by Mike Hammond
Tarpon Point Marina in Cape Coral is a paddle launch site that has great facilities, a ship store, plenty of parking and easy access to water with an abundance of fish. If you haven’t launched from here yet, I highly recommend giving it a try as it appears to be overlooked by many paddlers. When you arrive at Tarpon Point, turn right at Pinchers Crab Shack and follow the signs to the marina. Check into the ship’s store/harbormaster’s office and they will let you know where to park. There is a small fee to launch. You can also pick up snacks, drinks, bait or rent kayaks and SUPs if needed. I was able to park near their floating paddle craft launch. The launch does not have a ramp. Paddlers with heavy fishing rigs may need assistance getting their boat down on a low tide.
Immediately outside of the marina is Glover Bight. This area is a Slow Speed Zone, but paddlers should exercise caution because of heavy boat traffic. Many paddlers head east and follow a continually narrowing mangrove tunnel until they have to turn around. This is about a one and a half mile paddle after returning to the marina. A half mile west of the marina is the entrance to Jewfish Creek. The creek is named for a species of grouper that is today called goliath grouper. There are many twists and turns on the creek, but it is open and easy to navigate. I admit that I was paying more attention to the birds and fish and got turned around a couple times. It was easy to get back on track though. There are a few branches of the creek that lead to small lakes. When entering one of these, I spooked baitfish to the edges. The water under the mangroves came alive, as snook ambushed the frightened baitfish. This continued as I paddled across the lake and considered going back to the ship’s store to rent fishing gear. In addition to the snook, I saw several nice-sized redfish in the creek.
In a little under a mile, you can access the Caloosahatchee River or turn northwest and explore more of the creek and small lakes. Because of windy conditions, I remained in the protection of the creek and returned the way I came (more or less). After your paddle, there are a few boater-friendly dining options in Tarpon Point. Pinchers Crab Shack has outdoor seating adjacent to the marina. Tarpon Point has great facilities, easy access and protected water with a lot of fish. This is a spot all paddlers should consider. I hope to return to that hidden lake, with fishing gear, before this article comes out.