Even if the actual organized version of the seafood festival comes but a few times per year to the Southwest Florida area, there is an unofficial festival of seafood going on year round. It is widley available and a favorite of locals and visitors alike. Fishing in the tropical paradise known as Southwest Florida can be one of the most rewarding experiences you may ever have. Much of our coastline is lined with mangroves, a prime ingredient for an estuary which is basically a breeding ground for both bait fish and sport fish. A quick excursion to deeper waters where shipwrecks and artificial reefs provide the perfect sanctuary for a variety of Grouper, Snapper and Mackerel.

The sheer abundance of natural seafood is astounding. There are more than 1,000 species of fish in the Florida waters and most of them are edible. There is a restaurant for every taste preference and for every budget. Marco Island just that kind of place where you can get white linen table service or have that cute older couple at the corner market pack up a picnic lunch for you to enjoy at the beach, on a boat, or even on the dock of the bay!

Like everything else universally relevant, there is a time, place and season for our delicious bounty. Over the course of tens of thousands of years, the teeming rich waters have brought forth this fish-a-rific bounty that continues to sustain a visitor today from Manitoba as graciously as it had the Calusa Indians in times before.

Yesteryear, we imagine a Calusa couldn’t step out into the water on Tigertail beach during low tide without tripping over 100 different tasty treats for him to either pop into his mouth right then and there and/or bring home arms laden with nautical delights to the tribe.

Today, when the fresh, authentic Marco Island seafood hits the fire, there’s a good chance it’s being prepared by perhaps someone who is a Marco Island native and has been handed down his recipes from his ancestors who were members of the Everglades Gun and Rod Club.

No matter who prepares your native dish, rest assured that each chef that crosses the bridge into Marco Island takes an unofficial vow with the sanctity of our seafood. The freshness and flavor profiles have been documented world over. Save your appetite, because, yes, my friends. It is that good.

Here’s a brief list of the fresh, local fish you may see on local items. When in doubt, always check with your server as to what the chef’s special is, and it never hurts to ask the server what their favorite local seafood dish is. Here’s a brief list of edible fish found off the waters of Marco Island. Not all of them are available and many items enter into seasonal issues. However, you never know what may pop up on local Marco Island menus. It’s the new year so it’s the perfect time to try something new!