Jacksonville Florida fishing tips

Jacksonville Florida Fishing Tips

Fishing Jacksonville Florida, action and variety!

This article will share some great Jacksonville Florida fishing tips . Jacksonville is in the north east corner of Florida, near the Georgia state line. It offers anglers excellent fishing for a variety of species. The St. Mary’s River and Amelia River in Fernandina Beach are a short drive away and offer excellent fishing as well.

Jacksonville Florida fishing tips

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While Jacksonville is in Florida, it is far north enough to have four seasons. It does get cold there. Jacksonville also has a more extreme tidal range that most parts of Florida. Three feet is a “big” tide in many parts of Florida. Jacksonville will see seven feet tides on the full moon.

Anglers fishing Jacksonville Florida have three distinct environments in which to fish. They can work the tidal creeks and rivers. The downtown area of the St. Johns River and inlet offer good fishing, especially for trophy redfish. Offshore anglers target bottom fish such as grouper and snapper along with king mackerel and other pelagic species.

Fishing Ladies local pro Laura Thompson

We are fortunate to have a local expert as our Jacksonville correspondent. Laura Thompson has been fishing this area for years with her husband Shawn.

Jacksonville Florida fishing tips

“I started fishing as a child. I grew up in a rural area and had to keep myself entertained. Fortunately, we had a pond and a creek. My passion for fishing started at an early age. My husband grew up saltwater fishing. Once we bought a boat he showed me a whole new world. I have been addicted ever since!”

Fishing Jacksonville Florida tidal creeks

fishing in Jacksonville

Laura really enjoys fishing the Jacksonville area tidal creeks and rivers. This can be challenging as the tide has so much affect on fish movements. A seven foot tide changes drastically affect fish locations and feeding patterns. Understanding how tides affect fish movements is the key to success

A 7′ medium action spinning outfit works well for this “back country” style of fishing. It is light enough to cast a shrimp or light lure, but has enough muscle to turn a nice fish. A selection of jig heads, soft plastic baits, shallow diving plugs, weedless spoons, and of course hooks, split shot, and corks will fill out the tackle requirements. Here is a Penn Conflict 3000 bombo. It is a nice all-round spinning outfit for inshore fishing. Click on the link to purchase or shop.

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Let’s go through the tide cycle. Low tide will find fish in the holes and channels. As the tide rises, fish move out of the deep water and move up on the bars and flats. As the water reaches flood tide, fish will be scattered everywhere. When the tide turns, fish will reverse the process and work their way back to the deeper water. They do not want to get “stranded” on the flat with no water.

Jacksonville black drum

Redfish, sheepshead, flounder, black drum, jack crevalle, and speckled trout are the primary species that anglers will encounter when fishing Jacksonville Florida on the flats. Laura likes the lower tide stages, especially the falling tide.

Importance of tides

“Low water will concentrate the fish. On the high tide, there is just too much water to fish. Game fish will position themselves at the mouths of feeder creeks and oyster bar points that drop off into deeper water. These are natural ambush spots for predators.”

Florida fishing tips

Anglers can be successful fishing both live and artificial baits. One approach that works well is to employ both techniques. Fish can be scattered over a large area. Power fishing with search baits such as a gold weedless spoon or a shallow diving plug will allow anglers to cover a lot of water quickly. Once fish are found, slowing down and working the area thoroughly with a jig or live bait will maximize the spot.

Shrimp is king in Florida, and Jacksonville is no exception. Shrimp are available all year long and catch everything that swims. They are a great all-round bait. They can be fished under a cork or free lined with a split shot or two. Laura also has success using quarter cut blue crabs, mullet, fiddler crabs, and mud minnows. Fiddler crabs are a popular sheepshead bait. Anglers targeting flounder do well using mud minnows.

Fishing for flounder

Fishing downtown Jacksonville and inlets

The star of the St. Johns River in downtown for anglers fishing Jacksonville Florida is without a doubt bull redfish. Bull reds are giant redfish that usually school up in the river. These fish are VERY large, much bigger than the average five pound fish found in most of Florida. They are found in Fernandina Beach to the north as well.

Jacksonville Florida fishing tips

The primary technique when targeting these giant redfish is to anchor on the edges of the river channel and bottom fish with live and cut bait. Anglers need to heed boat traffic, especially in Jacksonville. Commercial and recreational boat traffic can be heavy. Bends in the channel are top spots.

Anglers need to beef up the tackle for this type of fishing. These are big fish in heavy current. Laura uses medium conventional tackle spooled with 65 pound test braided line. Here is a good, versatile Penn combo for large reds and other saltwater species, a Squall 30 click on the link to purchase or shop.

The rig consists of a 3 ounce to 12 ounce ounce sinker, depending on current, on a weight slide. A 24” 60 lb leader and a 7/0 circle hook completes the rig. Best baits are whole blue crabs, live pogies, and large cut mullet. Laura recommends the bottom of the outgoing tide, just before it turns. It is much easier to fish when the current flow eases up.

fishing for redfish in Jacksonville

Fishing downtown Jacksonville for other species

Anglers fishing the “downtown” section on the St. Johns River can experience some excellent action. While the scenery is a bit “industrial”, that does not deter from the fishing. Flounder, trout, reds, drum, jacks, sharks, and other species with take a jig and grub or live shrimp fished near docks, seawalls, bridges, and other structure.

