Fishing along the beaches and at the St. Mary's and Nassau inlets during the summer fishing season is excellent for "Bull" reds weighing to over 40 pounds! Tarpon weighing to well over 100 pounds are schooling as well, along with large sharks, jack crevalle, bluefish and the occasional king mackerel. Fishing deep with live mullet or menhaden is key when targeting all the above species.
Kingfish weighing to 50 pounds are rare, with the average mackerel weighing from 15 to 30 pounds. The annual Greater Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament, held from July 12-17, is a huge attraction for local fishing teams. For more event information visit www.kingfish tournament.com.
The annual Fernandina Beach Kingfish and Fishing Rodeo will run on July 31 and will take place at the footsteps of historic downtown Fernandina Beach and the Fernandina Harbor Marina. For more information please visit www.nsfafish.com.
Offshore bottom fishermen will enjoy excellent action during the summer for gag grouper, triggerfish, sheepshead, black sea bass and red snapper. Trolling species found offshore include the occasional sailfish, cobia, kingfish, barracuda, bonito, and dolphin. A special three-day season for red snapper is planned by the Florida Wildlife Commission. Be sure and check with www.myfwc.com to be sure what species of bottom fish are currently in season.
One of the more popular offshore fish havens includes the "Fernandina Snapper Grounds" also referred to as FA fish haven. This popular offshore structure has it all - natural and manmade reefs and a sunken barge - and is located only nine miles offshore from the entrance of the St. Mary's inlet. FA fish haven is located at GPS 30-40.07'N/ 81-09.34'W.
KBY reef is also a popular artificial reef and is located only six miles northeast of the St. Mary's inlet. Fishermen here can expect to catch plenty of sheepshead, black sea bass and red snapper. A can buoy with a flag marks the center of the reef, latitude 30-46.65’N, longitude 81-17.32’W. The KBY reef was constructed of materials from the old Kings Bay wharf, and consists of broken concrete and pilings. The reef system encompasses some one and a half square miles of bottom.
Finally, "Schultz's Fish Market" is located only five miles offshore of the southern portion of Amelia Island. Here, a natural live bottom holds excellent bottom fishing for gag grouper and the occasional cobia. This artificial reef consists of a spoil area and dump site located at lat. 30-30.03’N, long. 81-15.80’W.
Surf fishing is excellent during the summer fishing season when beach fishermen employ the right baits and fishing gear. Sand fleas are excellent bait for a wide variety of beach species including whiting, sea trout and redfish. Use a sand flea net in the soft sand of Amelia Island's beaches to catch your own bait.
When netting sand fleas, wait for an incoming wave to cover the shallow bed of sand fleas. These beds can be identified by the small antennas of sand fleas poking through the sand when the surf begins to fall. By churning up the sand with your feet ahead of the sand fleas while positioning your net on the ocean side of the bed, the sand fleas are then washed right into your waiting net.
When targeting pompano, surf fishermen should bait both hooks with sand fleas. Always use the pregnant sand fleas - as pompano and other surf species really prefer sand flea roe. Beach fishermen should always bring along fresh shrimp, clams and blue crabs for surf fishing baits as well, when the odd occasion comes when sand fleas simply are not available.
Beach fishing is also excellent during the summer at the very southern portion of Amelia Island where a small jetty rock provides an excellent ambush point for flounder, sea trout and redfish. The best beach fishing tactic here is to wade out to the rocks in waist-deep water and cast a 1/4-oz. led head jig rigged with a plastic twister tail in the clear with silver metal flake color pattern. Making long casts to either ends of the jetty rocks while working the jig and plastic tail lure combo super slowly along the bottom is one of my favorite fishing tactics for beach trout. The beach trout here are typically all keepers, running from 16 to 20 inches.
Amelia Island State Park, located at the southern tip of Amelia Island and the foot of the George Crady public fishing pier, affords for easy access both on foot and driving to the "Little Jetties". Non-Nassau County residents are required to purchase a $6 beach driving permit here. A $2 park fee per person is also required.
Back country fishermen will enjoy unusual flood tides and find redfish tailing in the flooded spartina marshes. Simply get out of your shallow water skiff and wade the marshes while casting a crab pattern fly, spoon fly, gold Johnson spoon, or a 1/8-oz. led head jig rigged with a Berkley Gulp shrimp in the New Penny color pattern. During low tide periods, big schools of redfish can be seen schooling on the shallow flats where numerous oyster bars, creek mouths and boat docks are present.
Sea trout weighing to 10 pounds will be taking live finger mullet fished under a small float where deep channels pass by such fishy structures as boat dock pilings or oyster bars.
Freshwater fishing in the Nassau and St. Mary's river systems should be excellent in the upper feeder creeks for largemouth bass weighing to 10 pounds. Lofton and Boggy Creeks offer excellent bass fishing when casting a minnow type plug or a dark, weightless plastic worm. Be prepared to catch striped bass, redfish and sea trout where saltwater mixes with freshwater!
For more fishing charter information please visit www.ameliaangler.com or call 904-261-2870.