The Matlacha Bridge – Great Fishing and More

Matlacha Bridge Sunrise

Matlacha Bridge fishing has been touted as the best bridge fishing in America, but the great fishing is only the start. Within walking distance there’s shopping, restaurants, hotels, a nice park for the kids as well as more places to fish.

Matlacha Bridge Fishing

The old bridge was torn down in 2012 and a new one built. This brought the fishing to a screeching halt, but it’s been four years now, and the fish are back. The Matlacha Bridge may once again be called the best fishing bridge in America.

Update 8/30/2018: Snook and redfish are now only catch and release. This is a temporary regulation due to red tide. Snook season was supposed to open Sept. 1. There is still no red tide in Matlacha Pass.

Update 8/14/2018: Fishing near Matlacha has not been affected by either the blue-green algae in the Caloosahatchee River or the red tide that is killing fish along the coast.

Any inshore fish caught in Southwest Florida can be caught while fishing from or under the Matlacha bridge. Mangrove snapper, trout, sheepshead, cobia, redfish, shark and of course snook. The current running under the bridge is mild, but stronger than that found in nearby waters. This boosts your chances.

Bait

The best place to get live shrimp is within walking distance. As you go over the Matlacha bridge on the right side next to the Perfect Cup Restaurant is a little bait shop marked only with a sign saying “Shrimp”. Their hours vary. If they’re going to open, it’ll be in the morning. They close when they sell out. The shrimp are lively and only cost $2.00/dozen, $8.00/50, and $15.00/100. Their dozen usually equals way more than twelve. Sometimes they’ll also have live pinfish at 50 cents apiece. They told me they’ll be open Christmas eve day and open Christmas day at 8:00 AM in 2017.

If they’re closed, there’s D&D tackle a short drive east of the bridge. The shrimp quality and price is not as good, but they have lots of other bait and an excellent selection of tackle. They also keep regular hours and will be open when the first place is not.

The Matlacha Bridge

The bridge spans Matlacha Pass, a notoriously fishy area. It has a nice walkway to fish from with a solid barrier separating fishermen from the traffic. On the west side there are new clean bathrooms and a fish cleaning board. Parking can be a problem during season, but Matlacha Park is only a short walk away. If you’re on vacation, there are hotels in easy walking distance. The Bridgewater Inn is right at the foot of the bridge.

More than bridge fishing

For members of your party with interests other than fishing, there’s plenty to do. First there’s the view and photography. Both sunrises and sunsets can be spectacular, as well as good times to fish. Dolphin are a common site and birds such as pelicans, osprey and eagles are always around, especially in winter.

The Matlacha bridge is in the Matlacha Historical District. There are hotels and lots of arty shops to explore as well as excellent restaurants. All within walking distance. The only restaurant we advise you to ignore is the Olde Fish House. Matlacha Park is right there with a cute playground for the kids, and the Matlacha fishing pier. You won’t catch as many fish from this quite pier, but it’s a nice change from all the cars zooming by.

Information on Matlacha hotels.

On the bridge you can settle in and do some serious fishing while knowing your non fishing friends and family are having a good time.

Matlacha Bridge Location