Nestled in the southern portion of Lee county, a short 15 minute drive from the Sanibel causeway lies a true environmental gem called Estero Bay that boasts large tracts of untouched mangrove coastline riddled with oyster bars and small mangrove islands. In 1966 Estero Bay was appointed the states first aquatic preserve and because of those actions the bay or rather “lagoon” as it more resembles provides the opportunity to fish and sight see a multitude of wild Florida ecosystems. The bay has freshwater creeks and rivers along its eastern shoreline that are the life blood of the bay discharging nutrients and providing refuge for bait fish and fry. Anglers of all walks and ranks will find quality fishing whether it be a novice looking for quantity it species and non stop action all the way to our more advanced anglers that are looking to catch a true trophy fish whether it be over 20lb snook, large redfish sometimes into the upper 30 inch range along with juvenile tarpon fishing a solid 9 months of the year.
The extensive coastline range provides for incredible beauty and plethora of opportunities to view wildlife, especially birding! As a life long native to Lee county I have been blessed to grow up here fishing and exploring all that our area has to offer. In the center of the bay, towering above the treeline is Mound Key, home to the capitol of the great Calusa empire it makes for a wonderful lunch time break to explore some history and add to the adventure.
Guests with Capt. Codty will be treated to the safest and well informed experience on Estero Bay and Fort Myers Beach. Anglers of all backgrounds can find great inshore fishing action year around but some seasons have their specialties in which I will briefly describe, however, the best updates can always be found by picking up the phone and calling me on 239-200-5098. I take pride in being dependable and instructional.
While other species still abound, spring time (March-May) in Estero bay normally brings a local favorite species; TARPON. With spring and the arrival of the white sulfur butterflies along our beaches is the native indication that the great tarpon migration is beginning! The beachside nearshore area from Wiggins pass northward to Matanazas pass is a great area to target tarpon in pods as they are making their pilgrimage northward to Boca Grande to spawn. You can find more info on Boca Grande and tarpon fishing on my Tarpon Lodge page.
During the heart of summer (June-Sept) in Southwest Florida fashion is rainy season, the bay right on schedule will turn a dark tannic color similar to tea. This tea stained water is a product of the tannic acids released into the water from decaying plant material that is in the tributaries that feed the eastern shores of Estero bay and they would be cow pen creek in the north, Hendry creek in the NE, Mullock creek which naturally drained 6 mile cypress slough, Estero river, clear creek and imperial river. This time of year in the dark water snook fishing, redfish and juvenile tarpon are the main species we target and encounter on a multitude of techniques such as live bait fishing, artificial lures and fly fishing. To battle the routine afternoon thunderstorms we try to fish very early in the morning until afternoon and or fish the evenings into sunset, this time of year will yield some incredible memories as all the cold blooded animals are at their peak performance in the warm water temperatures! Explosive snook fishing on live bait and top water plugs along with acrobatic tarpon in the 5-50lb range are the name of the game. Tailing redfish show up on the correct tide increments but can also be targeted with other measures throughout the diurnal period.
The fall (October into December until first major cold front) pattern in SWFL is one for the activity yearning angler. Bait schools and density are at the highest levels of the year after the long warm period for baitfish to grow and mature on all the micro nutrients so we tend to see great action both on the inshore front for snook, redfish and trout as well as Tarpon remnants from post migration that can be encountered nearshore working big schools of blood minnows and threadfin herrings. The slightly cooler air temp and shorter photo periods trigger the movements in many species of fish including prized triple tail that gather along buoys off the beach and big schools of mackerels both Spanish and kingfish mackerels.
The winter season (first cold front of the year to February) in Estero Bay is entirely weather dependent on the many weather changes including cold fronts that take place during this time period. The colder weather and water temperatures changes the ecology of the bay and slows down the feeding and movements of many species, this time of the year will have mostly clear water conditions which lend some key aspects to “sight fishing” which can be the most exciting being able to stalk and visually feed fish is so exciting regardless of choice in tackle. Big snook can and are still caught each winter on the warm ups and provide excellent prey for us to target with fly rods and light tackle spinning gear. Redfishing is still incredibly good with a big change in diet that compliments the increase of crustaceans as the main food source. Sheepshead this time of year are a delightful as they flock into the backcountry in search of food before their spring time spawning needs. Speckled sea trout are in the bay and are caught with some consistency but the species above mentioned are our bread and butter.
Estero bay is very lucky to have Lovers key state park boat ramp as a departure option and it is one I recommend almost all the time, as it allows prime access into the heart of the bay with the chance to reach almost every attribute of the bay. Parking is free here and there is a small kiosk with the option to donate a couple dollars this is very much appreciated and helps ensure public access to our resources for all!
In the event you need pickup from your resort or hotel destination that can usually be arranged with the captain. Please note most of the resorts and hotels are inside the idle speed zoning of Matanzas pass and normally add 15-30 minutes or more of idle speed to our day.
We try to utilize more accommodating access points like Lovers Key or Mullock creek marina to maximize your fishing time on the water. Flats skiff trips can sometimes be launched from the Estero river Koreshan park or Imperial River park boat ramp for those wishing to target large river snook and juvenile tarpon.
Being a full time guide with a lifetime of experience in lee county Estero bay is one of the most beautiful estuarine habitats our Lee island coast has to offer, it is wonderful to have solitude when you wish it, and the beautiful beaches within a short boat ride.
Please check out my other departure locations for descriptions and seasonal attributes and as always phone call inquires are always welcome and suggested for a up to date report and accomodations.