Once again, tides are very important. The best fishing is before and after the turn of the tide. It can be difficult fishing in the middle of the tide when it is running hard. Holes are excellent ares on the low tides. Docks, seawalls, and shorelines are best on the higher tide stages.

Anglers do not need a boat to enjoy the excellent fishing the Jacksonville offers. There are many parks along the river that give access to shore bound anglers. Also, surf fishing is productive along the entire coast line around Jacksonville. This is a great resource that shows the many parks in the area that offer anglers without a boat fishing access. View these spots HERE.

Fishing Jacksonville Florida inlets

The jetties at the mouth of the St. Johns River and St Mary’s River are terrific fishing spots! They basically long artificial reefs. Abundant structure will attract redfish, black drum, speckled trout, jack crevelle, flounder, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, and more. Drifting with a live shrimp on a jig head is a good technique. Angler are discouraged from anchoring in the Jacksonville inlet.

fishing Jacksonville inlets

“Breaking” fish are often found just outside the jetty on a calm morning. Mackerel, jacks, blues, and other species can be seen feeding on the surface. In the fall, the East Coast of Florida experiences the infamous “mullet run”. Action can be incredible for these species as well as tarpon, sharks, cobia, and more.

Tarpon show up sometime in June and stay for several months. This is big game fishing and heavy spinning tackle is generally used. Anglers cast live crabs and mullet to rolling fish. Tarpon are also caught in the inlet and up the river as well.

Jacksonville Florida fishing tips

Fishing Jacksonville Florida waters in the inshore Atlantic

Anglers fishing the inshore waters of the Atlantic Ocean experience some excellent coastal fishing as well. Pelagic species such as Spanish mackerel, false albacore, king mackerel, jack crevalle, and sharks can be caught by anglers fishing within a couple miles of the beach. Spring and fall are generally the best times to fish.

One great aspect to this style of fishing is that much of it is visual. Fish are often times seen feeding ferociously on the surface. Anglers position the boat within casting range and toss jigs, plugs, and spoons into the mix. A strike is all but guaranteed! On days when fish are not “showing”, trolling spons and plugs is a great way to locate them.

Florida Spanish mackerel fishing

One really cool thing happens in early fall, the mullet run! Hordes of finger mullet migrate south along the Jacksonville beaches. Hungry game fish are right on their heels. Just about every species is liable to be encountered when working the schools of mullet. They are easy to see as large dark spots in the water. Anglers work to edges of the schools as game fish seek to pick off the strays.

Offshore fishing in Jacksonville, Florida

Jacksonville offers offshore anglers several opportunities as well. The fishing is similar to most of the Atlantic coast. Bottom fishing and trolling are the two techniques most often employed when fishing off the Jacksonville coast. The Gulf Stream is quite a way offshore, 50-70 miles or so. That is a long run, but boats that can make it catch tuna, dolphin, and wahoo. Anglers fishing

offshore fishing in Jacksonville

Bottom fishing is pretty basic. Anglers drop a live or cut bait down to the bottom on a natural ledge, artificial reef, or wreck. Shrimp, squid, sardines, and just about any live bait fish will all produce. Laura’s top offshore bottom fishing bait is squid. Anchoring, drifting, or “motor fishing” are all used to keep the boat in prime position. It all depends on the depth of the water and current sea conditions.

Grouper, snapper, triggerfish, cobia, amberjack, and other species will be caught by anglers bottom fishing. The best depth for targeting these fish are 40 Feet to 100 feet. Red snapper do tent to be caught out in deeper water that mangrove snapper and grouper.

snapper fishing in Jacksonville

Fish can be caught all year, but the best time to fish offshore in this area is fall when it starts to cool off. Grouper and snapper are closer to shore. They are found on ledges in depths between 50 feet and 75 feet deep. This is about 15 miles from shore.

Jacksonville bottom fishing spots

Here is a list of local bottom fishing spots,

Sahlman’s Gulley

GPS 30-40.07’N/ 81-09.34’W

Ponte Vedra Ground

GPS 30-12.11’N/ 81-04.52’W

Nine Mile

GPS 30-23.32’N/ 81-10.11’W

Montgomery Reef

GPS 30-26.47’N/ 81-13.12’W

Haddock’s Hideaway

GPS 30-34.03’N/ 81-08.26’W


GPS 30-38.13’N/ 81-13.22’W


GPS 30-36.35’N/ 81-10.35’W

Tournament Reef

GPS 30-27.47’N/ 80-55.46’W

Tanzler’s Waters

GPS 30-29.37’N/ 80-57.30’W

Amberjack Hole

GPS 30-32.49’N/ 81-03.10’W

Desco Boat

GPS 29-53.16’N/ 81-00.31’W

Blackmar’s Reef

GPS 30-21.55’N/ 80-50.05’W

Harm’s Ledge

GPS 30-22.20’N/ 80-53.52’W

Main Flagler

GPS 29-31.65’N/ 80-57.00’W


GPS 30-07.05’N/ 80-33.25’W

Anglers trolling lures such as spoons, plugs, and skirted baits catch fish as well. King mackerel are the most targeted species. However, false albacore, tuna, dolphin, wahoo, and even billfish can be encountered, depending on the depth being fished.

Jacksonville Florida fishing

One good strategy anglers use is to employ both techniques on an offshore trip. They troll while on their way to the ledge or reef. Then, once at the destination, they can switch gears and do some bottom fishing. This is also a great way to locate new fishing spots.

In conclusion, this article on our ladies fishing Jacksonville Florida should help anglers catch more fish when in the northeast part of Florida!

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