Introduction to Naples Fishing Spots in Southwest Florida

Southwest Florida, at first sight, doesn’t sound like a freshwater angler’s paradise. It’s true, that the region only has a handful of natural lakes and only one, Lake Trafford in the farming community of Immokalee is accessible to the public. The second is at the complete other end of Southwest Florida which is Lake Tarpon just outside of Tampa Florida. There are many other lakes in the region but, they are all man-made, rock pits, canals, or water retention areas for the numerous housing and golf course developments. Most of them are stocked and offer some excellent bass, catfish, peacock bass, and panfish fishing.

Naples Fishing SpotsDon’t construe the shortage of natural lakes and the restricted use of man-made lakes with a lack of places for freshwater fish. Southwest Florida has hundreds of miles of drainage canals containing tons of fish and some of the best Naples fishing spots. There region has three major canal systems: The Everglades, Cape Coral, and Golden Gate systems. We don’t want to count out the Caloosahatchee River as one of the great largemouth bass locations either, located just outside of Ft Myers it’s convenient everywhere especially as you are driving to world-famous Lake Okeechobee.

Certain parts of each system are locally famous for good largemouth bass, panfish fishing, and peacock bass. Each system has a few boat ramps, some bridges to fish from, and plenty of areas where you can fish from the banks but there’s no experience like being in the boat as we slither through the areas.

Driving around the region you will also notice that there are drainage canals, many of which we do access along many of the major roads. Don’t overlook these as possible fishing hot spots.

This part of the state has year-round largemouth bass, panfish fishing, and peacock bass. Most of the bigger bass are caught during the cooler months when the fish are more actively feeding, but Southwest Florida is known as the place where you can fish year-round.

Black crappie, preferring colder waters, aren’t as prevalent in this part of the state. Lake Trafford has the best crappie fishing in the region with the winter month being best. Oscars, exotic fish that are working their way into southwest Florida from the Southeast Florida area, can be very abundant in the freshwater canals, particularly along the US 41 canal in eastern Collier County. Catfish, mudfish, and several species of gar are also common freshwater residents in most Naples fishing spots.

Naples Fishing Spots in Detail

When you think of fishing in Florida, it’s easy to conjure images of vast coastal waters and deep-sea adventures. While it’s true that Florida offers exceptional saltwater fishing, don’t overlook the hidden gems that await freshwater anglers in Southwest Florida. The region may not boast an abundance of natural lakes, but it compensates with an array of man-made lakes, canals, and other waterways teeming with fish. In this guide, we’ll take you on a journey to explore some of the top Naples fishing spots you might not have considered.

Lake Trafford – A Freshwater Oasis

Nestled in the farming community of Immokalee, Lake Trafford stands as one of the few natural lakes accessible to the public in Southwest Florida. This serene oasis is known for its thriving freshwater ecosystem, offering anglers the chance to reel in various species, including bass, catfish, panfish, and even the sought-after peacock bass. The best time to visit is during the cooler months when the fish are actively feeding and ready to put up a fight. With its tranquil surroundings and excellent fishing prospects, Lake Trafford is a must-visit for any angler exploring Naples fishing spots.

Lake Tarpon – A Gem near Tampa

If you’re willing to venture toward the other end of Southwest Florida, you’ll find Lake Tarpon just outside of Tampa. Despite the distance from Naples, this lake is worth mentioning because of its superb largemouth bass fishing. Nestled in Palm Harbor and Tarpon Springs, Lake Tarpon is often considered a jewel for bass enthusiasts. With its clear waters and lush surroundings, it’s no wonder that anglers flock to this destination in search of trophy bass. If you ever find yourself in the Tampa area, consider a day of fishing at Lake Tarpon for an unforgettable experience.

