Who Needs a Boat?

Surf Fishing in Fernandina Beach

By: Jamie D.

Fishing here on Amelia Island is some of the best in all of Florida. Red bass, Trout, Drum, Whiting and Blues are all abundant and for the most part can be caught year round. But what does one do if you don‚Äôt have a boat? Well, if you’re one that dreams of fishing 24 hours a day and are currently boat-less, Amelia Island offers some great areas to fish from shore.

The most obvious is the beach. Beach fishing can be a lot of fun and offers something for the whole family to do if fishing isn’t their thing. Beach accesses are located all along Fletcher Avenue equip with walkovers and plenty of parking. If you own a 4 X 4 truck there are still several beaches open for driving located at the Scott Road access, Sadler Road access, American Beach, Peters Point and the South end of Amelia Island. Gear needed are big surf poles with spinning reels, #3 Р#5 pyramid sinkers, and fresh dead local shrimp. Hooks should be a #3 or #4 “J” hook with a small barb. Simply cast as far out as you can and make sure you line stays tight. Blues, Whiting and Reds are all caught at the beach and often times in huge numbers. Try the outgoing tide as that seems to be the best fishing.

Located under the twin fixed bridges is a local favorite spot that you can drive right up to. This is the Amelia River and the Intercoastal waterway. Surf tackle can be used here also but due to the rocky bottom an egg sinker works better than a pyramid. Squid or local fresh dead shrimp is the bait of choice and if available try fishing a live shrimp right on the bottom. Anything is possible when fishing the bridges so pay close attention to your pole when your baits in the water as one big fish and a poorly placed rod may end up in the river.

The south end of Amelia Island is the last state park in Nassau County. There are several places to fish here depending on what you’re targeting. The main park entrance has a large parking lot and an access for beach driving. If you’re parking and walking head north and go back under the bridge. Here you will find marshland and feeder creeks that hold lots of bait and trophy size Red fish. Use a cast net to catch fresh live Mullet and fish them on the bottom near the mouth of the feeder creeks where they empty into the Nassau Sound. Careful in this area, lots of oyster beds and rocks all along the shoreline, shoes are a must. If you prefer to drive down on the beach you have several options. You can stop and try your luck along the shore of the Nassau Sound or head east to the Atlantic Ocean. Look for strong eddies and sandbars that will be holding fish in good numbers. Typical surf tackle is recommended here and if you’re able to locate mullet in the surf try netting them for bait, for dead bait use fresh local shrimp. This area is ever changing so pay close attention to your surroundings as the shoreline can disappear at high tide in some places and trust me getting stranded here is no fun. Lastly is the old A1A Bridge. The State of Florida left in place the old bridge to be used for the sole purpose of fishing. It offers anglers a different perspective on angling her at the south end and is by far the most accessible for the elderly and handicapped. Parking is located right at the foot of the bridge and the entire area is made up of smooth concrete. Wheelchairs, fishing carts, umbrellas, chairs and pull along coolers are all welcome on the bridge so if making a day of it, pack some extra water snacks. Heavy pyramid sinkers and heavy surf tackle should be used as the current can be very strong. Use only shrimp in large pieces for bait unless fresh local squid is available. Either one will produce good numbers of fish.

When fishing from the shore no fishing license is required, however all the laws and regulations dealing with the species, size and bag limits do so make sure you have a current copy of the Florida fishing regulations with you at all times. If you find yourself with nothing to do one afternoon check out one of the hot spots, chances are someone will be there fishing and I’d be willing to bet if you’re nice they might just loan you a pole to fish with them.

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