Surf fishing is excellent during the summer and early fall fishing seasons when beach fishermen employ the right baits and fishing gear. Sand fleas are excellent baits for a wide variety of beach species including whiting, pompano, sea trout and redfish. Amelia Island beaches offer soft sand with ideal conditions for catching sand fleas buried down in the sand.
Netting sand fleas with a custom sand flea rake is the best way to catch these ideal surf fishing baits. I would recommend visiting one of the local bait and tackle stores and purchasing a good sand flea net, as small bait nets just won't get the job done. You will need a wide-mouth custom sand flea net.
When netting sand fleas, wait for an incoming wave to cover the shallow bed of sand fleas. These beds of sand fleas can be identified by their small antennas 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 sand flea net on the ocean side of the sand fleas, they are then washed right into your waiting net.
During the summer and early fall, good numbers of pompano are plentiful where beach fishermen will normally begin prospecting at "American Beach". Here, there is soft sand and many sand flea beds. While walking along the beach, fishermen should look for two things - sandpipers and periwinkle shells. When you see one or more sandpipers feeding in close to the breaking surf, this is more than likely going to hold several beds of sand fleas.
Most beach fishermen will come up empty handed when catching sand fleas because they simply do not know two key factors to look for. Sand fleas have an antenna that when buried up in the shallow sand, their antenna causes a ripple in the water. When you see several of these small ripples, this tells fishermen they have just located a nice bed of sand fleas.
When targeting pompano, surf fishermen should bait both hooks with sand fleas. Pregnant sand fleas make for the best bait, 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.
Surf fishermen will catch more fish when making long casts up to 200 feet out into the surf. A 14-ft. surf rod with a medium action tip will give your cast a bow-and-arrow effect when making long casts. A double-rig pompano rig works best when best employing a 4-oz. pyramid weight at the bottom of the leader.
Beach fishing is also excellent at the very southern portion of Amelia Island during the summer and early fall, 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 end of the jetty rocks while working the jig and plastic tail lure combo very slowly along the bottom is one of my favorite fishing tactics for beach trout. The beach trout here are typically all keepers, running from 16-20 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. A $2 park fee per person is also required.
Fishing at the St. Mary's and Nassau inlets and along the beaches during the summer and early fall fishing season is excellent for "Bull" redfish 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.
Offshore fishermen will enjoy excellent bottom fishing for gag grouper, triggerfish, sheepshead, black sea bass and red snapper. Be sure and check with www.myfwc.com to be sure what species of bottom fish are currently in season. More than likely red snapper will be out of season.
Back-country fishermen will enjoy unusual flood tides finding 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.
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.