The emerald green and shimmering blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico provide some of the best Deep Sea/Offshore fishing off the islands of Sanibel Island and Captiva Island. The Gulf of Mexico is a shallow body of water allowing anglers to be 20 to 30 miles offshore and be in only 50 to 75 feet of water. There are no coral reefs, but numerous artificial reefs and ship wrecks offer great fishing and diving.
The Gulf of Mexico offshore of Sanibel Island and Captiva can be divided into two separate categories, they are State and Federal waters. The emerald green waters out to nine miles from the beach are known as State waters, while the clean shimmering blue ocean stretching from nine miles and beyond is designated United States federal waters.
State waters, always within sight of land, are where most of the fishing activity occurs and these waters share species typical of our Inshore waters; Tarpon, Snook, Redfish, Snapper, Shark, Tripletail, Florida Pompano, Grunts and smaller Grouper are common catches.
In the wilderness of deeper blue water out of sight of land, the true “Offshore” or Deep Sea environment features the best Grouper fishing in the state of Florida. Deep Sea fishermen are typically focused on species of fish that make good table fare, and offshore of Sanibel and Captiva this list is long; Gag Grouper, Red Grouper, Black Grouper, Scamp Grouper, Yellowtail Snapper, Red Snapper, Lane Snapper, Mangrove Snapper, Hogfish, Permit, African Pompano, Porgy’s and Cobia are typical catches year round.
Offshore fishermen also typically encounter larger pelagic species such as the massive Goliath Grouper, Amberjack, King Mackerel, and various species of Shark. Offshore fishing guides must be licensed with a restricted access federal permit to fish waters beyond nine miles from the beach, but strict and effective management measures have allowed our waters to remain a vibrant resource for generations of fishermen.
Sanibel Island fishing charters are available with local professional guides. Check out: leegov.com/naturalresources/marine/ArtificialReefs for reef and wreck locations.