What: Kayak fishing. Prime targets are redfish, trout, snook and tarpon. Plenty of shots at other players as well - jacks, gray snapper, ladyfish, black drum, flounder and sheepshead among them. Also, in spring, some cobia wander onto deeper areas of the sound's flats, often following stingrays in search of morsels.
Where: Pine Island Sound/Charlotte Harbor near Fort Myers, Florida, with almost endless opportunities among over 100 coastal islands.
When: Anytime. Different seasons/conditions offer different opportunities but no matter the month, fishing can be excellent. (Winter tends to offer clear waters and milder days; in the heat of summer, the water becomes cloudier but there are plenty of big, active fish then (including larger tarpon).
How: Among the options - bring your own yak, rent for a day or several, or book a guided trip with kayak and related gear provided. (In other words, you don't have to live here to go kayak fishing.)
What else: Beach walking (nearby Sanibel famed for its beaches), bird watching (rated by USA Today as one of top birding areas in the United States), exploring (Lee County has a unique dedicated series of wilderness paddling trails - visit www.greatcalusablueway.com), dining (more seafood restaurants in the area than you could sample in months).
What to bring: If you're renting or hiring a guide, you really need only rods/reels (spin and/or levelwinds with 4- to 12-pound mono or 8- to 20-pound braid) and your favorite inshore lures (selection of lead-head jigs, plastic baits with weedless worm hooks, topwater lures, shallow-running minnow plugs, weedless spoons and/or spinnerbaits). Don't forget good wading booties/shoes (a must), your pliers, the "bug juice," a camera and a good cap or hat offering protection. If renting a kayak, a handheld GPS and depth sounder will serve you well. For safety. I bring a small VHF and recommend ACR's new tiny MicroFix EPIRB.
Contacts: Capt. Greg Bowdish - www.barflyfish.com, 239-691-7284
Capt. Jason Le Valley - www.kayakfishingsouthwestflorida.com, 239-246-2931
Angler's Outlet Pro Shop, Cape Coral - www.anglers-outlet.com, 239-549-7555
Sol Y Luna Kayak Fishing School - www.kayak-fishing-schools.com, 239-691-7284
Southwest Florida Kayak Fishing Classic Tournament - www.kayakfishingclassic.com, 239-671-9347
The Bayfront Cottage, Matlacha - www.thebayfrontcottage.com, 239-283-6398
Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau, Fort Myers - www.fortmyers-sanibel.com, 800-237-6444 or 239-338-3500