Summer Fishing at Amelia

Big news for summer fishermen includes the all new “Fernandina Beach Fishing Rodeo” presented by the Nassau Sports Fishing Association. Formerly called the “Nassau Sports Fishing Association Tournament of Champions” the event also has new dates and a complete new format. The event has been moved from the first weekend of June to August 5-7, 2011.The popular event which formerly was directed to king mackerel, is now a fishing rodeo targeting a variety of deep sea and backwater species of game fish.

Several factors were taken into consideration when changing the event to a more family orientated tournament and a one day event, while at the same time, keeping the same Southern Kingfish Association format for competitive SKA kingfish teams.

Deep sea species for the rodeo portion of the tournament will include amberjack, grouper, dolphin, wahoo and cobia. Backwater rodeo species include redfish, sea trout, flounder, sheepshead and the redfish with the most “Spots”.

The event is also scheduled for the month of August when fishing for a variety of saltwater game fish is best! The Captain’s meeting is scheduled on Friday evening at the Fernandina Harbor Marina where the “Sounds of Centre Street” offer entertainment following the “Captain’s Meeting”.

For more information call the tournament headquarters “Amelia Angler Outfitters” (904-261-2870.

Summer fishing at Amelia Island highlights a wide variety of both fresh and saltwater game fish. King mackerel fishing doesn’t get any during the hot summer fishing season!

King fishing along the pristine beaches of Amelia Island during the high flood tide finds kingfish weighing to 40-pounds feeding on large pods of menhaden. Some of the best beach king fishing comes at the southern tip of Amelia Island where a hard live bottom attracts a variety of baitfish. Live bait trolling with a variety of baits including menhaden, blue runners and mullet can promote exciting kingfish strikes. I have personally witnessed giant king mackerel sky rocketing some 6-8 feet from the water as they capture a live bait trolled on the surface.

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, 50-100 pound spinner sharks will come spinning from the water in a wild aerial display, then taking off on a hundred yard, thumb burning run.

Inlet fishing at both the Nassau and St. Mary’s inlets during the good old summer fishing season is best for tarpon weighing to 150-pounds, cobia, red drum, black drum, kingfish and sharks as well. TV personality Roland Martin once hooked and released a 194-pound 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 ½ ounce led head jig and live shrimp slowly along the deep edges of the jetty rocks is key for many of these excellent eating species. Sheepshead are more apt to take a live fiddler crab barbed to a #1 kahle hook.

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 directly over the bottom structure while fishing dead on the bottom with live cigar minnows, pinfish, mullet, or menhaden. Fifty – pound 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 is also exciting during the summer fishing season offshore 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.

One of the more productive offshore fish havens includes FA fish haven, which is located only 8-miles offshore of the St. Mary’s jetty rocks. FA fish haven includes several large areas of hard bottoms, paired with lime rock ledges and sunken wrecks. The “FA Barge” almost always holds rod bending game fish. Other popular offshore fish havens include FB, FC, HH, the Nassau Bottom and AH reefs. All of these popular fishing waters are marked with GPS coordinates on the local offshore fishing charts.

Be sure and visit your favorite local bait and tackle store before fishing offshore for the latest information and baits that will make your day of deep water fishing a complete success.

The “Continental Shelf” is located some 65-nautical miles offshore of Amelia Island where dolphin fishing is excellent during the summer fishing season. Look for the large expanses of floating sargasum weed lines to hold dolphin weighing to 50-pounds. Trolling with fifty-pound 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.

Before leaving your home port, make sure that you let someone know where your fishing party will be blue water fishing and when you plan on returning.

Backwater fishing for redfish and sea trout is excellent during the warm summer fishing season where topwater fishing is king.

By far some of the best time of the year to target both redfish and sea trout with surface lures is during the summer when the water temperature has warmed up into the low 80’s.

However tides and water clarity become huge factors when working topwater plugs in many of Northeast Florida’s trout and redfish waters. By far the best tide is a high in-coming tide that arrives just after sunrise. Here clear water conditions allow both redfish and sea trout to easily locate your surface plug. The high falling tide also offers excellent topwater opportunities as baitfish begin to fall out of flooded spartina marshes onto nearby shallow mud flats.

Another key factor when targeting topwater trout and reds, is the availability of baitfish. Look for schooling menhaden, mullet and glass minnows and you will be sure to find trout and redfish nearby. I can safely say with the lack of baitfish, you would be much better off cranking up your big motor and exploring new waters.

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 oysterbar. Cast your surface lure up tide of the ambush point, working it slowly past the ambush point and hang on!

Sea trout will frequently come up from under your surface lure during the strike, while redfish will often poke their head out of the water and come crashing down on your surface plug. In both cases, patience in setting the hooks of your surface plug is critical. Many skilled topwater fishermen will actually wait until they feel the pressure of the hooked fish on their rod tip before setting the hooks. Setting the hooks to soon will frequently result in pulling the plug away from the foraging red, or trout.

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, gold, white and chartreuse.

Finally, work your surface plugs slow and with a lot of noise!

Summer surf fishing along Amelia Island beaches include pompano, whiting puppy drum, sea trout, redfish, flounder bluefish and more. Fishing on the bottom with fresh shrimp is key. Best tide includes the last of the in-coming and all of the falling tide.

Crabbing is excellent family fun during the summer fishing season while fishing dead on the bottom with a chicken neck, or fish head. Using a long piece of kite string with a four ounce led weight tied to the end of the string and bait allows fishing dead on the bottom where blue crabs are more likely to be caught. Once a slight tug is detected, pull the crab slowly to the surface and net.

For excellent eating, bring a large pot of water to boil with crab seasoning added. Place the live crabs in the pot and boil until they become a bright pink color. Pick the white crab meat from the crab shell and enjoy!

Non Florida residents sixteen 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, (904)261-2870.



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