From: Capt. Jim Hammond
Date: April 1, 2001
Time: 18:59:30

Surf Fishing In Northeast Florida

NOW THAT THE NETS ARE GONE.

The surf fishing is something that we can enjoy all year in Florida.

The days are getting longer, the temperatures are rising and the beach on an early morning is a beautiful site, especially when the fish are biting.

When I go surf fishing I like to get an early start but for those of you that like to sleep in, beach fishing allows you to Go When You Can.

The most sought after species in this area for those of us that surf fish is the Whiting and now that the nets are gone we can also enjoy a few pompano. Now for the technique that works best for me.

I usually leave the house around an hour before daylight. This gives me a chance to stop for a cup of coffee and maybe a sweet role.

The Places to Surf Fish:

I like three places around here, Matanzas Inlet, Villano Beach and the Gate Station at Ponte Vedra Beach.

Gear that I take with me for a day of surf fishing:

1. Fresh dead or better yet live shrimp that I have put on ice, about a dozen or two frozen finger mullet

2. A sand flea rake (this will be used to dig sand fleas)

3. A cooler full of ice and drinks

4. Five PVC rod holders (two inch wide, thick wall, pvc, six feet long, cut to an angle on one end)

5. A three to five pound hammer and a piece of 2X4 or 2X6 about 1 foot long

6. Five rods and reels (three 12 foot long Ugly Stik surf casting rods and two light spinning rods)

7. Tackle box consisting of: #4 and 5/0 Daiichii circle wide hooks, #4 Kale hooks, small swivels, plastic beads, 10 and 20 pound test leader line, 1/2 to 2 ounce egg sinkers, 3 to 6 ounce pyramid sinkers, pliers, a knife, a few heavy silver spoons and a few diving or sinking MirrOlures

8. A couple of towels ( I try not to take my wife's good ones but sometimes I just cant help myself)

After I have driven to the beach of choice for this days fishing, I unload enough gear for a small army. I like to bring enough poles to fish several ways.

Fish You Might Catch:

Fishing in the ocean is great because you don't know what you might catch. Here are some species that you should catch: Whiting, Redfish, Spanish Mackerel, Bluefish, Trout, Pompano and of course everybody's favorites, Sting rays and Catfish.

Lets get to fishing: Rod Holders:

After my camp is set up, I take my rod holders and hammer then into the sand, I place the wood on top of the pvc, so the hammer will not damage it. I like to position them along the water line. Be sure and put them in the sand about two feet or more, you don't want a big fish to pull your pole in the ocean.

Long poles:

Rig two of the long poles with a pyramid sinkers at the end of the line, up from there tie a loop in the line and run a # 4 hook through the loop. Go up the line about a foot and tie another loop and again about a foot further up. From the bottom up you will have a sinker, a loop with a hook and two more loops with hooks. Bait this rig with a small piece of shrimp on each hook and cast it as far as you can (toward the ocean) and put the rod in the holder. Be sure your drag is loose enough that a big fish can pull drag.

Take the other long pole and rig it the same way except use only two hooks and they should be the 5/0 circle wide. On this you will want to put a mullet. Hook it through the bottom lip and up through the head. Do the same with this as the other two and place in rod holder. This is for the big fish.

When one of these long poles has a fish on, the rod will giggle around, so keep an eye on them.

Also, you will need to check your bait about every 10 to 15 minutes to be sure that the TR's have not eaten it.

Smaller Spinning Rods:

I like to rig one of the spinning rods with the MirrOlure or spoon and have it standing by in the rod holder.

The other spinning rod is rigged with a fish finder rig. From the end of the line slide on a 1/2 ounce egg sinker then your bead. Then tie on the swivel. To this tie on 1 to 2 feet of 10 pound test leader and to the end of that either a # 4 circle wide or a Kale hook. Bait this hook with a small piece of shrimp.

This pole will be the one that you cast just on the other side of the breakers and hold on to. When the lead hits bottom it will role along the bottom as the current pushes it. The strike is usually very strong so hold on to the rod.

Occasionally you will see schools of fish pass by, now is the time for the rod with the MirrOlure or spoon. Cast the bait in front of the school and work it through them. These fish could be trout, blues, spanish or who knows what, this is the ocean and there are all sorts of fish out there.

DO NOT lay a pole in the sand or dunk it on the water. The sand will tear them up.

Some of the Beaches in this area are State parks and DO NOT allow consumption of alcohol.

Now for some local fishing reports.

The creeks are producing reds, trout, blues and an occasional flounder. These can be caught on an assortment of live and artificial baits, from shrimp to the MirrOlure Top Pup. Try one of the new MirrOlure lipped 52 series, you might be surprised.

The jetties are on fire with almost everything that might want to stretch your string. The only problem is the weatherman letting you get out there. The drum, redfish, whiting and sheepshead can be caught along the edges or at the tips using fresh shrimp on the bottom. The Spanish and blues are thick on the incoming and they will eat a Clark Spoon, mud minnow on a jig or a glass minnow fly. It shouldn't be long before an occasional cobia shows up out there.

The river is producing good numbers of trout and a few blue fish and flounder. These can be caught using a Jaw Jacker jig with a shrimp, minnow, or soft plastic, MirrOlures, or the old standby, the float rig with a live shrimp.

The bass should be along the grass beds and I would use a plastic worm or drift a shiner along the edges.

Don't forget to watch Fun Fishing every Tuesday night at 10pm in Jacksonville on cable channel 7 and in St. Johns County Thursday nights at 7:30pm on channel 22 and cable 53.

For charter information you can call me at (904) 757-7550 or email me at jim@hammondfishing.com.

Good Fishing

Capt. Jim Hammond http://www.hammondfishing.com