Kayak Fishing Captiva: Old Florida Charm/World Class Fishing

Earlier this summer, the Lee County Visitor Bureau invited Hobie Kayaks and several of the country’s leading outdoor writers to experience the stellar kayak fishing that southwest Florida’s Sanibel and Captiva area has to offer. While I have spent an endless amount of time chasing redfish and snook along the area’s Calusa Blueways, I have only spent a minimal portion of that on the islands of Sanibel and Captiva. This trip was a great reminder that I need to get to the other side of Pine Island Sound more often.

JD found a bunch of redfish buried in the trees.
JD found a bunch of redfish buried in the trees.

Lee County is on the southwest coast of Florida, a couple hours south of Tampa. For those not familiar with the area, it’s worth checking out. The fishing is world class, and the amazing laid-back island surroundings make for a great vacation destination.

We had the great fortune of being lodged in a couple of amazing yet quite different resorts. The Hobie headquarters was Captiva Charm, an exquisite rental property nestled on the sound. This compound had everything a large family or group needs to make sure everyone stays busy as well as comfortable, including being able to catch fish right off the back dock. The guest writers enjoyed staying at the Captiva Inn (www.captivaislandinn.com?), a quaint bed and breakfast located in the heart of Old Captiva. The inn’s location on Andy Rosse Lane puts it only a few steps from local favorites like the Mucky Duck, Key Lime Bistro and RC Otters, while the gulf and bay are only a stone’s throw away in either direction. Art galleries and an old-time general store make sure there is plenty to do for those who decide not to take advantage of the amazing fishery.

While there are plenty of activities on the island, our main objective was to enjoy the wonderful fishery. We mainly fished out of Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge, which provided access to endless miles of fishy water. My advice, if you plan to make the trip, is to contact the Lee County Department of Recreation (www.leeparks.org/blueway/) and request a map of the Calusa Blueways. This free map will provide you with the location of all of the launches in the area, as well as the best routes to the areas you want to target to fish.

Jerry McBride with a healthy Captiva snook.
Jerry McBride with a healthy Captiva snook.

During our stay, Mother Nature did us no favors as the wind blew at 15 to 25 mph every day we were there, making it a challenge to find fishable areas where we would not get blown away. With countless islands, it was fairly easy to find lee sides that knocked the wind down and made it manageable to effectively work our artificial lures into the nooks and crannies of the islands. There was plenty of small bait in the sound, and this made my choice of baits easy.

I chose to mainly fish the Heddon Spook Jr., working it deep into the mangrove depressions, which allowed me to catch a nice array of redfish, snook and sea trout. My buddy and kayak fishing guru, Jerry McBride, had a lot of success working a variety of Egret baits including the suspending Kick It Mullet and Wedgetail soft plastics rigged weedless to avoid hanging up in the lush grass of the sound.

It had been a while since I kayaked Captiva. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed the old Florida charm and the excellent fishing that the other side of Pine Island Sound has to offer. I can’t wait to plan my return visit.

Pedal On!

Don't forget your camera.  The wildlife is spectacular.
Don’t forget your camera. The wildlife is spectacular.


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