It’s amazing how lost you can get just a short boat ride from Naples, finding yourself in the midst of one of the wildest places in the world. Naples may be known for five-star hospitality and opulence, but another great part of a visit here is found on its waters.
Only here can anglers pursue inshore game fish species like snook, tarpon, trout and redfish on one day, and land a few deep-sea treasures such as grouper, snapper and permit the next. Naples is ideally situated between the clean, clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the tannin-stained inshore maze of the Ten Thousand Islands.
Only a handful of captains and guides in the world are qualified to navigate the labyrinth of this diverse ecosystem, and Naples is home to most of them. Here live more fishing-tournament champions than almost any other Florida locale. These charter captains offer hard-core offshore treks and easy family-friendly jaunts on the backwater.
The inshore waters south of Naples have some of the best snook fishing, in which anglers pursue one of Florida’s greatest game fish year-round. Amid the contrast of bright green mangrove shorelines and dark tidal waters, fly anglers fishing from small technical poling skiffs can sight-fish snook as they lie in ambush awaiting prey, while lure and bait anglers can fish from larger bay boats, casting toward mangroves where snook are prevalent.
Tarpon, also known as the silver king, also populate the area year-round, with smaller resident fish living in creeks and rivers, while larger migratory tarpon inhabit open bays and passes. Nothing thrills angers like giant silver fish leaping from the calm backwaters. While most visiting anglers choose to pursue tarpon with live bait or lures, some seek the greater challenge of landing a tarpon with a fly rod.
A delicious benefit of charter fishing in Naples is the number of flavorful fish available to catch, including plentiful redfish. Redfish are the working man’s trophy fish. A huge fisheries management success story for Florida, redfish numbers have increased greatly over the past three years. These bronze battlers inhabit backwaters for great sport on any tackle. Redfish activity peaks in the fall when cooler temperatures spark schooling activity.
Anglers looking for nonstop action and great table fare may choose to charter an offshore captain. Two of the most targeted fish for offshore charters are snapper and grouper. Naples offshore charter customers catch these fish anchoring near wrecks, reefs and ledges.
One of Naples’ best-kept offshore secrets is the phenomenal permit fishery that exists during the spring, summer and fall months. Permit are one of the most highly prized game fish, most often known for frustrating shallow-water anglers and much easier to catch over Gulf wrecks.
Anglers won’t soon forget a hard-fought battle with a permit in excess of 30 pounds, or the numerous other indelible memories from a day on this water. Regardless of skill level or dedication to fishing, charter fishing from beautiful Naples has something to offer everyone, any time of year.
Kevin Merritt is an Orvis-endorsed backcountry fly-fishing guide, USCG Master Licensed captain and noted national speaker on fishing. A four-time Inshore Tournament of Champions qualifying guide, Capt. Kevin is credited with two IGFA world-record catches on fly tackle. When not guiding anglers, he can be found plying the world’s waters in search of extraordinary fishing destinations.