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The Ultimate Guide to Fishing in Naples

The city of Naples is a tropical gem nestled into the soft sugar sand shores of Florida’s Gulf Coast that attract visitors and prospective residents year-round. You won’t find a more amazing accumulation of restaurants, attractions, and natural wonders to enjoy.

the naples pier in florida

Between the Naples Botanical Garden, the Naples Zoo, and all of the incredible places to eat, it’s not hard to see why people flock here in droves.

As a local, however, these things can get a bit old after a while, but one activity in Naples that absolutely never fails to instill the same rush of excitement and sense of wonder in me is fishing.

If you’re planning a trip to Naples, Florida, then fishing should be high up on your priority list. If you don’t know where to start, though, then all you have to do is keep on reading. This guide has all the local knowledge you need to get started catching the big ones.

 

What Kind Of Fish Can You Expect To Catch In Naples?

Let’s start off with learning about what fish there are to catch down here in Naples, and that’s no short list.

Man saltwater Flyfishing With A Guide

If variety is the spice of life, then Naples fishing is on fire because there’s no limit to the fish species swimming in these beautiful waters.

Snook

First up is the famous linesider, also known as snook. These are some of the most highly-coveted gamefish in Florida, and Naples is a total hotbed for them.

snook chasing a lure

There are very few fish that will take your line in such a way that immediately identifies themself. You just know when you’ve hooked a snook.

They’re powerful, fast, and they love to jump out of the water and try to throw your hook, so I always opt for a circle hook when it comes to these bad boys.

These fish aren’t hard to come across in Naples if you know where to look and have the right bait, so grab yourself some shrimp or pinfish and get after them! They love the back bay mangroves and seagrass flats.

Redfish

The next fish you can go after down here in Naples is the redfish, less commonly referred to as a red drum. The redfish is sought after because of both its natural beauty, and delicious meat.

redfish in a cooler

Redfish put up quite a fight, but once you tire them out and reel them in, they’re extremely docile.

Always be on the lookout for a signs of redfish feeding on the seafloor in shallow waters. Their tail will often stick up out of the water ina behavior known as “tailing”. If you ever come across this magnificent sight, be sure to cast on them with a good lure!

 

Tarpon

They don’t call tarpon the silver king for no reason. This fish is true royalty when it comes to Florida inshore fishing, and only the worthiest of anglers will get to see one of these beasts close up.

tarpon swimming near school of fish

Come prepared when on the hunt for the might poon. Live ladyfish are like candy to them and your best bet at coming face-to-face with one of these giants is going to be at night, most likely near bridge pilings.

If you manage to hook one, get ready for a show. Just pray that your reel has enough line and drag to slow one of these mighty monsters down as they leap into the air.

 

Trout

The spotted sea trout is another great gamefish that you can fish for down here in Naples. They’re quite fun to catch and undoubtedly delicious when you cook them up.

person holding speckled trout

Trout like crabs and pinfish, so toss a few of those in your bait bucket, but they’ll definitely chow down on a shrimp on occasion. You can find them almost anywhere in Naples, but I’ve always had the best luck in grass flats.

These are always a great fish to catch that you might encounter even if you’re not fishing for them specifically. They’re also closely related to weakfish.

Permit

Permit fishing in Naples is a must-try activity while you’re here. These bony fish aren’t my favorite to eat, but few other fish fight quite like them. Of course, you can eat them if you want, provided they’re in season.

Can You Eat Permit Fish? 

Permit are basically pure power. Once you’ve hooked a permit, you’re in for at least a 15-minute fight, depending on the size of the fish. They can get pretty big, too.

Many people often mistake permit for pompano fish, and they are very similar-looking, but they are not the same animal. They are both fun to catch, though!

Snapper

Snapper are easily one of my favorite fish to catch⸺not because of the fight, but because they are unbelievably tasty. Not to mention, there are so many different kinds to come across.

2 mangrove snapper

Mangrove snapper, gray snapper, mango snapper, cubera snapper, and many more await you in the bountiful waterways of Naples, and they’re not even that difficult to catch!

One thing to make sure of, however, is that whatever snapper you plan on keeping are in season and of regulation size. Other than that, just grab some shrimp or cut bait and have at them!

