Amelia Island fresh and salt water fishing action really peaks during the heat of summer, where some of the best action comes at "High Noon"!
Typically, winds will lay down during the middle of the day as traditional west winds begin to swing to the southeast. During this hour of calm seas, a variety of saltwater game fish take this opportunity to ambush large schools of bait fish holding on the surface. Here, the game fish will become an easy target for the skilled summer angler!
Included in the mix of high noon game fish are cobia, king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, sailfish, tarpon and toothy sharks. Look for the best offshore high noon fishing action to come from rock ledges and wrecks, where huge concentrations of bait fish are certain to be the big attraction. FA, HH, FC and AH are all excellent fish havens.
High noon fishing action also heats up at both the Nassau and St. Mary's inlets, and any areas where shrimp boats are discarding their bi-catch.
Live bait trolling with a variety of baits including menhaden, blue runners and mullet promotes exciting kingfish strikes. Dead baits such as rigged ballyhoo, silver mullet or ribbonfish are also deadly baits when slow trolled along Amelia Island's pristine beaches. Summer king mackerel, also known as kingfish, are extremely fun fish to catch, frequently emptying a mackerel reel within seconds of their strike! Live and dead bait trolling along the beaches will also produce such game fish as pelagic sharks, cobia, Spanish mackerel, bluefish jack crevalle and the occasional barracuda.
Chumming from an anchored or drifting boat is also productive for kingfish, tarpon, cobia, jack crevalle and a variety of pelagic sharks including the exciting "Spinner" sharks. Once hooked, 50 to 100-lb. spinner sharks will come spinning from the water in a wild aerial display, then take off on a hundred-yard, thumb-burning run.
Inlet fishing at both the Nassau and St. Mary's inlets during the good old summertime is best for tarpon weighing to 150 pounds, cobia, red drum, black drum, kingfish and sharks. During last summer's fishing season, tarpon weighing to 175 pounds were hooked and released. TV personality Roland Martin once hooked and released a 194-lb. tarpon while filming a fishing show at Amelia Island.
Fishing along the St. Mary's jetty rocks during the slow-moving tide produces a grab bag catch of flounder, redfish, puppy drum, sea trout, whiting and delicious eating sheepshead. Working a 1/2-oz. led head jig and live shrimp slowly along the deep edges of the jetty rocks is key for many of these excellent-eating species. When live shrimp are not available, barb a 3-inch Berkley Gulp shrimp tail onto a 1/2-oz.led head jig and hang on! Sheepshead will take a live fiddler crab barbed to a #1 Kahle hook. Pinch a large split shot weight just above the hook so that the live fiddler crab sinks slowly down along the rocks.
Amelia Island deep sea fishermen have plenty of options during the warm summer fishing season, where gag grouper and cobia showcase wreck, live bottom and rock ledge fishing. Most deep sea boats will anchor or drift directly over the bottom structure while fishing right on the bottom with live cigar minnows, pinfish, mullet or menhaden. 50-lb. fishing tackle is recommended when hooking giant reef fish and reeling them up and away from the dangers of the deep water structure.
Live bait trolling offshore is also exciting during the summer, where a variety of striking fish including Atlantic sailfish, king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, dolphin, wahoo, blackfin tuna, cobia, barracuda and amberjack will produce an exciting battle at sea. The "Continental Shelf" is located some 65 nautical miles offshore of Amelia Island. Here, dolphin fishing is excellent during the summer fishing season. Look for the large expanses of floating sargassum weed lines to hold dolphin weighing to 50 pounds. Trolling with 50-lb. tackle rigged with ballyhoo, or combinations of ballyhoo and plastic lures are key. Blue water fishermen can also expect to catch blackfin tuna, wahoo, sailfish and the occasional blue marlin.
Backwater fishing for redfish and sea trout is excellent during the warm summer months, where topwater fishing is king. By far the best time of year to target both redfish and sea trout with surface lures is during the summer when water temperature has warmed up into the low 80s. Look for schooling menhaden, mullet and glass minnows and you will be sure to find trout and redfish nearby. Once you have located both numerous schools of bait fish and clean water, look for ambush points where baitfish are migrating past a marsh point, the mouth of a feeder creek, through a deep slough, or past the deep side of an oyster bar. Cast your surface lure up tide of the ambush point, working it slowly past the ambush point and hang on!
Some of the more productive surface plugs include the Storm "Chug Bug", Heddon "Zara Spook", Bomber "Badonk-A-Donk", Rapala "Skitter Walk" and the traditional Smithwick "Devil's Horse". Best color patterns include black back/white belly, red head/white body or chartreuse back/ white belly. Finally, work your surface plugs slowly, while producing a lot of noise!
Summer surf fishing along Amelia Island beaches produces catches of pompano, whiting puppy drum, sea trout, redfish, flounder, bluefish and more. Fishing on the bottom with fresh shrimp, live sand fleas, cut pieces of blue crab, or fresh squid is key. Best tide includes the last of the incoming and all of the falling tide. Look for some of the best surf fishing action to come from where waves are breaking over shallow bars in the surf, or where run outs have created a deep nearby slough.
The Nassau Sport Fishing Association will hold its 34th Annual "Fernandina Beach Fishing Rodeo" on August 4-5. The event includes eight different species for inshore and offshore fishing teams, and pays first, second and third places. The big event is also a part of SKA Division 5, with the largest king mackerel taking home the big prize. For details visit www.nsfafish.net.
Non-Florida residents 16 and older will need to purchase a Florida non-resident saltwater fishing license when fishing from shore, piers, bridges and from a boat. This also includes crabbing. For more fishing and charter information, call the Amelia Angler Outfitters, 111 Centre Street, (904) 261-2870.