The Sanibel Fishing Pier has it all. Excellent fishing and shelling, a great view, and great areas for swimming and wading, but it does have negatives.
Update 8/30/2018: Sanibel has been strongly affected by both red tide and the polluted water from the Caloosahatchee River. You should probably not go in the water at this time. Tons of dead fish have washed up on the beach. Go to Florida Fish and Wildlife to check on the current red tide situation. Due to the red tide, redfish and snook are now only catch and release here.
The Sanibel Pier is a short pier, but it gets you to the fish. It ends at a deep channel that often has a strong current. This creates a highway for fish moving back and forth between the Gulf and the bay. Schools of bait fish are common near the pilings and right off the beach. They attract game fish. Use a cast net to catch some and you’ll have an unlimited supply of an extremely effective live bait. A wide variety of fish are caught from both the pier and the adjacent beach, sheepshead, snapper, mackerel and snook. At night the shark hunters come out with their heavy rods and big baits. They’ve battled monsters.
The pier is not the only place to fish. It’s built on Light House Beach which has three distinct sections. There’s the beach next to the pier, here you’re fishing in the bay. There’s the “point”, where the bay and the Gulf of Mexico meet, and there’s the Gulf beach. One spot may be cold while another is sizzling. Watch what other fishermen are doing and look for bait.
Light House Beach is arguably the best shelling beach in the country, but there’s a lot of competition from other collectors for the most prized shells. You’d probably do better at Blind Pass. Your best chance at both beaches is to get there early or right after a storm. The Gulf waters off Sanibel are shallow. Miles offshore it’s still only 40 feet deep. There’s a long, wide, sandy slope to the beaches, creating an ideal ramp for the shells to roll up.
Swimming and Wading
A few yards to the left of the pier, there’s an excellent place to wade. Remember to do the . If you want to swim, the Gulf waters are best. The current on the bay side gets strong and will take you places you don’t want to go.
At times during the Summer, massive amounts of water flood down the Caloosahatchee River and into the Gulf. When this happens the water turns nasty, and you’re better off staying on shore.
Parking can be a pain. It’s four dollars an hour. It’s wise to buy more time than you think you’ll need. People often stay longer than planned. This place is hard to leave. You buy a ticket at a kiosk and put it on your dashboard. Don’t skip this chore. There’s a $50.00 fine, and they do check.
If you plan on visiting the beaches often, a may be your best choice. An A or B permit works here. They’re sold at the Sanibel Recreation center. All beach permits expire November 30, 2015.
Light House Beach is the closest Sanibel beach to the mainland and it gets crowded. There are 195 parking places and at times they’re all taken. Get their early during season.
Directions and Amenities
The Pier is located at Light House Beach. Cross the Causeway from Ft. Myers and keep going straight until you hit the four way stop at Periwinkle Way. Make a left and follow Periwinkle to Light House Beach at the eastern tip of the Island.
There’s plenty here for a fisherman’s friends and family to do while he does his thing. There are picnic areas with barbecue grills, short nature trails and a light house. The beach has bath rooms, a drinking fountain and outside showers as well. This pier and beach are must see destinations for anyone going to Sanibel.
Lighthouse Beach Fishing Pier