The Fishing Pier in Venice is not only for anglers. Venice’s 720-foot municipal fishing pier that sticks out into the Gulf of Mexico is an excellent location for fishing, relaxing, and sunset watching. Don’t assume that catching fish is the only activity at the pier. You can hang out, meet people or have a nice lunch or dinner at Sharkey’s or Fins. Both restaurants are at the foot of the structure.
The original Pier didn’t last
The original pier, built in 1966, did not even survive 20 Years. It was destroyed during the 1981 hurricane season by an Unnamed Storm.” However, many Venice residents were already so attached to it that the city decided to rebuild it. However, they didn’t do it immediately; it took three years to finish it. Unfortunately, the hired contractor remodeled using wooden planks; therefore, the pier was again due for repairs 20 years later. Although it was a superior hardwood, it was only good for a relatively short time. Therefore, another contractor came up with a brilliant idea: replacing the wood with plastic composite material should do the trick. Well, unfortunately, that, again, was only good for another 15 years.
Florida’s Weather is not always nice
There is no question about that, although every tourist thinks we have lovely Florida weather. That always means a gentle sea breeze, sunshine, blue sky, and happy Bacardi. However, that can’t be further away from the truth. UV rays are beating down on the material, and in the summer, metal gets so hot that you can easily fry eggs on the surface. The salt in the water and salt droplets in the air are also torturing the metal. On top, when it rains, it pours, and the wind of a tropical storm or hurricane is far from gentle.
A final version of the Pier
After an excessive rebuilding effort, the 20 feet high and 22 feet wide structure was reopened in August 2019. The pier received many improvements to make it more comfortable for nature and people. Special lighting no longer distracts the sea turtles; the contractors added benches and fish cleaning stations with running water. How convenient is that?
Papa’s Bait Shop
Halfway down the pier, Papa’s Bait shop offers frozen and live bait, coffee, treats, t-shirts, and other goodies. If you want to catch your dinner but need the right equipment, Papa’s can help you. For a few bucks, you can rent a fishing pole for the day, and you do not even need a fishing license when fishing from the pier because the city takes care of the licensing. Once you leave the pier, you are on your own. You must buy a saltwater fishing license or get fined.
The Fishing Pier is not only about Fishing
You can hang out with friends, enjoy the atmosphere, and watch the sunset. Nearby are picnic shelters, sand volleyball courts, a pavilion, a golf course, restrooms, and the only dog/ beach park. That is the only beach in the area where your furry friend can swim with you in the ocean. Of course, there are beaches. Miles and miles of white sand beaches invite sunseekers. Caspersen Beach is suitable for shelling and shark tooth hunting, Broward Beach is, as mentioned before, a place where you can hang out with your dog, and Municipal Beach is where you feel safer when somebody is watching out for sharks and sea monsters. It is the only beach with a lifeguard.
Sharky’s on the Pier and Fins at Sharky’s
Two restaurants are at the foot of the pier. And you were already afraid you would have to eat the bait from Papa’s Bait shop when hungry. Nope. Sharky’s on the Pier and Fins at Sharky’s are the two restaurants where you can snack, have a drink, enjoy lunch, or have an extravagant 5-course dinner with family and friends.
Casual or a little more Upscale?
Sharky’s on the Pier stands for casual waterfront dining. A t-shirt and flip-flops are perfect for grabbing a seared and blackened tuna or sipping a refreshingly cool beverage while watching the sunset. Fins, on the second floor of the building, is more upscale. You might feel out of place if you go to Fins in your beach clothes, you want to do a little better. A tuxedo is not required, but a nice shirt and pants will make you feel better. You do not need to order a 5-course meal, but you can do it. At Fins, you can enjoy exquisite cuisine overlooking the Gulf of Mexico—waterfront dining at its best.
Alternative Program – Snook Haven
A short side note: the people who own Sharkey’s and Fins also run Snook Haven. That place is an entirely different ballgame. That old, Florida-style restaurant is in the “jungle” framing the Myakka River. It is unique and so different from other restaurants in the area. The place was first a transshipment place for alcohol. That was during the prohibition when the thirsty Floridian population needed some mood brightener. Living in Florida during the 1920s was still challenging, and a shot of Whisky, or maybe two, could help. In the 1930s, Tarzan and other exotic jungle movies were filmed in that location. Later, it became a private fishing camp, and eventually, in the 1980s, the owners built a cook shack. From that point on, Snook Haven was in the restaurant business.
If you are open to other experiences, leave the beach and have a great time in an exotic jungle. If you want the real thing, rent a kayak or canoe. Of course, gators are in the water, but you have a good chance of coming home alive.