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Fishing in Southwest Florida's insider take:

The Gulf of Mexico's warm, shallow waters and protected estuaries make southwest Florida an angler's paradise. The sheltered Ten Thousand Islands are a favorite spot for backwater fishing and saltwater fly-fishing, especially for snook and tarpon. From Chokoloskee, an end-of-the-road hamlet surrounded by Everglades National Park, Capt. Charles Wright offers trips in either powerboats or sea kayaks (239-695-9107; Capt. Michael Van Jones of Fins-N-Grins (239-784-2442; in the Marco Island fishing village of Goodland will hook you up with redfish, sea trout, snapper, and even sharks. The Naples-based 45-foot Lady Brett (239-263-4949; and the 43-foot Sea Quest (239-765-7665;, based in Fort Myers Beach, offer deep-sea charters in search of the big stuff, like goliath grouper, barracuda, and king mackerel. Farther north, Captiva-based guides Jim and Jimmy Burnsed lead private fishing trips, from two-hour jaunts to all-day backwater excursions (239-472-1779;, that can also include shelling and snorkeling. It's also possible to wet a line from dry land: Naples Pier and Sanibel's Fish Pier are hot spots for catching pompano and Spanish mackerel. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (888-347-4356; requires a recreational saltwater fishing license for non-Florida residents over 16 years old unless you're fishing from a licensed charter boat.

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