We're not talking about the temperature. When the mercury rises, so does the fishing on the first coast. Rising temperatures herald the annual migration of Atlantic Menhaden known as "pogies." When the pogies arrive, so do the predators that feed on them. First to arrive are cobia, then sharks, jumbo sized jack-crevalle, and last, tarpon.
Little-known, Northeast Florida has one of the best tarpon fisheries in the state of Florida. The numerous sounds, inlets, and creeks make the perfect stopover for migrating tarpon to rest and feed. As the migration progresses from the south, our area first sees tarpon in south of St. Augustine around Matanzas Inlet and the fish work their way north to the state line and beyond.
In addition to the above species, springtime brings the curious tripletail to our area waters. These delicious fish make excellent sight-fishing targets for light tackle and fly anglers as they characteristically lay on their side, imitating floating debris to attract the prey on which they feed.
Not to be discounted, the shark fishing in our area can be excellent. Sharks can be chummed up from behind shrimp boats in eye-popping numbers. Blacktip and spinner sharks make up the primary species, and make for excellent targets on fly and spin tackle. If you've never wrestled with a 60 pound spinner shark on a 12 weight fly rod, you are in for a real treat. Blistering drag runs taking your reel deep into the backing are the norm. The aerial displays spinner sharks put on can sometimes rival that of tarpon.
Exactly which species is targeted depends on the conditions prevailing at the time you intend to book. Tentative plans and likely species can be discussed at the time of booking. Since we run light tackle boats, nearshore fishing is highly dependent on good weather and sea conditions. This can also be discussed as the time approaches for your trip.
Below are general time frames for nearshore species:
Tripletail: Early April through Early May
Cobia: Early April through Mid-May
Sharks (usually blacktip and spinner): May through August
Jack Crevalle: June through August
Tarpon: July through September
an angler fights a large shark on the bow of a Hell's Bay skiff offshore of Amelia Island