Warming summer water temperatures attract large schools of fast swimming king mackerel to many of Northeast Florida's prime fish habitats. King mackerel fishermen will be targeting the speedy kingfish at offshore live bottoms, wrecks, rock ledges and in close to Amelia Island's pristine beaches and fishy inlets. The summer kingfish action will be highlighted by the 36th Annual Fernandina Beach Fishing Rodeo August 3rd and 4th. Seasoned saltwater fishermen will compete for cash awards for the largest kingfish and several other species that are eligible in the "Rodeo" portion of the popular event. There will also be a "Kayak" division as well. For more information please visit www.nsfafish.net.
The 38th Annual Greater Jacksonville King-fish Tournament will be held July 16-21. For more information please visit www.king fishtournament.com.
Some of the more productive kingfish waters include the Elton Bottom, Fernandina Snapper Grounds, Amberjack Hole, Haddock's Hideaway, the Nassau Live Bottom, Nassau Sound and the St. Mary's shipping channel.
Popular kingfish live baits include menhaden, mullet, threadfin shad and Spanish sardines. During major kingfish events king mackerel teams will be able to purchase South Florida imported goggle eyes and blue runners at major boat ramps as well. Offshore live bait trolling also produces exciting strikes from cobia, dolphin, barracuda, Spanish mackerel, sailfish, bonito, amberjack and the occasional wahoo.
Blue water fishermen can expect to find blue marlin, wahoo, sailfish, dolphin and blackfin tuna at Northeast Florida's "Big Ledge". Here, water depths begin to sharply drop off from 180 feet of water to over 1,000 feet in less than a mile.
The big ledge is located some 65 nautical miles directly east of the St. Mary's inlet. Look for plastic skirted lures rigged with large ballyhoo to provide fast hitting, blue water trolling action. Some of the more popular lures include the "Islander", the C&H "Wahoo Whacker" and the "Cedar Plug".
Summer tarpon weighing to 200 pounds are plentiful along the beaches and at both the St. Mary's and Nassau inlets, as well as in close to the beaches. Chum fishing from an anchored boat is extremely popular while using cut up or ground menhaden. Large menhaden, or live whiting, are then barbed with 50-lb. tackle and freelined out into the chum slick. A six-foot section of 100-lb. monofilament shock leader and 8/0 circle hook completes your tarpon setup.
Summer redfish action continues to highlight Amelia Island's fishing action, particularly at the St. Mary's rock jetties. "Bull Reds" weighing to over 30 pounds can be found holding in the deep channel waters and the very tip of both the north and south jetty rocks. Fishing with cut menhaden, mullet or bluefish right on the bottom is a deadly fishing tactic. The best redfish tides include the last of the falling and the last few hours of the incoming tides
Backwater fishermen will find redfish weighing to 15 pounds while sight-fishing the shallow flats. Summer redfish lures include the Johnson Spoon, flashy spinners rigged with plastic tails, or Berkley Gulp shrimp rigged to led head jigs. Topwater plug including Rapala's "Skitter Walk" and Mirror Lure's, "Top Dog", both draw explosive redfish strikes.
Sea trout are also running in the backwater during the summer months, particularly during a high, flood tide. The new "Live Target" Glass Minnow Bait Ball jerk bait is a deadly sea trout lure when worked just under the surface. Also include Storm's "Chug Bug" and the "Johnny Rattler". Backwater fishermen will need a lot of patience as to when to set the hook. A good rule of thumb includes waiting until you feel the pressure of the trout on your fishing rod before setting the hook. Sea trout have been known to blast a plug clean out of the water without feeling the sting of the hooks.
Other backwater species include flounder, bluefish, whiting, black drum, jack crevalle and a variety of sharks.
Beach fishing is great for excellent-eating pompano and whiting while fishing on the bottom with sand fleas or fresh shrimp. Sand fleas can be secured by sifting the surf where waves are washing over shallow bars with a sand flea rake. Fish the flood tide and the first few hours of the falling tide for best results. Surf fishermen can also expect to catch flounder, puppy drum, redfish, blues and small sharks.
Some of the best surf fishing comes along Amelia Island's beaches, including the Fort Clinch little jetties, the old "Pipe Line" and the rock jetties located at the south end of Amelia Island. You can also enjoy great saltwater fishing from the George Crady fishing pier located at Nassau Sound at the southern end of Amelia Island.
Crabbing is great family fun in many of Amelia Island's tidal rivers and bays. Crab during low tide phases when blue crabs gather in deep sloughs. Tie a chicken part onto a long string, with a four-ounce lead weight attached to the end of the string. When a crab tugs, pull the crab slowly to the surface and secure with a long-handled crab net.
Keep the crabs alive in a bucket of water until ready to cook. Place the live crabs in a pot of boiling water with crab seasoning added. Boil the crabs until they turn a bright pink and enjoy!
Non-Florida residents over the age of 16 will need a saltwater fishing when fishing from piers, bridges and land. This also includes crabbing. For more fishing and charter fishing information, call the Amelia Angler Outfitters at (904) 261-2870, or visit www.ameliaangler.com.