Naples, Florida is home to some of the most pristine estuaries and back water fishing Florida has to offer. Whether you are targeting snook, redfish, spotted seatrout or tarpon (or all four) the back waters of Naples is a fisherman’s paradise. At any given time of the year you can find skiffs poling around the mangrove islands, or kayak anglers silently gliding over the grass beds in search of a grand slam; catching one of each species. But what makes this area in southwest Florida home to some of the best backwater fishing in the state? And with thousands of miles of shoreline, elaborate network of bays, acres and acres of seagrass beds and a countless number of oyster bars, how does one go about finding fish and what to use to entice a bite?
Most of this remote and undeveloped area is protected by state and/or federal law in order to preserve this unique area. The water quality is some of the best, and the mangrove islands, bays, oyster bars, and seagrass beds are home to a number of birds, fish and other wildlife. A popular area to fish and explore is within the Ten Thousand Island National Wildlife Refuge. Here you can enjoy amazing fishing as well as beautiful scenery. You will also encounter an abundance of wildlife including manatees, dolphins and sea turtles while in search of that grand slam. There are many other fish that you may encounter as well such as Crevalle Jacks, Ladyfish, Mangrove Snapper, Sheepshead and many more. Regardless of your target, the odds of catching fish are high.
When targeting redfish, seatrout or snook, there are a variety of different ways to go about trying to entice a bite. Live bait as well as cut baits work well, but you may also want to try artificial lures to cut back on the amount of by-catch you may encounter. Spoons, topwater plugs and jigs are great ways to target these fish. Try fishing along the Mangrove lined shorelines or along oyster bars. The vast seagrass beds are home to all species and provide food and shelter for younger fish. For an experience of a lifetime, fly fish for Tarpon! Their explosiveness and aerial acrobatics are sure to get that adrenaline pumping every time.
It is important to note that when exploring these backwater labyrinths to carry plenty of fresh drinking water as potable water is scarce. Also, have a plan. Map out your trip and stick to it. It is very easy to get lost within the maze of waterways and it all looks the same when it is time to find your way out. A GPS of some sort is always a good idea to have on hand to track your route and takes all the guess work out when it is time to head back in. Last but not least, leave a float plan. Be sure to tell someone where you are going, what you are doing and when you plan on being back. Hiring a local guide that knows the area is a great way to ensure a fun and successful day out on the water. They not only have the expertise when it comes to locating and catching fish, but can also get you home safely.