The Myakka River is a magnificently beautiful and natural river that is host to countless saltwater fish and freshwater fish in the upper reaches. It was designated as a Florida Wild and Scenic River by State legislature in 1985. It is one of only two rivers in Florida to be recognized with this special status. The act provides for preservation and management of the 34-mile portion of the river within Sarasota County.
Most of the watershed lies to the north in Manatee County, but the Myakka does not become well-defined as a river until its numerous tributaries coalesce near the Sarasota County boundary where the river enters Myakka River State Park. Here you will find two lakes and extensive marshes which the river meanders through. Alligators live in harmony with mankind on this river.
You can see alligators and wading birds in a day of boating on the river. The state park is a great starting point and is open year-round. In the winter, ducks and shorebirds feed in the shallows as bald eagles and ospreys fish from above. Sandhill cranes nest along the water’s edge. Twelve miles of the Wild and Scenic River flow through the park.
Lower Myakka Lake lies in the 7,500-acre Wilderness Preserve south of SR 72. From the lake the river courses for several miles through a narrow, serpentine channel, bordered by spanish moss-laden branches of live oaks and graceful, arching trunks of sabal palm trees. These miles of solitude and undisturbed banks are ideal for canoeing. A privately-owned dam prevents access during periods of low water. It may be necessary to push the canoe through shallow areas.
Vegetation along the shore of the lower river reflects the saline influence of tidal waters as you get closer to Charlotte Harbor to the south. Incredible fishing is found at the El Jobean bridge. Snook, tarpon and redfish are tangled with daily. A mangrove island south of U.S. 41 supports a nesting colony of endangered wood storks and is designated as a Critical Wildlife Area. Boat ramps are located at Snook Haven and Myakka River Oyster Bar (commercial) and at Myakka River State Park.
For a fantastic fishing trip, scenic canoe or kayak trip, birding or a leisurely float this is a truly scenic river.