by Dan Carns
If you are new to SWFL or just looking for a place to start kayak fishing, let me introduce you to Gulf Coast Kayak in beautiful and bountiful Matlacha, Florida! Over the years we have outgrown our little outside palapa office at the docks in town and have become the premier outfitter for this area. We are conveniently located just before the bridge in Matlacha and have a beach front launch with a retail store, as well as a host of guides and multiple rental programs to fit almost everyone’s needs. If all you need is a place to launch your own kayak into “paradise” or you have a party of fifteen and they all need to rent, we’ve got you covered. The Eco guided trips we offer are led by Florida Master Naturalists and are ACA Certified Kayak/SUP instructors.
Our kayak fishing instructors are not just guides, but are dedicated to teaching our customers the when, where, and how that is so important to understanding this fishery. As a visitor many years ago I was struggling to get a handle on the particulars that define fishing in SWFL and though I would have eventually found my way, it was only after hiring a local guide that my catching really escalated. While catching fish is the mission, we will focus our trips on an individual’s desire to learn certain aspects, including when and where to present live bait and how best to hook it. If you are trying to learn more about artificial lures, which are the most productive, how to present the cadence that is so important and what colors work best and when. This is an angler’s paradise as there are so many kinds of fish and various kinds of fishy water that it can be hard to zero in on where to go. Seasonally, we have certain species that are more prevalent during the “winter” verses spring, summer or fall. All the big predators like Snook, Redfish, Tarpon and the tasty Spotted Sea Trout can be found here year round, as well as a number of other species, but will require focused effort to find and hook! Most of you who are already kayak fishing know that as a kayaker you need to be able to catch fish relatively close to launch, although the new peddle driven crafts may allow you to go farther in less time. The boating channels that serve Matlacha are virtual highways for fish and allow them easy access to bait. Gulf Coast Kayak’s launch is so well-suited to fishing that within one mile of our beachfront you can chase snook around dock structures, find tailing redfish in a foot of water or relax on a trout flat that could keep you busy all morning long.