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Take a bountiful look at Captiva Island through the eyes of local fishing captains

By Staff | Jun 8, 2016

Captain Nelson Diaz & son.

Captiva Island is just west of Sanibel Island separated by a stretch of water called Blind Pass. Captiva is like nowhere else in the world, especially when discovering its treasures by boat.

The island is small, but filled with natural beauty, paired with a climate that is subtropical in summer and temperate in winter. All of its ecological conditions have created an excellent habitat for a diversity of birds, reptiles, mammals, sea shells, and fish.

Captiva started with humble beginnings and evolved into a tropical paradise, adored by avid fishermen such as Cartoonist Ding Darling and President Teddy Roosevelt.

Now is the time to reserve a Captiva trip trolling in a boat with a personal captain. Hassle-free fishing captains make it easy by taking care of everyone’s needs. They know the best places to go, supply the boat, and most importantly where to find the fish. Get ready for breathtaking scenery, unique experiences, and fun encompassing any level of fishing just around the corner.

Here are a few of Captiva’s many knowledgeable and sea savvy fishing captains.

Captain John Houston.

Captain John Houston

Native Guides Sanibel Captiva Charter Service

(239) 822-3337


McCarthy’s Marina

“We do custom guided tours that can include fishing, shelling, kayaking, snorkeling, birding, and even a stop for lunch,” Captain John Houston said while smiling. “I can talk fishing all day, we will hit the ledges, rock piles, abandoned areas and lots of places people don’t know about.”

Houston grew up on the water around Dinkins Bayou in Sanibel and is 4th generation Floridian. He is a true islander, so he knows every inch of the local waterways and where to catch whatever fish someone is looking for.

“I grew up on a boat and fishing with my dad,” said Houston. “I was always educating myself on our ecosystems all over the islands and beyond and I love to take people out and show them the beauty of our area.”

He starts his day early in the morning before sunrise, catching the bait for that day’s trip.

“I have whatever bait we need, you name I am prepared for any fish,” Houston said. “I make sure to bring everything, so the fishing trip is a great day with great people and try to travel to several places.”

Most trips are four hours, but individuals can plan any amount of time they want. Even if someone has never fished with Captain Houston, they can get hooked just by his enthusiasm and knowledge. The level of expertise can be beginner to serious fisherman; Houston can handle it all.

“My favorite is tarpon fishing. It is super exciting when season comes around. I am after them for the fight,” he said. “I can guide you on the best ways to catch snook, redfish, shark, tarpon, any fish you need.”

He wants to offer his customers with a unique experience and show them a different way of looking at the islands and Southwest Florida.

“Lots of people want to catch their dinner for that night. That’s always a lot (of) fun, they don’t go home hungry,” Houston said. “Fishing in Southwest Florida is beautiful, ecology is foremost in the area, sport fishing can be healthy for you with lots of activity. I know I do it every day and its paradise.”

Captain Nelson Diaz

My Captiva Fishing Guide

(239) 810-0656


Jensen’s Marina

“Growing up I had a ritual every day after school, I fished,” Captain Nelson Diaz said smiling. “I used to ride my bike to the bait store and boy was I hooked especially when tarpon season hits. “

He is a true islander and has been fishing his whole life.

“I caught my first tarpon when I was 12 years-old and it was 60 lbs. with my dad and lots of help from everyone around me fishing nearby,” Diaz said. “I grew up fishing with my dad who worked as a handyman all over the islands.”

The cover photo of “6 Days in Sanibel,” by Charles Sobczak features Captain Diaz and his dad walking off the Sanibel Pier.

“My father and I both loved the water and when you’re fishing every day (it) is a new day and is always changing,” he said. “Fishing gets you in a different state of mind, you have time to think. It’s just you and the fish and you are in another world on the water in a boat.”

Captain Diaz enjoys sharing Mother Nature and supplies everything an individual needs including the tackle, rods, license and bait. He said individuals can keep anything that’s legal size and he will even clean it, or teach them how to clean their catch.

Many restaurants like the Lazy Flamingo will cook an individual’s fresh fish catch for them.

Typically families and new fisherman will be taken out for a half day, which is four hours. For those who really love fishing, Diaz can show them all the best places to catch whatever they’re looking for and that trip can be a six to eight hour day.

“People hire me to take them on new experiences, places they never seen before. Our waters are large and expansive and shallow and I can guide you through to all the perfect spots,” said Diaz. “I always remember what my good friend Bob Sabatino said to me. He was one of the original fishing guides on the islands. I asked him when is the best time to fish and he said, ‘whenever you feel like it.'”