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Being one of the last remaining fishing villages in southwest Florida by the Gulf Coast, Cortez can be considered a premier fishing destination especially for anglers who want the ‘Old Florida’ feel and experience. The village, located on Sarasota Bay in Manatee County and west of Bradenton, is a living embodiment of historical Florida consisting of a small living community of worn-down old houses, fish companies, and all kinds of boats, old and new. 

Cortez shows off a prolific maritime heritage as its fishing industry has been its most significant asset for decades. The area consists of a historic district, fish companies, a museum, and a cultural center for those interested in learning about Cortez’s history and culture. Its historic working waterfront is the site of many beaches, fishing piers, shops and several seafood restaurants. Jet skiing, kayaking and parasailing are also popular activities offered in the area.

Because of its proximity to the Gulf Coast, surrounded by deep waters and its barrier islands of Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key, anglers are ensured a diverse and productive fishing trip when they choose to venture to Cortez. 

Cortez, FL Fishing: A Relaxed Yet Rich Fishing Experience

Though Cortez is a small place, it offers a vast variety of fishing opportunities, especially for saltwater anglers. Anglers looking for a grounded yet fruitful fishing experience will find Cortez’s old-timey spirit, antiquated charm and preserving legacy a wonderful find for their next fishing venture. 

Cortez’s commercial and recreational fishing industry is mainly focused on saltwater escapades offshore. Its waters are almost always calm as it’s in an area protected from harsh winds. Most local fishing charters offer deep sea fishing which is the most popular way to snag fish from the village. The causeway from Cortez to Anna Maria Island is your best bet if you’re finding an offshore spot and it’s where you can hook species like tarpon, mangrove or gray snapper, sharks, flounder, snook, redfish, sea trout, grouper, cobia, permit, kingfish and mullet. You can execute different types of methods as well to catch those fish including using dead or live bait, or do some either heavy tackle or light tackle fishing.

For those who want to do some inshore fishing, Cortez consists and is close to several fishing piers open to the public. Bradenton City Beach Pier has an offering of redfish, snook, Spanish mackerel, pompano, and even sharks. You can fish for red drum, snook, sea trout, crevalle jack, black drum, gafftopsail sea catfish, mangrove snapper and sheepshead seabream from the Palma Sola Fishing Pier. Bridge Street Pier in Bradenton also attracts a variety of fish from grouper, pompano, snook, redfish, flounder, snapper, ladyfish and more. Rod and Reel Pier is one the best ones in the area, attracting plenty of bait fish that in turn attract mackerel, snook, sheepshead, and snapper. Several beaches also sprawl throughout Cortez including picturesque Cortez Beach where one can try their hand at surf casting

Fish species
Snook  fish

Habitat: Inshore, Flats, Backcountry

Weight: 12 - 29 Pounds

Length: 16" - 50"

Cobia fish

Habitat: Onshore, Nearshore, Offshore, Reef, Wreck

Weight: 10 - 80 Pounds

Length: 24" - 79"

Redfish fish

Habitat: Onshore, Flats, Backcountry, Nearshore

Weight: 10 - 45 Pounds

Length: 30" - 61"


Habitat: Inshore, Flats, Offshore, Reefs, Jetties

Weight: 9 - 60 Pounds

Length: 24" - 48"

Learn About Cortez's Culture and Heritage

1.Find Out Why Cortez is a Prolific Fishing Community

Being one of the remaining few fishing villages, you can find out more about Cortez by visiting the  Florida Maritime Museum which offers free admission. Its exhibits include historic photographs, boat models, tools, instruments, sea shells, and other artifacts. You can also explore the Cortez Historic which bears witness to that Old Florida way of living. If you want to learn more about the village’s founding, you can go to the Cortez Cultural Center which also aims to preserve that Old Florida spirit Cortez has retained over the years.

2. Be Part of Fishing Celebrations

The Florida Institute of Saltwater Heritage arranges and runs the Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival annually where you can help preserve the village’s maritime heritage. It occurs every year on the third weekend of February. You can also sign up for the Ben Gullet Mullet Tournament which is held every October, it will challenge any angler as it’s a cast net only tournament. When you take part in the event you will also help raise money for FISH and the Cortez Historical Society.

Fishing Techniques
Surf Casting
Surf Casting