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The water is one big laboratory. Fishing is a way of uncovering what that laboratory contains. To me, fishing is just a big experiment and I am the detective. To catch fish, one must learn everything he can about the fish. Nothing is more thrilling and stimulating to me than when the tug on your line confirms that you have, in some way, solved the mystery of the ocean.
I am not an expert angler, but I love to fish. Nor have I traveled extensively in search of great fishing action. Most of my fishing is done in the tropical paradise of my native Southwest Florida. Not surprisingly, Southwest Florida is my favorite area to fish. The waters of Pine Island Sound, San Carlos Bay and Estero Bay are some of the most productive fishing waters in the United States. The weather is usually warm, the sun usually shines and the fish are numerous and hard-fighting.
One of my favorite fishing spots is on Sanibel Island in the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge. It is worth seeing if for no other reason than the world-class birdwatching that goes on there. I also enjoy fishing near the Sanibel Causeway, at Redfish Pass (between Captiva and North Captiva Islands) and off the Bocilla Seaport Pier on the northern tip of Pine Island. The Bocilla Seaport Pier is the site of some of the premier pier-fishing in the state of Florida. Snook, redfish, cobia, snapper, sheepshead, and countless other species are caught from the pier. All of these species are also caught at "Ding" Darling. In fact, I caught my personal best fish, an 8-pound, 27-inch redfish, from Wildlife Drive in "Ding" Darling.
The best thing about saltwater fishing in SW Florida is the variety of species that you can catch. The list of species I have caught is long, and I am not a professional by a longshot. It includes redfish, snook, snapper, seatrout, sheepshead, Spanish mackerel, gag and red grouper, ladyfish, jack crevalle, silver trout, catfish and even a baby goliath grouper. I am anxious to add tarpon, flounder, cobia, permit, pompano, tripletail, kingfish and multiple kinds of sharks to that list.
My favorite fish is the redfish. Its runs are long and determined, it is a beautiful fish and its meat is delicious. For eating purposes only, I enjoy the mangrove snapper's white, flaky flesh. I also fish freshwater occasionally, usually without much success. I enjoy freshwater fishing, but freshwater fish cannot match the variety and power of saltwater fish.
By far the best fishing Web site I have visited is Captain Butch Rickey's Barhoppr site. Not only are his fishing reports entertaining and informative, he will answer almost any question you have about fishing the waters of Pine Island Sound and Sanibel. Florida Sportsman Magazine's Web site is informative, but I prefer the magazine itself. I also find some useful information in Byron Stout's columns and fishing reports in the Fort Myers News-Press.