the Goliath Grouper, Amberjack, King Mackerel, and different species of shark. 

For the best offshore fishing, consider booking a private charter with Gulf Coast Marine Excursions. Native fishing guides will take you in and around the waters of Sanibel Island, Fort Myers Beach, Captiva Island, and Cape Coral, with thousands of acres of water to fish. Charters include a fishing license, bait and tackle, cleaning of your catch, and cooler and ice. Rates are for up to four passengers and cost $450 for 4 hours, $550 for 5 hours, and $650 for 6 hours. Call 239-240-1128 to make a reservation.

If you’re interested in staying closer to shore, consider Sanibel Custom Charters, which offers year-round, family-friendly private charters for up to 6 passengers. Select from 4, 6, or 8-hour charters. Customize your trip to create your own perfect day! Inshore Fishing Sanibel charters will take you to Sanibel, Captiva, and Pine Island sound where you will fish the warm, shallow mangrove waters and grass flats of the backcountry. It’s not uncommon to catch 10 species on a single 4-hour charter! Call 239-579-0371 to book.

view from a fishing boat

Adventures in Paradise also offers customizable, private inshore fishing charters that accommodate a maximum of 6 passengers. All fishing equipment, bait, tackle, and license are provided, and you’re likely to reel in tarpon, snook, trout, redfish, grouper, snapper, and/or shark. Captain Noah’s fishing charters are certain to show you a good time! A 4-hour trip costs $400, with $100 extra for each additional hour. Book your spot online. 

Fishing Without a Boat

If you’re on a budget or afraid of getting seasick, not to worry! You can fish without ever leaving the shore. There are many great Sanibel Island public beaches where you can fish. One great spot is located mid island at the south end of Tarpon Bay Road at West Gulf Drive where you will find convenient parking.

Consider making Sanibel Island your permanent fishing grounds by investing in VIP realty

Plan Your Next Visit

With picture-perfect Sanibel Island weather, tranquil atmosphere, and endless natural beauty, it is a place you won’t regret calling home!