Man-Made Lakes and Canals – Hidden Treasures

In a region where natural lakes are scarce, man-made lakes and canals have stepped in to provide excellent fishing opportunities. These water bodies, created for housing developments, golf courses, and other purposes, are often stocked with a variety of fish. As a result, they offer exciting angling prospects for bass, catfish, panfish, and even peacock bass. Don’t dismiss these locations, as they hold the potential for memorable catches. From canal systems to rock pits and water retention areas, Southwest Florida’s man-made water bodies have much to offer. We’ll explore some of the most notable ones in the following sections.

Everglades - Top Naples Fishing SpotsThe Everglades – Nature’s Masterpiece

The Everglades, the most popular Naples fishing spots and a world-famous natural wonder, isn’t just a hotspot for wildlife enthusiasts; it’s also a fantastic fishing destination. While the region itself may not have an abundance of natural lakes, it compensates with its expansive canal systems. These waterways are home to a variety of fish, with largemouth bass taking the lead. The Everglades’ unique landscape of sawgrass and sloughs filled with lily pads provides a perfect habitat for these species. It’s an ideal destination for those looking for some exciting bass and panfish fishing, as well as the opportunity to spot incredible wildlife.

Cape Coral – Urban Fishing Paradise

The Cape Coral canal system, known for its urban development, offers a hidden treasure trove of fish. The intricate network of canals provides excellent fishing opportunities for both resident and visiting anglers. In addition to the resident fish populations, these canals are great places for larger river bass to spawn, making it an attractive destination for bass enthusiasts. Cape Coral also offers convenient access to the Gulf of Mexico, allowing anglers to diversify their fishing experience.

Golden Gate – A Peacock Bass Surprise

Golden Gate, clearly one of the top Naples fishing spots and urban fishery, is known for its stunning peacock bass catches. These vibrant and hard-fighting fish have made their way into the region, adding an exciting dimension to freshwater angling. Golden Gate offers unique opportunities to catch peacock bass, known for their beautiful colors and spirited battles. It’s a place where urban life meets fantastic fishing, providing an exceptional angling experience.

Caloosahatchee River – A Bass Haven

Just outside of Fort Myers, the Caloosahatchee River flows through the region and connects to the inland waterway system of southern Florida. This river is not to be underestimated when it comes to largemouth bass fishing. The convenience of its location makes it an excellent stopover for anglers en route to the famous Lake Okeechobee. The Caloosahatchee River offers fantastic bass fishing opportunities and is a hidden gem waiting to be explored.

Preparing for Your Fishing Adventure

Naples fishing spotsWhat to Bring

When embarking on a fishing adventure in Naples and its surrounding areas, it’s essential to come prepared. Packing the right gear and essentials can make the difference between a good and a great fishing experience. Be sure to bring a camera to capture your memorable catches, sunscreen to protect yourself from the Florida sun, sunglasses to reduce glare, a hat to shield your face, and, most importantly, a Florida fishing license to ensure your activities are legal.

Live Bait and Special Considerations

If you prefer live bait for your fishing expedition, you can find it in the region, with the quantity and type of live bait determined by your guide. Live bait can add an extra dimension to your fishing adventure, so consider discussing it with your guide. Additionally, consider the season when planning your trip, as fish behavior can vary throughout the year. Understanding the best times for your target species can lead to a more successful day on the water.

Transportation and Getting Around

The availability of transportation to and from your chosen fishing spot may vary based on your location. Some destinations offer transportation services for anglers, although this typically depends on the specific area and may involve an additional cost. When making your fishing reservation, inquire about transportation options to ensure you have a seamless and convenient experience.


Southwest Florida may not boast natural lakes like other regions, but it compensates with a variety of man-made lakes, canals, and unique water bodies that provide excellent fishing opportunities. Naples Florida fishing spots and its surroundings are home to some hidden gems waiting to be explored by anglers. Whether you’re seeking bass, catfish, panfish, or the vibrant peacock bass, these lesser-known fishing spots offer thrilling experiences for anglers of all levels. So, don’t miss the chance to explore these fantastic fishing destinations and create lasting memories in Southwest Florida’s freshwater paradise.