If you fly over Charlotte County, you’ll understand why it’s a world-class boating destination.

Charlotte Harbor and the islands that hug its coast are internationally recognized as some of the best fishing grounds in the world. In fact, Charlotte Harbor is Florida’s second-largest open water estuary, formed by the salt water from the Gulf and the fresh water from the Peace, Myakka and Caloosahatchee rivers.

That’s why you can expect a big crowd this year at the 16th Annual Charlotte County Boat Show from Jan. 12 to 15. The event will feature an armada of boats and equipment, including popular models from manufacturers such as Avalon, Chaparral and Robalo. Visitors will be able to experience these models firsthand at the Fish Tale Boats exhibit, located at No. 208 on the map.

Fishing at Charlotte Harbor

Whether its their own personal records or one for the International Game Fish Association record books, fishermen from all over the world visit the Charlotte Harbor area. Tops on everybody’s list: Catching tarpon, a spectacular game fish that puts up a thrilling fight.

Sometimes called the Silver King, the average tarpon weighs between 90 and 130 pounds. Some fishermen have hauled in tarpon weighing more than 200 pounds. According to the Charlotte Harbor Visitor & Convention Bureau, the largest tarpon caught and released alive during a tournament happened during the 2009 Professional Tarpon Tournament Series when Team Miller’s Ale House led by Capt. Artie Price landed a 217-pound silver king.

Named No. 1 by Sport Fishing Magazine

Sport Fishing Magazine has named Charlotte Harbor and Boca Grande Pass as the No. 1 on the list of the world’s top tarpon spots. Thousands of tarpons congregate in Charlotte Harbor and Boca Grande Pass as they migrate to and from their spawning grounds. Several tarpon tournaments take place here including the multi-week Professional Tarpon Tournament Series and World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament sponsored by the Boca Grande Chamber of Commerce. Fishermen catch about 5,000 tarpons each spring in Boca Grande Pass alone, according to some estimates.

Fishing for tarpon is just the start. The back bays and estuaries are home to numerous other fish, including redfish, snook, cobia and grouper.

Waterfront Dining & More in Charlotte County

There’s more to boating in Charlotte than fishing, of course. Island hopping is a popular pastime for boaters as they can anchor off miles of pristine beaches for a day of soaking the sun and spotting dolphins and manatees.

If you’re hungry, head over to Palm Island for a burger at Rum Bay Restaurant. The restaurant is located in the middle of the Palm Island Resort and is easily accessible by boat. Or check out many of the numerous restaurants where you can dock your boat: www.charlotteharbortravel.com/restaurants.

Depending on where you want to go, there’s always a convenient boat ramp nearby. Find the closest boat ramp to your destination here.

Whether you’re planning to fish in Boca Grande Pass, explore the back bays or dock at your favorite restaurant, Fish Tale has the right boat for you. For example, check out the Chaparral boats that will get you to your destination fast. Or consider taking the whole family or a group of friends for a sunset cruise on an Avalon pontoon boat. If fishing the back bays is your passion, check out the Robalo Cayman line.