by Mike Hammond
One of the many things about the Calusa Blueway that I love is the variety of access and easy, convenient launches with great facilities. They are perfect when I am with the whole family. Sometimes if you are willing to take a little hike and maybe get temporarily rerouted as you walk through mangroves, then the reward is access to water and fish that people rarely get to see. One of these launches is Annie’s Creek in Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park, which is just northwest of Cape Coral.
The Calusa Blueway sign is posted on a kiosk along Old Burnt Store Marina Road just north of Annie’s Creek, but I prefer to access the preserve about 200 yards south at Gate 8. The northern gate leads to a small opening in the mangroves just 450 feet away. The creek is very narrow and windy here, making it difficult for longer paddlecraft to navigate. On a low tide, there is almost no water. At Gate 8 you will have a quarter-mile walk to the primitive launch, but it is much easier to paddle once you hit the water.
You can remain back in the mangrove maze or head out to Charlotte Harbor. There are plenty of snook, snapper and other fish in Annie’s Creek and it is protected from the wind and powerboats. A favorite fishing spot for many anglers called “the bar” is just a few hundred yards from the mouth of the creek. It is well worth the effort if the conditions are right.
Anglers using pedal craft will have to wait to lower their fins until getting out to deeper water. Even on a high tide, the creek has shallow areas. A cart is a must-have to get heavy sit-on tops to the launch.
If you are willing to put in a little work and have a sense of adventure, the Annie’s Creek launches can put you on fish that may not have seen another angler in weeks.