A visit to Wooten's Everglades Airboat Tours in Ochopee, FL. Video by Sarah Coward


Everglades National Park has landed at No. 1 for the second consecutive year on the Recreational Fishing & Boating Foundation’s list of the 2016 Top 100 Family Fishing & Boating spots in America.

Americans fell hook, line and sinker for this great family fishing experience that is right at the back door for residents and visitors in Southwest Florida.

More than 300 sites representing all 50 states were pre-selected from across the U.S.

Voting was open to the public and nearly 35,000 anglers and boaters cast nearly 650,000 votes to support their favorite fishing and boating locations.

The Gulf Coast part of Everglades National Park is easily accessible for residents and visitors in Naples and Marco Island and all of Southwest Florida.

If you’re not familiar with fishing in the Ten Thousand Islands portion of Everglades National Park, it’s highly recommended you charter with a fishing guide licensed to take customers into the park.

You’ll find plenty of good fishing guides that launch from Everglades City, Chokoloskee, Port of the Islands and Goodland on Marco Island.

If you have a friend with a boat and plenty of navigational experience in the national park, offer to pay expenses in return for his or her knowledge and fishing expertise.

It’s easy to get lost in the vast expanse of mangrove islands that stretch south all the way to the southern tip of mainland Florida, so plan carefully to make sure you have a safe as well as fun family adventure.

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Varied ecosystem

You’ll discover a varied ecosystem with winding rivers, creeks and coves, then out on the edge of the Gulf, deserted white sand beach islands surrounded by grass flats on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other.

Every day is different out in this part of the Everglades.

It’s possible to catch snook, redfish, tarpon, sea trout, pompano, permit, Spanish mackerel and more – sometimes all in one day.

It all depends on the tide, wind, time of year and all of the many quirks of Mother Nature.

For summer fishing you’ll need to launch early in the morning and be back just after midday, and always keep an eye on the weather to watch for thunderstorms.

With just a little planning, you can make a weekend of it by staying a night or two in Everglades City, Port of the Islands or Marco Island for fast and easy access to this magical, watery and very fishy wilderness.

READ MORE: Voices of the Everglades

READ MORE: Gladesmen: A Culture Preserved

JoNell Modys is the public relations and communications manager for the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau, the tourism marketing organization for Collier County, where more than 1.8 million visitors annually provide an economic impact of nearly $2 billion. Check the destination website,, for more ideas on what to see and do in Florida’s Paradise Coast.

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