I have fished in the Florida Keys and Southwest Florida approximately 150 days.  I met Captain Joe Harley of Snook Town Charters about 4 years ago.  Capt. Harley fishes out of Matlacha, Florida.  I had a hard time finding Matlacha and saying Matlacha.  Mat-la-che  Matlacha is outside of Cape Coral on the way to Pine Island.

I have now fished with Capt. Harley approximately 40 or 50 days.  I continue to return to fish with him because of the great service and the variety of fishing.

We fish for large tarpon from February through November.  In the summer there are moving tarpon outside the beaches.  There are always snook in the mangroves.  There are redfish at various times throughout the year.

You can contact Capt. Harley at (239) 443-7412 or joe@snooktown.com

Capt. Harley fishes out of Matlacha, Florida.  Matlacha is a small island town focused on tourism and fishing.  There are numerous small hotels to stay in Matlacha.  I have stayed at Angler’s Inn numerous times.  They are nice clean rooms with canal access.  (239) 898-2121; anglersinn@yahoo.com; http://www.anglersinnmotel.com

Each evening Capt. Harley relayed to me the time and place we would meet the next morning.  Capt. Harley lives right in Matlacha on a canal.  Several times he has picked me up at Angler’s Inn.  The times vary depending on the tides and weather.

Capt. Harley is also the lead singer in the band Hipnauticals providing for some local evening entertainment.

I generally fly into the Southwest Florida Airport at Fort Myers and rent a car.  It is a good hour to get from the airport out to Matlacha.

There are several adequate restaurants right in Matlacha.

Capt. Harley’s main focus is adult tarpon.  We have fished for them watching for cruising fish on the beaches in the gulf, on flats in Charlotte Harbor and flats in Pine Island Sound.  I hooked a 150 pounder one calm morning in one foot of water.  The fish could not swim in the water without creating a large wake before and after he was hooked. 

Capt. Harley has an unlimited number of locations to try for the adult tarpon.

When adult tarpon fishing is slow, we generally go look for baby tarpon in canals, by mangrove islands or in the many mangrove areas and lakes throughout the area.  There are some areas that are consistent and others that are trials.  Sometimes the baby tarpon fishing has been excellent.

Sometimes we look for tailing redfish on low tides.  We have located the red’s several times with many opportunities for cast and some caught fish.  There are some spectacular flats for redfishing.

The last trip we actually chased large schools of 200-300 redfish in schools moving along flats.  These fish would churn the water thoroughly and were easy to follow.  The trick was getting staked out or set up in front of the schools for the one or two fleeting shots as they sped by.  We did this for two or three hours two consecutive afternoons.  It was really spectacular.  The time of year for this is apparently September and October.

There is great redfishing for tailing reds in the fall.

We fish in very skinny water such as 8 inches and sometimes up to 10 feet for the rolling tarpon in Pine Island Sound.

Capt. Harley has a custom-made wooden skiff that I find very stable and sufficient.  The terrain and variety of water and conditions are extreme.  There are afternoon showers, storms, and lightning that must be avoided and watched.  Of course, the winds can come from any direction affecting which areas will be fishable.  It seems like Capt. Harley has someplace to go regardless of the weather.  It is always good to have a rain jacket with you.

When the wind is calm in the morning there are some special spots for large tarpon that can be spectacular.

Because of the variety of fish in town we take a variety of rods and reels.  I always like to have a 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 weight rod with floating lines.  We use all of the rods.

Capt. Harley has been fishing these waters since he was in high school in the 1970’s.  He knows the waters very well.  There seem to be flats and banks everywhere with Capt. Harley at the helm.

I have fished with a lot of guides in Florida.  Most of them have been good and some not so good.  I have especially enjoyed fishing with Capt. Harley in Matlacha.  He is well qualified, hardworking and knowledgeable.  He doesn’t have the huge ego some guides have.  He loves to fish whenever he can.

I have already scheduled more days with Capt. Harley and I would recommend him to anyone.  If you are looking for some variety and good company contact Capt. Harley.


I have also fished with many guides in the Florida Keys.  Most of them are great and reasonable.  Some aren’t.  I have had horrible experiences with Capt. Andy Putteti and Capt. JT Gabriel.  I would never fish with them.

I have had great experiences with Mark Krowka, Eric Lund, Adam De Bruin, Rob Walczak, Randy Towe and Rick Ruoff.  Please feel free to contact me at don@mountainpacificre.com for numbers or email addresses.

(Planning to fish in the Seychelles? Learn about fantastic my experience fishing in Providence & Farquhar.)

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