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Big Carlos Pass

The largest bridge in the chain of bridges that connect Bonita Springs to Fort Myers Beach offers some great opportunities for anglers on foot. 

Access: Foot, Boat, Canoe/Kayak
Species: snook, mangrove snapper, jack crevalle, sheepshead, mackerel, ladyfish, tarpon, shark, 
Best Tide: incoming or outgoing

Big Carlos Pass is one of the more popular bridges to fish from in Southwest Florida. Just about any time of any day will feature local anglers wetting a line along some stretch of the bridge hoping for a catch that they won't need to lie to their friends about. Parking is easy and free from the south end of the pass, and it's a short walk to the spot where you want to fish. The south end of the bridges touches down in Lover's Key state park, so if you enter the park there is a fee. 

 The middle of the bridge features deeper water, but is not necessarily the only place to catch fish. Fish tend to congregate around structure, so don't cast out away from the bridge--just drop a live shrimp on a fishfinder rig or other bottom rig down as close as you can to the pylons. Patience is key, as fish will be swimming around the structure and passing through. Use the direction of the current and tide to determine which side to fish from. Try different spots along the bridge, and the shore on both sides of the pass can be productive. 

For those of you with a boat, motorized or otherwise, during a slower outgoing tide lots of success can be had with nothing more than a live shrimp with a bit of weight. A larger split shot should be plenty. Just start from around the bridge and drift on down toward the pass until you feel a bite. Too much weight will almost definitely result in snags. There are dozens of snags, trees and other miscellaneous debris that has washed into the deeper waters of Big Carlos Pass and stuck there. That makes for some treacherous drift fishing, but also provides a safe haven for fish. 

On the incoming tide, it's hard to beat Goombs Key and Coon Key, the two big islands just inside the pass. Fish along the trees as the tide goes by, and most times you'll find something worthy of snapping a picture. 

A tip from the Ryans: On a the outgoing tide, drift the pass until you find the bite. When the tide is coming in, look for structure on the inside and fish there. 

 



 

Lessons learned at BCP? There's always a bigger fish(...mammal) in the sea... 

   
   

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