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Wednesday, 31 August 2011 02:00

Kayak Fishing Chokoloskee Florida

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Kayak Fishing Chokoloskee Florida Photograph by Bill Howard

Kayak fishing in Florida has many great opportunities. This week I thought I would go back a few years and share one of my most favorite spots here in Florida. The island of Chokoloskee sits right in the middle of what’s known as the 10,000 Islands, which starts in Naples and runs all the way south along the west coast of Florida.

Chokoloskee is a kayak fisherman’s paradise. All three of the big three inshore species of sea trout, redfish and snook can be found here, along with numerous others species, tarpon, pompano and sharks just to mention a few. Chokoloskee Island was inhabited by Indians for more than 1,500 years before European explorers reached the area. By the time Spain transferred Florida to Great Britain in 1763, the area was uninhabited. During the first three-quarters of the 19th century, Chokoloskee Island may have been occasionally visited by Seminoles, white hunters, "Spanish Indian" fishermen from Cuba and various "refugees from justice." Rich in the history of Florida, it’s now just a sleepy little fishing village; it sports a population of just a little bit more than 400 people. With a large part of the 10,000 Islands located in the middle of and protected by the Everglades National Park, it lends itself to camping throughout the park. By obtaining the required permits, it’s possible to camp out on the outer islands or along the inland waterway. Along the inland waterway you will find one of the Parks more unique camping facilities, the “Chickee”. Fashioned after the Seminole Indians Chickee huts, they offer the opportunity to camp right out on the water.

chokoloskee_campShark River Chickee Camping Spot

Now if roughing it is not your style, Chokoloskee Island offers just about any style of comfort you may be accustomed to. Of the many trips that I have made, my most memorable one was a trip that eight of us took several years ago. Hauling our pop-up campers down there, we set up our base camp at the Chokoloskee Island Park and Marina. Located right on the water, we were able to launch the kayaks and begin fishing immediately.

chokoloskee_basecampChokoloskee Island Base Camp

Planning your trips around the tides here is everything, with an average swing of anywhere between 2 and 4 feet, and the narrow channels and cuts, you can “ride the tide” to your fishing location, then ride it back in to the launch. The biggest choice here is “Do I go to the outside, or fish the inland river system?” Riding the tide to the “outside” or Gulf coast shoreline will lead you through miles of twisting and turning mangrove lined channels. Padding the other way, you can fish several of the river systems, the Turner and Lopez being the closest for kayaking.

bill_howard_with_chokoloskee_redfishBill Howard with a nice Chokoloskee Island redfish

bill_howard_flyfishing_chokoloskeeBill Howard fishing Chokoloskee with a fly

Among the other great kayak fishing opportunities here in Chokoloskee is an event that I have been to a couple of times over the years. One of the local guides, Capt. Chuck Wright hosts a “Paddle-In”; kayakers from all over the state converge on Chokoloskee and paddle out to one of the outer keys or islands, once there we get out for a traditional Florida Conch Chowder lunch supplied by our host and his wife. In years past, the event has drawn nearly 150 kayakers.

chokoloskee_air_mainSlade Key as seen from the air

But what draws me to this beautiful area of Florida is the sense of adventure. I’m one of those guys that like to see what’s around the next corner; with 10,000 Islands there is always another corner to paddle around.

chokoloskee_sunset_mainChokoloskee Sunset


About the Author: Bill Howard is a Pro Staff Member at Yakangler.com, as well as Malibu Kayaks. He is also on the Columbia Sportswear Pro Team. Bill is an avid photographer and writer, contributing to numerous websites and publications in the Tampa Bay area.

In 2008 he completed a 17 day, 129 mile trip around Tampa Bay raising nearly $4000 dollars for the American Heart Association. He is also a board member for the Tampa Bay Chapter of Hero's on the Water.

Read 15330 times Last modified on Tuesday, 30 August 2011 14:36


# Pam 2011-09-01 17:43
Great article Bill! I had hoped to do some of this a couple of years ago but didn't get to take the vacation we had planned. Maybe 2012!
# steven coatsworth 2011-12-09 15:37
is that where flight 19 went missin
# scubastan48 2012-02-09 07:01
your article is getting me stoked for BoonDoggle.
# Willi 2013-01-27 08:14
Elderly woman needs beginners advice on kayak fishing in Indian River.

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