Calusa Blueway

By: Mike Hammond

Jug Creek, located in Bokeelia on the northern tip of Pine Island, is well known to local anglers and paddlers. It has miles of protection from the wind and quick access to some of the fishiest waters in Southwest Florida.  We wrote about launching from Knights Landing and paddling this area in the April 2023 Coastal Angler. We decided to revisit the area after stopping by Jug Creek Marina.

Jug Creek Marina is across the canal from Knights Landing. Both sites allow paddlers to launch for a small fee, have bathrooms on-site, and are across the creek from Shell Cut. There are a few differences that may determine where you launch.

Knights Landing has Carmen’s Kayaks on site for rentals and tours. If you or a member of your party do not have their own boat, you will likely launch from here.

Jug Creek Marina also serves as a fish house that offers local and fresh seafood.  There is a ship store to buy snacks, drinks, sunblock, fishing tackle, etc. When I saw all the ice cream options, I immediately thought how much my “dad stock” would be raised if I incorporated this into a paddle with my wife and kids.

Many paddlers head straight out Shell Cut and turn right along Calusa Island.  Calusa Island is owned and managed by the Calusa Land Trust (CLT).  With the help of Carmen’s Kayaks and volunteers, the CLT did a great job removing debris from the beaches that line the northern side of the island.  If you’re with someone who can’t sit long in a kayak, this is a great spot for them to wade fish or relax on the beach while you fish the flats.

A quick peek on the map will show you miles of mangroves, shallow flats, and small inlets to the east or west of the launches.  You can spend a lot of time exploring and fishing the area without paddling very far.  Use caution and be aware that powerboats can resume speed about 1,600 feet east on Jug Creek. There is a blind curve that boats take on plane, so be sure to stay safely out of the channel.

One of many paddlers’ favorite part of this area is Bokeelia’s most popular resident dolphin, Uno.  This dolphin was named by locals and will often greet paddlers when the tide is right.  I’ve had her swim next to me from Shell Cut to the Jug Creek Marina.  Although she may get very close to you, please do not attempt to pet or feed her. It is against federal law to feed or harass wild dolphins.

Bokeelia can be a long drive for some, but it is well worth it for kayak anglers and recreational paddlers.  Lots of fishy water, isolated beaches, ice cream, and a curious dolphin.  That is a hard day to beat.