 

Grouper

Grouper is another one of the many delicacies swimming around in the Gulf of Mexico and all around Naples. These are prized fish that come in many varieties, each more delicious than the last.

goliath grouper

Gag grouper, red grouper, and black grouper are just a few kinds that you can catch in the waters around Naples.

Of course, if you really want to test your strength, you can go after a goliath grouper which can weigh up to 800 pounds! They are environmentally protected, though, so don’t plan on taking one home with you.

 

Mahi Mahi

Mahi-Mahi, or el dorado, are another amazing gamefish that you can catch down here and, if you ask me, this one is by far the most beautiful to look at. Pictures just don’t do them justice.

Mahi Mahi

They are some of the fastest fish in the ocean, though, so you may only get a quick glance unless you’ve got the right bait.

These fish aren’t normally seen anywhere too close to shore, either, so you’ll need access to a boat or, at the very least, a fishing charter. They’re extremely worth it, trust me!

 

Cobia

Cobia are one of my favorite fish to catch thanks to their delicious meat. You can generally find them near structures like docks, piers, and inlets coming from open water.

cobia

What’s particularly interesting about cobia is that many people often mistake them for sharks when looking down on them from above. They also get quite large (up to 100 pounds), so the confusion is understandable.

You’ll have the best luck fishing for cobia towards the end of April and into June, so plan your next fishing trip accordingly, and don’t forget to bring the right bait!

 

Mackerel

The next fish you can catch around Naples is a mackerel. Mackerel are slender, long fish that come in many different types, some better eating than others.

man holding king mackerel on a boat

Personally, I prefer to just use smaller mackerel for bait, but you definitely can eat them if you want. Mackerel are an oily fish, so they serve particularly well as shark bait because the smell will attract them from far away.

King mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cero mackerel bite pretty much year-round down here in Naples, so there’s never a bad time to go after them.

 

Sharks

Now, I know these aren’t technically fish, but shark fishing in Naples is always a complete blast of fun. Not only is it incredibly easy to hook up to a shark, but there are so many different kinds that you’ll find around this area.

fishmerman with a sand shark on the beach

Nighttime shark fishing has always been one of my favorite ways to spend a Saturday evening with a few friends. All you need is a medium-sized saltwater catfish or mullet, steel leader, a decent-sized hook, a reel with a couple hundred yards of line, and patience.

Just toss your bait out around sunset and wait for that drag to start screaming. It’ll most likely be a fearsome bull shark, but people have been known to catch hammerhead sharks, tiger sharks, and nurse sharks as well.

 

Tuna

Tuna is easily my favorite fish to eat, and the fact that you can catch it offshore near Naples is just part of the reason I love southwest Florida so much.

bluefin tuna

All that stands between you and some of the freshest tuna you’ve ever had is a few miles of water. You’re definitely going to need a boat or a charter guide for this one, but it is oh so worth it.

You’ll find both bluefin and yellowfin tuna throughout the warm waters of the Gulf, so it just comes down to luck and the skill of your guide to determine which one you reel in. They’re quite a fight, too!

 

Billfish

Billfish is a broad term that encompasses swordfish, all types of marlin, and sailfish. These are all prized fish that people come from all around the globe to catch here.

marlin jumping out of the water

Billfish are extraordinarily gorgeous to look at, and awe-inspiringly strong, so catching them is no small feat. In fact, blue marlin and black marlin can grow over 1000 pounds!

Unless you’re a serious angler, you’re going to need professional help going after these beauties. Just the rod and reel alone would cost you a couple thousand dollars, so it’s always best to book a charter that specifically targets billfish.

 

How Can I Go Fishing In Naples? 

You Could Go Pier Fishing

When it comes to pier fishing in Naples, you’ve got two great options: the famous Naples Pier and the Naples City Dock. Both of these locations are fantastic for catching snook, redfish, trout, and all sorts of other fish.

The Naples Pier is located right on Naples Beach and extends 1000 feet into the Gulf, providing excellent access for anglers.

The Naples City Dock is located on the other side of Naples, situated in Naples Bay. This is one of the most fun places to visit in Naples, so if you’re in the area, I highly recommend stopping by.

