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Destination Reflection: Fly Fishing on Pine Island

I’ve never enjoyed Florida - but I was never on Pine Island until a couple years ago.

My ol’ man picked me up at Ft. Meyers airport, and within the hour we were on Pine Island at my dad’s friend’s condo. The condo was part of an association, Blue Crab Key, which is ideal for fishing people.

The condos are basic stilt construction, so living quarters are located on the second floor and most guys had some sort of flats boat or bay boat stored below the living quarters. My kind of place!

The next morning I swooped up the rental van and drove into the center of the island to rent a cheap kayak. This thing looked worse than most rental kayaks found on my home river the Au Sable. At least it was a sit on top. The scarred plastic vessel was quickly launched, a couple 8 weights were lashed onto it with bungee cords and I was once again liberated by water.

A quick paddle across the channel and I found a cut in the mangroves where the tide was screaming into it. So I investigated, and within the cut there was a small island of mangroves which created a beautiful current break. The 8 weight’s line carried the homebrew shrimp to the far side of the current break. One strip, pauuuse, 2 strip, pauuuse, holy SNOOK!!

Well, my first shot at a snook was ill conceived. It kicked my butt, and the whole battle lasted maybe 2 seconds. The fish ate the fly and immediately broke the bite tippet on the mangroves. Poor casting angle, lesson learned. I have revisited Pine Island many times since.

The island is only ten miles long and 3.5 miles wide at its widest part. The island is actually just north of the much more popular Sanibel Island.  The island is like a blast from the past. The general pace of life is much slower, there’s a great sense of community among the locals and even the migratory snow birds. Restaurants range from high end Italian joints to local dives. My favorite is Captain Con’s fish house in Bokeelia. If you visit the island you must try their seafood chowder, it’s so good I often eat it for breakfast.

Beyond all that, the fishing can be exceptional. The target species for the fly guy/gal are snook, redfish, seatrout, Spanish mackerel and tarpon. I prefer to fish off the east coast of the island amongst the mangroves and sometimes venturing out into the Matlacha pass to chase the super-fast tippet shredding mackerel or to hunt the redfish that cruise about Deer, Bear and Lanier key. The east side is usually protected from the weather, is much easier to navigate with a kayak and the good fishing areas are located closer together.

Jug Creek, which is located on the north end, is a great place to shoot a fly line. A chance at juvenile tarpon in these backwaters is possible and they do like to eat little gurgler style flies, in my opinion a perfect fish for the fly angler.

Overall Pine Island is a stellar destination and I’m very surprised I made it this far in writing this blog post for our website. It’s hard to write about a destination that’s so great because it hasn’t had the exposure.  I’m still not sure if it will be posted…

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