Although this area is very popular among local anglers, there are few nonresident visitors. Guides and motel rooms are very available, especially during weekdays. The fishing ranges from very good to terrific, and the weather is usually friendly. Angling action breaks down into three distinct zones: freshwater, inshore saltwater, and offshore saltwater. There are hundreds of lakes, streams, and marshes that offer good largemouth bass and panfish, most less than an hour’s drive from the coast. Among the better destinations are the lower St. Johns River and the lakes it connects south of Jacksonville; Lake Okeechobee and its famous rim canal; and a relatively new area referred to as both the Stick Marsh or Lake Miami Ranch, 10 miles west of Vero Beach. Starting in the Stuart area and extending northward all the way to Jacksonville, the Inland Waterway connects a vast series of bays and inlets that produce big redfish, snook (season closed June through August, catch-and-release only), trout, and tarpon. All of the same species are found along the beaches, plus permit, grouper, and snapper. Offshore are sailfish, blue marlin, king mackerel, big grouper and snapper, dolphin, amberjack, and more. The usually calm weather makes this fishery available to those in boats as small as 20 feet, plus there are many charter boats available at every port. Inshore light-tackle guide Capt. Rufus Wakeman of Stuart is a good source of fishing and lodging information. Call 800-305-0511 or go to www.riverpalmcottages.com. Additional detailed information can be obtained from www.florida-fishing-guide.com.
Upper East Coast