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May 17, 2010

Mastering Marco Island

Sample a summer smorgasbord of fishing in Southwest Florida

Inside Marco Island - BYOB

On Marco Island, "BYOB" means "Bring Your Own Boat." Marco offers clearly marked channels, three county boat ramps and one private ramp. Moderate-draft boats navigate easily around the island, and GPS units show 90 percent of any "hidden" dangers in the area.

Calusa Island Marina ( offers storage for visiting boaters and is popular with fishing professionals thanks to a dedicated staff and easy access to multiple channels around Marco and the bordering Ten Thousand Islands. The Collier County public boat ramps are located at Caxambas Pass and Highway 951 leading into Marco.

For Marco Island first-timers or anyone visiting without a boat, consider hiring an experienced fishing guide from the list of captains below. Charters usually cost about $350 for a half-day and $550 for a full day.

Ken Chambers

Dan Fabian

Stacy Mullendore

Jay Peeler


Off the Water
Locals know that Capt. Brien's Seafood & Raw Bar is where anglers go when they want to enjoy spoils from the water. One of Marco Island's most beloved seafood restaurants, Capt. Brien's ( also features national comedy acts and live music.

The closest stay to Marco Island fishing is the Marriott Beach Resort Golf Club and Spa. This massive resort is located on the island and offers many amenities to keep anglers and family members active on or off the water.

Naples, just a 30-minute drive from Marco, offers anglers a little nightlife with their fishing trip. Lively Naples is often called "the Beverly Hills of Florida" and is full of incredible dining, upscale lodging and shopping. The elegant Trianon Hotel is just off the main drag in a quiet corner of Old Naples, and the Inn on Fifth is located in the middle of all the action on Fifth Avenue.

Adjacent to historic downtown Naples, residents gobble up the scrumptious Spanish creations at IM Tapas. Award-winning Italian, sushi, steak and seafood restaurants like Aldos, Chops and Yabba Island Grill stay busy in and out of season.

Marco Island
Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort
Golf Club and Spa

Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades Convention & Visitors Bureau



IM Tapas

Inn on Fifth
239-403-8777; 888-403-8778

Trianon Hotel, Old Naples

Yabba Island Grill

All photos by Chris Woodward and Doug Olander

About the Author: A fishing guide and writer, Naples-based Capt. Kevin Merritt is an Orvis-endorsed backcountry fly-fishing instructor and USCG Master Licensed captain who operates Naples Backcountry Fishing ( A four-time Inshore Tournament of Champions qualifying guide, Merritt also plies the world's waters in search of extraordinary fishing destinations.