One of Amelia Island's very best surf fishing baits are sand fleas. These are a favorite when targeting hard-fighting and excellent-eating pompano, as well as a wide variety of beach species including whiting, sea trout and redfish. American Beach's soft sand offers ideal conditions for catching sand fleas, and a low incoming tide is the ideal situation. Also there is very little beach fishing pressure here as most locals fish at the very north and south ends of Amelia Island.
When netting sand fleas with a custom sand flea rake, beach fishermen should wait patiently for an incoming wave to cover the shallow bed of sand fleas. Beds of sand fleas can be identified by their small antennas poking through the sand when the surf falls. Churn up the sand with your feet ahead of the sand fleas, then watch as the sand fleas are washed right into your waiting net.
When the fall migration of pompano begins, beach fishermen will normally begin prospecting at American Beach. While walking along the beach, fishermen should look for two things - sandpipers and periwinkle shells. When you see one or more sandpipers feeding close to the breaking surf, you will more than likely find 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 in the shallow sand 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. Always use the pregnant sand fleas as pompano and other surf species really prefer sand flea roe. When the odd occasion comes and sand fleas simply are not available, beach fishermen should always bring along fresh shrimp, clams and blue crabs for surf fishing baits as well.
Surf fishermen will catch more fish when making long casts up to 200 feet into the surf. A 14-foot 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 employing a 4-oz. pyramid weight at the bottom of the leader.
Fall beach fishing is also excellent at the very southern end of Amelia Island where a small jetty rock provides an excellent ambush point for sea trout and redfish.
I prefer to beach fish for trout and redfish during a high falling tide at the "Little Jetty" rocks located at the very southern portion of Amelia Island. Here, the trout fishing is best when the tide is falling late in the afternoon - and after dark, too. My beach trout 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 trout here are typically all keepers - running from 16 to 20 inches. My largest beach speck so far weighed just over six pounds.
Cam Harrison fills his spinning reels with 8-lb. test Spider Wire Ultra Cast Ultimate mono fishing line while employing a 12-inch fluorocarbon shock leader. A 1/4-oz. led head jig with a clear plastic tail with blue metal flakes offers a deadly trout and redfish lure as Cam makes a slow and inviting retrieve along the bottom.
Naturally, live baits also work well while targeting the "Little Jetty" and beach trout at Amelia Island. Some of the largest trout are taken while fishing with live finger mullet with a "Fish-Finder" setup. The fish finder setup begins with a one-oz. egg weight threaded on to your 20-lb. braided fishing line. Next a small plastic bead is also threaded onto your terminal fishing line followed by a 30-lb. black barrel swivel that is attached to the main line using a Palomar knot. Next, an 18-inch length of 20-lb. fluorocarbon shock leader is attached to the remaining side of the barrel swivel. Finally, a #2 kahle hook is tied to the business end of the leader. Live finger mullet are barbed right through the bottom of the mouth and out through the top of the head and fished slowly along the bottom just behind large, rolling swells.
Live shrimp can also be used with great success while targeting beach trout, and are available at local bait shops on Amelia Island. Here, it is advised to have an aerated five-gallon live bait bucket on hand to house your live shrimp for both transporting and fishing for beach trout.
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 inlet during the fall fishing season is excellent for bull reds weighing to more than 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 be enjoying 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 be enjoying 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.