As the summer gets into full swing, the fishing changes dramatically on the Imperial River. During the winter months of little rain, the river is brackish up past Riverside Park (Old 41). Snook, Sheepshead, Sailfish Cats (Gafftopsail Catfish), and even Redfish are caught up this far. But as the rains continue every afternoon we see the fresh water start to creep down farther. This means a lot of the saltwater fish move down river also.
As the summer progresses look for Tarpon in the river up to the power lines and the Bass, Gar, and Tilapia, and we have even seen Peacock Bass on the upper river. Snook don't mind fresh water and you can still see the big lunkers patrolling the edges. With the warmer water, retrieve your artificial bait faster.
One of the things I always tell people when fishing under new circumstances or locations is try to "match the hatch." See what seems to be the predominate bait in the area at the time and use it or imitate it with artificial bait. From Bonita Grande to Big Hickory, the Imperial offers an assortment of fishing options.
As the summer gets on, the inland waters of the Everglades rises and we get sheet flow. This means the river gets higher even though there was no rain close by. I have seen the river flow over the docks in the park and up over the walkways also.
I like to fish just before a full moon or ahead of a weather front moving in. But be careful this time of year. Thunderstorms in Florida are killers. Each year people are killed by lightning in this area. Bonita Springs, like many of the cities in SW Florida, have lightning sirens and they blast if lightning is within 10 miles. Lightning in SW Florida can stike from 20 miles away. If you hear the lightning sirens, get under cover ASAP. If you are on the river, get under a bridge and let someone know where you are if you have a phone with you. Don't use the phone out in the open if there is lightning. If you can hear thunder, get under cover. Storms can materialize here in a matter of an hour. They build on the coast and then move inland with the sea breeze. Summer is very productive on the river, but take special care to check weather conditions before going out.
Good luck and great fishing.