Footprints in the Sand, It’s Nice to Be Back on the Beach


It’s nice to be back on the beach.

A good portion of my fishing guide life was spent plying the waters of Estero Bay and her many rivers and creeks for gamefish. I retired due to health reasons almost five years ago, and although I live off island, the love of the bay and Fort Myers Beach has never waned. When recently approached by the Island Sand Paper to write a column about beach life, I happily said yes. My writings will not only be about fishing, but the many places and people that make Estero Island my home away from home.

I grew up on a beach. Specifically Clearwater Beach. My family moved there in 1959. It was an ideal childhood that included fishing, sailing, shelling and lots of time on the beach. After a stint in the United States Coast Guard, residing in Kentucky, and a move to the east coast of Florida, I managed to make my way over to Fort Myers.

New Pass Bridge from Estero Bay.

It’s all my brother’s fault. After he graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona, he landed a job at the brand new international airport here in Fort Myers. I got a call that went something like this. “You really need to see this place. It’s beautiful and the fishing is fantastic.” That’s all it took.

Early on I spent a lot of time in Cape Coral, Pine Island, Sanibel Island and Captiva Island. By boat I explored North Captiva, Cayo Costa, Useppa Island and Cabbage Key. But not once did I venture to Fort Myers Beach. That just seems so odd to me now. I was obviously missing out on a place that was very similar to the beach where I grew up.

That changed in the mid 1980’s. My brother, myself and our families were doing what is now called ‘staycations’ on Sanibel. Long story short, the prices climbed and we began searching the area for other options and found the Pink Shell Resort on Fort Myers Beach. This was back when they had rows of cottages that you could park your car under, (shade is a must in the summer heat) and you could easily walk to the beach, fish on the backside of Estero Island and make your way to the Tiki Bar. We loved it, the kids loved it, and we made it our summer getaway for several years.

Barry Nichols shows off a redfish caught in Hendry Creek. Photos by Rob Modys.

Fast forward to 2008. I’d been running my fishing guide business, SoulMate Charters, out of Punta Rassa at the public ramp since 2001. I got a call from a friend that Al Durrett would like to meet me about a possible move to Fish Tale Marina, located at the southern end of Fort Myers Beach. The rest, as they say, is history. The move turned out to be good for me, and for guide businesses at Fish Tale. Eventually there were eight captains working inshore and offshore, and the marina soon became a hub for fishing and exploring the waters around Estero Island.

I sure do miss marina and guide life. It was tough at times, and working almost every day on the water can be hard on the body, but there isn’t another ‘office’ I’d rather head to each and every day.

I’m very excited about my return to Fort Myers Beach via my writing. Everyone is down-home and cares a great deal about Florida and the quality of island life. Perhaps you’ll spot me fishing on the beach or enjoying a cold one at one of the many local hangouts. Be sure to say hello.

Captain Rob Modys is a lifetime Florida outdoorsman, retired spin & fly fishing guide and host of REEL Talk Radio on ESPN 99.3 FM from 7-10 a.m. every Saturday morning. He is past president and board chairman of the Florida Outdoor Writers Association and serves on the board of the Florida Guides Association. Capt. Rob also shares his fishing knowledge in a series of fishing classes at Bass Pro Shops.