Paddling Marinatown

by Mike Hammond

Often overlooked by tourists, North Fort Myers has some great launches for access to the water. The Marinatown Bait Shop is a launch site all paddle anglers should have on their list.

The shop has a floating dock, live wells, a full line of gear, kayak and SUP rentals, snacks, beverages and is open 24-hours-a-day. That’s right, the shop does not close. The owner appreciates that many anglers like to fish at night and will open whenever customers ring the bell. The launch fee is $5 per vessel.

It is only about a one-mile paddle from the launch to the U.S. 41 bridge where black drum, shark, tarpon and many other species can be caught. It can get pretty rough out there on windy days, though. For anglers looking for more protected water, heading north out of the marina will provide miles of fishing in Yellow Fever Creek and Hancock Creek. There are also residential canals to duck into along the way where redfish, snook and snapper are often caught. We concentrated our efforts around the mangroves and old pilings near the mouth of the creeks and did well.

After your paddle, there are multiple paddler/angler friendly Tiki-style restaurants just steps from the launch. It was fun recapping our trip over some nachos by the water.

If you are looking for a launch that has everything you need in one location for a great day on the water, give the Marinatown Bait Shop a try. You will be glad you did.

For more ideas, visit