Matlacha is a small Florida island community on the road to Pine Island. When you cross the bridge over Matlacha pass, drive slowly or you’ll miss this little gem brimming with old Florida atmosphere.
This is a place to wind down, go fishing and then browse the funky art galleries on your way to an informal dinner. We spent a few days at a local B&B kayaking, fishing and watching the manatees drift by. The locals are knowledgable about fishing and will help you choose the right equipment and lures. They will also advise you about local restaurants and activities.
The Calusa blueway, a marked water trail dedicated to paddlers, goes right by here. One sunny morning we put our kayaks into the water and set off on an exploratory trip along the blueway. We had fishing rods with us. Another kayaking came by and surprised us when he put on a mask and snorkel and dropped out of his kayak. He wanted to see where the fish were. No fish were in sight, so we concentrated on following the markers that delineated the designated path and watched for manatees and dolphins.
When we weren’t paddling, we were fishing. The bridge over Matlacha pass is a popular spot and has been called “the fishingest bridge in the world”. My wife was delighted when she caught a sizable crevalle jack. Try to get to Matlacha on a Friday night when the art galleries remain open late. Unfortunately, that’s the same night that the restaurants are most crowded. Institutions like Bert’s Bar will likely have a line out the door. If that’s the case, you might want to put your name in and do some fishing on the bridge while you wait.