CHILDREN LOVE TO REEL IN A BIG ONE! - Young anglers have fun in the ‘Fishing Capital of the World’Mar 09, 2021 08:59PM ● By ANN MARIE O’PHELAN
It’s exciting when a child baits a hook or ties on a fly, casts, patiently waits and then reels one in—and that goes for the angler as well as the adult with the child! Indeed, many of the best childhood stories stem from the shoreline, pier or boat with a fishing rod in hand.
“One of my favorite childhood memories is heading to the Matlacha Bridge [on Pine Island Road] for fishing,” says Mark Miller of North Fort Myers, who now takes his two children there to fish. Florida’s called the “Fishing Capital of the World” and “No. 1 Fishing Destination in North America”—thanks to its more than 3 million acres of lakes and ponds, 12,000 miles of rivers and streams, and 8,000 miles of coastline. For license info, go to myfwc.com/license.
Southwest Florida waters offer plenty of opportunities to catch saltwater species such as grouper, redfish, snook, Spanish mackerel, spotted seatrout and tarpon. Largemouth bass, black crappie, bluegill and redear sunfish are found in local lakes such as Lake Trafford in Immokalee. Children also can participate in youth fishing tournaments and join fishing clubs.
The Bobby Holloway Memorial Fishing Tournament annually draws about 75 children up to age 13. Many youth fish with volunteer captains, who provide gear; others go with their families in tournament boats. “The youth division fishes for the biggest snook, redfish and trout. A trophy is awarded for the biggest fish caught,” says board member Jenn Erickson.
In its Lil Bobber division, kids 8 to 13 get a point for each fish caught of any species. The most fish caught wins first through fifth place. The tournament is set for April 10, 2021, at Pineland Marina, 13921 Waterfront Drive in Bokeelia. For info, visit hollowaytourney.org.
Cape Coral Bass Club, 1623 SW 6th Ave, promotes families fishing together and holds 29 annual events. Family membership is $40. There are also tournaments open to the public. Some events are held outside the Cape Coral area. Check out capecoralbassclub.com.
Flatsmasters Annual Youth Tournament is held each November under the auspices of Smuggler's Event Management, LLC, located at 150 Laishley Court, Unit 121, in Punta Gorda. Call 941-637-5953 or go to flatsmasters.com.
Gasparilla Island Kids Class Tarpon Tournament is for those 15 and under. Entry fees are donated to local charities. Events will take place throughout the day on June 5, 2021; the awards presentation, food, drinks and entertainment follow. Info is at bocagrandecharities.org.
Junior Bass Assassins Club is a Lee County-based high school fishing club affiliated with The BASS Nation and competes throughout Florida. To find out more, call Glenn Cale at 863-255-1324 or email [email protected].
Lehigh Acres Bass Club welcomes all ages; members come from Lehigh, Alva and other areas and enjoy tournaments, competitions and more. Email [email protected].
Ann Marie O’Phelan is a Southwest Florida resident and a regular contributor to TOTI Media.
Piers, Parks and Places to Fish
8421 Main St., Bokeelia
2000 Edwards Drive, Fort Myers
4940 Broadway West, Estero
17980 Palm Beach Blvd., Alva
27551 South Tamiami Trail, Bonita Springs
7330 Gladiolus Drive, Fort Myers
110 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel Island
Lovers Key State Park Fishing Pier
8700 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach
Lynn Hall Memorial Park Fishing Pier
950 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach
10901 State Road 80, Fort Myers
Matanzas Bridge Fishing Pier
700 Fishermans Wharf, Fort Myers Beach
Matlacha Community Park Fishing Pier
4577 Pine Island Road NW, Matlacha
Matlacha Pass Bridge
(“Fishingest Bridge in the World”)
Connects Pine Island to Cape Coral
North Shore Park Fishing Pier
13001 North Cleveland Ave., North Fort Myers
Riverside Park Fishing Pier
3061 East Riverside Drive, Fort Myers
San Carlos Bay Bunche Beach Preserve Fishing Piers
18201 John Morris Road, Fort Myers
Royal Palm Park Shoreline Fishing
300 Royal Palm Park Road, Fort Myers
Tarpon Street Fishing Pier
Tarpon Street/East Riverside Drive, Fort Myers
Yacht Club Community Park Fishing Pier
5819 Driftwood Parkway, Cape Coral