There Is Always Surf Fishing

Surf fishing is highly popular in Naples thanks to the miles and miles of pristine shoreline.

There’s no limit to the fish you can catch right by the shore. Depending on the time of year, you can see snook, snapper, redfish, and even tarpon.

My best advice for surf fishing in Naples is to check out any of the beach inlets like Clam Pass, Doctors Pass, and Gordon’s Pass if you can get to Keewaydin Island.

Of course, you can always just head down to Naples Beach and cast a line out as well.

Why Not Try Kayak Fishing?

Fishing from a kayak is a bit more challenging than fishing on a boat or from shore, but it is absolutely exhilarating, especially if you hook a fish big enough to pull your kayak around.

Kayak fishing in Naples is great because you can access the back bays and mangrove forests where even boats can’t go.

I love kayak fishing because even if I don’t catch anything, it’s still one of the best ways to experience Florida’s natural beauty in an up-close way that no other method can provide. You never know what you might see!

What About Charter Fishing?

If you really want to just relax and catch fish, maybe have a few drinks too, then booking a fishing charter is really the way to go. I’ll admit, sometimes it’s nice not to have to worry about a thing and let the pros take care of you.

The many charters and guides around Naples provide unforgettable fishing experiences that are worth every penny.

These experienced captains can take you right to the fish you want to catch and know exactly what to do to get you hooked up. Just tell them what you want to catch and let them do the work while you reap the reward.

Where Can I Go Fishing In Naples?

Naples Pier

As I’ve mentioned before, the Naples Pier is a hotspot for fishing and sightseeing, so it’s pretty much a must-visit whether you plan on fishing or not.

The Naples Pier and the Naples Beach on which it’s situated are both extremely popular destinations for locals and visitors alike, especially since it’s conveniently located so close to Downtown Naples.

Naples City Dock

The Naples City Dock is another amazing fishing spot in the city, but that’s just one of the fun activities you can enjoy there.

Surrounded by shops and restaurants, the Naples City Dock provides entertainment of all kinds, day or night. You can even pull up and dock your boat if you need fuel, ice, drinks, or anything else replenished.

Via Miramar Beach

Via Miramar Beach is a stretch of coastline in Naples off of Gulfshore Boulevard North. I recommend coming to fish here either in the surf, or you can take a bit of a walk south down to Doctors Pass where you can fish around the jetties and the pass itself.

Clam Pass Park

Clam Pass and Clam Pass Park are two more of my favorite places to go fishing in Naples. It can get very crowded, depending on the time of year, but I wouldn’t let that stop you. This is a great surf fishing destination.

Naples Beach

The Naples Beach is an obvious choice for surf fishing, but I list it last because it is almost always pretty crowded. Nonetheless, there are ample fishing opportunities here.

When Is It Best To Go To Naples? 

By now you are probably loving the idea of Naples, what angler wouldn’t? Now all that is left is to choose the right time of year to visit. It always helps to check out a local fishing report.

Thankfully, the warm weather in Naples means that fishing is a possibility all year-round, you will surely see how the locals take advantage of it. When it comes to January through December, you will find the harbor full of boats, ready to whisk you away into your dreams. 

The peak season is summer, when tourists take advantage of the blistering sunshine and epic fishing opportunities. The biggest fish are available at this time of year, so always book earlier. 

However, if you’re the type of person who simply loathes crowds, spring is more ideal. In the early spring Cobia is all the rage, and while an Indiana summer might seem like a good idea, beware of hurricane season which occurs from June through to November. You won’t catch much fish during a hurricane, that’s for sure. 

Don’t Forget About The Naples Fishing Tournaments

Fishing is a way of life down here in Naples, so there are always fishing tournaments going on. Check online to see which ones are coming up soon so you can get registered and possibly win some prize money for having the biggest catch!

Final Thoughts

Before you go booking your trip, we want to note that in Naples you can take full advantage of the incredible fishing here without needing a license for the most part. 

Your license will be covered on a fishing charter, or on the piers, once you have paid the fee to enter.

Don’t forget to bring your trophy catch of the day to one of these amazing restaurants and they’ll cook it up for you!

Rocco Smith

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