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San Carlos Bay

Lee County, Florida.

San Carlos Bay ends in Sanibel, Florida.

36601028.97 miles (58903664.59 sq kilometers)

About The San Carlos Bay

About San Carlos Bay, FL

San Carlos Bay is a saltwater bay located in Lee County, Florida. The Bay is situated at the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River and is located southwest of Fort Myers. The Bay also connects the Pine Island Sound to the west and the Matlacha Pass to the north. The bay and the nearby bodies of water are prime areas to catch tarpon, with some anglers calling it the tarpon capital of the world. Visitors can also relax on the area’s beaches, shop in one of the many malls, and enjoy the beautiful sunsets there. Another name used to refer to San Carlos Bay is Bay Carlos. 

San Carlos Bay contains Bunche Beach Preserve, a 718-acre nature preserve that was acquired by Lee County in 2001. The nature preserve is a popular destination for animal lovers and anglers alike due to its tidal wetlands containing mangrove forests and saltwater “flats” as well as beaches. Visitors can enjoy kayaking, bird watching, and observing Florida’s native species. 

Because of its popularity as a tourist attraction, San Carlos Bay’s waters have begun to degrade. It is now listed as impaired by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Despite this listing, it is still safe to catch and consume any gamefish caught in the Bay’s waters.

San Carlos Bay Fishing Description

All About Fishing In San Carlos Bay, FL

If you’re looking for tarpon, then you’ve come to the right place. San Carlos Bay is the perfect place to catch these fish in large numbers. Aside from tarpon, the bay also boasts several other gamefish, such as redfish, snook, tripletail, flounder, and many more. The Bay’s saltwater flats, mangroves, and seagrass are the perfect places to look for these fish, as they mostly stay there. While tarpon is the most popular gamefish here, the other fish species are no pushovers either. Redfish is a common yet popular gamefish located all across Florida, and snook provides a challenge to anglers catching them. 

The best places to cast your line in San Carlos Bay are on the Bunche Beach Preserve, Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve, Estero Bay, and Fort Myers Beach. And the popular fishing techniques used by the anglers in the area are fly fishing, shorecasting, baitcasting, and bait fishing. Another popular method of fishing here is fishing via kayak. The bay is the perfect place to do inshore fishing, as the bay makes up the inner fishing grounds before the mainland. But if you don’t want to go fishing on a boat, the bay’s beaches and fishing piers are also a perfect spot to cast your line on as well. 

If it’s your first time visiting the area, you can try hiring one of several fishing charters. These charters can help you navigate the area and even take you to the Gulf of Mexico if you want to do some offshore fishing.

San Carlos Bay Seasonal & Other Description

Fishing Seasonality

Because it is located in Florida, fishing is an all-year-round affair in San Carlos Bay. The variety of gamefish available in the area means that no matter when you go there, fish will be waiting for you there. Still, if you want to make the most of your trip there, visit during the spring and summer months to catch most of the gamefish. Redfish are most common in the Bay from April to May and September to November, while king mackerel is available from January to April and then from October to December. Tarpon, on the other hand, is most common from April to July.  

San Carlos Bay Fishing Charters & Fishing Guides


St. James City, FL

23ft - 6 guests

Starting as low as



Fort Myers, FL

20ft - 5 guests

Starting as low as



Stuart, FL

23ft - 4 guests

Starting as low as