I moved to Southwest Florida in 1989 from a cozy little town in the Pocono Mountains of Northeast Pennsylvania. I graduated from college with a degree in building construction, and was looking to relocate to an area that was experiencing rapid growth and had opportunities in the residential construction field. I saw an article in Money Magazine that had just rated Naples, Florida as the #1 town in the US for growth. It was then that I made the move.
In 1989, not long after arriving here in Collier County, I researched and read a little about the fishing villages of Everglades City and Chokoloskee. These quaint little towns nestled in the 10,000 Island area of the Everglades National Park perked quite an interest, and I had to check them out in person, ASAP!
I rented an old 2-bedroom trailer and a 16′ Carolina Skiff for a weekend at Chokoloskee Island Park–an RV park and Marina, which by the way, is now a nice clean place with new rental units and RV sites. It was then that I made the “no brainer” decision that Chokoloskee Island and the Everglades National Park were my kinda place!
Chokoloskee is a small Island of just 150 acres. It is believed that native Indians had inhabited the island more than 1,500 years ago. The first modern white settlers came in 1874, and by1882 there were 5 families living on the island. Ted Smallwood established the first post office in 1891. The road connecting Chokoloskee to the outside world via Everglades City was built in 1956. There is a lot of interesting history down here, which adds to the mystique of this close-knit, eclectic, and quaint community.
Each day I go fishing is different than the day before. There are literally a million places to fish and just that many things to see as you venture into the Park. For those wishing to experience the Park, I highly recommend hiring a guide to give you a little knowledge on navigating the area. One thing you will notice right away is the absence of channel markers. It takes years of experience before one becomes comfortable navigating these waters. In the beginning, I used to go an additional mile or two each day I went out, until I gradually became comfortable with the lay of the land (oyster bars, that is).
On my charters, there are some days we travel only a couple of minutes from Chokoloskee and get into incomparable fishing action. Other days, and at different times of the year, we travel further north or south either in the backwater rivers, or along the near shore coastlines. Our primary targets here are snook, redfish, trout, and snapper. Depending on the time of year, we also set our sights on tarpon, sheepshead, shark, tripletail, permit, cobia, mackerel, bluefish, and many more species of fish.
I’ve now been fishing out of Chokoloskee for 20 years. My wife Jill and I purchased our property here in 1999. I do visit and fish other areas around the state throughout the year, but nothing will ever compare to this end of the Everglades National Park. It is amazingly pristine, and so spread out, that there are days when we never even see another boat on the water.
Those wishing to visit the area have many choices of places to stay and things to do. Feel free to drop me an email if I can help answer any questions or make any suggestions for you.
Tight Lines, and remember to make someone giggle today!
Capt Pete Rapps
Hailing out of Chokoloskee Island Park Marina, Chokoloskee, FL
Capt Rapps has been fishing the Chokoloskee area for just over 20 years. He offers expert guided, light tackle, near shore, and backwater fishing trips in the Everglades National Park, and is happy to accommodate anyone from men, women, & children of all ages, experienced or not, or those with special needs. Pete is extremely patient and loves to teach. You can book a charter right online 24/7. See his online availability calendar, booking info, videos, recipes, seasonings, and first class web site at www.CaptainRapps.com