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April 19, 2013

Northeast Florida Seatrout Fishing

Outstanding opportunities for spotted seatrout on Florida's northeast coast.

Fall Back

October through November is the height of the mullet and shrimp run, and where such baits are found en masse, trout and other game fish are nearby. The lower reaches of major rivers and inlets offer great fishing, and surf ­casters get into the action with trout and other species when ­mullet are moving along area beaches.

One October morning last year, my wife, Chris, and son Eric and I fished docks at dawn for seatrout in the lower St. Johns River. We hit the fish and tide just right, and caught about 30 trout, plus two redfish and three flounder, and were back home by 10 a.m.

I talked to two buddies that night at a party. Both had fished that morning too. One had caught a six-fish limit of seatrout from the surf while casting live shrimp from the ­Jacksonville Beach Pier. The other friend had fished Fort George Inlet from his kayak, and while he caught more ­flounder and redfish than trout, he still collected a limit of six fish to 3 pounds.

Now that’s good fishing by any area standard and over a huge coastal region!

Northeast Florida Trout Planner

The best spotted seatrout action in nearly 40 years is happening from Fernandina Beach to Matanzas Inlet. What has caused this surge in trout fishing? First, this part of the state is a ­smorgasbord of fresh water flowing through six inlets along 50 miles of coast. The tidal habitat is ideal for trout, red drum, flounder, black drum, common weakfish and tarpon.

Perhaps the increased salinity of the water from recent droughts has improved conditions, or ­perhaps the Florida net ban that went into effect some 20 years ago has finally yielded such a staggering baitfish and shrimp supply that saltwater sport-fish stocks have boomed.

The State of Florida recognized the uptick in trout last year when the Fish and Wildlife Commission increased the regional limit from five to six fish. 

What: Seatrout, redfish, flounder and other species

Where: Matanzas Inlet; St. Augustine; the lower St. Johns River from the mouth to the ICW; Fort George River and Inlet; the lower Nassau River; Fernandina Beach; and countless and nameless tidal creeks along 50 miles of the ICW

Who: Information is available from a number of area bait and tackle shops, including: 

  • B&M Tackle, Mayport, 904-249-3933
  • Leaders & Sinkers, Fernandina Beach, 904-261-6751 
  • Rick’s Bait & Tackle, Jacksonville Beach, 904-372-4689
  • Arlington Bait & Tackle, Jacksonville, 904-743-3200 
  • Avid Angler, St. Augustine, 904-824-8322
  • Devil’s Elbow Fish Camp, Matanzas Inlet, 904-471-0398 

Local trout guides who can put you into fish and teach you the basics:

  • Chris Holleman, 904-704-6178 
  • Jeff Crabtree, 904-759-1033
  • Tony Bozella, 904-651-0182 
  • Vic Tyson, 904-699-2285
  • Kirk Waltz, 904-626-1128 
  • Larry Miniard, 904-285-7003